Building online stores isn’t something new, but the technology we use to build them is forever changing and with the growing trend of JAMstack, it's a lot easier to delivery on the growing needs of flexibility, speed and control most online store builders are looking for when choosing their platform.
Thanks to Netlify, JAMstack is now a common term amongst frontend developers. Whether you’re new to building websites or have been around as long as I have, you’ve probably interacted with some parts of the JAMstack, if not all.
But how does any of this relate to commerce?
Let’s take a quick trip down memory lane to see where we were and how we ended up where we are today.
Let’s first remember what it used to be like building an online shop. Building an online store was traditionally an easy process, you’d pick your all-in-one platform, customize your theme, compromise on any features that aren’t available with the platform, add your product inventory and set live!
That worked for quite a long time, and rightly so, Shopify made this process even easier in 2004 when they launched their revolutionary new way to build an online store.
The all-in-one solutions took care of the painful process of compiling a site, uploading files to a server and configuring any SSL, URL rewrites and much more. This type of DevOps behaviour was either outsourced (potentially increasing cost) or handled internally by the “webmaster” (potentially increasing security risk).
Some all-in-one solutions like Magento/nopCommerce required you to FTP your files and there was often no concept of a development environment.
- Vendor/platform lock-in
- Pages required roundtrips to the database
- Typically built on the LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP) stack
- Expensive to integrate other services
- Doesn’t scale with rising SKUs
While not all the above applies in every situation, working with an all-in-one solution tends to output a slower website. Product pages often caused the dreaded n+1 problem when performing queries, even more so out of control when querying related product data.
All of the above tended to led to an average (at best) developer experience.
Before APIs became popular, things like version control, development environments and continuous integration/deployment wasn’t as easy as it is today.
Using the all-in-one solutions often led us to spending most of our time configuring settings in the bulky/slow admin panel. You’d often spend way more time that you’d admit reading tutorials on how to do X, Y & Z in the admin than you would making your commerce experience faster, and more flexible.
Why did we build like this?
It was more often than not because it was what we were used to. It was often cheap because we spent years building workarounds for the platform we used. Often building on the LAMP stack meant we were familiar with programming languages and server configurations, meaning we could get online stores into production as quickly as possible.
It often took months to make the smallest of changes because there was almost no flexibility in the platform when we wanted to do something out of the ordinary.
Thankfully the way we used to build online stores is a thing of the past! With the huge rise in API-first platforms, Elastic Path was born to relieve the pain of building with legacy platforms.
JAMcommerce gives you;
At Elastic Path we hear from users every day that they are looking for all of the above. Users are able to build what they want, how they want, without building complex work arounds. Elastic Path is language agnostic, meaning you get to use the latest and greatest frontend framework. There's no need to train or certify your developers building on Elastic Path, all it takes to get started is a single API request.
Elastic Path fits right into your existing architecture, allowing you to easily embed commerce where you need it.
Great Developer Experience