Contentful: the difference when building from an API

Iñaki BarturenJuly 05, 2021

Contentful is a versatile, polyglot technology. It provides content infrastructure allowing for API calls, regardless of the frontend type and even device, freeing us from every micro-adjustment to the structure required, since in essence, the content is decoupled from the way it is shown.


This article seeks to provide the essentials of this technology, highlight the characteristics of building from APIs and invite you to review our status as Contentful Partners, which makes us strategic partners to innovate.

What is CMS and Headless CMS

CMS stands for Content Management System and is the infrastructure that allows you to manage your web content. These are solutions for the creation, maintenance and updating of websites, blog or ecommerce.

CMS ease and optimize the operational part of the content development of your sites, in addition to providing additional features using third-party plugins and resources. In this sense, WordPress stands out, the CMS used by almost 40% of the sites on the web which offers an intuitive interface for content management ...

To a certain extent because on many occasions we will be "trapped" in a maze, looking for a good * hack * to achieve what we want to do.

Understanding the limiting factors of CMS such as WordPress is just as important, and they are mainly conditioned to certain content models and coding languages.

Headless CMS refers to a CMS that decouples the head in HTML from the body. This management approach separates the presentation layer from the published content, improving the creation experience, without impacting or depending on the adaptation of the structural development.

To achieve efficiency in this idea of separating the head from the body, Headless CMS manages content via autonomous systems that respond to requests in a specific way... surely it was more effective to say that they manage content via APIs, they make API calls for content.

Contentful: What it is and its API-First philosophy

Contentful is a Headless CMS hosted in the cloud, based on the idea of a RESTful API (Representational State Transfer) service that uses query methods, so that devices can access content, so that publishers can update, developers can modify, and everything is deployed independently, without conditioning each other.

Contentful is another CMS, yes, but it is also content infrastructure. This means that it allows building content models tailored to your requirements and not be conditioned to a type: it is no longer about how to create the site to work in WordPress, but about how we are going to use Contentful to achieve everything the developing project should do, with no limits.

Api First

Build from an API "Now We Have Freedom"

One of the important elements of this development approach are the requests from **hooks**to the APIs, which in addition to simplifying the technical process by providing more space for design and creativity, allows better management of data transfer.

  • A significant benefit is that thanks to the RESTful API, this type of CMS only delivers data in JSON format, compatible with practically any device and frontend technology. This allows you to create static pages with dynamic content.
  • You can define various content models, varying in the type of data or ways of making API requests. This provides greater autonomy in the development of the site and its features. In turn, it also enables the incorporation of diverse material.
  • Having created the content models, you can start to enter entries and add information, edit, or publish it and have it distributed thanks to the efficiency of its CDN (Content Delivery Network)... all hosted in the cloud.
  • Contentful provides an SDK's (Software Development Kit) for the vast majority of coding languages, this polyglot condition allows making API calls regardless of the coding language used to develop your e-commerce or application.
  • The fact that the data comes from a REST API means that the delivery is dynamic and is integrated into the structure of the webpage without having to reload it to obtain it.
    • The logic of deployment

      Unlike traditional CMS, Contentful has a 3-step deployment that is always worth remembering:

      • Define your content model, which is and will be independent of the presentation layer that will expose the information and data created.
      • Manage the content from an interactive, simple, and intuitive interface.
      • Serve the content from APIs independently; without necessarily depending on development for publication.
        • In short: you will be able to display any type of content such as images, videos, texts and even documents structured in a light and versatile way in coding languages and browsers; therefore, widely accessible on the web.

          Contentful is one of the keys

          Perhaps you are an all-in-one person who deploys their sites, creates, and manages the content and even manages the addition of plugins for the user experience, or perhaps you are a development team that is analyzing headless alternatives to a traditional CMS.

          Regardless of the case, this review by Contentful: what it is, how it differs from other CMS systems and what benefits you could obtain from including this type of technology, should be included in your daily questioning.

          It is in this round of thought where we look for answers to delicate and "almost" existential situations...

          • Should we try to do something with a CMS that it was not intended to do?
          • Is it the time to be free and create a new experience from the flexibility and possibilities that an API-First CMS provides?
            • At Reign we are Gold Contentful Partners because we recognize the agility, versatility and scalability offered by developing and managing your content.

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