We’re not talking about breakfast here, although you could make an alphabet cereal from all the technology stack acronyms powering the internet.
What is a technology stack? In the context of websites, a technology stack is the combination of all the technologies used to build a website or a single-page application (SPA)—also called a solutions stack or data ecosystem.
If you aren’t familiar with technology stacks but are running a website, chances are you are running the LAMP stack, which is powering your content management system (CMS). Popular CMS platforms like Wordpress, Drupal and Joomla all run on this Linux operating system, Apache host (server), MySQL database and PHP (coding language) technology stack.
The LAMP stack, while tried and true, is an aged technology stack that has been around since dinosaurs were crawling the internet, and although many sites have run just fine over the years employing these technologies, those that wish to be on the cutting edge of speed, performance, interactivity and usability have had to seek elsewhere, especially if they are interested in taking the foray into SPAs. This is because this tech stack requires the web server to do a lot of heavy lifting, and each web page on a LAMP stack site you visit requires a new web request and a complete refresh of all the content viewable in your browser. SPAs powered by modern technology stacks streamline performance leveraging the client (your computer) to do a lot of the work rather than waiting for the server to make many calculations and then send over a response (which gets compounded the more people who simultaneously visiting your site).
There are many benefits to the JAM stack approach.
2. The organization can continue to use their CMS and backend of choice—no need to architect a custom backend experience or retrain content managers to utilize a new platform.
3. The new site should be blazingly fast, especially compared to how it performed on the old platform. CMSs like Wordpress are notorious for adding a lot of “bloat” to a website—core technologies and plugin after plugin end up creating a data payload that requires many server requests.
Often, this data is not well optimized so users are often downloading much more data than necessary just for a few web pages. It is not uncommon to download the code for the majority of the site, even though a web page only requires a small portion of that code to run. Lastly, JAM stack sites utilizing tools like Gatsby are very SEO-friendly. Unlike unoptimized SPAs, the majority of a website’s content is statically rendered in a way that search engines can easily digest and understand. Also, the commitment to performance means any search algorithms that reward page speed will be impressed that data resources have been well partitioned and optimized to reduce bloat and serve content as quickly as possible.
The Bottom Line
Technology is constantly changing, so if your organization is still utilizing an older technology stack like LAMP, you may be falling behind. But that doesn’t mean you have to scrap everything and do the absolute latest and greatest either. You can set yourself up for success by using the JAM stack and partnering with a group that can help you bridge the old with the new.