The digital business environment is technologically complex, and without at least a decent knowledge foundation, it is fairly easy to get lost, miss many opportunities, and do things the wrong way, even without knowing it.

JAMstack: A definition


JAMstack is an architectural approach that decouples the web experience layer (front end) from data and business logic (back end), adding flexibility, scalability, performance, and maintainability. JAMstack empowers developers to quickly and efficiently create and serve static websites to end users.

In a JAMstack web application, most, if not all, of the pages are completely pre-built in a build system and stored in a content delivery network (CDN).

JAMstack: What does it stand for

JAM stands for JavaScript, APIs, and Markup.

JavaScript provides the mechanism for the web application to interact with APIs and transform the data as needed for the front end to display it to the user. JavaScript adds the necessary dynamic functionalities, such as validating forms, posting to APIs, and retrieving data from APIs, thus enabling the application to become a full-fledged web application.

API, short for application programming interface, is typically a headless CMS that offers management tools for storing, editing, and creating data. This data is then exposed to the front end via JavaScript.

The markup, consisting of HTML, is necessary to structure the data in the front end, while CSS provides visual formatting in accordance with the company's identity.

JAMstack: The benefits

The top benefit of the JAMstack approach is performance. The time it takes for a request to be fulfilled is influenced by factors such as the distance it must travel, the number of systems it interacts with, and the tasks performed in each of those systems. When built with JAMstack, visitors don't need to interact with the machinery involved in generating each view. Instead, we can deliver the result of that prior work directly from a distributed network of caches (a CDN), reducing the distance requests travel and avoiding interactions with those systems.

Another advantage is scalability. JAMstack applications can handle significant increases in usage due to the minimal server resources required to serve static HTML pages.

Developer experience also improves consistently with JAMstack. In such applications, developers can focus on creating a compelling front-end user experience without being overly concerned about the backend or performance issues.

Furthermore, JAMstack contributes to better security. Pre-rendered pages in a JAMstack application have limited vectors for malicious attacks. By removing the need for servers to perform logic and tasks, we can prevent bad actors from injecting malicious code.

Last but not least, JAMstack offers a simplified hosting infrastructure. Since JAMstack applications don't require database access, complex logic operations, or resource modifications for every view, a simple web server is often sufficient for hosting. This streamlined infrastructure also enhances security, as there are fewer servers involved in handling requests.

Static site generators

We cannot talk about JAMstack without mentioning static site generators. These tools can be executed as part of a build system to convert content, data, and templates into files that will later be deployed to a hosting environment as a ready-to-serve website.

The key distinction between a static site generator and a traditional web application stack lies in the process of generating views. Unlike traditional stacks that generate views on demand when a page is requested, a static site generator pre-generates views in advance. This means that the view is already prepared and ready to be served ahead of time. Furthermore, this pre-generation occurs for every possible view of a site during the build phase.

This approach has several important implications, with the most significant being the shift of workload from "request time" (when users request a view) to "build time", which is independent of user requests. This "decoupled" architecture severs the relationship between the number of site visits and the overhead of generating views to serve those visits.


Headless CMS

A headless CMS, also known as headless software or a headless system, is a type of back-end content management system where the content repository, referred to as the "body," is separated or decoupled from the presentation layer, known as the "head."

These types of content management systems usually hold the entire data layer, which can be exposed to a static site generator via JavaScript or any other device or service, such as games, IoT, smart devices, etc. Most of the time, headless CMSes are hosted and delivered from the cloud.

One of the most important features of headless CMSes is their limitless scalability, allowing them to support any number of connected devices. This makes content in a headless CMS endlessly reusable, regardless of the omnichannel customer experience you are aiming for today or the channels that may emerge in the future. This is different from WordPress and other monolithic CMSes that tightly couple the frontend with the backend, limiting how content can be displayed.

Exchanging data with a headless CMS is straightforward as they expose a REST API that is easy to consume and manage using visual tools.

Think of headless architecture and APIs like this: the main role of a headless CMS is to store and manage your content, while APIs act as the connection points enabling communication between backend systems (e.g., headless CMS) and frontend systems (e.g., website) in the specific ways desired by a digital team.

Some of the most widely used headless CMSes include:


Websites built with JAMstack architecture need to be hosted somewhere to be accessible to the public. The number of companies offering hosting and static site generator tools has also increased lately, providing a plethora of tools and services that facilitate the developer's work.

The most important actors in hosting JAMstack projects are:


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