JAMstack Conference 2020

An overview of JamStack Virtual conference held on 27th of May 2020. The conference focussed on building rich website interfaces using Javascript, APIs and Markup (Hence the name JAMstack).

JAMstack Conference 2020

On 27th of May 2020, A JAMstack virtual conference was organised. The entire conference was conducted online using an event platform, Hopin. The blog post follows along some of the interesting talks presented during the conference, and tweets shared.

First things first, What is JAMstack?

Jamstack is a modern UI(User Interface) web development architecture based on building websites using client-side JavaScript, APIs, & Markup (hence the name JAM Stack). Building websites with JAM stack has many advantages like better performance, higher security, cheaper and Easier Scaling; and Better Developer Experience. We can build production-grade websites without backend, using just a couple of APIs, and Front-end technologies we already know.

Image Credit: FreeCodeCamp
Delivering Modern Website Experiences: Gatsby JS Blog 

Gatsby is a one of the most popular (and loved) frameworks that helps building optimised and fast-loading static web pages using Jamstack. It does have a large directory of plugins too, from building pages to routing to  accessibility and so on. Since Gatsby is powered by ReactJS, all plugins built for ReactJS (and work along with React ecosystem) work really well on Gatsby too. Last year, I built a site using Gatsby and TailwindCSS. Tailwind is a utility-first CSS library and can be very helpful in building the style guide for a project.

We can not only make static websites using JAMstack, but also create dynamic experiences like dashboards and user logins  using authentication services like OAuth.

Matt Biilmann - JAMstack keynote

The first Speaker for the conference was Netlify CEO, Matt Biilmann. He spoke about some of the advantages of using Jamstack and how Netlify can be used to build scalable Jamstack Web Applications. One of the highlights of the talks was how Netlify Build Plugins can be used to automate certain website tasks like accessibility, testing, fonts, Inlining Critical CSS etc . The plugins are just open-source NPM modules which can be added via GUI or in a way which all NPM modules are installed.

These build plugins are just regular NPM packages which run every-time we build an application. A “Build” process happens every time a developer pushes their Git repositories (linked to Netlify) or by literally just dropping the directory into the interface. Netlify processes all the assets, download and install packages, and generate a static version of the site to deploy to CDNs all around the world.

These plugins are generally The plugins can execute a specific code on events like onPreBuild, success (when build is successful), error (when build fails) and so on. A complete list of these (events) is as follows:

A few years back, who would have thought that integrating a payment system in a website would be possible without using backend language! We can use Stripe to process payment with a couple of APIs.

One of the most inspiring talks from the day was Erin Kissane speaking some of the stories that went behind building The COVID-19 Tracking Project. As the name suggests, it is (currently) being used to share the complete data available about COVID-19 in the US.

“Even when our systems fail us, we are not helpless”
- Erin Kissane

This was a very inspiring talk on how technology can be used during the crisis for a public welfare service. Also, the team proved that Jamstack can be used to build websites for millions of users and not just for hobby websites or small projects.

The project showed how volunteers could come together and make a website becomes a standard and a de-facto source of information, even the one used by the Government. The website scaled to almost 2 Million requests per day in a couple of months. Since the website was built using JamStack, it became much easier to scale the infrastructure that powered the website.

Jamie Bradley - Managing Diabetes with Jamstack

Jaimie spoke on how he built HeySugar, an open-source, self hosted, blood sugar monitoring Jamstack app for type one and type two diabetics. It was one of the most interesting talks on how a developers can build their own solutions to the real world problems they face using nothing but the technologies they already know.

Laurie Voss - State of the Jamstack Survey—May 2020

Laurie Voss addressed a keynote sharing the current state of the Jamstack based on an industry survey of 3,000 developers. According to survey responses, the most sought-after benefits of the Jamstack are performance, reliability and developer workflows. One third of respondents reported their Jamstack sites serve millions of users each year.

He explained how Jamstack is not just a mere concept, it is used across the Industry and there are some Enterprise Apps which are built on the same.

You can find the slide decks for the talk here.

Christian Nwamba - Jamstack for Emerging Markets

Christian Nwamba, the senior cloud advocate at Microsoft; gave a talk on how to build websites that perform well even on the slowest internet and average-CPU devices. As developers our focus should not be restricted to only optimising the file size when it comes to performance, but also optimising the render performance because we are unaware of CPU performance of user's device(s).

The internet consumers are ever so increasing in emerging markets and the way they are accessing the products may be a bit different from the way users from developed countries consume them. One of the most compelling things he spoke about is the user journey of internet users in Sub-Saharan Africa and how Jamstack can help  in building a rich experience.

Chris also spoke about building a Jamstack banking website.

What JAMStack does great is to get information to people at any scale, wether it is a small portfolio project or a website visited by millions.

In between the talks, we did have a couple of breaks .  The event website had an interesting way to virtually network the attendees and speakers for the event.

Image Credit: Unsplash

Netlify launched Edge Handler Functions during the conference. You can know about the feature through the keynote addressed by David Calavera. Edge Handler Functions basically allows developers to run code directly on the edge server to handle things like custom authentication patterns, localisation and personalisation.

If you wish to know more about Edge handlers, you can follow along Sarah Drasner's Twitter thread on the same.

Ana Rossetto is a business developer at Myzee labs, a European web development agency. Spoke on how to pitch Jamstack websites to clients and managers. The talk advocates on how Jamstack can add value to businesses and the ways it can benefit the "website owners" and not just users and developers.

The Business Side of Jamstack Websites - Ana Rossetto

Selling tickets without servers. Or frameworks. Or cookies - Jan Van Hellemond

Jan Van Hellemond is a freelance web developer from Amsterdam, Netherlands. He manages the meet-ups for "Server-less Amsterdam" and is a Jamstack enthusiast. He speaks on how we can build a payment system (for a ticket system) without Servers, Frameworks or cookies.

By connecting serverless staples like Amazon API Gateway, Lambda functions, Cloudflare and Netlify (and a few you may not have heard of, yet) a ticketshop was built to handle thousands of requests per second, selling hundreds of tickets per minute but dealing with zero servers. And zero frameworks. And even zero cookies.

Sketchnotes by Ximena

One of the attendees, Ximena Ferral made some interesting sketch-notes during the conference and shared them over Twitter

Points in favour of using a framework, library or methodology:

When one chooses not to use a framework, they end up creating their own framework. In such circumstances, one have to make all the decision for the code including optimisations, accessibility, etc. Using an open-source project or a methodology means its very well written, tested and continuously updated and one does not have to make too many decisions. Most of the times, it makes much more sense to solve problems using framework(s), library(s) or a methodology then to re-invent the wheel.

This makes JamStack a great candidate for building websites in 2020. So, would you be using Jamstack soon in your workflow?

Further Reading:-

  1. Jamstack Slack Channel
  2. Examples of Jamstack Websites

Disclaimer: As of the publish date of this article, I am neither a part of the conference organiser(s) nor its sponsor(s), the views and thoughts shared are my own and do not reflect any past, present or future professional clients or employers.