What Is Jamstack Architecture? [Here’s A Quick Overview For People In a Hurry!]

TL;DR: Jamstack (previously stylised as JAMStack) is a modern approach that helps developers create top-notch websites or applications for improved results.

By Julian Wallis
12 min read

If you’re a business owner or project manager looking at custom software or web solutions, you’ve probably heard the term “Jamstack” or “JAMstack” on your research journey. But what is it, exactly?

In short, Jamstack is an architecture that enables developers to create fast and modern websites or web applications using static files. This approach has many benefits over traditional web development methods, including improved performance and scalability.

Want to learn more? Keep reading!

Welcome To The World Of Jamstack! 🍬

In the world of web development, there are a million different options to choose from when it comes to building your website or application.

Do you want to use a content management system (CMS)? What kind of serverless platform do you want to use? How about using a front-end framework like React or Next.js? And don’t forget about routing and hosting! It can be overwhelming trying to figure out the right solution for your project.

This article will explore one option for building websites and applications called Jamstack architecture. We’ll give an overview of what Jamstack is, its benefits, and some best practices for your developers while using this method.

What Is Jamstack? 🍭

Jamstack is an abbreviation for JavaScript, API, and Markup as developer’s stack.

Jamstack isn’t a new technology per se but instead a new way of building websites that deliver better performance, higher security, lower cost of scaling, and an enhanced development experience. In other words, it is a modern web development architecture based on client-side JavaScript, reusable APIs, and markups pre-rendered at build time.

Instead of using a traditional method, such as a coupled CMS or a static site builder, the Jamstack method splits the code into three components — JavaScript, APIs, and Markups. The code is handled in a decoupled environment — and much of the load is pushed from servers to clients when building Jamstack websites or applications.

In addition, Jamstack builds on the success of the static web to enable dynamic applications. It is perfect for any size website or application — and it is indeed the future of web development.

Here’s an interesting fact — Netlify’s work on Jamstack has been a significant reason for its rise in popularity. The platform’s ability to provide developers with more efficient websites makes it one of the most sought-after hosting services. Because Netlify has done so much groundwork, they’ve virtually guaranteed not just success but also Jamstack’s longevity!

A Brief History Of Web Development 🌐

At the beginning of the internet days, websites were built with HTML files. The early websites were a bunch of HTML code stored in a folder — which the browser requested to display the information. Though the HTML determined how a website looked and its content, it was up to your browser for you to view.

As the technology evolved, more possibilities developed. The first change came to static HTML files. Since it was necessary to serve customised content to users, the need for dynamic HTML files arose. However, this affected the website loading speed. JavaScript came to the programmers’ rescue!

JavaScript enabled programmers to create dynamic web pages. It was developed for browsers to have greater control over displaying information on the screen. Because all primary browsers adopted it as their standard runtime layer — it became one of those things you can’t do without.

This innovation made it more possible to cater dynamic content to users. Programmers could take advantage of these dynamic capabilities without having any performance hit or load time delay because they’d be done in clients’ browsers instead.

To cut a long story short, the main idea behind using Jamstack is shifting the workload from servers to clients!

The ‘Jam’ in Jamstack 🍪

The three major components of Jamstack are a) JavaScript, b) APIs and c) Markup. Let’s have a look at each of these technological stacks separately.

jamstack architecture
Jamstack Architecture

❇️ JavaScript

The “J” in Jamstack can take many forms, depending on what you need for your project. For example, pure JavaScript or even front-end frameworks like React! Whatever the case, Jamstack JS makes it possible for you to build fast, scalable applications that offer a great user experience. It does this by handling responses and requests from your front-end code on the client-side!

The idea behind a Jamstack website is that it’s built to be flexible and modular. Jamstack websites make it possible to be responsive and faster by keeping components separate. Everything is coupled together when you use a traditional CMS. This means they depend on each other, but we recommend integrating those features separately when designing your site or app so they don’t slow down performance.

In Jamstack, each part can serve its purpose without being too centric or dependent on other factors — so even if something goes wrong with one module, there aren’t necessarily consequences elsewhere in your site.

❇️ APIs

An API, or application programming interface, is a set of rules that allow the software to communicate with each other.

For example, if you want to use an app on your phone that wasn’t made by the company that makes your phone, you need to use the phone’s API. APIs can be used for all sorts of things — from making websites more user-friendly to providing access to data stored in different places. 

Businesses can take advantage of APIs in the Jamstack method by creating their APIs or using ones created by others. This can make it easier for clients to work with them and help increase web traffic and sales.

Web APIs have made it possible for the server to do less work, and more can now be done with client-side JavaScript. This leads developers to use microservices — small pieces of reusable code — across multiple apps instead, saving developers time in developing new features or submitting bug fix requests because they’ve already been solved.

❇️ Markup

Content is King — and the Markup in Jamstack is the perfect throne for content’s monarchy!

Jamstack is one of the most popular newer designs for building websites, and it’s not surprising why. This approach uses preprocessed HTML rather than the traditional style coding that you find in many modern web apps these days; however, what makes this design so appealing?

The markup is prebuilt and ready for consumption, but it’s up to JavaScript (or other APIs) if they want to access it or not. If dynamic content needs fetching from a database, that’ll happen on the server-side instead of having their request for whatever data you’ve got stored locally in your website’s codebase.

The way Jamstack serves up content has changed drastically with its shift to a more client-side model — and the content that’s relayed is cached. Using a front-end build tool or a content delivery network (CDN), you can achieve this and reduce the load on servers significantly.

