CMS Agnostic Headless

2023 - 11 - 24
CMS Agnostic Headless

One of the main pros of headless is its Lego-like architecture. But can we make it even better?

Some time ago I was working on an Astro template that I wanted to use to show how simple using Astro with different headless CMSs is. It was a very simple template and it had the following:

Simple, right? But converting it from one CMS to another was annoying. "Annoying" is the correct word, because it wasn't difficult, but it was tedious. Every time I had to:

So, I started to wonder how to make it CMS-agnostic.

Before we start

Just a few thoughts before we start:

Additional layer

The key to solving most of the problems was adding a new abstraction layer. We could say it is a controller.

In short - the title should always be stored in a variable called title. To do so we have to map it.

This is what the WordPress mapping looks like:

const temp = {
    'title': post.title.rendered,
    'slug': post.slug,
    'intro': post.excerpt.rendered,
    'tag': post._embedded["wp:term"][1][0].name,
    'content': post.content.rendered,

and this is the CosmicJS integration:

const temp = {
    'title': post.title,
    'slug': post.slug,
    'intro': post.metadata.intro,
    'tag': post.metadata.tag,
    'pubDate': post.published_at,
    'content': marked.parse(post.metadata.content),

This means that no matter how your variables are named in the headless CMS, your theme will always use the same variable, in my case:

{ postData.title }

Apart from the variable mapping, those integrations take care of importing the SDK or API and running some additional operations (like you saw with markdown parsing in CosmicJS).

Dynamic imports

OK, but how to import just the required integration? Thanks to dynamic integrations.

I have a file called cmsBase.js that does something like this:

const cmsType = 'wordpress';

export async function getPosts( args ) {
    const data = await import( `./${cmsType}/getPosts.js` );
    return data.getPosts( args );

Based on the cmsType variable it imports the getPosts.js function from the right integration.

At the moment my theme only supports one integration at once (which is OK, because I only have posts), but converting the cmsType variable into an object to map post types to CMSs seems a logical next step.

Adding a new CMS

So, how to add a new CMS? I created a boilerplate folder called _template - you just have to copy and rename it to your CMS name.

Next, you will want to install the CMS SDK and add some variables to the env file. With this work done, I always start with the client.js file - I use it to have all the SDK/API calls in one place. It's also a good place to create some helper functions.

Having the client.js it's time to start mapping the post and author content in getPosts.js and getAuthor.js.

How can it work better?

This theme is more of a proof of concept. It works perfectly for the SSG approach. If you would like to go with SSR you would probably also need to create some additional files (like getSinglePost).

I didn't spend too much time optimizing the API calls, so you can see fields: ['*'] in the Directus integration.

Also, I would remove all the unused SDKs from package.json.

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