The Basics of Headless
“Headless” has been a buzzword for more than a few years in the CMS space, but what exactly is a headless content management system?
Sitecore has always provided headless capabilities to some degree (thanks to the Item Service API), but its implementation is overly simplistic in scope and requires additional architecture and development to be useful.
Sitecore is Going Headless – Again
Designing, building, and implementing top-notch experiences not only requires a great deal of planning, strategy, and time – it also requires the right digital experience platform (DXP) and the right development approach for your business needs.
With Sitecore 10, headless development is finally a first-class citizen. Sitecore now provides a robust API for loading content, presentation information, personalization, and more from the CMS in a client-agnostic way.
Browser-based applications can consume these APIs to enable rich, content-driven applications and allow front-end developers to interact with Sitecore without having to learn the entire backend stack tech. JSS was just the beginning – with Sitecore 10, developers can now implement ASP.NET Core applications that implement rendering and presentation logic in a headless manner.
For other server-based applications, a rendering host can be built to consume, render, and serve content. A rendering host is an ASP.NET Core application that utilizes new, lightweight Sitecore libraries and APIs to retrieve content from Sitecore and render it. Renderings hosts can implement any other logic, functionality, and customization needed by a potential front-end. In short, a rendering host application handles the presentation work while Sitecore handles content management.
Rendering hosts utilize two lightweight APIs for handling content: the Layout Services Client and the Rendering Engine SDK:
- Layout Services Client is responsible for loading content, presentation, and other information from Sitecore via the headless API
- Rendering Engine SDK provides an API for consuming data from the Layout Services Client to render content; also handles some request route mapping and view configuration
Finally, don’t fret, MVC folks! While headless is a great option for organizations looking for additional implementation and scaling flexibility, Sitecore 10 continues to work great with the traditional MVC stack (sorry, Web Forms, but my personal recommendation: your time is up).