In light of the recent COVID-19 pandemic - OPTASY would like to offer DRUPAL website support for any Healthcare, Government, Education and Non-Profit Organization(s) with critical crisis communication websites or organizations directly providing relief. Stay Safe and Stay Well.

Decoupled Drupal: What Does This Mean for Your Own Site?

Decoupled Drupal: What Does This Mean for Your Own Site?

by Adrian Ababei on May 18 2017

Should you decouple? When? How? What are the risks that a decoupled Drupal site involve? What are the undeniable, hard-to-resist-to advantages of “teaming up” your Drupal site/mobile/native app with a fast, cool JavaScript framework and of using Drupal as a back-end content repository “only”?

And, most importantly: is a “headless” build suitable for your own web project? 

Our web development team here, in Toronto, comes with its very first piece of advice for you now, when you're facing all these crucial questions: always use the context of your very own web project to filter all the “trends” seeming to dominate the digital landscape at some point or another!

Before deciding to go for a decoupled implementation, make sure that all the members of the team involved (Drupal developers, project managers, content editors) clearly understand what a decoupled Drupal architecture is. And whether the technical risk involved is worth the effort.

Whether this approach is exactly what your web project needs.

Now, let us help you find the answer to your legitimate decoupling-related questions:

1. “But What Is a Decoupled Drupal Architecture, After All?

To put it simply: decoupling Drupal means separating the back-end of your website/app from its front-end (either partially or totally).

Now if we are to detail a bit, we would have to add that:

 

  • in a decoupled Drupal context we would have Drupal playing its role in the back-end, that of storing and sending forward pure data

     
  • the front-end (aka, the “responsible” of everything related to the user experience) role will be played by a JavaScript framework (e.g. Backbone.js, Angular.js)

     
  • the presentation layer can range from Alexa to Raspberry PI, to pretty much anything that can consume the data sent over by the Drupal-powered back-end

     

Drupal's “role” can easily resume to what the content producers...produce, while the coupled front-end framework will be “responsible” for what the users see on your site/app. Responsible for creating a faster and richer user experience.

In other words: Drupal will be handling the editorial, content creation and administrative tasks, while the coupled framework will be handling the front-end, communicating with the Drupal back-end via API.

The obvious “points of attraction” of such an API-only approach are the unlimited freedom and flexibility granted to front-end developers. 

Unchained from the “need” to know how to write or to decipher Drupal-specific code each time they need to improve the look and feel of a website, front-end developers get to choose from different approaches of building a website.

They're free from the monolithic Drupal architecture with the presentation layer backed in through the Drupal theme itself. Free from the tightly interconnected back-end and front end.

2. “Why Should I Decouple? What's In It for My Own Site/App?

Now this is a more than legitimate question that you should be asking yourself once you've fully understood what a decoupled Drupal build is.

Here are some key advantages if you decide to go for a “headless” Drupal site/app:

 

  • it allows you to create some truly interactive user experiences (it's the browser who'll take over the user experience responsibility and so all the back-and-forth interaction will be a real-time one; a key aspect to consider when developing in-browser apps)

     
  • it grants your team of front-end developers almost unlimited creative power; no more restrictions coming from the back-end + total freedom for front-end developers to use their native tools and to craft the user experience while they still get to harness Drupal's power via APIs

     
  • it enables you, as a decoupled Drupal site owner, to future-proof your website; once you decide to redesign it, you can do that without having to re-implement your whole  back-end, too. And vice versa. Flexibility and convenience!

     
  • it enables you, the site owner, to hire non-Drupal specialists, too, since front-end developers won't need to be Drupal experts, as well. You will no longer be limited to collaborating exclusively with developers having a deep understanding on the Drupal back-end architecture, of the Drual-specific code. Even more flexibility for you!

3. “What Type Web Projects Would Benefit Most from Decoupling Drupal?

And this might just be the best headless Drupal-related question you've asked yourself so far!

It's definitely a matter of: “Is this solution a perfect fit for my own site/app, too?

See if you can identify your own type of Drupal web project in the examples here below and you'll have the answer to your question.

So, decoupled Drupal is best used for:

 

  1. Native mobile apps, especially now, that you're “spoiled” with RESTful services in Drupal 8 core, creating clean APIs is easier than ever. Your mobile apps users won't even need to interact directly with your Drupal site when accessing your native app. Your website's front-end will be using the same APIs as your native mobile app! Also, you get to build new and new mobile apps without the need to access the data that your back-end stores. 

     
  2. Web projects involving front-end developers with no Drupal expertise

     
  3. Web projects that include multiple development teams

     
  4. Web projects with front-end teams depending on unlimited freedom for structuring and displaying the content

     
  5. Web projects where the presentation layer combines data coming from several API sources: social media, CMSs, video management systems

     
  6. Web projects with multiple content consumers that are live simultaneously (e.g. a Drupal site plus several mobile apps, as well)

4. “Which Are The Main Drawbacks of a Decoupled Drupal Site?

