Why JAMstack, Why Now, and Why Agility CMS?

Joel Varty
Joel Varty
Feb 22, 2020

The concept of JAMstack exploded onto the developer scene a few years ago and is now seen as the go-to stack for building fast and responsive websites. Interestingly, JAMstack isn’t a new framework or set of tools, it’s a combination of some familiar faces. The acronym ‘JAM’ stands for JavaScript, APIs, and Markup.

JavaScript provides dynamic functionalities, and there are no restrictions on the frameworks or libraries that can be used, whether that be React, Next, Vue or something else entirely. Server-side operations are removed and replaced by reusable APIs that are accessible over HTTPS using JavaScript. Finally, websites exist as static HTML files generated from source files or using a Static Site Generator. 

JAMstack is abuzz in the CMS community, but its capabilities extend far beyond improving content management and are revolutionizing the internet as it is known today. 

Recently, Agility CMS held a webinar all about JAMstack, its impact on DevOps, and how brands can leverage JAMstack in tandem with Agility CMS and Gatsby (as well as other frameworks) to launch super speedy static sites. 

Watch the full webinar below, or read on if you prefer the written word. 

Looking Back at the Pre-JAMstack World

Many of the websites before JAMstack were server-rendered websites. There are also quite a few legacy websites with monolithic CMS platforms using server-rendered sites today. When browser requests came in, content and code needed to be compiled at run-time to service those requests. Code gets deployed to a server, but it never changes. Content, on the other hand, especially when working with a CMS, changes all the time. These changes can happen immediately, which presents some risk. If the content added by a marketing team doesn’t meet specific requirements, it can create problems such as layout issues that a developer would then need to fix. 

With code and content managed separately, it can prove challenging to manage in a typical DevOps process. A straightforward DevOps process includes a series of interactions from code to build to a staging server to a UAT server and finally to production. When there are multiple variables in the code, this can make things complex. The content, in this case, is managed through a legacy CMS like WordPress. 

Thanks to JAMstack, the DevOps flow includes a build server. A build server combines all of the code and content at build time instead of run-time. They are then used to create static web pages using HTML, CSS and JS. When a user sends a page request, the pre-compiled file is served directly to the browser from a content delivery network (CDN). With a build server, nothing can be changed until it goes through the build. This prevents risk and allows developers to control the entire process. Additionally, content updates are handled through Git or a headless CMS that supports static sites. 

With the browsers today combined with static site generators, APIs and CDNs web developers are transitioning from server-side applications to client-side stacks. 

The Benefits of JAMstack

JAMstack provides a few key benefits, including faster performance, increased security, reduced costs, improved developer experience and scalability.  

The low cost of hosting means that you can simply rely on a scalable CDN to maintain your website. There is no longer a need for web farms and expensive hardware. Static file hosting tends to be cheap or free, so stakeholders and customers save thousands of dollars on servers and processing power. 

JAMstack sites are reliable and require less developer support to manage them. This is especially useful when working with a headless CMS that is already improving the workflow between your developer and less technical team members creating and editing content. 

Finally, the developer experience is vastly improved as changes made to a web page such as adding content require deployment. Developers can vet any changes before something goes live reducing the time they need to manage servers and uptime.

Read More: What is JAMstack, and Why Should Editors Care?

JavaScript Love

One of the critical benefits of JAMstack is, of course, the JavaScript component. Frameworks have evolved over the years, and modern frameworks such as React, Angular and Vue are crucial to the explosion in single-page apps and progressive web apps that have taken over the web. 

Also, critically for businesses hoping to utilize JAMstack, finding developers who can work with JavaScript is quite easy. There are a plethora of developers available who understand JavaScript and know how to use it to meet your needs. Besides, the popularity of developer boot camps condensing computer science or software engineering material into shorter 3 to 6 month periods continues to rise. Graduates from these programs are familiar with frameworks such as React and Angular, making it easier for them to get up to speed quickly. 

On the backs of the fundamental frameworks, various static site generators from Gatsby, to Next.js to Nuxt have appeared. These static site generators are making JAMstack sites today more dynamic than static, meaning that the likelihood for errors and increased complexities that would be difficult for junior developers to handle are reduced. 

Agility CMS + JAMstack = Epic Speeds

Despite being a .NET CMS for over a decade, Agility made the decision to support JAMstack. Some of the reasons for using JAMstack include the increased performance and reliability of statically generated sites. 

Joel Varty, President Agility CMS, said it best in our recent JAMstack webinar, “frameworks like Gatsby.js and Next.js are really good at bundling pages up into small chunks, so the actual files themselves are smaller and more responsive—everything just feels faster.”

JAMstack also provides increased security by reducing the entry points for a hacker to attack that are available on traditional web servers. Finally, the popularity of JAMstack among the JavaScript developer community means that more developers become empowered by Agility CMS. 

If you would like to learn more about JAMStack, register for our next webinar.

Learning JAMstack? So, this eBook is for you!

eBook JAMstack for Beginners - Agility CMS and Ikius
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