What Should Static Site Generators Be Called?

The world needed a term for the things that we think of now as “Jamstack,” so I’m not a bit sorry that Netlify cooked it up. But even as it was coined, what was actually out there didn’t fit the term. Some of the front-running static site generators didn’t use JavaScript. Markdown was still perfectly feasible, but commercial projects were on a fast track to headless CMS.

Jamstack is at least a little catchy and fun. But it doesn’t really capture what’s important about the underlying architectural shift. Neither does “Static Site Generator,” and it suffers from the additional downside of sounding like a description of something bad.

And even if last year was, as Brian Rinaldi suggests, the year that Jamstack went mainstream, most people in the tech world really haven’t sorted it out or thought about it as something they might use. This is changing, but I think the change would be faster and cleaner if we had some sort of overarching term that did some positive work for us. Think of the usefulness that terms like “Web 2.0,” “mobile first,” and “cloud native” have had.

With this in mind, I have searched for the perfect term.

Searched, and come up a bit short. I do, though, have some directions. My hope is that someone will pick up one of these directions and hit on exactly the right term.

  1. Edge. One salient piece of the architectural equation is that static sites are best deployed to a CDN, so that lots of copies of the pages live at the edge of the network. “Edge” sounds considerably more useful than “static.”
  2. Fast. Even if we think we’re stuck with “static,” maybe it could be “Fast Static”?
  3. Client stack. Or maybe “client-native architecture”? Something that reflects how much heavy lifting is carried out within the browser.
  4. Distributed. Or some sort of name that gets at the idea of serverless and edge-function?
  5. Dymaxion. Buckminster Fuller used the term for all sorts of things. Sure, it sounds (and is) straight out of the first half of the last century, but isn’t that really just a tinge of retro cool. Or, heck, “staxion”?
  6. Rendering. Something like “atomic rendering” or “forward rendering”?
  7. Martian. Or some other word that sounds kind of cool, but has no particular technical connotations. Think “Java” and “Struts” and “Ruby” and so on.

If anything springs into your head, why not throw it out on the twitters with a #renameJam tag? Whether or not anything in my list leads to a new name, we really could use a better name. And one way or the other, I’ll bet we’re using a different collective term by 2022.