Jamstack Explained

by Tom O'Connor


Jamstack is a web development architecture that has been gaining popularity in recent years. It stands for JavaScript, APIs and Markup, and it offers a number of benefits over traditional web development approaches.

In this article, we'll explore what Jamstack is, how it works, and why it's becoming such a popular choice for modern web development.

What is Jamstack?

Jamstack is a modern web development architecture that separates the front-end and back-end of a website.

Instead of relying on a traditional server-side approach, Jamstack uses pre-built static pages that are served directly to the user's browser.

This results in faster load times, better security and improved scalability.

Jamstack also relies on APIs to handle dynamic content and functionality when needed, making it a flexible and powerful approach to web development.

What Does Jamstack Stand For?

Jamstack stands for Javascript, APIs and Markup.

JavaScript is used to handle the dynamic functionality and interactivity on the client-side.

APIs (Application Programming Interfaces)
APIs are used to fetch data and perform various tasks in a Jamstack site. These can be third-party APIs or custom-built micro-services, usually utilizing serverless functions.

Markup refers to the HTML which is used to structure the content. In Jamstack, static HTML files are generated during the build process and served to users through a web server.

Why Use Jamstack?

We use the Jamstack architecture for several reasons, as it offers a range of benefits that address common challenges in web development. Here are some of the top reasons:

#1: Cost-Effectiveness

With the Jamstack, you can leverage serverless technologies and pay only for the resources you consume. Since the architecture relies on static file hosting and services like CDNs, the cost of hosting and serving content is often lower compared to traditional server-based hosting.

#2: Improved Scalability

Jamstack also offers improved scalability for your website. With traditional server-side rendering, as traffic to your site increases, so does the load on the server.

This can lead to slower load times and even crashes during peak traffic periods.

However, with Jamstack, your site is served through a content delivery network, which distributes your site’s content across multiple servers.

This means that as traffic to your site increases, the load is spread across multiple servers, resulting in faster load times and a more stable website.

By further leveraging caching, stateless functions, auto-scaling capabilities, and cloud infrastructure, Jamstack architecture enables websites to handle even the highest traffic loads efficiently.

This scalability ensures that the application remains performant, responsive and available to users even during periods of increased demand.

#3: Simplicity

One of the biggest benefits of using Jamstack for your website is the simplified development process. With traditional server-side rendering, developers have to manage complex server configurations and worry about issues like scaling and security.

However, with Jamstack, the development process is simplified because the server-side logic is moved to the build stage. This means that developers can focus on building the front-end of the site using modern tools and frameworks, without having to worry about server-side issues.

This results in faster development times, fewer bugs, and a more streamlined development process overall.

With static files served from CDNs, server-side processing is minimized, enabling the infrastructure to handle a large number of concurrent users without performance degradation.

This means that developers can focus on building the front-end of the site using modern tools and frameworks, without having to worry about server-side issues. This results in faster development times, fewer bugs, and a more streamlined development process.

#4: Faster Load Times

Jamstack websites are known for their exceptional performance and one of the biggest benefits of using Jamstack is faster load times.

Because Jamstack sites are built using pre-complied static pages, they can be served directly to the user's browser without the need for server-side processing.

This results in a better user experience and can even help improve search engine rankings.

Additionally, Jamstack sites can be easily further optimized for performance using tools like caching and content delivery networks.

Page Speed Facts

  • Amazon found that for every 100 milliseconds of latency, they experienced a 1% decrease in sales.
  • 40% of users will abandon a website if it takes more than 3 seconds to load.
  • Mobile bounce rates increase by 90% when page load time goes from 1 second to 5 seconds.
  • Google considers page speed as one of the ranking factors for search results. Faster-loading pages tend to have better visibility and rankings in search engine results.

#5: Better Security

Another major benefit of using Jamstack for your website is improved security.

Because Jamstack sites are pre-built, there is no need for server-side processing or databases, which are common targets for hackers.

And every security expert knows that keeping the attack surface small is one of the easiest ways to keep a site secure.

#6: Agility and Maintainability

Jamstack sites are inherently modular and composed of reusable components. This makes them easier to maintain and update over time. Changes can be made to specific parts of the site without affecting the entire application, making it easier to iterate, test, and deploy new features.

#7: Extensibility

The Jamstack is highly extensible due to its API-centric nature. You can integrate various third-party services and APIs to add dynamic functionality to your static sites. This flexibility allows for seamless integration of services like payment gateways, databases, authentication providers, and more.

How Does a Jamstack Site Work?

Generally there are 3 things most Jamstack sites share in common in terms of how they are composed.

#1: Headless Content Management System

A headless CMS, or headless content management system, is a platform that allows users to create, manage, and deliver content without being tightly coupled to a specific frontend presentation layer. In a traditional CMS, the backend content management system is responsible for both content creation and presentation. However, a headless CMS decouples these two aspects, providing content creators with more flexibility and control over how their content is structured and displayed.

The headless CMS backend serves as the content repository, where content creators can author and manage their content. The content is then delivered through an API (such as GraphQL) to any frontend application or channel that consumes the content.

By decoupling the frontend from the backend, a headless CMS allows content creators and developers to work independently, focusing on their respective areas of expertise. Content creators can concentrate on crafting engaging and meaningful content, while developers can build custom frontend experiences and integrate content seamlessly into various applications and channels.

#2: Static Site Generator

A static site generator (SSG) is a tool or framework that helps generate static HTML pages for a website. Unlike dynamic websites that generate content on the server-side in response to user requests, static websites are pre-generated and consist of fixed HTML, CSS, and JavaScript files.

With a static site generator, developers can create a website using templates, content files, and other assets. The SSG processes these files, applies templates, and generates a collection of static HTML pages. This allows for efficient and fast loading of web pages since the server only needs to serve pre-rendered files without any database or server-side processing.

#3: Static Site Platform

A static site platform is a service or platform that provides hosting, deployment, and other related features specifically designed for static websites. It offers an infrastructure and toolset that simplifies the process of building, managing, and deploying static websites.

Examples of popular static site platforms include Netlify, Vercel, GitHub Pages, Firebase Hosting, and AWS Amplify. Each platform has its own set of features, pricing models, and integrations, so it's important to evaluate them based on your specific project requirements.

In Conclusion

The Jamstack architecture has gained popularity in recent years for several reasons.

It offers improved website performance and speed by pre-rendering content as static files, eliminating the need for server-side rendering. This results in faster page loads and a better user experience.

It also enables a more streamlined development workflow with version control, automated builds, and easy integrations, empowering developers to work efficiently and collaboratively. Overall, the Jamstack's combination of performance, scalability, security, and developer-friendly features makes it an excellent choice for modern web development.

Let's Get To Work

Reach out and tell me about your website or product. I will be happy to listen.