Benjamin Read's code garden.

The Future is Headless

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This article is about: cmsengineering

Published on Monday, 10 August 2015

If you’ve been in the industry for any length of time, the chances are that you’ve been in one of those discussions about CMSes that are never resolved. That is about to change forever …

Content management systems have revolutionised web development. From the start of their existence, we haven’t had web sites any more—we’ve had web systems.

It’s the web’s innovation which has contributed to the success of the medium that it is today.

But it does mean that we’re always on a bit of a back foot, not understanding all of what is going on around us—because it’s in a constant state of flux.

Today I saw a video from Drupalcon that I immediately thought: “That’s the future.”

What is headless? #

A headless CMS is just that - headless. It doesn’t have a web front end. So there is no templating system to hack around. The CMS doesn’t affect the web front end in the same way it does today.

It still runs the website, but in a drastically different way, using JSON data and REST.

Think about this: no more PHP mixed in with your HTML. No more overriding plugins that inject icons into your  that you’re never going to use. Ever.

Sounds like a massive step up to me.

But there are many other advantages to serverside developers and organisations alike. Users can publish their content once and have it displayed on the app, the website and on syndicated sites all at the same time. CMSes can be updated without breaking the frontend … because there is no frontend.

What it will ask of us #

With any technology change, we have to learn new skillsets. It takes time. But with such clear advantages, and the two biggest CMSes already developing headless systems (Drupal and Wordpress) it might be time to start that road.

Instead of frontend developers having to also know PHP, we will need to concentrate on how to use JSON data via REST. With a frontend framework such as Angular or Backbone, this becomes … easier.

Actually, I’m having trouble writing this section here with confidence … I’m still working out how it all comes together. But I don’t think that’s a bad thing.

Sit through this video, if it blows your mind like it did mine, then we have an interesting road to travel ahead.

Full video

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“Wisest are they who know they do not know.”

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