TIL my site is a JAMStack site.
2021 September 10

Today I learned that my site which has been basically the same since 2016 is a JAMStack site. Although it was coined in 2015 by Netlify, it seems to have become really popular in the past 2 years as a term. I’m told it’s more of a theoretical framework than anything else. JAMStack stands for JavaScript, APIs, and Markup.

So the big idea is instead of the server rendering any specific information in the response, you render any progressive enhancement on the client side using JavaScript. The APIs provide help to make site better like comments or search or some other interaction. The markup part is the actual pre-rendered html served up without a live program generating it based on user input. This means that it is generated when you deploy it, and you have raw html files being sent over the wire with instructions on how to progressively make it better, as with a static site generator such as Jekyll or one of the hundreds of out there.

My site has all of those parts in spades. This is site is built using Jekyll and it’s liquid templates, and all the mark up is completely static. There’s some JavaScript which provides progressive enhancement on the site. It helps with making the tag cloud interesting and visually appealing, and there’s some little things like spoilers and interactive presentations here. The APIs come in with my search engine, the search suggestions, and some data visualization like the lottery numbers which depend on a live feed of numbers and various APIs.

There’s another part of JAMStack where you should use microservices which is a good idea. I like using APIs to extend and request information in my site. Exposing them makes the world better for everyone, and can enable some cool interactivity. In fact I wish more sites would provide cool APIs since it seems like the golden age of integration of everything by everyone is over because of the bad actors.

I don’t think my site is special among the millions of other blogs out there. I think these ideas are wildly practiced and were practiced in the past. In fact I would argue that JAMStack isn’t really a new concept. It’s AJAX, or progressively loading data as you need it to make a better experience. JAMStack fundamentally seems to come down to load as little as you can over the network, and make make as few requests as possible. That’s not new, its good performance engineering. As are most things in JAMStack, it’s just another buzzword to sell to developers to build up their resumes. It’s nice to be able to encourage slim applications and static hosting. It’s a reduction in bloat.

As for me, I won’t be moving my hosting and will stick with my current old school host, NearlyFreeSpeech.net, because they are reliable and most people don’t need more. Plus it’s nice to support a company that tries to support as open a web as possible. (Not an ad or sponsored I just like them).

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Written by Henry J Schmale on 2021 September 10
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