10 Lessons from Jamstack Conf 2020

I learned the latest on what is going on in the world of Jamstack this week at Jamstack Conf Virtual, held May 27, 2020.

I really enjoyed the virtual edition of this year’s Jamstack Conf. It was fast and furious, with 10 talks crammed into about 4 hours.

I loved the virtual format, with over 7,000 other attendees watching the presentations alongside me, learning the latest about the Jamstack.

I got to “hang out” at the Sanity booth, chatting about structured data for nearly two hours in video chat with actual Sanity employees.

I met and connected with a half-dozen other attendees, including one I video chatted with for an hour after the conference.

Plus I saw nearly 4 hours of amazing talks, like this keynote presentation:

Here are my 10 lessons from Jamstack Conf 2020.

1 — Netlify now has build plugins

Netlify did a lightning launch talk where they discussed their powerful new build plugins, which run automatically on every build.

For example, there’s a plugin called Subfont that post-processes your site and automatically optimizes font loading at every build.

Netlify also mentioned that they are improving their edge logic, allowing you to add localization (for example) in a separate layer.

It sounds like that feature is coming very soon.

2 — It’s never been easier to launch a Jamstack site

Netlify, RedwoodJS, and Prismic all did “Lightning Launch” talks, launching new features in short, 10-minute videos.

Three other 10-minute-long videos discussed the business side of the Jamstack, making a Jamstack diabetes monitoring app, and avoiding over-selling event tickets through Jamstack.

What I took from that group of short talks is that it is amazingly easy and fast to create a new Jamstack site.

That’s not to even mention Stackbit or Sanity.com/create, two other tools I discussed with other conference attendees.

There’s never been a better time to launch a powerful website using the Jamstack.

3 — Virtual conferences rock

Here’s why virtual conferences rock, and I would definitely go to another one: Expos, no travel, and free.

The expos feature was my favorite part of the conference. It was a virtual “booth” where representatives of a company could video and text chat with conference attendees, just like a real-life expo hall.

I spent several hours hanging out with the Sanity.io (Sanity CMS) folks, hearing about things I would never find out otherwise.

I learned about awesome Sanity projects (like a beer brewery that tracks all their beer data inside Sanity).

I saw beta features, including the redesign of Sanity Studio that offers live collaboration between multiple users, similar to Google Docs.

I also learned about the Sanity Slack channel and heard enlightened discussion about future Sanity features, like theming and related items.

I didn’t have to travel anywhere, get jet lagged, or pay a thing. I definitely would recommend virtual conferences to anyone.

4 — Volunteers matter

The COVID Tracking Project presentation showed how Jamstack could be used to reconcile 50 data sources into one very useful tool.

This is a volunteer-driven project with real-world implications.

In three months, that volunteer project went from 0 to 2M API requests!

While we could discuss that governments should be funding and hosting this project, it didn’t happen this time.

Thankfully, Jamstack is so easy and powerful that volunteers were able to create and scale the COVID Tracking Project.

We should applaud their effort, which benefits everyone. 👏👏👏

5 — Jamstack is the right choice for emerging markets

With an estimated 80% of people living in sub-saharan Africa getting internet access by 2020, emerging markets are a hot topic.

Christian Nwamba gave an excellent talk about the potential benefits of Jamstack for emerging markets.

He touches on performance, page speed, internet reliability, broadband access, and connection speed.

Statically-generated sites seem especially useful for emerging markets, and Jamstack is the perfect tool to solve that problem.

I think that making sites smaller and faster is something that every web developer can get behind, and I love Christian’s advocacy in this arena.

6 — Jamstack could change health outcomes

In an exciting and brief talk, Jamie Bradley launched the HeySugar project, a Jamstack tool for diabetics to monitor blood sugar.

As a physical therapist, I have treated tons of patients with diabetes.

It can be a crippling disease, leading to kidney failure and amputations.

And the trick to avoiding complications is managing blood sugar levels.

“[Diabetes] treatment is improved by analyzing test results, spotting trends, and making changes.” — Jamie Bradley

I love the out-of-the-box idea of using Jamstack to connect to a person’s blood sugar monitor.

