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Everything You Wanted to Know About Headless CMS

Headless CMS is all the rage these days. But what exactly is it? Why do you need it? Here’s everything you wanted to know about Headless CMS but were afraid to ask.

Introduction to Headless CMS

There has been a significant shift in creating and managing content in recent years. As a result, more and more developers are moving away from traditional Content Management Systems (CMS) such as WordPress or Drupal instead of creating flexible systems and serving as an API-first CMS.

Types of Headless CMSs

Some companies will have teams working on entirely separate and unrelated products and services that need unique tools to manage data and build amazing experiences for their customers and users. For that reason, it’s easy to understand why different businesses use different JavaScript CMS systems. According to Contentful, these systems can provide SDKs for popular programming languages like JavaScript, Ruby, PHP, and more. Types of Headless CMSs include:

Static Site Generators (SSGs)

An SSG is a website development framework that generates HTML pages from structured content sources. These are often tools for creating brochure websites, landing pages, etc.

Content Management Systems (CMSs)

A CMS generally consists of a database and dynamic server-side software for displaying data.

Decoupled CMS

This is a content management system that doesn’t use server-side processing. Instead, they rely on backend data storage and provide JSON/XML responses.

Hybrid Headless CMS

A hybrid headless CMS is a content management system that uses server-side processing but has some elements of the backend. We also refer to these as headful systems.

Advanced Setup

The most complex use case is a common one: You have an existing website or app with content, and you want your new headless-based product to consume that data.

Why Use a Headless CMS?

Headless CMS refers to a particular approach to building Web applications where content is accessible through a Content repository (such as Contentful, WordPress, or Umbraco) and then served through an API. This decouples your application from its content management system.

Key Elements of Modern Headless Systems:

  • Caching & speed (i.e., Node, V8)
  • Security & data protection (i.e. Redis)
  • Scalability (i.e., Queue, Pub/Sub).

Key Elements of a Real-Time Solution:

  • Monitoring & observability (i.e., Graphite)
  • Presence & identity (i.e. mDNS)

Performance and scalability are paramount when it comes to web performance. Ideally, we want fast responses without constantly firing requests against our backend.

Supported Editors

Visual Studio Code, Sublime Text, Atom, Brackets, and WebStorm. Supports Android, iOS, and web development platforms. They are used by Facebook, Uber, Netflix, among others. With today’s release of Kotlin support (first-class), Kotlin is now a first-class language for developing apps for all Android devices.

Installing the WYSIWYG Editor With Nanoc

Nanoc is a Content Management System (CMS) for static sites. To add a WYSIWYG editor, services create a custom template within nanoc and use Liquid for templating. This allows your users to create or edit content from their browser without coding knowledge.

Security Considerations

In a headless architecture, sensitive data is not exposed. Users can firewall the front-end servers from access to any APIs that contain customer data.

The content management system architecture is a critical factor in web development. However, there are several advantages of using a headless CMS, and developers should understand.


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