Decoupled Content Management: Secret SPA

Decoupled Content Management: Secret SPA

November 18, 2019 0 Comments
Secret SPA

A couple of Sitefinity 12.2 features that are not exactly in-your-face but can give early adopters a competitive edge and set them on a journey they wish will never end. Spoiler: it won’t.

Now, before we begin, no spoiler alerts are required really, no continue-at-own-risk warnings. This blog is not going to ruin the Sitefinity experience for you. Oh well, one never knows but that certainly isn’t what we’re trying to do here. Quite the opposite, it’s about getting the most out of your CMS which, coincidentally, just got a whole lot better.

Sitefinity 12.2

Yes, Sitefinity 12.2 is officially up for grabs. We worked hard to deliver a meaningful performance and productivity boost with enhancements to both the core engine and DEC. The Sitefinity we all know and love is about better experiences and better results. With the right touches in the right places, SItefinity 12.2 keeps on doing just that — only faster and smarter.   

A bunch of fixes go without saying. Like it or not, it comes with the job description. From then on, you are free to pick the standout feature: the tangible performance boost, enhanced widget designers, the new OData-driven test framework. Live Chat integration, custom error pages, webhook triggers and extended back-end user preferences are also on the cheat sheet.    

The way we see it there’re enough reasons to upgrade to v12.2 but, as usual, there’s more than meets the eye. Sitefinity 12.2 gets one step closer to a genuine, full-fledged decoupled experience.     

Easter Eggs, Anybody?

To be fair, we haven’t exactly been keeping it a secret. This is where we want Sitefinity to be and 12.2 makes another conscious step. It may be a small step, but we do hope it’s the stuff giant leaps are made of. A fully decoupled experience for unmatched versatility. Think any frontend framework for immersive customer experiences. Think a real playground for developers to experiment, be challenged and flex their FE muscle.

An API-driven system like Sitefinity can overdeliver without overtasking the teams involved, whether they’re working on the development or the content management side. The possibilities are endless but the one use-case we’re focusing on here is a Single Page Application (SPA) powered by Sitefinity. That’s the very same content, which sits behind the traditional website pages, meaning the same content management, markup and personalization tools and rules apply.

How do we get there? The new LayoutService REST endpoint reporting for duty. With the LayoutService, personalized content can be managed from within the CMS and so can the page layout, such as rearranging the content blocks. What this means is you can build client-side pages with a framework of choice, while making sure they can be created and edited in the familiar, user-friendly way with no learning curve whatsoever for the content managers.

And, to make this an all-around proof-of-concept, Sitefinity 12.2 comes with an Angular starter kit for SPAs, complete with a sample application to get you started.    

Achievement Unlocked: CMS for SPAs

Conceived and developed as a headless CMS from the get-go, Sitefinity has the content management genuinely decoupled from the frontend and the data services that store, fetch and serve the content have evolved with the platform all along. The new LayoutService REST API delivers content (along with the structure) in a presentation-neutral, technology-agnostic data format (JSON), so any rendering engine can work with it. The logic behind the content (e.g. layout, personalization rules) is well in tow of course.  

So, API-driven content management is probably the best way to get your message across multiple channels and engage users on multiple platforms and devices. Sitefinity 12.2 has cracked the door open and an Angular SPA is just one of the available lanes to explore. It may well be a fast lane to delivering immersive, tailor-made user experiences while keeping the content creation and editing consistent and familiar.

UX

Whether it’s designed to communicate a specific message or serve another special purpose, a single page application is one of the ways to get your content delivered by your data services in a way that lets you tap into every touchpoint imaginable. In fact, Sitefinity has had that for a while now with the caveat that the layout wasn’t as readily available to editors. With the right CMS behind it, a SPA can be managed like the rest of the proprietary content.

This is not to say you should start whipping up designer SPAs just to show off your frontend flair or impress the hard-to-please, modern-day digital user. And it doesn’t have to necessarily be Angular. It is the framework we picked for this particular proof of concept, but your preferred technology will do just fine too.

React, Gatsby, Vue, you name it—a truly decoupled CMS enables you to build, test and deploy faster and lets you play to your team’s strengths. Guess you’ll be glad to know we have a .NET Core renderer in the pipeline too with new, cool widgets. But that should be that for spoilers at this point.

Stay tuned for a guide on how to enable the LayoutService and run the Angular renderer in Sitefinity 12.2. Early birds who just can't wait to try the new SPA starter kit and API, get in touch and we’ll be happy to help set you up and get started.     

AntonTenev

Anton Tenev

A new addition to the Sitefinity Product Marketing team, Anton has a mixed background of software and writing for the web. He has spent the last 7 years in software development, on the project management and product ownership side, all the while writing about technology, gadgets and their use and usability. Always trying to get to the bottom of it without missing the bigger picture.

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