The better a diabetic can control their blood sugar, the better their health outcomes are going to be.

It’s amazing to see Jamstack put to use that way.

7 — Jamstack is mature enough to have best practices

Talented developer Jan van Hellemond gave a great talk covering several best practices for Jamstack development. He recommends:

  • Using simple, single-purpose, plain JavaScript components
  • Prerendering as much as possible, such as by moving generic template logic to the build (e.g. preloading a list of countries to choose from)
  • Having a “simple flow logic” from one part to the next in your app
  • Using webhooks when possible (“Webhooks are your friend”)

These are all practical tips that I can take with me to my next project.

In his talk, he talks about avoiding overselling event tickets by prefilling the database table and then updating the tickets as they were sold.

I loved hearing about Jamstack best practices and how he solved this real-world problem.

8 — Jamstack is all about value

Creating value is the ultimate goal for any web developer or agency, and Jamstack is all about value.

In her excellent talk, Ana Rossetto discussed the business case for using Jamstack, and how to pitch it to clients and agencies.

“Convincing your client, CEO, or marketing team to use a specific technological approach is not an easy task.”
Ana Rossetto

Creating business value for clients is typically one goal, but ultimately the web helps create for the entire community including developers and customers.

According to Ana and the company where she works, Marzee Labs, Jamstack seems to be the right tool for the job.

9 — Jamstack is here to stay

If you like survey results, you will love the talk by npm-cofounder Laurie Voss discussing the results of the State of the Jamstack 2020 survey.

In it, he reports that the developers surveyed responded:

  • The hardest part of luanching site or product is defining the product
  • Rust, Typescript, and JavaScript programmers report the highest satisfaction with their programming languages
  • React is the most used JavaScript framework
  • 11ty and Svelte are the most satisfying frameworks to work with.
  • Developers prefer REST but generally use GraphQL.

I love fun facts like these! It is fascinating to see Jamstack grow and evolve, since the term was coined by Netlify just five years ago, in 2015.

Overall, the survey results indicate that Jamstack is here to stay.

10 — Jamstack is fun

My favorite part of the Jamstack conference was the community of people gathered to learn about and celebrate the Jamstack.

I had some some of the most genuine, interesting, and entertaining interactions with other web-developers.

While I usually enjoy myself around other techies, this felt different.

There seemed to be something magical about interacting with other people interested in the speed, security, and convenience of the Jamstack.

Everyone seemed motivated, inspired, and happy at Jamstack Conf, and it definitely rubbed off on me.

Jamstack is just plain fun!

In addition, I made several professional connections that I will be keeping in touch with over the months and years to come.


I’ve been feeling super motivated to keep leveling up my coding and web development skills since attending Jamstack Conf this week.

Thankfully, the format was virtual, which made it infinitely more convenient and less expensive than it would have otherwise been.

There was something really special about video chatting with other attendees (“hanging out in the booth”) who also like the Jamstack.

Plus, I got to meet Brad Garropy, and he finally made me understand the difference between React, Gatsby, and Next.js. Thanks, Brad!

I don’t have enough good things to say about Jamstack Conf, and I can’t wait to attend my next virtual conference. I hope to meet you there!

Missed Jamstack Conf 2020? Watch all 10 video replays over at YouTube.

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Photo by Vicko Mozara on Unsplash

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Coding at Dawn

Laid-back programming + relaxing photography

Dr. Derek Austin 🥳

Written by

🤓 The physical therapist who writes JavaScript 💪 Web Developer 😎 Mentor 🧠 DPT 😄 SEO Expert 😁 React 😆 Jamstack 💬 Ask me anything 👉 DoctorDerek.com 👈

Coding at Dawn

Laid-back programming + relaxing photography

Dr. Derek Austin 🥳

Written by

🤓 The physical therapist who writes JavaScript 💪 Web Developer 😎 Mentor 🧠 DPT 😄 SEO Expert 😁 React 😆 Jamstack 💬 Ask me anything 👉 DoctorDerek.com 👈

Coding at Dawn

Laid-back programming + relaxing photography

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