What is JAMstack, and why you should consider it for your next project

By Arso and Ilona
Read time 4 min
Posted on August 18, 2022
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"Daddy, what's a floppy disk?" We can totally imagine today's kids asking this question. Dad puts the kid in a lap and explains all about floppy characteristics and how cool he was when he had a 1.44MB floppy disk. And while data storage is constantly developing, we can also think of other stories we could tell our curious kids. For example, Ajax, HTML, or even JAMstack (which is super popular now), can you imagine you and your kid roasting some marshmallows in a campfire, and you're explaining how content evolved on the web? You'll talk about how HTML was a revolution and why static sites weren't cool at all. You'll brag about how awesome you were because you used JAMstack in the peak of its popularity. Well, let's hope you're using it. Because now's the time JAMstack is getting more and more popular. If you have never heard of it or just are not sure what it means and does, read further.

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What is JAMstack?

If this is the first time you hear about JAMstack, we believe the name must sound quite interesting. What does jam have to do with web development?

JAMstack gif

Luckily, JAM doesn’t stand for food. 🍯 J is for JavaScript. As a developing language handling any dynamic programming during the request/response cycle.
A is for APIs. Server-side operations are abstracted into reusable APIs and accessed over HTTPS with JavaScript. These can be third-party services or your custom function.
M is for Markup. Templated markup should be pre-built at build time, usually using a site generator for content sites or a build tool for web apps. In a nutshell, JAMstack is a new way of building websites and apps that deliver better performance, higher security, and lower scaling costs. When saying new things, it’s not the latest trend, and JAMstack architecture has existed for more than ten years now. It’s just that currently, it’s gaining more power, more confidence, and more capabilities in the hands of designers, authors, and front-end developers.

JAMstack’s advantage over monolithic architecture, aka. How does it work?

Monolithic architecture is today’s most common practice in web development. In those projects, the front end is closely coupled with the server. Each page request must go through a server, which pulls data from the database, renders into HTML, and sends it across the network. The significant setback here is the constant pages build for each request, even when the page is identical.

What JAMstack does is generate the HTML once and serve it to all requests. It fetches HTML from CDN, where an HTML file has been pre-built and is ready to be downloaded. No server is involved in the process, and the API does all the heavy lifting.

Instead of having built and hosting coupled, they are now separated (decoupled). There is no need to interact with a database, backend code, server, browser, and layers of caching. The files are already compiled, and you can get them directly served to the browser from a CDN. Because of this, Jamstack makes it easier to use Headless CMSs to manage your content and reuse it wherever you need. Separating your content from your front end makes your content strategy more scalable, future-proof, and easy to maintain. 
You might be interested: What is a headless CMS.

To put it differently, it looks like this:

JAMstack structure

What confuses most people is when someone says JAMstack is static. You must be asking now what does it mean to be “static”? Does it take “dynamic” server data and “dynamic” user input? The static JAMstack app is only a fairly generic term. JAMstack is a general web app without the server part and served with static site generator HTML plus JavaScript. With all that, it’s able to do dynamic things. Static refers to static assets, for example, JavaScript and Markup from the name, rather than a dumb static page. Now that we clarified that, let’s see what the JAMstack pros are.

Why do developers love JAMstack?

The main benefits of JAMstack are better performance, higher security, cheaper scaling, and better developer experience. All pretty valid reasons to start using JAMstack.

  • Higher security comes from the delegation of server-side and database operations.

  • The static content served via CDN makes the user experience extra speedy.

  • Less complex development reduces costs.

  • Automated builds, everything lives in a Git, making everyone’s life easier.

  • Up to 10x faster websites.

  • Cheaper maintenance, update and hosting.

  • Future-proofed solution.

  • Better website performance.

  • Unique and modern websites are easier to build in JAMstack.

And while these pros are recognized by clients too, developers can find some extra value. Rather than taking care of the whole stack of the operating system, database, server, and UI when delivering content to the end-user, developers can now modularize each task. While they focus on UI development, the server or database connects to a proper API.

That’s the power of JAMstack.

Joker gif

We dedicated one complete article to JAMstack’s benefits and advantages. That’s how much we think it’s incredible. Read all about it in the advantages of JAMstack piece.

Beware all future-proofed companies - JAMstack is here to stay.

JAMstack app isn’t one of those trends that just appear and go, leaving you with that FOMO feeling. Are you going to miss some good things?
No, JAMstack is here to stay, and we think there is no way you’ll miss it (as a website developer). It will change your life or, in this case, your stack in the same way it changed web development.

That’s why we think it will be a good campfire story one day. What’s unique about JAMstack is its maturity & accessibility. It’s not a new solution, and it has existed for quite some time now, which it improved and opened to less technical users too. We believe that trend will continue. If services and APIs in the ecosystem continue to prove viable and profitable, we’ll see more important players embracing the idea, increasing adoption even more.

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