7 Best Frameworks for Jamstack Development in 2023

Jamstack is revolutionizing modern web development with its emphasis on performance, security and scalability. Instead of traditional monolithic architectures, Jamstack builds sites using pre-rendered HTML files, reusable APIs and dynamic client-side JavaScript.

This powerful new approach is gaining immense popularity among developers. According to recent surveys, over 65% of web developers are now using Jamstack, with adoption growing over 50% year-over-year.

But with so many tools and frameworks to build Jamstack sites, which one should you choose?

In this definitive guide, we compare the 7 best Jamstack frameworks for developers in 2023 based on community adoption, capabilities, learning curves and use cases.

A Brief Background on Jamstack

Before diving into the frameworks, let‘s quickly recap what Jamstack is and why it‘s so revolutionary.

Jamstack stands for JavaScript, APIs and Markup. The key principles are:

  • Pre-rendered static sites and assets – Sites are built into highly optimized static pages and assets during a build process
  • Reusable APIs – External APIs and services handle dynamic data and functionality
  • Client-side JavaScript – Interactive UI logic happens directly in the browser without needing a web server

Compared to traditional monolithic CMS platforms, Jamstack offers unmatched benefits like:

  • Blazing fast performance – No need to generate pages on request, CDNs can serve pre-built files
  • Enhanced security – No servers to hack with surface area minimized
  • Greater scalability – Easily handles traffic spikes as pages come pre-rendered
  • Cheaper hosting – No need to run databases and servers, hosting is simplified
  • Better developer experience – Modern workflows and infrastructure automation

With these benefits, it‘s no wonder over 65% of developers are now building sites using the Jamstack architecture.

Now let‘s explore some of the most popular frameworks you can leverage.

1. Next.js – The React Framework for Jamstack

Next.js has exploded in popularity as the de facto React framework for Jamstack. Released in 2016, Next.js aimed to make web development with React easier with built-in capabilities like:

  • Server-side rendering – Optional rendering during build for better SEO
  • Static site generation – Export completely static sites for CDNs
  • Zero-config builds – Automatic compilation, bundling and minification
  • Routing and page management – File-system based routes and pages
  • Rich data fetching – Built-in methods to get data from APIs

With these features, Next.js provides a seamless Jamstack development experience. And the numbers speak to its adoption:

  • Over 28,100 GitHub stars
  • Used by over 1/2 of Jamstack developers
  • Powers popular sites like Netflix, Twitch, GitHub and more

For those familiar with React, Next.js is easy to get started with. And you can incrementally adopt its advanced features like server-side rendering.

Overall, if you want a fully-featured Jamstack framework with React, Next.js is undoubtedly the leader.

When to Use Next.js

Next.js excels for:

  • React-based web apps and sites
  • Applications needing server-side rendering
  • Marketing sites, blogs and ecommerce stores
  • Teams with React experience seeking an easier developer experience

2. GatsbyJS – Lightning-Fast Static Site Generation

GatsbyJS is a wildly popular React-based static site generator perfect for the Jamstack. It builds on React‘s component model to let you create lightning fast websites using data from any source.

Under the hood, Gatsby handles tasks like:

  • Static site generation – Compiles sites into optimized static HTML/CSS/JS
  • Data hub – Pull data from APIs, CMSs, databases into GraphQL
  • Lazy loading – Pages only load critical code needed for user‘s visit
  • Performance optimizations – Automatic code splitting, image processing, inlining critical CSS and more
  • Plugins – Extend functionality with vast plugin ecosystem

The end result is blazing fast, secure websites that can scale.

Gatsby is also beloved for its documentation and resources. This makes ramping up relatively easy compared to other static site generators.

For these reasons, Gatsby continues strong adoption:

  • Over 50,000 GitHub stars
  • 75K+ Gatsby sites in production
  • Used by companies like IBM, PayPal, Braun and others

In summary, if you want to build lightning fast Jamstack sites with React and GraphQL sourcing data from anywhere, Gatsby is a fantastic choice.