So, do you suggest that I should just go... headless, that Drupal 8's new them layer is just something I can easily do without?” 

This might just be the question bumping into your head right now, isn't it? 

Well, it's true that going headless comes with its drawbacks. You risk to throw away some of Drupal 8s' “goodies”:

 

  • permissions
  • a well-enhanced, seamless admin experience in Drupal 8
  • user authentication

     

The best approach is the “moderate decoupling” or, if you prefer, the “progressively decoupled Drupal”.

This means that instead of going reckless and losing all of Drupal 8's out-of-the box flexibility and power as you go for a fully decoupled Drupal site, you should:

 

  1. Still leverage Drupal's theme layer's power, using it to render most of a given web page

     
  2. Decouple only SOME of the web page's components, mostly those that require a faster and richer user experience 

     

In a nutshell: moderation is key! No need to waste time, energy and a good “load” of incredibly powerful Drupal elements and... reinvent the wheel!

And now, to support our pledge for the progressive approach to decoupling, let us back it up with one single example: NBA.com!

This site's using Angular 2 for rendering only certain parts of its web pages, while their static components are rendered by Drupal!

And speaking of this site using the “hybrid” approach, here's a Drupalcon Baltimore 2017 session filled with all the details and “enlightening” infos that you might find useful:

 

https://goo.gl/4jEhhu

In Conclusion:

It's not for no reason that decoupled Drupal makes such a tempting type of CMS architecture, but you should first of all:

 

  1. not take API-fist Drupal 8 for an API- only CMS

     
  2. give it a very deep thought, lest you should decouple too much of your site and lose some of the already-built, powerful Drupal tools.         
Development

We do Web development

Go to our Web development page!

Visit page!

