JAMStack CMS: Why and How to Use It?

15 Jan 2021


Has it recently crossed your mind why so many businesses failed to respond to COVID-inflicted challenges? After 2020 turmoil, they’re hoping to break even at best while suffering from significant customer churn and technology inconsistencies. However, only trying to retain your existing customers is not the best idea for business growth.

That is why unprecedented times make businesses start looking for nontrivial solutions to reach wider audiences. As customers are getting more mature in their digital-driven journey, companies have a hard time meeting customer today’s expectations. Given that face-to-face communication is not an option these days, the only medium for successful B2B/B2C interaction is your website content. 

 

To improve user experience, the content via mobile apps and commercial websites has to be superb. This time around, it’s not about the quality of the content itself but a revolutionary technology that enables its smooth and timely delivery. And the name of this technology is JAMstack


Everybody knows that choosing the right tech stack for your future/current mobile app or website is not a cakewalk at all. So, let’s see what JAMstack is and how it helps you win today’s market while increasing omnichannel customer experience.

What does JAMStack mean?

According to its best-known definition, JAMstack is a popular cloud-native architecture for web development. It was created by Netlify, a US serverless and hosting services company. The meaning of JAMstack derives from its components being as simple as that:

 

  • ‘J’ stands for JavaScript, a multi-paradigm scripting programming language that instills websites and mobile apps with top-notch dynamic and interactive functionality. Today, JavaScript is at the core of all the best web development practices. Noteworthy is the fact that JAMstack supports any proprietary or open-source framework and library built on JavaScript.

  • ‘A’ stands for APIs, or application programming interfaces, the reusable tools that enable seamless interaction between server-side processes and client-side operations. APIs contribute much to the fast and seamless delivery of your website content. JAMstack can deal with any third-party or custom APIs to give users an enhanced and personalized experience.

  • ‘M’ means Markup here, a set of HTML and CSS language code providing text formatting instructions to create user-friendly web pages. 

Combining all the tech components mentioned above into a single ecosystem allows JAMstack to gain much traction as one of the best software solutions for website and app development. The JAMstack architecture shows great results while working together with various frameworks and headless CMS. Unlike traditional Content Management Systems like WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla that rely heavily on on-prem databases and physical servers, Jamstack tends towards cloud-based platforms and serverless and microservices architectures. This approach has given rise to the next-gen frameworks for building static websites, known as SSG – Static Site Generators

On top of this, annual Jamstack conferences add to the fact that software innovations in website building are in high demand nowadays. Such popularity has righteously resulted in a large number of high-performing websites appearing on the Internet that are built on JAMstack. Speaking about its popularity, I should note that JAMstack is widely appreciated among business customers and web developers alike. A recent Jamstack 2020 survey revealed that perfectly matches all the web devs’ priorities for website creation.

Now, let’s check if the JAMstack benefits for business that everyone is talking about today line up with reality.

 

JAMStack: the main benefits and drawbacks

For those who start thinking about switching their website and app capacities to Jamstack-powered solutions, here’s a list of its benefits to consider.

  • Performance

JAMStack tooling enables fast and smooth website content delivery when compared to traditional content workflows. It is possible thanks to pre-built markup and static HTML files served from CDNs – Content Delivery Networks. This technology allows static CDN-backed hosting for your website content, making it as close as possible to the end-users. Once users make their requests, your website pages are delivered to their displays in the blink of an eye. Sure thing, faster loading times of your web or mobile application can noticeably improve customer experience.

  • Productivity

Behind-the-times, monolithic architectures were actually resource hogs. Older systems always force web developers to scramble between doing backend and frontend tasks at the same time. On the contrary to those outdated solutions, JAMstack introduced a new approach to website development. Splitting the front and back with JAMstack, developers can now focus only on frontend processes. Meanwhile, the decoupling streamlines a workflow through frequent utilization of third-party APIs and microservices. All this adds much value to the overall website functionality.

 

  • Reliability

You can stop worrying about maintaining your website files whenever something goes wrong. The static content with assets is already compiled and hosted on a CDN. Upon a request, it is immediately served to mobile or web app users. Such a level of availability makes JAMstack a very reliable solution for both website owners and end-users.

  • Security

Again, due to cloud-based hosting opportunities, you can easily delegate the lion’s share of content-driven tasks from your on-prem server or database. From this moment on, your content assets are safe and sound from all sides. There is no need to worry about various points of cyberattacks. By its design, Jamstack architecture can safeguard your static files from most types of vulnerabilities – security exploits, data leakage, DDoS attacks, malware, and suchlike. The only thing to care about is to pass permission rights to your employees wisely to avoid human mistakes and failures.

  • Scalability

The truth be told, Jamstack is a perfect-fit architecture when it comes to scaling up your website efficiencies. As the latest Jamstack Conf Virtual 2020 revealed, 35% of Jamstack-driven websites created throughout the last 12 months are enterprise-grade. So, what do these stats say to business? Jamstack has become an enterprise-ready solution that may meet all business needs of both SMBs and large-scale organizations.

