Headless architecture is only one of the many options available for developers. However, it’s clearly becoming more and more appealing. To dig a little deeper, we analyzed the current trends regarding the Jamstack tech stack and defined what are the most popular headless technologies. Follow the article and stay updated with the latest news from the headless technology world!
What is Headless Architecture?
If you want to learn more about headless architecture/Jamstack, feel free to check one of our latest articles: What is Jamstack?. However, to put it simply, headless technology is one of the methods for building static websites. However, thanks to decoupling, meaning separating front end development from back end development, this technology turns formerly limited static websites into modern, fast and customizable ones, while keeping them lightweight and flexible. That’s a slightly different approach than the one we call a monolithic or traditional architecture.
This is also how Jamstack allows for the creation of nearly any user experience (front end) without the need to disturb the logic of the back end, responding well to the most current web development trends. This type of software development is tailored specifically to the needs of IoT (Internet of Things) or eCommerce industries.
It’s also popular to develop company websites, landing pages, blogs or web applications using Jamstack development. Basically, the only scenario in which headless architecture isn’t a good solution is when you need a website that has to process a lot (we mean: a lot) of real-time data from various sources.
For the last few years, we’ve observed that headless technologies are growing in popularity. Well, according to the dynamic development of eCommerce and IoT, this is not surprising at all – Jamstack development obviously delivers a number of benefits highly valued in those industries, such as high flexibility and adaptability. To learn more about the capabilities of the headless tech stack, check out our guide to the top 10 websites built on Jamstack.
Developers value the Jamstack tech stack for a few reasons, and to name but a few of them:
- Flexibility, scalability, and ability in response to customers’ changing needs
- Freedom in choosing user experience design and the possibility to quickly adjust to business changes
- Flexibility in choosing back end components and functionalities, and the possibility to scale and deploy individual parts of the application
- Possibility to combine it with the latest technologies and third-party solutions
- Easy maintenance combined with an enjoyable, time-saving, and highly satisfying development experience
- Great reusability of pre-made and already existing components
- Easy integration with third-party technologies, systems and APIs (headless eCommerce, CMS, search, payment platforms, and more)
- A fast and structured learning process, easy to pick up for software development enthusiasts
- Support of the vibrant Jamstack community
All of the benefits above are the reasons for the growing popularity of headless architecture. According to HTTP Archive, the number of Jamstack websites in 2021 increased by 50% vs 2020 and has obvious potential for further growth.
Most Popular Headless Technologies in 2022
So, what are the top headless technologies in 2022? According to the Jamstack Community Survey 2021, the features most valued by developers are performance, uptime, security, development speed and compliance. They definitely don’t choose Jamstack development for no reason!
Below you can find the list of the most frequently chosen Jamstack languages, frameworks, third party services and more. The research was based on more than 7,000 responses delivered by Jamstack front end as well as back end developers, and the technology was rated in terms of both popularity and satisfaction. Let’s check them out!
Languages (Headless Approach)
In 2021, SQL was the second most popular Jamstack language, but its satisfaction rate is now one of the lowest in the overview. However, in the last year, we could observe a slight increase in this measure. This may mean that SQL is going to retain its top position, but in 2022 it may still be conquered by one of the more appealing headless technologies. We need to add, however, that SQL is a language that comes with a package for many developers, and it isn’t indispensable, crucial or specific for Jamstack architecture purposes.
According to the Jamstack Community Survey 2021, TypeScript is the most appreciated headless language. Moreover, it is still growing in popularity – its usage increased from 46% to 60% in one year and has already become a primary language for 15% of Jamstack developers. TypeScript users highly value the satisfaction coming from the development experience, reaching the highest score in the overview. This definitely makes it the top trend in headless architecture for 2022.
4. Shell (Bash)
Shell (Bash), the #4 most popular Jamstack language in 2021, has experienced a negative user change (-2.7%) while its satisfaction rate remained almost on the same – unfortunately, low – level. This is why Shell is rather not assumed to become a hero of the 2022 overview, and we can expect the bloom of more promising and appreciated technologies, and it’s no wonder since Bash was created in 1989. In general, however, Bash could be named as a basic tool you’d rather like to know as a developer – no matter if you are a Jamstack developer or any other.
PHP is one of the most stable Jamstack languages presented in the Jamstack Community overview. Remaining the #5 top used language, it didn’t perform any significant decreases or increases in 2021. We will surely and carefully observe it in 2022 to check whether there any fluctuations will appear.
Python, being the #6 most popular Jamstack language, has experienced growth in both the interest and satisfaction of developers. Its usage grew by 7.4% in 2021, which made it remain one of the biggest and most heavily used headless technologies. It is also estimated that it grew from 5% to 7% in the number of developers who consider it as their primary language.
