“One more [trend] that is really, really interesting is the rise of edge computing, and this is primarily led by CloudFlare and Deno,” Shawn “@swyx” Wang told The New Stack earlier this year.
Edge has traditionally meant Internet of Things technologies, but when developers use the term, they tend to mean a content delivery network (CDN), which is a geographically distributed group of servers that deliver content from the location closest to the user. It’s even used as a synonym for serverless.
“They try to cache the content close to the user,” Wang explained. “So when I’m sitting in San Francisco and I’m requesting content from U.S. east one, I’m not actually paying for the U.S. east one, I’m actually pinging my local CDN data center.” These CDN serves can be as small — small enough to sit on a cell tower, he added. Wang contends that there’s a big push to rewrite code to take advantage of the edge.
As a result, edge servers tend to be cheaper than serving a page from a central location, he added.
Wang isn’t the only one who touts the value of the edge. It took center stage at this year’s Jamstack Conference, where Sunil Pai, a former senior system engineer at Cloudflare, suggested developers put part of their website on the edge within the last quarter of 2022.
“We’re working on the rest of it at the moment. There’s a lot of work to do, but you should use a lot of it today,” Pai said. Pai is now a founder of Cool Computer Club, which builds developer tools for edge applications.
Netlify co-founder and CEO Matt Biilmann said his cloud-based development company has seen approximately three times month-over-month growth in edge use cases recently. According to a survey conducted by Netlify of nearly 7,000 developers in the Jamstack community, more than half are testing the edge by building edge-dynamic sites. The survey defined edge-dynamic sites “as sites that are fully dynamic, and render all their content at the edge (i.e. using serverless functions or edge functions).”
The Beginning of the End for Static Pages
One reason for the drive to the edge is that it promises some level of personalization that can’t be realized by a static, server-side site.
Wang contended that static side generation (SSG) is “basically dead” in a talk at Reactathon this year. He also noted a movement towards incremental rendering, along with edge routing. He pointed out that “Next.js is winning so hard” as a framework that supports these trends.
You Get a Framework! And You Get a Framework!
“The most obvious story in our framework data is the continued growth of React,” the survey stated. “While there are many options for building a reactive web app, the enormous ecosystem around React continues to make it an easy choice for many.”
That didn’t stop alternative frameworks from entering this crowded field, including Fresh.
He compared it to Node.js or Vercel, which he said might have serverless functions that run on Amazon Web Services in a single region. Why create another framework, though? Casonato said that speed and developer experience were two aspects he felt were missing from other frameworks. The combination, he contended, is a better framework with fewer downsides than existing frameworks.
“What I wanted to do was collect together a set of tools that was already commonly used, but do the hard work of really beautifully integrating them so that people could just get to work building what’s special about their application,” Preston-Warner told The New Stack.
“There will never be one because the experience keeps changing,” Hightower said. “We like that, as humans, because we want to hear something new. … It will never stop. But do we want it to? I don’t think we actually want it to.”
One change Wang is looking forward to in 2023 is the temporal proposal, which is in stage three of the four-stage proposal process. This would address data formatting problems that can complicate and sometimes be ambiguous, he told The New Stack.