What’s Good About Jamstack Architecture? 📋

With Jamstack, you can go as serverless as possible. This will make your website load faster because there won’t be as many requests made to the server.

It’ll also improve performance by eliminating some of this work from being done in tandem before when both client-side scripts (often called “request heavy components”) were combined with static HTML files. Now, these tasks are pushed onto clients, so they don’t have to request multiple times per page view.

Jamstack is a framework that makes your web development life easier by integrating all the tools you already use and love. Plus, it’s sustainable because Jamstacks can be interconnected to increase scalability as needed.

Pre-rendering of Pages 📃

Jamstack is a great way to quickly get your site up and running with minimal effort. You can even use it as an opportunity for optimisation by rendering all of the front end content on highly optimised static pages during build time, which will result in sites that load significantly faster than traditional dynamic server-side generated websites.

What’s more, Jamstack sites are blazing fast since they’re served up pre-built markup via a CDN rather than loaded from the webserver.

Supercharging with JavaScript 💡

Jamstack sites are built on the foundation of fast, secure delivery. But with this comes many benefits; Jamstack sites can now rely not only upon their CDN for serving content but also use JavaScript and APIs to connect back into services like databases or messaging platforms to enhance user experience.

Furthermore, Jamstack is an API-first platform that enables users to build web applications with limitless flexibility. Users can easily integrate new services and choose from best-in-breed options available without sacrificing performance or security.

Fast & Highly Secure 🔐

Jamstack sites are fast because the HTML is already generated during deployment time and just served via CDN without any interference or backend delays. Plus, pre-built files make it easy to minimise load times by publishing them on a CDN.

You can rest easy with the security of your site because an API protects it. There are no database breaches, and you don’t have to worry about any surface areas being vulnerable.

Easier To Scale 👆

The common misconception about Jamstack sites is that they’re difficult or impossible to scale. In reality, all you need are a few small files with minimal sizes and some hosting space available on either your server (if it’s hosted) — or another close-by like Amazon Web Services CloudFront, which will deliver those resources globally without breaking down halfway across suburbia!

This is done through CDNs, which act as caches for the frequently requested content. This allows you to avoid managing server loads by deploying only what’s required instead of pushing all your code onto one machine — saving money and increasing performance.

How Is Jamstack Architecture Used? 💭

Jamstack is all about the tools you use. You can choose from one of many JavaScript frameworks, like React or Vue, for your front end; there are also site generators that will generate pages on demand like Gatsby or Next.js, which offer ease in development, thanks to their intuitive interfaces.

Gone are the days when you had to manage everything yourself. With headless CMS and commerce solutions, your website’s needs can be met by a single API that takes care of essential functions like forms or payment — leaving more time for what really matters: growth strategy!

Many hosting services are available on platforms like Vercel or Netlify, which provide you with everything from a website builder toolkit all in one place so your next project can be more accessible.

To reiterate, remember to select the right framework (such as React or Next.js) before adopting the Jamstack approach. After that comes the selection of a site generator (such as Gatsby or Hugo). Finally, you have to decide on the suitable headless CMS architecture and the proper infrastructure for hosting. Above all, you need developers who are well-versed in the Jamstack approach and know the ins and outs of the technology involved.

Some Best Practices For Developers Using Jamstack 🔥

  • Use content delivery networks to distribute your files.
  • Use tools like GIT to ensure standard setup.
  • Use build tools such as Babel, Webpack, and Browserify.
  • Automate the build process for better results.
  • Use tools like Netlify to make the deployment process automated.

When Would You Choose the Jamstack Approach? 🤔

When discussing Jamstack with a tech-savvy audience, the room fills with awe. Yet, sometimes business executives are overwhelmed and left scratching their heads — we feel you!

The benefits of this new approach are clear to see and understand for those that know how it can be applied in their industry or field at work. Remember that though Jamstack is a popular method, it comes with some downsides.

When it is evident that Jamstack provides better performance, improved security, and enhanced scalability and hosting — not to mention the ease of maintenance, however, everything is not as rosy as it seems, and Jamstack does come with some limitations.

  • Jamstack is developer-friendly but not beginner-friendly.
  • Not all things can be pre-generated, for instance, user-specific or real-time data.
  • Sometimes it can be challenging to find the right API within the Jamstack ecosystem.
  • The build process is lengthy — and even a single change to the code could necessitate the rebuild of the entire website!
  • Just because you choose Jamstack doesn’t mean you’re doing away with having to manage a back-end system.

Our Advice — Talk To The Experts! 🗣️

Jamstack was made for those who want to do things their way, and we can’t say it is suitable for everyone.

The pros of using Jamstack might be more than what you need in terms of functionality; however, sometimes business goals are different from company to company — so make sure this doesn’t happen before committing time to transfer your system to the Jamstack architecture.

The best way to get things sorted is to talk to the experts. Our years of expertise will help you solve your specific problems — and with our tech choices, you will get the best out of the available resources.

Final Thoughts

If you want to create a fast, secure, and efficient website without all the fuss, Jamstack might be just what you’re looking for.

Jamstack is all about giving you the best of both worlds — a fast, secure website that still looks and feels dynamic. This modern web development architecture uses CDNs and decoupling services, so you can still enjoy the dynamic benefits of a database-oriented CMS without relying heavily on a database.

We’ve given you a brief overview of what Jamstack is and how it works. Want to learn more? Write to us for a friendly chat — we would love to hear from you!

Published on April 14, 2022

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