What is Jamstack?

Get introduced to Jamstack and the advantages of using it.

The journey from web servers to Jamstack

When web applications became a thing and we needed to make applications that we could serve on the web, we had a straightforward approach to making those web applications. We would create assets such as web pages, save them on a web server, and then use a web browser to request to view those assets.

Web applications evolved, of course, and to cope with the evolution, we needed to add dynamism to our applications. In other words, we added actions to the servers to provide dynamic content.

With the evolving requirements, our web applications became increasingly complicated to handle. We increasingly required more pieces of infrastructure—for example, a load balancer and a database server. A single server wouldn’t be able to cater to the increasing number of requests. This resulted in the need to divide the task between servers so that the increasing number of requests could be handled. This is how it eventually looked:

This approach comes with a few more issues that the web community faced:

  • With the increasing number of components, there were many points where a failure could occur and cause the web application to crash.

  • Another issue was deployment. In this case, we needed to handle updates and predict the actions at each of these pieces of infrastructure separately.

Fortunately, as the requirements have evolved, so have the tools and technologies required to build web applications. This is where Jamstack is particularly useful.

In a Jamstack, everything is pre-generated and stored on a CDN. This way, the website is ready to be served as soon as the user requests it instead of having to send calls to multiple bits of infrastructure. This also makes development and deployment much more simple.

The term “Jamstack”

Let’s start with the basics: What does Jamstack stand for?
The “J” stands for “JavaScript,” “A” stands for “API,” and the “M” stands for “markup.” These are the three components of a Jamstack application. JavaScript is used for making applications that a user can interact with. The APIs are used to display static or dynamic content based on the website’s functions and user requirements. Finally, the markup is the view, or structure, of how the content is displayed on the screen.

However, this information might not be enough to understand what the stack entails and how it works. Therefore, we need to ask another question: What is Jamstack?

Jamstack is a means of creating fast and secure web applications by using already rendered files. We create the files, build them, and store them on a CDN where they’re easily accessible. This way, the pages of the website have already been created and saved, and no requests have to be sent to retrieve content or assets when the page is loaded in the browser. We can simply display the already generated page at the user’s request.

What is a stack?

In everyday language, a stack is a pile of objects placed on top of each other. In web development, however, a stack is referred to as a combination of technologies that work together to build a fully functional web application.

Advantages of using Jamstack

Let’s take a moment and look at a few reasons why Jamstack is so useful for web applications:

  • Security: Jamstack improves the security of a web application by removing much of the hosting infrastructure required for a general web application. This means that there’s less infrastructure to attack, and all defensive actions can be used to defend those few places.

  • Performance: Because the pages are already pre-rendered and available on a CDN, they’re geographically closer to the user and ready to be served, reducing wait time and improving user experience.

  • Maintainability: The hosting complexity of a Jamstack application is reduced because it’s hosted on a simple CDN, rather than a complex hosting service. It becomes easy to maintain because of the reduced complexity.

  • Developer experience: Many tools and techniques can be used to build Jamstack applications. It isn’t dependent on frameworks or libraries and can be built using widely available tools and techniques. It also makes the development process much less complex.