What is JAMstack and why it should be used?

By Max Ikäheimo on 24 September 2019
Last edited on 04 December 2019
JAMstack
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What is it?

JAMstack is a modern architecture for building static websites and web applications. The word JAMstack comes from Javascript, APIs and Markup. This means that the tech stack used to build these kind of static websites and applications use only Javascript, supporting APIs and markup to build wholesome websites and web applications. We no longer talk about specific web servers or servers at all since with JAMstack we can abstract all the server stuff to third party services.

JAMstack can be seen as a fancy word for a micro-service based architecture for web development. In fact it is almost exactly like a micro-service architecture for software but the key thing that makes JAMstack unique are the technologies used in this stack. For example, instead of integrating micro-services to a backend framework, we now integrate the services in a holistic kind of manner where there is no backend but many supporting services and APIs that together form the JAMstack.

It gives us the freedom to use whatever technologies and services we want without worrying about technical debt piling up. - Max from Ikius

Why to use it for your business?

In human words, it is a better way to develop the web. For concrete business oriented reasons:

  • You can serve static content (has multiple benefits)

  • Applications become up to 5x faster

  • Websites and apps can be made much more secure

  • JAMstack apps are far less expensive to maintain and develop

  • Future-proof technologies mean a long life span for your websites and applications (lower costs in the long run)

  • No tight coupling between heavy back end frameworks (less technical debt)

  • SEO, faster sites with good PWA optimisation rank better in Google

  • Developer friendliness (developers are human too!)

What are the technical benefits?

Technically speaking there are also countless benefits which we will cover in a future post in more detail. To put it shortly, using Javascript to handle dynamic functionalities of websites and applications shifts the processing load from dedicated or virtual servers to the client. Using Javascript for the client side also enables the usage of micro-services and reusable APIs accessible by HTTPS. Using markup to generate static html files with static site generators such as Gatsby, Hugo or Jekyll enables these kind of JAMstack applications to serve static content ready to be delivered from a global Content Delivery Networks (CDNs).

  • You can use static site generators

  • Enables scalable content delivery from enterprise tier CDNs with easy management

  • Static websites are virtually impossible to hack in a way Wordpress sites can be hacked via plugins etc.

  • You need to do far less maintenance and other upkeep operations to keep your JAMstack services up

  • The CI/CD flow works out of the box, especially when using Netlify with Gatsby.

How is it different from legacy frameworks like Wordpress?

When we talk about JAMstack the client side website or app is not tightly coupled with a specific web server or technology. Instead of a single web server, a single REST API or specific backend framework , JAMstack relies on multiple micro-services and APIs offered by third parties to build websites and applications that offer better performance, security, and scalability.

Using JAMstack we can build static files that are ready to served by request. What this means that every single file, asset and resource is already pre-built and stored on a global CDN. By serving static files we no longer have to use tightly coupled web servers to deliver dynamically rendered content that need heavy backend frameworks like Wordpress, Drupal or Joomla.

We are able to deliver web projects much faster with the JAMstack and static site generators than we ever could with legacy frameworks like Wordpress - Max from Ikius

Conclusion

We think that all new websites and apps should be built with the JAMstack. Of course, legacy frameworks like Wordpress still have their place and in some use cases might be the better choice when building a website. In any case, we are seeing a shift in the way web is developed and the change is going to be amazing!

JAMstack allows us to create complex static websites and applications quickly and efficiently with minimal bloat. - Max from Ikius

JAMstack is the way web should have been built. Whether you are building from scratch or upgrading your existing websites or apps, you should always use the modern JAMstack architecture. When you are thinking about upgrading your company's tech stack you should always consider doing it how it is meant to be done, the JAMstack way.

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An article by Max Ikäheimo
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