Java, being one of the most popular Jamstack languages, experienced a slight growth in both popularity and satisfaction in 2021. This will most probably ensure its stable growth in 2022.
Despite the fact that C# satisfaction remained unchanged in 2021, its usage increased by 4.6%. This result places this language as #8 most popular for use in headless architecture.
Similar to TypeScript, Go is the next Jamstack language that is being more and more appreciated, experiencing an increase in both usage and user satisfaction. It has reached one of the highest satisfaction rates, signifying its potential to continue growing in 2022.
Rust is another language that doesn’t have a big community yet. However, is on the right path for growth, as it keeps gathering more and more users. Despite the slight decrease in satisfaction in 2021, it still remains the #3 most satisfying Jamstack language.
Frameworks and Libraries
So, what are the most popular and appreciated Jamstack frameworks and libraries? In our opinion, the most promising options for 2022 are:
React.js is the most popular choice for developers that retains a high satisfaction score. This is why React.js web development is still one of the most frequent choices. Its usage grew by 5.7% in 2021, followed by a slight increase in satisfaction, which can turn it into one of the major 2022 headless architecture trends.
Next.js is definitely one of the most frequently used Jamstack frameworks and has one of the highest satisfaction scores, even higher than for React.js (7.0 vs 4.3). This makes it a strong trend for 2022. According to HTTP Archive research, it already covers 43.6% of Jamstack sites.
According to HTTP Archive research, 16.0% of all Jamstack websites are developed with Gatsby, which makes it one of the most popular headless frameworks. However, in 2021 it performed a slight decrease in both usage (-2.9%) and satisfaction. So, we will monitor whether these numbers will influence its position in 2022.
Similar to Next.js, Nuxt is another satisfying and reliable front end framework. Although it is not a hero in the headless architecture market, with such a high satisfaction score, it has a significant potential to grow (its usage increased by +5.2% in 2021). According to HTTP Archive research, Nuxt already takes second place in Jamstack web development with a result of 31.1% for all websites developed with the Jamstack tech stack.
Vue is the #5 most popular Jamstack framework, presenting a high satisfaction rate (5.2). Vue is popular thanks to the ability to build simple applications based on Model-View-Viewmodel and is a great alternative to more complicated options such as Angular or React. Moreover, Vue is easy to learn and can even be picked up by people unexperienced in other frameworks. It is also much faster than its main competitors and provides very clear and well-prepared documentation.
SvelteKit is not the most popular front end framework out there, accounting for 10% of the overall usage of Jamstack frameworks. However, thanks to the huge satisfaction delivered to developers, this technology made it to our list and is expected to grow in 2022. Moreover, Svelte has recently merged with Vercel, helping it to become Jamstack giant with a significant budget for further development. Consequently, we can expect its dynamic expansion in 2022.
The other popular and valued Jamstack frameworks, libraries and third-party services that made it to the top of headless technologies in 2021 are:
18. Eleventy (11ty)
The two last technologies, despite being #2 and #3 in popularity, have become less and less appreciated by Jamstack developers. This may mean that, in the upcoming years, they can lose their top positions in the Jamstack development market. In fact, their great results are driven rather by the fact that many companies require their use rather than developers’ preference. This happens because the frameworks, created more than 15 years ago, no longer correspond with the requirements of modern web development requirements, such as integration with third-party tools and plugins. This is why it keeps losing over more innovative competitors.
Third-Party Services and CMSes
In headless architecture, using third-party APIs and systems is simply inevitable. The combination and ability to easily integrate the Jamstack tech stack with other systems and technologies makes the development process much faster and enables developers to build a fully functional back end without a huge coding workload. Using third-party services allows Jamstack sites to equip themselves with dynamic elements and expand static sites by building additional features.
So, what are the most popular choices for third-party services when it comes to headless architecture enthusiasts?
Choosing authentication as the top priority of Jamstack developers is not surprising at all. According to the Jamstack Community Survey 2021, such systems were used by 55% of programmers. The possibility to use existing login structures makes the authentication process smooth and secure. Coding the entire functionality on their own would require a lot of time and effort of developers, and avoiding this makes the development process much more enjoyable.
Headless CMS (Content Management System)
CMSes (Content Management Systems) were the second most popular third-party systems used by Jamstack front end developers in 2021. The reason is obvious – there’s no point in building an entire text editor from scratch when relevant options are already available on the headless architecture market. Headless CMS was chosen by 53% of Jamstack programmers.
Obviously, the leader of CMS systems is still WordPress, which, despite having a headless solution, is mainly a traditional CMS with all of the monolitic approach’s problematic issues. Thus, in the past few years, its user satisfaction has been decreasing, which creates the chance for other, less frequently used technologies to grow.
