Strapi introduces new open-source headless content management system

You may not have heard of Strapi, but you will. Its headless content management system has always proven popular with thousands of companies.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor

Strapi, the company behind the most popular open-source headless content management system (CMS), has announced the general availability of its Community Edition after two years of development. The business also announced paid support plans and disclosed plans for an Enterprise Edition, which is already in private beta testing.

What's a headless CMS you ask? Unlike such popular CMSs as WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal, a headless CMS doesn't bother with the website's front-end. Instead, all its focus is on the back-end content repository, which is used for storing and delivering structured content. This content is then made available for display via a RESTful API, typically using JSON or XML

Strapi claims that traditional CMSs, like 20-year old WordPress, have a monolithic legacy architecture that is difficult to build, often slow, and vulnerable to hackers. As a headless CMS, Strapi utilizes APIs to easily integrate into a variety of front-end frameworks, giving developers the freedom to choose their favorite tools, while reducing hosting and development costs.

Strapi isn't the only headless CMS. Others include Storyblok, Contentful, and Prismic. Strapi claims it's the most popular of them all. They base that on over one million downloads of the beta, more than 25,000 stars on GitHub, and top ranking on HeadlessCMS.org. Additionally, even in beta, it was already being used at NASA, IBM, Societe Generale, and Delivery Hero.

The Strapi CMS, which is built on Node.js, is customizable using APIs. Its database and file content can be accessed for display on websites, smartphones, and Internet of Things (IoT) devices. This content is delivered via the JAMstack static-site generators and front-end frameworks, such as Gatsby.js, Next.js, Nuxt.js, Angular, React, and Vue.js. On the backend, it supports both SQL and NoSQL databases.

(Image: Strapi)

Strapi Community Edition includes:

  • Content-Type Builder: Strapi provides a flexible and complete data structure, allowing users to easily create many different field types (Text, Boolean, Number, JSON, Media, UID, etc) -- either single types for pages with a unique structure to ensure global settings consistency or collection types for entities that are meant to be repeated many times over. It's also possible to create repeatable groups to easily reuse multiple fields bundled together. 
  • Content Management: Empowers content editors with a rich markdown editor, a customizable layout, and built-in filtering capabilities. 
  • Customizable API: REST or GraphQL API endpoints can easily be customized directly from the code editor. Based on Apollo, the Strapi GraphQL plug-in offers full compatibility with other tools in the GraphQL ecosystem.
  • JWT authentication: Secure and authorize access to API endpoints with JSON Web Tokens (JWT) or providers. 
  • Dynamic Zones: Makes it possible to build dynamic entries with complex data structures. It's often very helpful to create sections such as sliders and quotes or data structures such as meta fields so that those can be reused whenever needed.
  • Webhooks: A simple way for different applications to communicate and get notified when a new event happens. With headless CMS, webhooks are very useful to build the front-end upon modification in the administration panel. 
  • File Storage and Media Library: An easy way to upload, manage, and edit a variety of media assets including images, videos, audio files, PDFs, or GIFs so that they can be uploaded once and reused many times.
  • Plug-ins Providers: Projects using Strapi can easily be customized and extended by installing email, upload, or search providers, or adding community plug-ins for sitemap, import, etc.

"After years of development on our community edition of Strapi, we're delivering a version that is ready for large-scale enterprise adoption, along with expert support to assist with initial implementations," said Pierre Burgy, Strapi's co-founder, and CEO, in a statement. "This new release also provides a solid foundation for the development of Strapi's ecosystem to build even more plug-ins, integrations, and customizations." 
Helping to further drive adoption will be an initial group of worldwide partners that deliver services with the Strapi CMS, which include AE Studio, Capfi, Freshcells, Formidable, Notum Simform, and SovTech.

Overcoming the enormous market-lead of traditional CMSs won't be easy. That said, as Brightspot, another CMS company, observed: "Headless CMS offers the most control regarding how and where your content appears." 

If control and flexibility are at the top of your web design to-do list, Strapi deserves your attention.

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