State of Jamstack 2021: The pros, cons, and future of Jamstack

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    Jamstack is the modern web development architecture taking the development world by storm over the last couple of years. The reasons why developers and enterprises alike have been turning towards the Jamstack have been plentiful, from the promise of more speed to heightened security.

    We’ve introduced Jamstack before, giving an overview of what it is and why marketers should pay attention. But now, we’ll be revisiting Jamstack, diving into the pros and cons of the stack, and taking a look at what its future may hold as the stack and its vibrant community evolves.

    Jamstack’s rise to prominence can be heavily attributed to the work done by Netlify. As the pioneers of Jamstack, anyone that uses Netlify’s web development platform will be familiar with Jamstack and its ability to help developers create more performant and scalable websites.

    The combination of the JavaScript, APIs, and Markup components that make up the Jamstack also shed some light on why Jamstack has become so popular. JavaScript frameworks are the foundation of most web browsers today, and APIs are the connective tissue that enables services to communicate with each other. Essentially, the key elements of the Jamstack are what keep the modern web ticking.

    Jamstack relies on static websites that offer more security, speed, and scalability than their dynamic counterparts. This represents a return to the early days of web development without the many complexities that some websites have. And for developers, Jamstack websites have been known to enable faster performance, enhance the developer experience, increase security and provide greater scalability.

    Current state of Jamstack adoption

    Jamstack was originally coined roughly six years ago in 2015. So, where does it stand after over half a decade in the limelight? In recent years, there have been quite a few surveys and studies conducted on the Jamstack that paint an interesting picture.

    According to Web Almanac, Jamstack is growing at a rapid pace. As of 2020, 0.9% of desktop web pages are powered by Jamstack, a massive 85% increase from the 0.5% only a year prior. For mobile, there was an even more substantial 147% increase from 0.34% in 2019 to 0.85% in 2020. Netlify’s State of the Jamstack survey also indicates heavy Jamstack adoption, with 71% of respondents using the architecture for 2 years or less, while only 16% of respondents reported being a developer for that same period.

    Much of this growth stems from the Jamstack community and the various products and services that make up the Jamstack ecosystem. Several JavaScript, or rather Jamstack frameworks, have also seen tremendous growth, including Next.js, Nuxt.js, and Gatsby. Built off the foundation of React, Vue, and others, these frameworks also double as static site generators, another key component of the Jamstack.

    Platforms like Netlify and Vercel provide hosting, repositories such as Git and Gitlab storage, and headless CMSs like Storyblok handle content management. There are also many other services such as eCommerce platforms, payments providers, and more, all connected via APIs.

    The Jamstack ecosystem is vast and continues to grow. Yet, the adoption of Jamstack and the growth of its ecosystem aren’t the only things which need to be considered. It’s also important to weigh the pros and cons.

    Jamstack pros

    If there’s one thing the Jamstack community has done a good job of it, it’s documenting the pros of using the architecture.

    Speed Jamstack sites achieve faster performance since pages are served as pre-built markup via a CDN rather than loading them from a web server.

    Scalability Once again, Jamstack leverages a CDN to cache assets, allowing them to be deployed as necessary without having to manage server loads.

    Security Jamstack sites have a smaller surface area to attack due to removing unnecessary moving parts and the fact that the frontend presentation is decoupled from the backend layer.

    API-first approach Jamstack enables those that use it to take an API-first approach to building web applications. This provides the flexibility to easily integrate new services and select the best-of-breed options available.

    **Benefit of microservices ** Microservices break up larger monolithic applications into smaller, more modular components. These components are independently deployable and scalable. Since Jamstack uses APIs, this enables the adoption of a microservices approach.

    Faster time to market Jamstack enables developers to choose the frameworks they want to use. Along with the modularity of microservices and APIs’ flexibility, developers can deploy applications much faster than with traditional web development methods.

    Jamstack cons

    The popularity of Jamstack cannot be underestimated, but there are still quite a few cons to contend with if your organization adopts Jamstack.

