Conscious Decoupling: The Benefits of Decoupled Drupal

Meet the new experience mandates and consumer expectations across channels and clients using the development approach of your choice.

Acquia serves the best of all development worlds. It permits multiple modes of development, including traditional web content management (WCM) systems, decoupled and hybrid decoupled, of which each play a role in meeting new expectations due to growth in digital channels, devices and clients, to deliver universal content flexibility.

Digital users today demand stellar experiences on the channel of their own choice. Building applications for devices and channels today, and anticipating the need down the road for displays/devices that don’t yet exist, requires a flexible WCM capability that minimizes risk, maximizes investment and utilizes the skills of both front- and back-end developers.

All WCM solutions are designed to manage content. The distinguishing factor is what they allow with content: traditional WCMs also handle presentation whereas in decoupled mode, a.k.a. headless, WCMs don’t handle presentation at all.

When thinking through next-generation WCM platforms and approaches beyond traditional  integrated or coupled models, technical decision makers are asking: which of the decoupled approaches available in a WCM is the best one to use? And will this WCM allow me to develop “my way,” i.e., using front-end JavaScript libraries and frameworks?  

Universal Content Flexibility

Drupal, which is API-First, not API-only, also offers a third option, allowing the developer to choose to combine the strengths of both modes. Drupal can deliver no presentation, all the presentation, or part of it, by building hybrid, or progressively decoupled, applications. This mode of development allows JavaScript components, or mini-applications, to be embedded in a page, with some presentations still controlled by the WCM. Developers can mix and match these to create whole new experiences. Sometimes, the component is complex and takes up most of the page; there are multiple small components that work together to extend and augment content; and the WCM manages the whole page without any components.

Offering the best of all worlds, Drupal delivers universal content flexibility — providing the greatest creative flexibility to front-end developers and content authors to construct content-rich experiences for any channel, screen, device or mode of interaction. Acquia, and its WCM Drupal, offers a decoupled or hybrid approach that is the most efficient means for delivering diverse experiences beyond Drupal’s traditional coupled WCM approach.

Drupal’s support for multiple development modes enables the creation of a diversity of experiences. It allows developers technical independence from the display mandates of traditional WCM templates, in favor of using standards-based APIs (i.e., JSON:API and GraphQL) to access content from a decoupled back-end, and JavaScript libraries and frameworks, i.e., React, Angular, Node.js, to create engaging front-end experiences.

A Spectrum of Possibilities

Acquia’s WCM isn’t just for developers; non-technical content creators can still gain access to editorial tools to create the content that builds great experiences. Acquia’s WCM can be deployed not just in decoupled modes, but also in a traditional (coupled) WCM mode, meaning developers can cede as much traditional, front-end content management control (i.e., authoring, workflow, preview, publish) to business users as is necessary. This flexibility enables organizations to operate on a spectrum that diffuses power to developers, content editors or both.

With Acquia, developers have the flexibility to choose the mode of development and deployment that most makes sense — choosing to tightly integrate front-end experience with back-end content infrastructure; to operate completely independently; or to adopt a hybrid of these two approaches. As a result, developers have full flexibility and creativity, and content creators have full content management control.

Only Drupal provides this flexibility to all stakeholders, minimizing future risk when new needs arise, with an open source approach to development. Acquia’s solution delivers universal content flexibility to maximize your team’s ability to realize value quickly, while using the core content management benefits of a battle-tested WCM.

David Aponovich

David Aponovich

Sr. Director, Product Marketing Acquia, Inc.

David Aponovich is senior director of product marketing at Acquia, where he helps articulate the benefits of Acquia solutions including Acquia Journey, the company’s customer journey orchestration solution, and trends in digital experience.

Prior to joining Acquia, he was a senior analyst at Forrester Research, where he researched web content management and digital experience technology and consulted to Forrester’s global clients on their digital transformation initiatives. He also spent six years as web content management strategy consultant at agency Connective DX, and previously was marketing director at a WCM software vendor.