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Reflections on Jamstack Virtual 2020

Published June 2, 2020

This was my first Jamstack conference, but it may not be my last. For an event that quickly had to pivot from an in-person London event to an online one, the Netlify team did a fantastic job. It felt like it was always meant to be virtual, or at the very least like they had done it before. This success might — at least in part — been due to the platform they picked though. Hopin is a sublime way to run a virtual conference and definitely worth checking out.

Of course the quality of a conference really boils down to its talks, and Jamstack Virtual 2020 shined there as well. They covered a variety of topics: the Jamstack technology itself, how it can improve people’s lives, and why it makes sense from a business perspective. Here are some highlights that stood out to me, and warrant further sharing.

#The COVID Tracking Project

This talk by Erin Kissane was not only incredibly moving and given by someone with tremendous passion, it really drove home two strengths of the Jamstack: performance and scalability. When she shared the story about the White House referring to this volunteer project in a briefing, their traffic spiked over 600%. Where traditional infrastructure might have seen a server crash, or significantly reduced performance from a massive server load, the team at the COVID Tracking Project didn’t even notice a blip.

From Erin Kissane's Jamstack Conf 2020 talk, "The Covid Tracking Project: 0 to 2M API Requests in 3 Months"

Watch the talk for free on YouTube!

#Emerging Markets

Christian Nwamba gave us a first hand account of what the internet in the developing world is like, why businesses should care (hint: it’s money), and how the Jamstack can be used to improve the customer experience. I think the quote that nicely sums it all up is, “if it works in Africa, it works everywhere.” It’s hard to summarize this comprehensive talk, but if international companies want to capitalize on a largely untapped, rapidly expanding market, they need an online presence that is fast and small.

Watch the talk for free on YouTube!

#The State of Jamstack

I love data. I would breathe charts and graphs if I could, so when Laurie Voss came on to discuss his findings from the Jamstack survey, I was like a kid in a candy store — and I wasn’t disappointed! The most interesting thing that came from the talk is what Laurie described as the “mushroom of sadness.” This mushroom highlights where our industry often fails in communication. For example, based on the data, it seems customer support talks to marketing and engineering, but neither marketing or engineering get back to them. These seem like stereotypes, and yet are reflected in the data.

A few other highlights from his talk:

Web framework satisfaction & size from Laurie Voss's State of the Jamstack Survey--May 2020

Watch the talk for free on YouTube!


Tom Preston-Werner is one of the founders of GitHub, and helped bring us Jekyll, Gravatar, and a bunch of other things that make him an impressive figure. He came to Jamstack Virtual 2020 to introduce us to a JavaScript framework called Redwoodjs, which he describes as “bringing full-stack to the Jamstack.” The core philosophy seems to be about improving developer experience, making it even easier to deploy Jamstack applications. It’s still in alpha, but it looks very promising. It’s worth checking out and keeping an eye on.

Watch the talk for free on YouTube!

#A Thank You to Netlify

Netlify really put together an excellent conference (which doesn’t surprise me given the quality of their products). With attendees from 128 countries, and speakers across three continents, it might also have been the most diverse conference I’ve ever been to. You can watch all of the talks on their YouTube playlist. If you’d like to learn more about the Jamstack, check out jamstack.org or netlify.com/jamstack for some high-level overviews. I’ll be sure to check out Jamstack Conf 2021. Until then, jam on!