Why JAMstack?

By Ten Squared, posted on the 19th of October, 2021 · 5 minute read

A brief history of JAMstack

The movement in which Jamstack is based off began all the way back in the late 90s, yes, the power of JAMstack has been recognised for over 20 years, long before WordPress took over the internet. Back then however it was known as LAMP stack which stands for Linux Apache MySQL and PHP. These were fast static websites, however, were not appreciated until 2016. In 2016 a small group of developers coined the term JAMstack (JavaScript, API and Markup) and began to promote it among other developers, eventually to the whole development community.

Just one year later in 2017, the JAMstack community had grown drastically, and the technology had progressed to be more than basic static information pages to allow developers to create dynamic websites and apps. The rest is history, you have probably interacted with many JAMstack websites and whilst you likely didn't realise you would have noticed the difference.

The Stack

JavaScript

The J in JAMstack stands for JavaScript. Dynamic functionalities are processed by JavaScript. You have the freedom to choose whichever framework or library you would like from bootstrap to tailwind.

APIs

The A in JAMstack stands for APIs. These are first or third party APIs which are accessed when the website is built (each time the website is scheduled to update). These allow developers to create both static and dynamic content. The APIs are what take a JAMstack website from being a static website to a dynamic website and their power is only limited by your imagination and skill.

Markup

Finally, the M in JAMstack stands for Markup. Markup refers to "pre-rendered" markup or content served in its final HTML form. This is part of what makes JAMstack websites so unique.

JAMstack in 2021

Today, JAMstack is now used in a range of different web technologies. At the core of JAMstack are three main goals:

  • Make the web faster
  • Make the web secure
  • Make the web scalable

To achieve these goals they follow two core principles:

  • Pre-rendering
  • Decoupling

Together these enable a website or application to be delivered with greater confidence and resilience than ever before.

Why does pre-rendering matter?

JAMstack pre-rendering ensure websites are prebuilt and in a highly optimised way. All static pages and assets are optimised during the build process which enables them to be presented directly from a CDN reducing not only costs but also both the risk and complexity associated with using traditional dynamic servers as critical infrastructure.

To generate one of these static websites developers use different tools. These include Gatsby, Hugo, Next JS, React and Jekyll. The good news is there are more and more developers jumping on board as they learn more about the benefits of JAMstack website.

How does JavaScript help?

JavaScript helps make sure these incredible websites can be served up both quickly and securely. They use both JavaScript and APIs to talk to the backend services, this is what allowed static websites to become similar to dynamic websites (only in the ways we want).

How about decoupling?

WordPress websites are directly connected to their backend. In contrast, JAMstakc projects separate their frontend pages from the backend apps and database. This also helps the website to be distributed globally directly from a CDN.

What do the APIs do?

The APIs work alongside JavaScript to bring dynamic content to these static websites.

Why is this the future?

X Websites no longer run on web servers -> Websites deployed globally

X Websites rendered upon request -> webpages pre-rendered for speed

X Monolithic Applications -> APIs and Microservices

These seemingly irrelevant advancements are the future of the website. JAMstack is the biggest leap forward the web has taken in recent history and will inevitably lead to the demise of WordPress or at a minimum force them to rapidly adapt.