So, the headless CMS systems providing users with the highest satisfaction in 2021, according to the Jamstack Community Survey 2021, were:
29. Agility CMS
33. Headless Wordpress (a headless version of traditional CMS)
The other popular third-party services used by headless architecture developers are:
- Digital Assets/Images Management (used by 45% of developers)
- Headless database (used by 36% of developers)
- Headless commerce tools and services (used by 24% of developers)
Static Sites Generators
Static site generators (SSG) are undoubtedly a big part of the Jamstack technology, growing in popularity in the past years. Why has this happened? At the first look, building a static website is an already rather old and outdated website development approach that allows building lightweight but static sites. However, using static sites generators helps to introduce dynamic elements whilst maintaining the simplicity of static sites and the high flexibility of back end and front end development.
Pre-built and pre-rendered sites generated by an SSG ensure fast loads, a great user experience, security and SEO efficiency. Moreover, especially in combination with CMS solutions, they bring excellent and satisfying results, which makes them one of the most loved solutions in Jamstack development. This is why this web technology is so frequently chosen by headless architecture practitioners. Before we present a list of most popular SSGs, we’ll need to clarify one of the basics.
Frameworks vs Static Site Generators: What’s the Difference?
Some of the static site generators, which we’ll take a look at in this part, have already been described in the Frameworks and Libraries section. This is because a static site generator is a specific tool we could also relate to as a framework (which is a broader term). Basically, static site generators allow you to create static HTML, CSS, and JS files that are returned by the server through a simple request without scripting or database queries during page load. To put it very simply, we can generally say that a static site generator is a type of a framework.
Okay, let’s now take a look at the most important static site generators in 2022:
Hugo is a static site generator written in Go. It’s one of the technologies that make the development process particularly fun and enjoyable. According to our experience, Hugo is a great choice for those who are planning to build a big website and wish to retain the flexibility to add and modify an unlimited number of posts. The technology provides an optimal user experience for visitors, great performance and speed, and the great availability of built-in templates accelerating the speed of the development process.
Gatsby is an open-source static site generator with a built-in JS framework. Developers love to use Gatsby mostly due to its well-prepared documentation and the great availability of ready-to-use features and plugins. Those features make the development process smooth and enjoyable, and the produced websites are SEO-optimized and easy to scale. It is then recommended for various kinds of websites, including corporate, eCommerce and SaaS websites, but also personal blogs and landing pages.
Jekyll is a static site generator written in Ruby. Due to its features, such as a huge library of plug-ins and flexibility in content creation, it is mostly recommended for building blogs and personal websites. Moreover, it’s also one of the easiest SSGs to learn. As the oldest SSG, it has a great community and a sum of knowledge accumulated over the years.
Nuxt is a Vue-based, open-source SSG designed for building web applications. In general, websites powered by Nuxt operate fast, and their code is well-optimized. The development process is easy thanks to the presence of pre-defined modules and the possibility of integrations with third-party tools such as Google Analytics.
40. Eleventy (11ty)
Eleventy will be the right option for those who are seeking simple solutions that can be learned fast. It is usually difficult to detect whether a website was built with Eleventy, as the technology is transparent, but also portable, deployable at any hosting provider and easy to integrate with external APIs. We can observe a growing interest in Eleventy within the Jamstack developers community, which can make this technology the next trend for 2022.
The other static sites generators popular in 2021 were:
Other Trends in Headless Architecture
Technologies themselves are not the only trends in the headless architecture world. There are also major changes regarding the developers’ demography and preferences that influence the industry and the direction of its further development. Let’s catch a glimpse over them.
According to the Jamstack Community Survey 2021, the percentage of Jamstack developers having more than one year of experience has significantly grown. Compared with 2020, in 2021 their number was more than tripled. The share of the least experienced developers has risen from 4% to 13%, and in the category of developers with 1-2 years experience in the industry, we observed growth rising from 13% to 19%. This indicates that the interest in Jamstack technology is growing and that there are more and more development adepts who choose to start learning headless architecture.
Moreover, the report also highlighted the changes in employment structure. The number of students doubled – increasing from 9% to 16%. Obviously, the pandemic has significantly accelerated this transformation, undoubtedly in combination with a growing number of early adopters for Jamstack technologies.
What’s even more interesting, however, is that the biggest number of newcomers come from places other than Europe or North America. This means that Jamstack frameworks are becoming a truly global trend.
Benefits of Headless Architecture
If you wish to benefit from headless architecture’s flexibility and scalability yourselves, we bet it’s a great choice and opportunity. We can assure you that you will truly enjoy a fast development process and great flexibility in choosing functionalities and building a great user experience.
And if you’re still looking for a technology partner to explore the Jamstack tech stack with, check out our Jamstack development services or contact us right away. Based on the experience of our developers, we will provide you with recommendations according to the choice of technologies best matching the specifics of your project.