Two Headless CMS - Head to Head

Anders Romin
Mar 30, 2016 · 8 min read

So what is a headless CMS then?

Imagine your traditional web CMS, like EPiServer, Polopoly or WordPress, and remove the part that actually renders html. Instead put a RESTful API in front of it and let the clients deal with the rendering themselves. The reason why this has become a suitable solution for many projects is that there are so many platforms out there and it would be nearly impossible for the CMS suppliers to keep up. Remember that 10 years ago there was just web sites and the biggest concern was if you would write it in Java, C# or PHP. Today we have many more choices just for web sites: Angular, Backbone, Rendr just to name a few. And then there is a bunch of totally different platforms where you might want to expose your service or app: iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, Android phones, Android tablets, Android TV, Samsung Smart-TV, XBox, etc. What all these platforms have in common is the capability to consume RESTful APIs with JSON. So that’s exactly what the headless CMS delivers.

Comparison between traditional and headless CMS

Contentful

So let’s take a look at a headless CMS: Contentful. I first came across Contentful about a year ago. My colleagues at apegroup had built mobile apps for years, and we were looking for a good product that could help us make our apps more dynamic and editorially driven. We had custom built a small headless CMS ourselves and used in one of our projects, but it is trickier than you would imagine when you want to support an editorial workflow. So when we found Contentful we thought that it had a good potential for us!

Accedo Appgrid

Accedo Appgrid is both similar and different to Contentful. Accedo is a company that is explicitly targeted at the media industry and especially OTT products, i.e. video services like Netflix, HBO, Viaplay and similar. This means that Appgrid is not a publicly available product like Contentful, but it is still a cloud service. Appgrid also contains parts that are not exactly CMS related, for example client configuration, error logging and messaging. Actually the CMS part of Appgrid is brand new and I happened to be working in one of the very first projects using it, so when you google about this, there is not a lot of information out there. Still, I think the Appgrid CMS is an interesting product with a lot of potential.

Comparison

So, which one is the winner? Let’s compare in these seven categories!

  1. Editorial Workflow: Appgrid is stronger when it comes to scheduled publishing and review state.
  2. Localization: Contentful has full support of having content in multiple languages while in Appgrid you need to invent your own model for this.
  3. Platform Specific Content: Appgrid has great support for managing content variations for different platforms. In Contentful you need to do this manually.
  4. Custom Field Types: Contentful has a public API for Widgets so that you can build your own integrations. Appgrid also have these possibilities, but there is no API for it, so you have to rely on Accedos consultants to do this for you.
  5. Comprehensive API’s and SDK’s: This is where Contentful really shines. The API’s are full of features and well designed. Appgrid is limited to a readonly API and no client SDK.
  6. Permission management: Contentful (in Enterprise version only) has possibilities to customize the roles within an application with granular permissions on entries, content types, and fields. Appgrid only has functionality to manage permissions on GUI features, not on entry types, entries and fields.

Conclusion

The winner of this battle is clearly Contentful. It is the more mature product, and it has a lot of nice features. But Appgrid is not bad either, I think it has a lot of potential, especially if the API’s are further developed. Which one to choose for your project obviously depends on your requirements and what type of product you are building.


Apegroup — Behind the Screens

Thoughts, learnings and opinions from a digital product studio in Sweden who deliver world-class design, technology and communication.

Anders Romin

Written by

I work as a solution architect for apegroup and my specialities range from backend programming and API design to system and information modeling.

Apegroup — Behind the Screens

Thoughts, learnings and opinions from a digital product studio in Sweden who deliver world-class design, technology and communication.