 

  • Cost-efficiency

Reducing operational costs means much to companies of any type and size. This is where Jamstack scores extra points. Hosting your pre-generated static HTML/CSS files on cloud-based platforms is way cheaper than maintaining or renting dozens of local bare-metal servers. Your starting spending on integrating Jamstack can be even close to zero. The majority of today’s leading serverless computing providers, like Azure Static Web Apps, AWS Amplify, Netlify, or Vercel, are ready to offer you various subscription plans completely free of charge.


To summarize the above, here are some fresh figures showing why to use Jamstack for website development. According to The State of Jamstack 2020 Report by Kentico Kontent, a headless CMS platform, the key reasons in favor of leveraging Jamstack for business are as follows:

What is JAMstack used for? Best practices


What is really worth remembering is that JAMstack is a next-gen architecture for web development. It is neither a programming language nor a CMS nor a specific framework. Jamstack is just the other way around: an innovative dev practice geared to build fast high-performance websites and mobile applications. What’s more, Jamstack tooling can be empowered with headless CMS, SSG, and many other third-party software products.

 

This said, the range of use cases for JAMstack-powered projects boils down to the following: 

  • CDN-side file serving

With loose dependence on on-prem facilities, Jamstack leverages the potential of CDNs to serve pre-generated static files. Getting your content closer to your website or app end-user can drastically enhance the omnichannel customer experience as it reduces page loading times at scale.

  • Cross-browser compatibility

Utilizing cutting-edge tools and frameworks for web development enables your Jamstack-backed websites and applications to be browser-agnostic, even if future leaders are yet to come. Rest assured, such flexibility gives you a sustainable competitive advantage on the market.

  • Build automation

Ensuring all the build processes, like file compilation, packaging, or updating are smoothly automated. It can save you a lot of time and effort since automated builds require minimum human involvement. No change takes place until an older built is getting executed.

  • Versioning

Keep track of all the changes in your codebase via version control systems like Git. With Jamstack on board, you can easily manage any code modifications, simplify staging and testing workflows, ensure data integrity, and improve the entire web development speed and efficiency. Your DevOps team will truly appreciate it!

  • Atomic deployment

When multiple file uploads happen in a row, it usually leads to repetitive website or app glitches. Sure thing, this makes your customers leave you for your competitors. Jamstack helps you avoid continuous deployment times. Once triggered, new deployments are set into action only when all the required files are uploaded. Here, Jamstack contributes much to your project scalability, consistency, and app availability to end-users. No more downtimes caused by lasting uploads.

  • Cache invalidation

After any new build deployment, Jamstack guarantees that all the affected files get instantly invalidated. The older versions of your files stored in a cache on the CDN are quickly replaced with their newer versions respectively. It ensures that all your customers all over the globe enjoy the same app or website experience.


What Static Site Generators are used for JAMStack websites?

In terms of performance, acceleration, and stability the content delivery, traditional dynamic websites most certainly give way to static sites today. To harness the potential of Jamstack to its fullest, consider using one of the leading static site generators. There is a range of SSGs on today’s market – Next.js, Gatsby, Hugo, Jekyll just to name a few.

To help you choose the right framework for your Jamstack website, here’re some recent survey results. Just pick the one you like most, and let Jamstack do the rest.

How does a headless CMS work?

While being a decoupled frontend architecture, Jamstack allows web developers to hone in on improving content delivery to end-users.  The unique feature of Jamstack architecture to ensure a high level of efficiency is widely recognized, and this is true, as we can see from the use cases above.  

With this, however, your success story with Jamstack requires further actions on the backend side. Since you no longer need to use clumsy old content management systems, the next thing you should do is to opt for a decent headless CMS.


Now you may wonder: What is the difference between a traditional and headless CMS? How does it relate to website and app development? Which headless CMS to choose for JAMstack-based sites?

The distinctive feature of any headless CMS is that they have no visualization layer displayed for end-users. However, the lack of WYSIWYG editors for your content marketers or other front-office teams does not make headless CMSs any worse.  These CMSs are purely backend, thus letting you complement them with any frontend architecture you find worthwhile. In our case, this is JAMstack.  

Ghost as a headless CMS for professional publishing

From a wide variety of proprietary and open-source headless CMSs, Ghost is one of the most popular solutions for Jamstack websites. The only fact that this headless CMS is written in Node.js speaks for itself (you remember the leading framework from the survey stats above?). Ghost is an open-source, API-driven headless CMS that supports nearly all static site generators. What’s more, this headless CMS enjoys regular updates and bug fixes thanks to the massive global community on GitHub, with over 12,000 commits that exist so far. 

Ghost enjoys feature-rich functionality, like SEO-friendly content structuring, multiple collaboration roles, simple site editing, and many other advantageous features. All this makes Ghost a perfect pick for JAMstack website development.

Summary

No matter what static site generator and headless CMS you are about to marry with your website or business app, JAMstack is definitely a game-changer for the web development industry. With all the benefits JAMstack can give to your business, however, you may need some professional assistance to smoothly guide you through all the development and integration process. Here comes ByteAnt that has hands-on experience in getting Jamstack things done right on your time and budget.

Just let us know your vision on the website or app you need, and we’ll help you with the rest.

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About the Author
Valeriy is CEO of ByteAnt with over 15 years of experience in software development always focusing and embracing new technologies IoT and SaaS. Besides leading the ByteAnt, Valeriy is a public speaker on tech talks, events, and meetups; mentor and marathon runner.
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