Bringing Decoupled CMS Back

By Deane Barker

There’s sort of a retro-ish movement afoot to return content management to its decoupled roots. (No idea what “decoupled means”? Read Decoupled Content Management 101 for a long-form primer.)

Henri Bergius has written a good post summarizing why he feels coupled CMS comes up short, and making the case that there are several new technologies around right know which mean we could decouple more easily and still retain all of the great benefits of coupled.

He’s fighting the component lock-in he finds with coupled CMS:

Want to use a cool new editor like Aloha, or a different templating engine, or maybe a trendy NoSQL storage back-end? You’ll have to convince the whole CMS project or vendor to switch over.

Things like create.js and backbone.js could conceivably give us the best of both worlds: decoupling, enabling us to pick and choose which CMS components we want, plus the immediacy of editing right in the presentation tier (the browser itself, these days).

The web editing tools have traditionally been part of the web framework, the framework serving forms and toolbars to the user as part of the generated web pages. But with modern browsers you could throw forms out of the window and just make pages editable as they are.

I like the idea of these tools. They’re designed to enhance CMS in general, without regard to the actual platform. Glue enough of these together adeptly, and you could create a “new” CMS which is really just a combination of great parts.

There’s already quite a bit going on in the repository space – things like JCR and CMIS – though adoption has been slow. The presentation components have been slower to catch on, but we’re getting there.

There’s even a website representing the movement:

Decoupled Content Management is a movement to bring clean separation of concerns into CMSs. With it, Content Management Systems can focus better on their core functionalities, and get the missing pieces through code-sharing and collaboration.

When you think about it, decoupled CMS fell out of favor because of limitations which may have been obviated by new technologies. Decoupled has advantages – has the technology moved to a level where we can make it work better this time?

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