What is JAMstack, and What is it Good For?

Alright, let’s get right to it. The JAM in JAMstack stands for Javascript, APIs and markup, and describes a methodology used to create and deploy modern websites. Your dev team may also call it a “static site.” Similar concept. There are many different implementations of this concept. Every dev team has their own preferences and libraries that they like to use, so we’re not delving too deep into the weeds in this introductory article. We’ll explain our preferred stack in later articles, and possibly follow up with some tutorials. So what is a JAMstack, and how can it benefit your enterprise?

What is a JAMstack?

The idea of the JAMstack evolved out of a response to the bloat of traditional content management systems. In a traditional website with a cms, content is stored in a database, queried by the application server, and assembled and displayed by the same. Every request to the website kicks off this process. When you add in the additional burden of user authentication, management, and all of the various additional processes that are added in, a traditional website architecture tends to be less performant for its simple function, getting content in front of users.

In a static site, there’s no application server, and no database. Just a bunch of static html and javascript files uploaded to a CDN that’s optimized to serve files as fast as possible. Since there’s no application server, there’s no vector for a malicious user to hack the site. As a result, it’s fast and secure. That’s great, but how do we add interactivity to the site for contact forms, search, and other critical site functions? And how do we do content management?

Enter the JAMstack site. Content management functions in a JAMstack sites are typically handled by a dedicated headless CMS. Content is queried from the CMS API during the build process of the site before the site is deployed to the CDN.

On page interactivity and site functions are handled by on page javascript, and external APIs. This can drive everything from site search to conversational marketing interactives. Again, this is all enabled by static javascript delivered and cached in the browser by the CDN, so we’re talking extreme levels of speed. API interaction is done asynchronously, so again, no impact on page speed.

Advantages to a JAMstack Website

So, to sum up, JAMstack websites offer the following advantages over traditional CMS driven websites:

Security – JAMstack sites have a minimal security footprint, and don’t have the traditional attack vectors of a website based, monolithic CMS.

Faster – JAMstack sites are simply static html and javascript delivered via web-scale CDNs. There is no application server interacting with a database, just on page rendering. This is about as fast as the web can get.

Less Expensive – We don’t have the expense of databases, application servers, or any of the traditional server architecture.

Scalable – CDNs can scale automatically, and are ready for web scale applications.

Here at Curious Minds, we develop and maintain JAMstack sites for a variety of clients, across several markets. Contact us today for a no-obligation consultation, and find out if building a JAMstack site is the right decision for your business. We’ll guide you through the pros and cons, and get you a project plan that will get you on the right track.

About Curious Minds
We are a web development firm in New York and Chicago, providing development resources and consulting for websites and mobile apps since 2004.