SHCDAS: SaaS Headless CMS Integrations and Extensions

This blog post is part of the SaaS Headless Content Delivery Architectures Series (SHCDAS).

SaaS headless Content Management Solutions (CMS) expose the following primary extension points:

  • Content Delivery HTTPS services including CDN and data synchronization
  • Media Delivery HTTPS services including image manipulation and CDN
  • Content Management services for the CMS UI and custom applications
  • Extensible user interface at the dashboard, content type, and potentially other levels
  • Webhooks to signal and pass data to external systems

SaaS headless content management solutions expose HTTPS service endpoints for Content Management and Content Delivery. Any custom application that can authenticate against the CMS and can access JSON over HTTPS can invoke Content Management services, for example to automate content imports. The CMS UI uses Content Management services.

Build processes, content delivery solutions, and other custom applications with appropriate access tokens can use Content Delivery and Media Delivery services to access published data.

Headless CMS provide extensible user interfaces. Customers can embed custom user interfaces in the CMS user interface, both at the dashboard level and within individual Content Types. A UI extension at the dashboard level could access an external system to display analytics data for the website.

Customers can implement custom field types that present custom user interfaces and store data in formats specified by the customer. For example, a custom field type could present a user interface that accesses an external system to allow the CMS user to select a product and enter metadata, and store the metadata and a reference to that product as JSON in the CMS.

Customers can configure the CMS to invoke webhooks that signal systems about events in the CMS. Webhooks are external HTTPS endpoints to which the CMS passes data payloads when events occur. For example, a customer may configure successful publishing webhooks to pass data to a search solution for indexing.

As part of Content Delivery services, some CMS products provide synchronization APIs, which allow customers to retrieve a snapshot of data from the CMS and to use webhooks or periodically poll for subsequent updates. Data synchronization is relevant to certain types of custom solutions.

Solutions typically use multiple integration approaches in parallel, for example using webhooks to signal external applications to invoke Content Delivery services. Some solutions configure webhooks to place data on enterprise message management platforms such as Apache Kafka.

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