    Manual changes for static sites Static sites provide several advantages, but one of the drawbacks is that changes need to be made to each page manually. This isn’t an issue for small websites, but for larger websites with hundreds of pages, Jamstack might not be the right approach.

    No dynamic content Dynamic websites offer the capability to personalize the content on a web page. For example, location and weather information can be updated depending on a visitor’s location. Also, by interacting on the website, more personalized features can be provided. Static websites don’t provide these features as easily.

    Developer dependency If you build a Jamstack site, you will be dependent on your developers to keep it running and update the content. While Jamstack continues to grow in popularity, it is still a very niche space, meaning that developers who are knowledgeable in the architecture aren’t as plentiful as businesses would like.

    Learning curve Another issue is that the learning curve for new developers can be quite steep. As mentioned in the State of Jamstack survey, only 16% of developers using Jamstack have less than 2 years of experience. Developers need to be experienced with JavaScript and APIs before they can start using Jamstack and for many entry-level developers. This can make it difficult to locate talent.

    Dependency on a good CMS for marketer friendliness Jamstack does provide benefits for marketers, but at its core, it’s not marketer-friendly. You need to select the right CMS, or developers need to build marketer-friendly environments for marketers to achieve success. This becomes something else that needs to be built and maintained by the development team.

    How to get started with the Jamstack

    After weighing the pros and cons of Jamstack and wondering what you need to get started. It all starts with selecting your technology from the myriad of options within the ecosystem.

    Framework selection There is an abundance of JavaScript frameworks that can be used for Jamstack, including React, Vue, and Svelte.

    Static site generator A static site generator (SSG) creates a static site from HTML files then deploys the site to an HTTP server. Some common SSGs for Jamstack include Gatsby, Hugo, and Jekyll.

    Headless CMS Next up, the headless CMS, which separates the frontend presentation layer from the backend content management system and connects them via APIs. These APIs enable developers to connect to the Jamstack sites and additional services while the CMS manages content.

    Infrastructure & hosting You need to decide on where your Jamstack site will be deployed. The likes of Netlify and Vercel are pretty common.

    Talent Finally, and perhaps most importantly, you need developers who are familiar with and want to use the Jamstack and the cutting edge JavaScript frameworks it leverages, including React, Next, and Nuxt.

    How to contribute to the Jamstack

    Adoption of the Jamstack isn’t expected to slow down anytime soon, even as organizations wrestle with the pros and cons. This means many will want to get more involved in the Jamstack community. Here are some ways you can contribute.

    1. Create and share: Start building Jamstack projects and share them on Jamstack Slack channels and more via social media. You can also contribute to open-source projects and work with other developers.

    2. Teach and advocate: Jamstack is still niche, meaning that experienced developers have the opportunity to teach others how to use it and become advocates for the architecture.

    3. Support the Jamstack industry: Whether you choose to join a Meetup, attend a digital conference or event, interact with the Slack community or join a company that uses Jamstack, there are many opportunities to support the Jamstack industry.

    Storyblok: A Jamstack CMS (and much more!)

    A headless CMS is a critical element to make your next Jamstack creation work. It determines how easily your developers can set up Jamstack and whether or not your marketers will have a hard time.

    Storyblok is a headless CMS that is Jamstack-ready if you need it to be, yet capable of so much more. Whether you want to use a JavaScript framework to power your frontend or prefer to use another language such as Python, Django, or PHP, Storyblok works with any technology you can think of.

    For the Jamstack enthusiasts, Fundbox migrated their Jamstack website to Storyblok, allowing them to modernize their website and achieve great performance. They decided to use Storyblok because of support for Jamstack and the ability to preview content before publishing and easy workflows for the marketing team.

    Want to learn more about how Storyblok can be used for Jamstack sites? Read the full case study How Fundbox made the switch to Storyblok to provide the greatest content experience for the team.