Headless CMS, IoT, and You, at STC Summit

This week I’m attending STC Summit 2019, the annual conference of the Society for Technical Communication (STC). I’m blogging my notes from the sessions that I attend. Thanks and all credit go to the speakers. Any mistakes are my own.

This was a talk from Chad Dybdahl from Adobe, with the intriguing title of Off with Their Heads! Headless CMS, IoT, and You.

Some definitions

A headless server is essentially a box. There’s no screen. It just sits there running something.

A Web CMS, like WordPress, is a traditional tool for building a website.

A headless CMS serves as a content repository. There’s no presentation layer. You’re writing content, and the CMS serves as a repository for the content. There’s a REST API that delivers the content. This makes for a very flexible environment. However, you need developers creating a front end to display the content.

A traditional CCMS also does not have a front end for content delivery. No APIs either. The published content is hosted somewhere else, such as in PDF or a website. Authoring is often done via DITA.

A hybrid CMS combines the best of both worlds, said Chad. It provides a content authoring and repository, a web front end, and REST APIs.

Content explosion

Chad talked about the number of devices that people use (average 6 devices) and the number of content sources (average 12 sources).

Content as a service

Content as a service is where you have a hub that delivers content to various channels. It’s an API-first service. Content delivers can choose the content they need and how to deliver it.

What do you need?

  • Structured content, such as that provided by DITA, in a well-defined model.
  • A CCMs that provides APIs and an API-first experience.

Demo of an Adobe CCMS

Chad demonstrated Adobe Experience Manager as an example of a hybrid CMS. He showed us a very simple web interface that queried the CMS and output content in the form of HTML (rendered for human readability) or JSON (as an interchange format).

IoT (Internet of Things)

In Chad’s house are various IoT devices that receive and output information and enable automation. On a web interface you can see the views of various cameras installed around the house, the output of the motion sensors and thermostat.

We should see all the items in the house as content. How do you tie together all the output from the various items? Chad uses a tool called Node-RED.

Doing the same thing with content

Chad uses Node-RED to tie pieces of content together too. He showed us the Node-RED tool for building a workflow to use the APIs from the Adobe Experience Manager CMS. We saw the resulting web page, built from a few bits of content from the CMS and rendered into HTML.

In Node-RED:

In Adobe CMS:

Rendered as HTML:

In conclusion

Thank you Chad for a good introduction to a CCMS and an intriguing glimpse of the wrld of IoT.

About Sarah Maddox

Technical writer, author and blogger in Sydney

Posted on 8 May 2019, in STC, technical writing and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Here is a great guide that explains everything you need to know about a headless CMS: https://buttercms.com/blog/headless-cms-learn-the-what-why-and-how

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