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.)

2 responses to “The headless CMS”

  1. Nacho avatar

    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.

    1. Mark Howells-Mead avatar
      Mark Howells-Mead

      Nice, thanks for the comment!

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