26.06.2017

Getting Your Head around Going Headless

 

By Cormac Madden

Everyone's going headless these days, and it's hard to blame them: this is arguably the hottest trend in web development right now, opening up dozens of powerful new options for organising the front end delivery of web content. So what does it mean?
 
A 'headless' or 'decoupled' CMS is simply one that has detached itself from delivering themed content and offloaded this responsibility exclusively to the front end. With a headless CMS, there's at last a perfect separation of concerns between back end and front end. A front end developer can build an entire application without a handover to back end, and back end developers can focus on pure back end development, without having to ever look at a line of html, or integrate a single JavaScript or CSS file. In fact, the headless separation is so perfect, the CMS literally becomes its own entity, completely distinct from the application the front end developer creates to theme the site and display its content.


A 'headless' or 'decoupled' CMS is simply one that has detached itself from delivering themed content and offloaded this responsibility exclusively to the front end.

 
It's easy to appreciate the benefits of this headless approach, with the obviously superior organisation it brings to a project, and also the flexibility it affords front end developers in realising a design. The power to render content is now entirely in the hands of the front end developer. Common complaints from the past quickly evaporate: 'this is how the CMS does forms', 'this is how the CMS does tables', 'this is what's possible here, this what's not possible there' - the rendering restrictions of the CMS are no longer a barrier to delivering the promised design, because rendering isn't the task of the CMS anymore. It's the task of the front end application that's feeding from the CMS via an API.
 
The headless CMS is made a reality thanks to technologies such as Angular2, which is invaluable in smoothing the transition from the tangled development CMS processes of old to the fitter, faster headless CMS of today. With the numerous benefits of headless development, there's virtually no convincing argument for returning to the old process of CMS construction, but there's every reason to make your next CMS a headless CMS.


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