Serverless. It's kind of a phenomenon. Let's get one thing out of the way: it still involves servers, so that word serverless might feel a bit disingenuous. It's actually a new way to pay for and work with servers that, in many cases, is cheaper and easier than buying and managing your own servers.

Web developers of all kinds can take advantage of it, but this site is particularly interested in how it relates to and helps front-end web developers. Here's one way to think about it: you can take your front-end skills and do things that typically only a back-end can do. You can write a JavaScript function that you run and receive a response from by hitting a URL. That's sometimes also called Cloud Functions or Functions as a Service, which are perhaps better names, but just a part of the whole serverless thing.

Here's an empowering example: saving and reading things from a database. That's right! It's possible to have a database and deal with it entirely through front-end code. Technically, the database still exists on a server (someone's else's computer, as the famous sticker says), but you don't need to spin up your own server for it to have a home.

Why bother with doing a database this way? For one thing, it means you can host the rest of your site much more easily. Wanna build a React-powered blog on GitHub pages? You totally can! Wanna use the super fast static file host Netlify to build a Vue powered portfolio site? Do it.

CodePen is a part of this brave new world as well. CodePen can be the home of your front-end code that talks to cloud functions and cloud data. Your serverless host in a serverless world! This very site is built statically with Nunjucks and hosted on CodePen using CodePen Projects.

Prefer to hear a couple of people explain it over video screencast? Here's David Wells and I: