How to decouple on Acquia Cloud

How to Decouple on Acquia Cloud

January 3, 2018 4 minute read
With the growth of decoupled experiences, JavaScript frameworks and Drupal have never been more important. It was with this in mind that Acquia added support for Node.js to Acquia Cloud Enterprise.
How to decouple on Acquia Cloud

With the growth of decoupled experiences, JavaScript frameworks and Drupal have never been more important. It was with this in mind that Acquia added support for Node.js to Acquia Cloud Enterprise.

Adding this feature to the Acquia platform has many necessary technical benefits for development teams to consider, but what about the business owner of the applications? Why is there such a trend towards building applications using decoupled architecture?

Let’s take a look at some of the key benefits.

Customers demand real-time content

Headless CMS has been a trend that has been gaining traction over the past several years. It is driven by the rise in simple front-end programming languages (notably JavaScript) for applications that need the power of a content management system (CMS), like Drupal.

There are many ways to decouple Drupal from your front end, but the turning point in adoption seems to be the rise of isomorphic JavaScript. This method eliminates some of the challenges like slow page rendering and poor SEO performance by adding a runtime (Node.js) into the architecture. This allows the designer to be less reliant on client-side rendering to present their application, thus addressing these key challenges.

An example of how a successful decoupled experience is the New York’s Metro Transit Authority (MTA). Riders on the MTA demand real-time updates to the transit schedule through the digital signage in New York’s subway stations. JavaScript is really good at quickly handling real time data to enable blazing-fast updates to their sites. What this case study embodies is that consumers expect information to be updated and available in real time.

MTA signs

The "Omnichannel" Experience

Omnichannel is a buzzword that is thrown around a lot. What it usually refers to is customers want to be able to transition seamlessly from the many connected devices they have. Sounds easy, right?

The reality is that as devices and platforms emerged over the last decade, so too did a number of ways to develop applications for them. HTML, CSS, Swift, JavaScript, and C# are just a few languages used.

Decoupled architectures enable you to support all of these different types of applications from a single CMS, like Drupal. Through an API-first design, your development team is free to work with its preferred frontend language.

The need for speed

Without spending too much time in the specific approaches to decoupled architecture, one of the key benefits to the approach is speed. The speed is delivered to your customer through a lightweight app that renders quickly. Limiting the time a customer waits for content reduces the risk of them abandoning your site.

For your development team, applications are delivered faster because the architecture allows the frontend team to develop user interactions while the backend team develops the services the frontend team uses. Since the frontend team no longer waits for the backend to be complete, your application is up and running faster.

At Acquia, we invested in adding a Node.js as an option on our platform for customers taking this architectural approach. This allows customers on Acquia Cloud the flexibility of supporting both Drupal and decoupled Drupal applications on a single platform.

As we look ahead to the new types of applications our customers are developing, we see a diverse world of traditional websites and mobile applications with new forms of engagement for anything from digital assistants (Alexa or Cortana) to augmented and virtual reality.

To support what the end customer wants (an integrated experience) any platform for delivering these types of applications needs to be built around technologies that support content delivery to any of these channels.

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