Amsterdam-based Hippo is combining traditional digital experience management with Content-as-a-Service in version 10.2 of its CMS platform. It includes a new automated Content REST API, which WordPress also included in its last iteration.

REST, or more formally, Representational State Transfer, is an architectural style that has a number of attributes, starting with what it can replace. It is an alternative to XML-RPC and to admin-ajax. Hippo already had a REST API, but it was not an automated read-only content API that came ready to use.

Company officials said it obviates the need for a “headless” or a decoupled CMS architecture, where the front end component of the CMS is removed and the backend delivers content via an API.

Keep Your Head

Hippo officials used this week's release as an opportunity to call out the headless CMS practice as a hazard that prevents organizations from providing true digital experiences.

“We’ve seen in the last 12 months a lot more chatter about headless CMSs,” said Sonja Kotrotsos, Hippo product marketing director. “People are looking at headless for perceived agility. … We really feel you’re creating a silo there that is detrimental to creating an overall digital experience landscape and providing a holistic journey for the customer.”

She said the headless CMS approach doesn’t work: When you have an island when you’ve already got a platform, you’ll always “feel the disconnect.”

“Headless is really just patching the problem,’ Kotrotos said.

The perceived low complexity for developers in headless platforms is offset by the difficulty architects face when they have to access analytics.

“You need to feed back into marketing automation and other systems,” she said. “The islands can’t stay completely disconnected.”

Headless Fans

Web CMS provider Pantheon, in contrast, claims headless CMSs provide “breakthrough user experiences, give developers great flexibility to innovate and help site owners future-proof their builds by allowing them to refresh the design without re-implementing the whole CMS.”

“With all this upside,” Pantheon officials blogged, "it’s no wonder this type of build has gained serious traction in both the Drupal and WordPress communities as of late.”

CMS provider Contentful wrote that with a headless CMS, you remove two things: the web app in which publishers create and design templates which comprise the website and the front-end which takes the content from the database and generates HTML web pages.

“The head of the CMS — the website itself — is no longer there,” they wrote. “You still have a backend which stores and delivers the content and you still have a web app for editors, and that's it. That's the entire CMS.”

Hippo 10.2 Features

Hippo said it is offering a hybrid, integrated cross channel strategy.

screenshot of hippo 10.2 cms

It provides advanced personalization features and content interoperability across channels, applications and devices.

Application developers and web developers can more easily reuse content from traditional web channels for mobile apps, web applications based on MVC JavaScript frameworks such as AngularJS or Backbone.js, wearables and Internet of Things (IoT) devices, officials claim.

“Hippo always had REST APIs,” Arjé Cahn, chief technology of Hippo, said in a statement. “The main difference is that in previous versions, a Java developer would have to implement the domain specific REST service classes for a tailored REST API on top of Hippo CMS, rather than one being there automatically out of the box. The CMS is now architected to run both use cases side by side, allowing developers to much more quickly experiment with apps and Internet of Things.”

Title image "headless" (CC BY 2.0) by rippchenmitkraut66.