The headless CMS

The Next Big Thing* in the world of CMS-based web development is the headless CMS solution. A headless CMS is a more pure – and therefore technically more simple – content management system. A system in which the focus is 100% on managing content and providing a way to access it: for example, creating new articles, updating existing articles, defining page or site structure; then providing an interface (API) through which a separate “front end” solution can request content.

The omitted “head” in question is the “view” (or “output”). That means that where a headless CMS is in use, a developer can build the “front end” as a separate solution: requesting data via the API, then doing whatever is necessary to provide the content to an end user. Whether via a JavaScript-powered solution (*shudder*), an app, a curl-based server-side solution, or a regular website. The great advantage is that the CMS simply provides view-independent content, and leaves its manipulation and display to the front end solution.

Chris Coyier goes into a little more detail on his site and Happy Cog have a good project write-up on their blog.

(* It’s not really the “next” thing: headless – or “decoupled” CMS have been around for a while. Technically, the CMS I co-developed until 2008 was starting to move in that direction about ten years ago. But as in all things, trendiness means it’s as good as new for the masses.)


There are 2 comments for this entry.

  1. I’ve been playing around with which follows this principles, looks promising so far and a decent alternative to WordPress. A nice point is that it natively integrates something similar as the Advanced Custom Fields plugin for WordPress.

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