A headless CMS, as opposed to a traditional CMS, omits the frontend and is not bound by a specific delivery channel, such as a website. There is no presentation, no frontend development toolset out-of-the-box. In other words, there is no head – hence the name. In a headless platform, the content is made available to be consumed via APIs and you can have anything on the receiving end: websites, mobile apps, AR and IoT devices and various integrations with third-party systems.
Unlike Headless, a Decoupled CMS has kept the publishing tools of traditional content management, meaning it has a frontend layer and frontend development tools are available right out of the box. A decoupled CMS has an architecture that clearly separates the management and storage of content from the pages and templates that display it. That is to say, the presentation (frontend) is decoupled from the backend. The two layers communicate via APIs. A set of endpoints expose the content to one or many consumers, from websites that can be developed with the built-in toolset (widgets, templates and the like) to various platforms and frontend frameworks that can take in and interpret the data in the API responses.
An architecture built on separation of concerns has multiple positive effects on administration, development, hosting, deployment and scalability.
The content you create can be reused and easily delivered and maintained across multiple frontend consumers. Whenever content is updated, it’s ready to be consumed via APIs by any frontend framework you choose to employ. Content editors have a high level of flexibility and independence, meaning developers on the other hand are free to explore more and better ways to improve the user experience and leverage diverse frontend technologies.
The Renderer app communicates with your Sitefinity application through a set of APIs. via the C# RestSdk package (Progress.Sitefintiy.RestSdk). This minimizes the margin of error and reduces the risk of vulnerabilities in frontend development. Additional API endpoints can be exposed from Sitefinity CMS to cover custom use cases.
Sitefinity’s decoupled architecture lets you play to your frontend development strengths. Not only can you host Sitefinity on a different server or VM altogether, but your frontend development is not bound by the inherent technologies. Of course, .NET Core development skills are a great asset as they let you create solutions for both web and mobile.
Just like the backend and presentation are decoupled in Sitefinity, you can balance or separate the frontend and backend development in a way that gives you the highest flexibility and shortest time to market.
Sitefinity has been an API-first CMS since the v4.0 release all the way back in 2010 when the content management was completely detached from the page and template editing. The page layout and the widgets created by designers and developers consume the content created by editors. Alongside the native data services, Sitefinity provides a robust set of OData Rest APIs for all prebuilt and dynamically created content types in the system.
OData is a powerful open-source and open protocol technology that defines a set of best practices for building and consuming RESTful APIs. Client applications such as SPAs, mobile apps, IoT devices can easily consume content by using a standardized REST API calls or by taking advantage of the Sitefinity WebServices SDK.
Introduced in Sitefinity 12.2, OData services can also be used to retrieve metadata such as web page structure and use this metadata to build applications that consume the page layout and content created in the CMS. This approach is the foundation of the new out-of-the box frontend layer of Sitefinity built on .Net Core.
A Technical Preview of the .NET Core suite is available right of the box and we are planning to roll out guidelines in upcoming releases on how to set up a custom frontend renderer (server-side) such as Java and Php. Integrating an Angular renderer into the existing .Net Core suite is also planned. They can work side by side, letting Sitefinity users create widgets and client-side solutions with rich UIs and user interactions. Of course, the standard-compliant OData services and their platform agnostic data model favor potential headless implementations in any frontend technology.
In traditional CMS terms, the content you create is rendered on web pages and delivered to the visitors of your website. However, modern digital users need to be engaged across multiple channels. An organization can have as many front-end, customer facing solutions as it wants and has the skillset and resources to develop, but creating and managing content for each of them separately is a massive challenge with dubious results. You’re more likely to end up with siloed data, as well as cross-team dependencies and bottlenecks rather than a consistent messaging and user experience
A decoupled and API-driven CMS, such as Sitefinity, lets savvy organizations reuse, repurpose and leverage content to reach audiences across channels, devices and platforms.
Content management decoupled from presentation: frontend application can be deployed independently for faster development, tighter security, platform independence and framework flexibility.
Web services to fetch, store and deliver content: create and edit content in a single place, then leverage a robust set of native and standard-compliant OData APIs to deliver it to a broad set of consumers in a universally readable, frontend-agnostic format.