What is JAMstack and when should you use it?

Paweł Dąbrowski - Chief Technology Officer

If you have never heard the term JAMstack, it’s a shortcut for JavaScript - API - Markdown stack. The idea behind this architecture is to place the logic on the client side and detach it from the backend servers.
As I mentioned before, this approach is based on three elements:

  • JavaScript - the programming language for the client side. Usually, developers create applications with libraries like Vue.js or React.js or even using pure JS code.
  • API - the application is detached from the backend servers, so we can use API from the headless CMS or serverless functions to provide functionalities and content.
  • Markdown - a markup language for formatting the text. If you don’t pull the content from another source, you can use this language to format articles and other pages where formatting is needed.

Websites created with JAMstack are safe, easily scalable, and very fast. Keep reading if you would like to know if this technology is a good choice for your project.

When should you use JAMstack?

This is one of the most important questions you can ask when you read about new exciting technology or a new way of development. Here are some examples where JAMstack may be the perfect choice:

Static websites

If you maintain a static website that contains only assets, HTML, and javascript files, you can quickly improve its performance by transforming it into the JAMstack website. You don’t have to change your server. Instead, use CDN to improve the performance and markdown to format your content and improve the developer experience quickly; with such an approach, you don’t have to edit the HTML code anymore.

Web applications

If you plan to serve more dynamic content, the front end side of your application is already using some APIs, or you provide many features to your end user, you can take a lot of benefits by using JAMstack.

You can use server side rendering to render your pages with content but improve the performance and SEO at the same time. If you plan to edit the content of a given page, you can use headless CMS. That way you save weeks of development and you can also change the layout of the page without deploying it again.

Enterprise and e-commerce applications

JAMstack websites are also based on much more complex logic, but it does not make the development slower or complicate the deploy process. The content is still served the same way as in the case of the static jamstack sites.

You don’t have to build your own CMS; with serverless technology (from AWS, for example), you can create complex projects and apps without spending weeks on the development. All you need to do is prepare the frontend code that communicates with different APIs and send the information directly to the browser.

Advantages of JAMstack

Solutions based on JAMstack can benefit from the fact that this architecture is detached from the backend. Let me go quickly through the most important ones.

Improved performance

Since there is no backend servers on your side, developers can design the website or application the way that pages are loaded immediately, and the content is loaded asynchronously using the API. Such an approach dramatically reduces the time needed to render the content.

With the usage of the content delivery network, you can reduce the time of the page load even more. With CDN, the page is served from the cache, from the closest to the visitor server. The browser itself will also cache the static HTML parts of your application.

Better security

JAMstack websites are not exposed to security issues as typical web applications are. Thanks to APIs, we delegate the backend responsibilities to other services. On our side, we serve static HTML files, so there is nothing the hacker can attack.

Simple deployment process

Using JAMstack website, we build a better developer experience. You can deploy the changes faster because you mainly deal with static files like HTML and assets. The architecture is simple; you don’t have to use many tools to build the working solution.

Great scalability

If you are not sure what traffic your application will handle in the future, there is no need to worry about if you are using JAMstack architecture. The CDN will relieve your servers by serving cached content.

Migrating your current application to JAMstack

Suppose you want to improve the performance of your existing services or eliminate the traditional and not cost-effective stack of your web application. In that case, JAMstack is one of the reasonable directions to go.

You can stick to your backend servers or use a content management system to deliver the content to your new jamstack site. Providers like Contentful or Prismic will provide you with everything you need to get started and manage your content independently. You can also search for alternative solutions or check opinions in the online community

Starting a new application with JAMstack

If you plan to create a new web application or aim to build static websites, you should look at JAMstack. It’s easy to start the development as you don’t have to do many things alone. You can easily outsource the following elements of the application:

Content management system

Modern web application needs well-designed access to the data so it can handle a lot of traffic. This is something that the backend servers need to take responsibility for. But, with the JAMstack approach, there is no backend, so you can use a headless CMS that will provide a secure and fast way to get the dynamic content for your apps.

CDN

The content delivery network will help you improve the performance without extra configuration. It does not matter if you are using a static site generator or server side rendering; you can benefit from using CDN.

Servers

There are a lot of solutions that you can use to host your files and the frontend application. Developers often recommend Netlify as this company used for the first time the JAMstack term, so they know how to handle this architecture.

APIs

You can also use serverless technology if you want to implement additional features in your web application besides the headless CMS. Modern web development is based on components ready to use; you don’t have to develop them yourself.

How can we help?

There are many things to consider if you want to migrate to the jamstack site or if you plan to create the application from scratch. The world of modern web technologies is vast. We can help you to pick the right tools, select the best APIs or even improve the developer experience of your existing code and architecture.


Let’s get in touch
Author's Bio
Paweł Dąbrowski

Chief Technology Officer

Open source fan and growth seeker with over a decade of experience in writing for both human beings and computers. I connect the dots to create high-quality software, valuable relations with people and businesses.

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