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What is the JAMStack and why should you care?

josepheames profile image Joe Eames Originally published at Medium Updated on ・3 min read

When you first hear about JAMStack, due to the funny name, you may wonder if people are just messing with you. But if you haven't checked out JAMStack yet, you should definitely give it a look. The problem may be that you mostly hear about it in relation to people's personal blogs. So you can easily write it off at your job. "We build big enterprise apps" you say, "not personal blogs". But don't turn up your nose just yet. I'll give you a quick overview of what JAMStack is, and then I'll lay down 5 reasons why you want to know about JAMStack for even your big "enterprise" apps.

What is JAMStack?

JAMStack stands for JavaScript, API's, and Markup. J-A-M. Breaking it down, it's any site that uses JavaScript (duh, what sites don't these days?). But the magic comes in the next two points. The API means that you don't use a web server. Instead, you use something like Firebase or a CMS to handle your data. You handle things like authentication using third-party services, instead of your own handcrafted authentication. (That also means that you aren't reinventing the wheel every time and you don't have to worry about accidentally creating a security hole). The third part is Markup. That simply means that you precompile as much HTML/CSS as you can and deploy that out on a CDN with your JavaScript. Static site generators like Jekyll, Next, Gatsby, and Hugo are perfect for stuff like this. But don't let the "static" fool you. Your app doesn't need to be just a blog site. It can be a highly interactive web app. You just need to package it up this way.

So why should you care? Especially with your big Enterprisey app? Here are 5 reasons you should care:

First, is performance. By its very nature, JAMStack is faster than other options. Why? That age-old technique we first saw in the mid-2000's: CDN's. You get to deploy your app to a CDN, and that means someone else's millions of dollars worth of performance tuning is making your app faster.

Second, JAMStack apps are usually simpler to deploy. You can set up some pretty simple ways to use services like Netlify to just deploy whenever you check in code, including robust workflows and approving new changes on feature branches first before deploying the main app. But feature branches can be automatically and simply deployed as well.

Third, JAMStack apps tend to do better with SEO rankings because of the natural tendency to make your URLs simpler, as well as to expose your static data in ways that make crawlers like Google happier.

Fourth, less work. By taking advantage of third party services for things like authentication and data storage, you don't have to reinvent a lot of wheels and your IT and DevOps teams start their work way farther down the road. They can leverage a host of solutions that give them a starting point that is way farther down the line than creating everything from scratch.

Finally, you increase your security. We all like to think that we're smarter than everyone else, but the reality is that companies like Google (Firebase) and Auth0 have engineers just as smart as us who have invested tens of thousands of hours creating highly secure solutions. So why not leverage all their work and knowledge? Additionally, just the raw nature of how JAMStack works, you have fewer attack points and potential security vulnerabilities, and fewer areas to worry about.

Want to learn more? jamstack.org by Netlify is the de facto starting point. Not only have they been champions of JAMStack, but coined the term as well. There's even a whole conference centered around JAMStack. Check it out.

While you’re checking things out, Thinkster has some great content about JAMStack. Check out the Gastby and Netlify content on our website. We’re releasing new content all the time.

Happy Coding!

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