Headless or decoupled Drupal 8 explained to website owners

Sep 04, 2017
Headless or decoupled Drupal 8 explained to website owners

In recent years, more and more developers and website owners are losing their heads over the awesome concept of headless, or decoupled, Drupal.

Among all Drupal releases, Drupal 8 is the best suited to headless architecture. This is due to its built-in web services which are named among the most trending achievements in Drupal’s evolution from D1 to D8.

OK, we’ll now see what lies at the head of the “headless” approach, how it works in Drupal 8, and what its benefits for website owners are.

Headless or decoupled Drupal 8: let’s get acquainted

Projects that are born from the decoupled approach can be amazing beyond any imagination. The headless or decoupled architecture implies that Drupal serves as a powerful back-end (or data source) and entrusts the front-end (or presentation) part to some other system.

Usually, it is some ultrafast and dynamic application built with the help of one of JavaScript frameworks and libraries (Angular, React, Ember, Gatsby, Node, Ember, Elm, etc.), an iOS or Android mobile app, or another 3rd party app.

The part users directly interact with is non-Drupal. They do not see the Drupal front-end theme (the so-called “head”), hence the term “headless.” However, in addition to full decoupling, the approach of “progressive decoupling” is gaining momentum. It implies that Drupal still handles the front-end but entrusts some of its components to the power of JS.

Benefits of decoupled Drupal 8 for website owners

With the headless approach, you can do all this and more:

  • Your Drupal website data can send its data to any application you need. The “Create Once, Publish Everywhere (COPE)” approach can be applied to it. This can significantly increase your multi-channel presence and bring in more  audiences. To make the author experience smoother, there are additional tools like Gatsby Live Preview.
  • You can supercharge your Drupal site with exceptional qualities that other technologies offer (interactivity, ultra-speed and more). When used together, such different platforms multiply each other’s benefits. Consider our look at at Drupal and VueJS combination.
  • Among the greatest benefits of headless Drupal is that website performance can be significantly improved. This is because the front-end frameworks are fast and the decoupled architecture takes the load off Drupal’s rendering system. See, for example, our blog post Combining Drupal and GatsbyJS for high website speed.
  • The decoupled Drupal approach opens unlimited opportunities in creating real-time features (live e-commerce cart updates, live notifications, news updates, and much more).
  • Considering the above, the usability of your website can rise sky high, which will result in increased conversions. See our post on shopping cart usability with the progressive decoupling architecture.

Special capabilities in headless Drupal 8

Considering the benefits, it is no wonder that “the best heads” of the Drupal community set up a major Drupal 8’s web service initiative (WSCCI) to make “the great eight” ready for headless architecture out-of-box.

We are now happy to say that there built-in web services In Drupal 8 designed to be the connecting link between Drupal and another system.

They help output Drupal’s data in JSON, HAL+JSON, XML or other non-HTML formats that are easy to “consume” for apps. This way, systems that are different can communicate, cooperate, and bring out the best in each other.

Drupal 8’s web services for decoupling purposes include core modules:

  • Serialization
  • RESTful Web services
  • HAL
  • HTTP Basic Authentication (Basic Auth)
  • JSON:API joined them as of Drupal 8.7

Their job is to provide a RESTful web API, serialize/deserialize data to/from formats like JSON, XML, etc., normalize data using the HAL (Hypertext Application Language), deal with authentication, and much more.

In addition to the core, there are helpful contributed modules like GraphQL, REST UI, JSON:API Extras, Subrequests, JSON-RPC, Decoupled Router, Consumers, Consumer Image Styles, which offer additional decoupling opportunities and are at the center of the community’s attention.

Use the decoupled Drupal 8 to your benefit!

OK, it’s time to use the exceptional opportunities that headless or decoupled Drupal 8 can provide for your website. Let’s discuss it, and our Drupal developers , and our developers will bring your ideas to life with the great level of skill that these projects require.

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