I went to Jamstack Conf 2020 the other day, and was pleasantly surprised! It’s impressive how many great new projects are constantly coming to fruition in the Jamstack space. The event was virtual, and took place on the online conference platform Hopin (which was really good). The whole ordeal was arranged by Netlify, a San Fransisco startup that is spearheading the Jamstack revolution – by enabling developers everywhere with their global serverless infrastructure (Full disclosure: This site is hosted on the Netlify CDN).
The event itself
The conference lasted all the way from 9:00AM to 3:00PM and consisted of a series of keynotes, followed by breakout sessions with Q&A. This was interspersed with smaller talks – “Lighting launches” – and expo booths (chatrooms), where you could interface directly with the great people who are driving this emerging space. Hopin also gave all brave conference-goers the ability to ‘Network’ with timed one-on-one sessions (again, chatrooms). All-in-all, a great conference experience – despite of it being virtual. Mathias “Matt” Biilman, the Danish CEO of Netlify, opened the event with his “The state of Jamstack keynote” – and after that, it was off to the races. What follows, is a TL;DW of some of the talks, that I personally found very interesting.
Raphael Daguenet, the engineering manager at Algolia, showcased their Search as a Service platform – and how it works with the Jamstack. And oh boy, this one is a game-changer. Algolia provides developers with a custom plug-n-play crawler, that indexes your site (after build), based on rules that you yourself define in the Algolia dashboard. What this means, is that you get advanced, contextual search results directly on your Jamstack website, with the click of a button. This takes the absolute pain out of building, maintaining and hosting search. Watch Raphaels lightning launch talk here, where he walks you through implementing Algolia into your Netlify site.
Applitools visual testing
Another interesting segment, was brought to us by Angie Jones from Applitools. Angie did a fantastic job of underlining why the visual testing tools that exist on market today (pixel to pixel comparison), potentially don’t always perform very well. Angie then showcased what Applitools is doing with their machine-learning powered visual testing framework. The results generated by their proprietary A.I. are impressive, to say the least. Angie also demonstrated how to easily add the Applitools framework into any Jamstack application (all modern frameworks are currently supported). Watch Angie give her presentation here.
Fireside chat /w Matt & Matt
Apparently, it’s been sort of a hot-topic for a while – but Matt Mullenweg, the creator of WordPress, and Matt Biilman have been going at it for a while. This was expedited by Biilman writing an article on the Netlify blog, in September, declaring that ‘the era of WordPress is over‘.
The two of them went back and forth on the pros and cons of Jamstack versus hosting WordPress, while Chris Coyier of CSS-Tricks attempted to prevent an international incident from taking place.
Over all, I was left with the impression, that while Mullenweg and Biilman both hold radically different views – it ultimately doesen’t matter for WordPress(.org), if the Jamstack paradigm becomes predominant. In my opinion, WordPress should first and foremost be an open source content management system – and not a hosting platform. Because of this, WordPress as a CMS should continue thriving in a world where CMS’s increasingly become decoupled. It is easily extensible and has a good REST API, after all.
Besides, an untold amount of hours and billions of dollars have been put into the creation of content in WordPress installations all over the globe. This infrastructure isn’t going away any time soon. Added to that, is the fact that millions of users already prefer and are familiar with the WordPress interface.
I think WordPress is great (Gutenberg specifically) – this Gatsby site is sourced from a headless WordPress installation even. However, because of security concerns and server side rendering, decoupled frontends are simply faster and more secure. I think the future is Jamstack.
Another great thing about Jamstack conf being virtual, is that the great folks at Netlify have recorded and uploaded all the talks to YouTube for your viewing pleasure. Head on over to the Jamstack YouTube channel, and check out what is happening in modern web development yourself!