When to Use GatsbyJS

Gatsby shines for:

  • Marketing sites, blogs and ecommerce stores
  • Organizations with React developers
  • Sites needing custom data integrations
  • Content-focused websites pulling data from various sources

3. Nuxt.js – The Vue Framework for Jamstack

Nuxt.js occupies a similar position as Next.js but for the popular Vue JS framework. It aims to make web development with Vue easier with out-of-box Jamstack capabilities like:

  • Static site generation – Export completely static Vue apps
  • Server-side rendering – Optional rendering during build for SEO
  • Powerful routing – Automatic code-splitting, async data and more
  • Module ecosystem – Extend functionality with composable modules
  • Developer experience – Hot reloading, aliases, style resources and more

For those who prefer Vue over React, Nuxt makes it simple to build production-ready Jamstack sites. And it simplifies transitions from traditional Vue apps by keeping the same file-based structure.

Nuxt adoption also continues to grow:

  • 19,700+ GitHub stars
  • Official support from core team
  • Used by sites like news.com.au, chess.com and more

So if your team prefers Vue over React, Nuxt is the clear choice for crafting Jamstack sites.

When To Use Nuxt.js

Nuxt is great for:

  • Developers with experience in Vue
  • Teams standardizing on Vue
  • Basic marketing/content sites to complex web apps
  • Adding interactivity to static sites built with other SSGs

4. Hugo – The Lightning Fast Static Site Generator

Hugo is a popular open-source static site generator designed purely for speed and performance. Built in Go, it can build sites with markdown content into HTML faster than any other option.

Unlike some generators focused on developer experience, Hugo embraces simplicity with features like:

  • Blazing build speeds – Can build entire sites within milliseconds
  • Minimalism – Rips out unneeded code leaving just static files
  • Flexibility – BYO front-end framework, CSS and JS
  • Themes – Large theme ecosystem to quickly get started
  • Extendable – Uses Go templates for custom logic and layouts

The raw speed and simplicity of Hugo makes it ideal for blogs and simple sites. This leads to continued growth:

  • 83K GitHub stars
  • Powers 1M+ sites including Smashing Magazine, Wired and more
  • Used by major companies like Apple, Google, Microsoft

So if you want stupidly fast builds when generating simple sites in markdown, Hugo can‘t be beat. It shines for personal blogs, documentation, marketing brochureware sites and more.

When To Use Hugo

Hugo excels for:

  • Personal blogs and simple content/marketing sites
  • Documentation and manuals
  • Teams needing lightning fast build speeds at scale

5. Jekyll – The OG Static Site Generator

Jekyll holds a special place as one of the original static site generators. First released in 2008, it lets you transform plain text like Markdown into static websites.

Jekyll remains popular thanks to features like:

  • Text focused – Focused purely on converting markdown and text to sites
  • Blog aware – Special handling for blog posts and categories
  • Themes – 100s of open source themes available
  • GitHub Pages – Built-in deployment to GitHub Pages
  • Plugins – Ruby based plugins for added functionality
  • Lightweight – No front-end frameworks required

While not as fast as Hugo, Jekyll sites still build lightning fast. Its longevity and focus make Jekyll suitable for text-heavy sites like blogs.

Some adoption metrics for Jekyll include:

  • 43K GitHub stars
  • Powers massive sites like GitHub‘s documentation
  • Used by companies like Mozilla, Shopify, Slideshare

For over a decade, Jekyll has helped transform text into websites. So for blogging and documentation sites, it remains a fantastic option.

When To Use Jekyll

Jekyll is great for:

  • Personal, hobby or open source project blogs
  • Documentation websites
  • Simple marketing and content sites

6. Astro – The Newcomer for Building Jamstack Sites

Astro bills itself as the "all-in-one web framework" for modern web development. Developed by the Ionic team, Astro aims to unite components, web standards and v2 of the Jamstack.