Recommended Stories

5 Steps to Migrate Your Drupal Website to Another Host
  At some point in their business journey, every website owner can encounter the need to migrate their web host. As more lucrative hosting options are making their way in the industry–VPS, shared, or dedicated hosting—it's no surprise that many website managers choose to perform host migration.  This article provides support in handling one of the most popular DevOps services, hosting server migration, by outlining five essential steps that help you complete a successful migration.   When is the time to move your Drupal website to a new hosting server? The decision to switch web hosts is not an easy one to take. The good news is that there are multiple signs that can make it clear that your website requires hosting updates if you know where to look. It won't be comfortable to acknowledge them, but as soon as you start on this journey, you are transforming your website for the better.  Let's have a look at how you can spot these signs on your Drupal website.  Downtime has become a recurrent issue.  Your customers demand availability and speed, so every time your website is down and unavailable for users, you risk building a bad reputation of unreliable and low-quality services. Your server can impact your site's availability if your hosting equipment’s quality is low or your host's security features and plugins provide poor protection capabilities, as cyber-attacks can often lead to downtime.  Your host is hard to reach. As a website owner, you want to ensure that the communication with your web host is fast and streamlined. There may be times when your server crashes or you a server error, and you need to get in touch with your host as soon as possible to provide troubleshooting guidance and get your site up and running.  An unreliable host may not only affect the functionality of your website but can also cost you customers. Getting the support you need when it comes to your hosting account is paramount to provide high-quality user experiences. That's why making sure that you have a solid customer service team at your side at any time is good for the business. Your current host costs you too much. Web hosting can sometimes be the most significant investment when running a website. It's a recurring expense, so you want to ensure that you choose the best option. However, expensive web hosts aren't always necessary. You have to figure out if the features and the amount of server space that your host provides are a good fit for your site. You don't need to break the bank for hosting servers that don't serve your current needs. You can always review your needs and upgrade to a more expensive plan. You don't get the security you need. As far as investments are concerned, paying extra for a secure web host is worth it. A host that takes security seriously will bring significant benefits to your website.  By investing in a secure hosting server, you'll avoid losing data and parts of your website, having user data compromised, and losing credibility in front of your audience.  When choosing your web host, watch out for features and plugins like Secure Sockets Layer certificates, malware scanning, or server firewalls.    How to switch to a new hosting provider Migrating your Drupal site to a new host is a process that involves contacting your current host, performing database backups, connecting to a new server, and uploading your files. It's not uncommon for issues like corrupted backups to appear during the migration process. Consider this when planning your migration, and think if you can save some resources by hiring a professional agency like Optasy to complete this process for you.  There are a few essential steps to follow when migrating to another web hosting server. Let's explore some of them.   1. Turn Drupal caching off. This is the first step to take in order to avoid potential disruptions. Go to your Drupal admin dashboard and: Click Configuration - Performance - Caching - Select "No Caching.” Uncheck "Aggregate CSS files" and "Aggregate JavaScript files" in "bandwidth optimization" and click "Clear all caches.”   2. Backup your Drupal files. Connect to your remote server - Enter the connection details - Hit "QuickConnect" and connect to the remote server that hosts your website.  In your main site's folder, download the content on your local device, and you've done backing up your Drupal files.   3. Export your Drupal database. Go to the phpMyAdmin on your server's control panel in the Database section.  Click "Check all" on your Drupal site database, then "Export method and the SQL.”   4. Migrate your Drupal database to the new host. Create a new MySQL database on your target server. Click "Import" at the top of your database, then "Choose File,” and press "Go.” You've now restored your site on the new hosting from the backup.   5. Turn on Drupal caching. Go to Configuration - Performance - Enable Drupal caching. Kudos to you! You've officially migrated your Drupal site to another host.    Conclusion Building and managing a Drupal website is a complex process, and hosting is one element that can be pretty challenging to handle. There are plenty of hosting options available on the market, and you might find it difficult to decide which one is the best fit for your website needs.  If you're considering server migration or just need some professional advice on how to handle your hosting server successfully, our team of Drupal experts at Optasy is glad to help.    Photo credit: bsdrouin on Pixabay.     ... Read more
Raluca Olariu / Apr 12'2021
Drupal Commerce vs. Magento - Who Wins the Battle for eCommerce?
  In 2021, it is expected that about 27.2% of the world population will shop online at least once.  A lot of potential customers out there, right? As eCommerce is becoming the new norm, digital businesses seek out ways to thrive in this competitive landscape and position themselves as leading trend-setters.  To do that, companies need to realize the power of digital transformation and how they can embrace it in order to support the modern demands of speed and accessibility that customers require today.  This starts with leveraging the right tools for building robust digital assets. One of these tools is represented by eCommerce platforms, which are getting increasingly popular for businesses that seek to deploy an eCommerce system.  Drupal Commerce and Magento are two of the leading eCommerce solutions on the market and are often seen as direct competitors in the industry.  This article provides a side-by-side comparison of these two platforms in regards to technical capabilities, development, costs, scalability, security, and mobile responsiveness. Hopefully, this information will help you narrow down your choice in order to ensure that you choose the best fit for your business needs.    Key eCommerce Capabilities Enabled by Drupal and Magento Drupal Commerce was released in 2011 and offers an open-source application framework that supports retailers in building and managing inventory, track orders, or handle payments.  Magento's initial release was in 2008. This PHP-based eCommerce site provides high levels of PayPal protocol integration and supports 12 worldwide payment gateways.  Both platforms offer, through native features or third-party add-ons, the following benefits: Intuitive, easy-to-use user interface and control panels. No technical knowledge is required to customize and edit basic features. Full-featured CMS that supports social sharing. Business-centric structure for online stores. Native integration of inventory-driven advertising material Integration capabilities with third-party analytics, invoicing, or quoting solutions One thing to keep in mind is that neither of these eCommerce platforms is a "plug and play" solution and making the most out of their potential may require further expertise.    Headless eCommerce The headless version of Drupal Commerce has been in the spotlight in the last few years. This new initiative is an eCommerce solution that stores and delivers content without a front-end delivery layer. It's an API-driven implementation that transforms eCommerce functionality, making it available across a wide range of potential host environments.  