Using your own product - a headless CMS case study

November 30, 2020herflis

Eat your own dogfood they said. It'll be fun they said...

If you followed us, you could have read it a million times already, we are about to launch sensenet in SaaS model - which is a huge change from selling a traditional (E)CMS - to serve our customers with a cloud-based, headless CMS. These changes not only affected our sales and development processes but also our communication and at the same time it made necessary to update our public website. Easiest thing ever, since the product we develop is perfect for creating public websites (among many other things). The old website was built with the previous version of the product which was a complex ECMS, so the time was perfect not only to redesign the site and update every content, but to test the new model in this specific scenario.

One repository to rulem them all

The public website is one of the main pillars of a company's communication and must convey the same clear message along with all the other channels. Technically it means you have to create and maintain tons of content day to day, collaborate on them with the other editors and publish them on multiple platforms on different devices. Content makes the world go 'round, but fortunately in sensenet everything is a content and being a real content-based solution for every business problems, it offers the perfect mixture for projects that are about sharing information.

The long and the short of it is that we started the project with content, working out the model and the structure. This step is the core of such projects and it is seamless with sensenet content types. Taking advantage of type inheritance and the endless possibilities of expanding and combining these types we could freely shape the content model till it fitted our needs.

Collaboration + security = faster development

At the launch we had 25+ custom content types and 500+ contents and they were created not only to vary metadata (fields) but also for handling security issues. Thanks to the tree-based content structure we could separate content branches for developers and editors based on their different permission levels. This way they could work simultaneously on the project without disrupting each other’s work.

As for any company, collaborative work is a key for us and by using a content-based solution to this website revamp project we also learn how fast we can work together. As the model and the structure was ready, both content editors and developers could start working on their part: editors produced the content, developers set up and built the single page application using sensenet's super-flexible REST API.

One content, multiple platforms

Want to multiply the number of readers of your content without the headache of multiply them per platform and device? Use a headless CMS, use sensenet! 😊 We've built up both desktop and mobile version of our website, our blog and even our in-house administration system on contents (articles, files, blog posts) shared across these solutions without having to multiply them. An endless wealth of possibilities, isn't it? If we figure out someday, that we want a mobile app, we can build it upon the same repository, with the same contents using the same API.

SNaaS for the future

Our previous website - made with the old product - was built using a lot of old technologies both server and client-side. These technologies were decent and modern back in the day, but as time goes on, every technology, framework and library gets older, loses its support and makes old projects unsustainable. If we stick to traditional CMS' then this usually means that the project needs to be rebuilt from scratch from content to user interface. We have run into this problem many times, but we won’t any more. sensenet as a headless CMS gives us the freedom of changing the ui, adding new features or integrate it with anything without having to touch the repository and the backend. sensenet's REST API is future-proof and while we hope that Next.js (chosen as the basis for our website) will stay supported and popular for a long time, we only have to replace the UI if the time comes.

Sum up: Why we chose sensenet? (and not because it is our solution🙂)

  • short deadline: the whole project (including UX and UI designing phase) had to be completed in a month and a half,
  • productivity: developers and content editors could work simultaneously
  • multi-platform: a content should be created only once, but can be published in multiple forms
  • gentle learning curve: developers can choose their preferred technology to connect with sensenet
  • no technical know-how for the editors: they only have to use a WYSIWYG editor on the admin surface
  • permissions for users in different roles: editors and developers can access only the appropriate content branches
  • flexible type system: content can be supplemented with various types of metadata