A Fast Overview of the JAMstack

Does your web app load just a bit too slow, and you aren’t sure how to fix it? Or are you about to start working on a web app, and load speed is paramount?

JAMstack development might be the right development methodology for you. It’s a newer development methodology that focuses on building sites that load quickly and securely on all devices. Of course, the JAMstack does have it’s drawbacks.

Here, we’ll cover precisely what the JAMstack is, what it’s benefits are, and whether it’s the right candidate for your web app’s development.

What is JAMstack?

JAMstack is a type of web development philosophy and architecture that follows a prescribed methodology. Sometimes developers create a JAMstack app without even knowing it, but most often, it is an intentional philosophy embraced by the developers. But what is it?

Let’s start with the name. The JAM in JAMstack stands for:

  • JavaScript
  • APIs
  • Markup

So, put simply, JAMstack is any web app that is built on these three pillars.

The overall philosophy behind JAMstack development is that serving up static pages is faster and more secure than a page that continually calls to a server for content.

Instead of crafting a page that accesses a database dozens of times while generating the page, a JAMstack page will pre-render a static HTML page and deliver that to the user. This page is then enhanced with JavaScript, which is rendered client-side and does not need to call back to a server.

Benefits of Using JAMstack

JAMstack has become popular in recent years, and we can see why. Adopting this development ideology provides many unique benefits. There’s quite a few of them:

Speed

A pre-rendered static page can be directly served by a CDN, most of the time, which means that the web app is going to load incredibly quickly when compared to a more traditional stack.

Cost

JAMstack sites are cheaper to operate than server-side heavy sites since there are fewer calls to a server to build the page. Instead, you’ll be hosting a static asset and serving it up once.

Scalability

One of the most significant issues with any web app is scalability. If the app wasn’t designed properly, it will start loading slowly or not at all if there is an influx of users. With a JAMstack app, you’re serving static files off static hosting, such as a CDN.

Maintenance

You’re not offering a server heavy site, so it’s easier to maintain. Whichever provider you choose, all you’re serving up is HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

Security

You’ll still have to worry about securing user content, but you won’t have to worry about people intruding into a traditional server. There are simply fewer moving parts involved in your web app, which reduces attack vectors.

Performance

What impacts the user experience first, before anything else has happened? Load times. If the site loads too slowly, an elegant user interface won’t have much benefit. JAMstack development creates fast load times by serving up simple, pre-rendered HTML pages.

Of course, all of these benefits depend on the APIs used and how they’re being used. The best way to go is to make all API requests when the site is being compiled.

Why Should You Choose JAMstack Development?

Deciding to develop your next web app with the JAMstack JavaScript methodology will provide you with a faster, more secure site. Who wouldn’t want that?

However, you should be aware of a few downsides before jumping at the chance to work with a JAMstack developer

The first is long build times. Instead of having the page built when the user loads it, which happens with server-side applications, the entire site must be rebuilt when any changes are made. This is inherent to JAMstack, as the page must be pre-rendered. Some services, such as Netify, ensure that the entire new set of files has been rendered before switching over, but the build times are still long.

The second drawback is more of a continuation of the first. Since there are long build times, sites or web apps with time-sensitive content would lose precious minutes waiting for the site to be rebuilt. Deployment can take up to fifteen minutes for some sites, and that might just be too much.

The great thing is that solutions for these drawbacks are starting to emerge.

Leading static site generators such as GatsbyJS recently released incremental builds. This lets you rebuild only pages that have changed, thereby cutting by load times significantly.

We’re optimistic that more tools will emerge that allow for changes to be deployed that will intelligently identify which files need to be rebuilt and which ones do not, but for the time being, the entire site must be rebuilt.

Is JAMStack Development Right for You?

JAMStack works great for many kinds of web apps, including:

  • Lead capture websites
  • Landing pages
  • Blogs
  • E-commerce

For web apps that rely heavily on reactive data such as dashboards or data visualizations, JAMStack development will require more customized solutions to fit well.

If you’re looking to improve the performance of your web app or integrate JAMStack into your technical stack, we’re here to help.

With Pulp is a development agency specializing in crafting custom solutions for our clients. We’ve developed custom web apps for our clients that are fast, secure, and easy-to-use. We’d love to talk to you about how we can create the web app of your dreams.

Please contact us for your JAMstack development needs today.

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