The concept of (1) a content object existing in a web content management system, and (2) that content object getting a URL at which it can be retrieved, are two separate things. However, in some systems they get combined. Understanding the relationship between a page and a content object is critical to deciding how content gets modeled.
In older systems, the idea of “pages” was often not even part of the CMS. Pages were just executable templates on the file system that pulled content into them. This gave us URLs like:
In that case, the executable file called “article.php” was acting as the page and the content was a database record with a key of “42”. They were combined at request time, and the result was sent back as the HTTP response.
In this example, the content has no concept of a page. It doesn’t even know it’s being rendered into a page. It’s just pure data that happens to be pulled into a page rendering process at request time.
In fact, the CMS itself (insofar as a raw database is acting as a CMS) doesn’t even have any concept of the page. The request for
article.php is handled by the web server. It processes the logic of responding to the request, which just happens to involve contacting a database for information.
Later, CMSs started managing the actual concept of the page itself. Pages became virtual and were no longer represented by a file on disk that was the direct target of a URL request. This seems routine now, but at the time (think, turn of the century), it was ground-breaking. It also led to the idea of “pages” and “content” getting mashed together.
Now, the CMS itself is much more intimately involved in the request process. The CMS knows that its responding to an HTTP request, and it becomes involved in the URL interpretation and content mapping required to match content with that request.
This requires a CMS to be “page aware” – or perhaps more accurately, “URL aware” – and it means there’s some link between a URL and a content object. How this link is architected, managed, and maintained is subject to several different patterns.