A headless eCommerce model inclines towards a more SaaS-oriented, platform-agnostic solution that allows for better employee adoption and considerable time savings across IT departments.  When it comes to Magento, the open-source eCommerce platform, headless eCommerce is equally prioritized. Both Drupal Commerce and Magento are supporting headless models as the future of eCommerce.    Pricing Drupal eCommerce's technical cost of entry is free. However, depending on scope and scale, the costs of developing and maintaining performant and secure eCommerce servers might reach tens of thousands of dollars.  Drupal Commerce project costs are directly proportional with a business needs for specific development architecture, module integrations, custom theme styling, or particular feature integrations.  Magento's newer modules are not offered as open-source and upgrading from Magento Open Source to Magento Commerce might be challenging.  From this financial point of view, Drupal Commerce seems to be a clear winner.    Scalability Drupal Commerce has relevant capabilities of staying highly performant at scale. However, this CMS platform does not provide out-of-the-box database sharding and it can only be implemented on a third-party basis.  Drupal Commerce has lower requirements than Magento Commerce when it comes to the web server—the minimum required RAM for PHP is 64 MB and production systems usually require 128 or 256 MB.  Drupal Commerce-based implementation splits the eCommerce experience across three related Drupal domains. As a result, scaling is better, bottlenecks are eliminated, and the content and purchasing experiences are efficiently separated.  On the other hand, Magento's cloud hosting solves a large number of scalability issues, although at a higher price. The minimum RAM requirement of 2 GB will probably not scale well and distributed networks or caching may need to be deployed with greater care to keep up with the heavy load.    Security Drupal is proven to be the most secure CMS and Magento's infection rate is much higher than Drupal's. From the point of view of security, Drupal Commerce is a winner for businesses that want to prioritize secure platforms.  Source: Sucuri.net   Mobile Responsiveness As most websites transition to a mobile-first approach, eCommerce platforms that prioritize mobile responsiveness are a must.  Fortunately, both Magento Commerce and Drupal Commerce provide robust mobile capabilities to satisfy the need for accessibility and performance.  Drupal Commerce's themes allow building a fully responsive design for eCommerce websites and offer screen flexibility for creating versatile experiences. The most popular themes like Corolla or eStore provide: Multi-level responsive header menus Custom layouts and color options Box shadow and background textures Custom field additions Magento Commerce is close to Drupal when it comes to mobile optimization capabilities. Its responsive web design features help users create optimal viewing experiences for multiple devices. Magento Blank or Luma are out-of-the-box themes that deliver a fully responsive design.   Who's the winner for eCommerce? While both Drupal Commerce and Magento Commerce are reliable options for a digital company that wants to thrive in the eCommerce market, every business has its own unique needs and requirements. Choosing the software that best supports these needs is a process that involves a lot of research and planning.  If you want to speed up this process and ensure that you reach the right decision, don't hesitate to contact Optasy for professional advice and support.  Discover which platform is most suited to provide a robust eCommerce experience for you and your customers.  Photo credit: Mark Konig on Unsplash.   ... Read more
Raluca Olariu / Apr 06'2021
Drupal DevOps Best Practices for 2021
  Today, businesses interact with their customers in many forms of digital services on all kinds of devices. As the digital world is more and more present in our lives, delivering streamlined experiences at the tip of your customers' fingers is the key to success.  A vital role in delivering rapid, accessible IT services is played by DevOps, a set of practices that brings software development and IT operations together. And when it comes to Drupal web development, DevOps represents a valuable instrument that can maximize the potential of Drupal-delivered projects.    How does DevOps work and what benefits does a DevOps model deliver? DevOps, the culture that encompasses most digital businesses today, uses automation and advanced tech stacks to add a new layer of velocity to a company's infrastructure. “DevOps represents a change in IT culture, focusing on rapid IT service delivery through the adoption of agile, lean practices in the context of a system-oriented approach. DevOps emphasizes people (and culture) and seeks to improve collaboration between operations and development teams. DevOps implementations utilize technology — especially automation tools that can leverage an increasingly programmable and dynamic infrastructure from a life cycle perspective”. - Gartner, Inc. Businesses that incorporate a DevOps model into their workflows see benefits like:   Scalability. Fundamental processes like infrastructure and development are operated at scale, which allows for a more efficient approach to developing, testing, and producing environments in a repeatable and streamlined way. Faster and more reliable delivery. The modern customer's need for speed is real, and DevOps can support organizations in their quest to speeding up feature releases, bug fixes, and other types of upgrades. Continuous integration and delivery are two critical practices that can automate the release process. High velocity. Adopting an efficient DevOps model allows professionals to build digital innovations faster and keep up with the trends imposed by ever-changing markets. Security. When adopting DevOps, you don't have to compromise on safety as DevOps models provide automated compliance policies and configuration management mechanisms.   DevOps best practices To make the most out of DevOps, there are some key practices to follow when implementing your model:   Leverage microservices architecture, which allows breaking down large systems into more specific, independent projects. As a result, developers and architects have more flexibility over managing these projects, and applications are more pliable and allow faster innovation. Install minor updates on a regular basis to solve issues and fix bugs quicker. The DevOps model aids companies in deploying updates more often and constantly optimizing their ongoing processes. Use continuous integration and continuous delivery to overcome operational challenges in complex development workflows.  Don't forget about infrastructure as a code, as automating your infrastructure provides better computing resources and higher responsiveness to possible alterations.    DevOps for Drupal development Implementing a DevOps model into your Drupal development workflow will not only accelerate your development cycle and delivery but will also contribute to better user experiences and business outcomes.  As more companies are adopting DevOps models (according to a recent report, 60% of businesses are using or are considering DevOps for their organization), it is expected that DevOps will gradually become even more essential for any digital business. With this growth will come better opportunities for building future-ready Drupal deployments and web experiences suited for the modern customer’s complex needs.    Wrapping Up DevOps continues to grow in new industries, opening possibilities for enhancing security, product monitoring, development, and cluster computing. As it will become the new norm, DevOps will continue to integrate more departments, improve solutions and designs.  As we've seen, DevOps models can also support a Drupal development team that focuses on improving project timelines and delivery. Optasy is the right partner for fostering digital innovation and can help you create customized Drupal digital experiences.  What do you need support with?  Photo credit: PCB-Tech on Pixabay.   ... Read more
Raluca Olariu / Apr 02'2021