Unlike other options, Astro focuses more on framework extensibility versus being prescriptive. Its core capabilities include:

  • Zero JS – Ships only necessary JS per page for faster starts
  • Islands Architecture – Bring your own framework with React, Preact, Vue and Svelte islands
  • Component driven – Features familiar component model and APIs
  • Flexibility – Use any CSS or JS libraries you want
  • Simplified builds – Single Astro command handles everything

By preserving flexibility while optimizing for modern Jamstack principles, Astro promises to usher in Jamstack v2.

While still new, Astro adoption is exploding:

  • 25K+ GitHub stars shortly after launch
  • Funding > $32M+ from top Silicon Valley investors
  • Backed by major companies like Shopify, Vercel and Netlify

For those wanting a modern Jamstack framework without the overhead of larger options, Astro is compelling. Expect rapid evolution and growth in 2023 and beyond.

When To Use Astro

Astro excels for:

  • Modern Jamstack sites needing flexibility
  • Shopify developers through official partnership
  • Startups and new projects with less technical debt

7. Docusaurus – For Documentation sites

Docusaurus started at Facebook for powering technical documentation sites. After immense internal success, the team decided to open source it in 2019.

It focuses specifically on simplifying building documentation websites through features like:

  • Markdown focused – Write docs in simple markdown files that live anywhere
  • Versioning – Supports multiple versions of your documentation
  • Internationalization – Built-in i18n supporting 66+ languages
  • Themes – Multiple OSS themes available with easy customization
  • Powered by React – Extend functionality using component architecture

The simplicity of managing documentation in markdown combined with React‘s capabilities has fueled rapid adoption of Docusaurus:

  • 19K+ GitHub stars
  • Used heavily across Facebook, Google and open source projects
  • Powers developer portals at Algolia, Open AI, Prisma and more

For teams needing to consolidate technical information into easy browsing websites, Docusaurus brings documentation to life.

When To Use Docusaurus

Docusaurus shines for:

  • Developer/API documentation portals
  • Open source project documentation
  • Company knowledge base sites
  • Internal Wikis

Key Differences Between the Top Jamstack Frameworks

Framework Primary Language Learning Curve Themes Build Speeds Best For
Next.js JavaScript/React Medium 100s via Third-Parties Fast React Apps Needing SSR
GatsbyJS JavaScript/React Medium 100s via Third-Parties Very Fast Marketing Sites/Ecommerce
Nuxt.js JavaScript/Vue Medium 100s via Third-Parties Fast Vue Apps Needing SSR
Hugo Go Easy 100s Official/Third-Party Extremely Fast Simple Blogs/Content Sites
Jekyll Ruby Easy 100s via Third-Parties Fast Blogs/Documentation Sites
Astro JavaScript/Web Components Medium Few But Growing Very Fast Flexible Modern Jamstack Sites
Docusaurus JavaScript/React Easy 8 Official Themes Fast Documentation Websites

Wrapping Up

More than ever, new sites should leverage the speed, security and scalability of Jamstack. Luckily many stellar frameworks now exist for building Jamstack sites.

For React developers, Next.js and GatsbyJS lead for their rich features and vast ecosystems. Both support advanced use cases like server-side rendering while simplifying Jamstack‘s core principles.

For Vue developers, Nuxt matches Next.js‘s capabilities while using Vue‘s templating. This makes it easy for those with Vue experience to start building Jamstack sites.

Hugo and Jekyll shine for their simplicity and blazing speeds. What they lack in flashy features they make up for in efficiently converting content to sites.

Astro promises to advance Jamstack conventions even further with its fresh take combining elements of traditional frameworks with Web Components.

And Docusaurus makes documenting software approachable by focusing solely on simplifying the developer experience.

The Jamstack train is clearly accelerating with more exciting innovations surely to come. I hope this guide gives you a competitive edge by illuminating the differences across the top frameworks.

Now go forth and build something remarkable! The modern web is rooting for you 🚀