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How to have your cake and eat it with WCH

As I’ve been out pitching headless CMS to customers, one thing that comes up again and again is the lack of business user tools for managing the resulting web pages. Headless CMS offers developers a LOT – technical choice, speed of implementation and so on. However, the price is often paid by non-technical users who have to manage the resulting customer experience. Over the years, more traditional Web CMSes have delivered visual tools for editing content in context of the customer experience. For sure, you could build this yourself, but that can get expensive, and dilute some of the productivity benefit that headless CMS offers.

At Watson Content Hub, we think that headless CMS success will be limited if it can’t address those business users too.

So, imagine getting the devOps speed of deploying single page applications along with application performance but also benefiting from first class inline editing tools. Check out this video where I walk you through how this can be done using Watson Content Hub!

What’s the benefit of this approach

With Watson Content Hub, we provide an embedded CDN that can be used to host a static single page application. By default, this is how the product comes if you sign up for a free trial, which you can do here: https://www.ibm.com/products/watson-content-hub/

However, this doesn’t work for all of our customers. When you simply host your SPA files on our CDN, it’s pretty much acting as a web server and therefore there’s no chance for running server-side logic. One customer in Australia wanted to build their eCommerce site as an Isomorphic React App – which requires a server. To start with, they were exploring headless CMS approaches because they thought that was the only approach open to hem.

This approach lets them do that. They can run their app wherever they want, so they can execute whatever server-side logic they want. At the same time, business user tools can still be used so their marketers and merchandisers can manage the customer experience.

How do I do it?

Ah, I hear you say, doesn’t this require the developer to compromise and code to the CMS? We might worry that this approach requires developers to give up the freedom to build as they wish, and we’re back in the same bad old Web CMS world.

Of course, some compromise is needed here, there’s no magic (if I had magic, making a better CMS would not be first on my list…). We have a simple library that your app can use to wrap our APIs and there are tags to insert to enable inline editing. However the WCH site manager uses those tags to inject the editing experience into the app inside of WCH, so you don’t need to code any of that.

Judge for yourself, there’s a sample out on Github with technical documentation about how all this work. Access that here: https://github.com/ibm-wch/sample-site-react

Lots of talk about headless CMS or Headless Commerce applications. React and Angular based Node applications that use a back-end content management service for its content. What these applications lack is a line of business user tooling to manage those applications.

I value your comments and feedback – you can reach me by email david.strachan@uk.ibm.com, Twitter @circularlizard, or on LinkedIn.

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