Hybrid headless and an even better UI

Published on January 31, 2018 by Jan Haderka

In between his work managing and balancing out technical features and tasks, Magnolia CTO Jan Haderka shares some thoughts on the product vision.

What’s the best thing that happened with Magnolia CMS in 2017?

Definitely the new Content Editor module and the associated Stories app. These improvements clearly show that we are committed to users and their experience while using the product and to making their life better in how we interact with them to address their needs.

Where is Magnolia CMS heading in 2018?

While the Content Editor was the most significant milestone in my mind, it was not the only thing. We also delivered tools that make it easier to build REST endpoints and unveiled our take on headless: by introducing a hybrid headless strategy and explaining how it meshes together the best of traditional CMS capabilities and headless, minimizing the disadvantages of each approach while using the strengths of each to provide a more robust solution.

The direction for this year is clearly to follow this trend and continue enhancing our hybrid headless capability while strengthening usability of the UI. We’ve got a whole project, called “Resurface”, dedicated to the topic of UI and new usability patterns.

The third track of the product vision, if you will, is to continue improving our internal processes, infrastructure and upgrading technologies used within the product to keep it competitive. We need to give our development teams a free hand to continue delivering features and exploring innovative directions for product development, instead of being stuck in trying to maintain and keep code together. I’m not saying that maintenance is not important; it is and extremely so. However, it should not be the major task in the daily job of developers, but rather something that occupies at most 10-15% of the time (yeah, wishful thinking on my side for now).



In what ways will the recent investment give fresh impulse to product development?

Work on the corporate and product strategy is still evolving. What is clear already is that we see ourselves growing in the future through the cloud and will continue to push for our strengths: ease of integration, i.e. best-of-breed, and ease of use, i.e. author/user friendliness.

What trends can you spot in the CMS world?

There are many. We highlighted about 17 of them in research for the 2018 product development roadmap and picked the following to explore in more detail:

  • Getting tools to work together
  • Cloud flexibility
  • Hybrid headless
  • How omnichannel is driving content curation to create seamless journeys across multiple touchpoints
  • Personalization
  • A/B testing
  • Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML)

This is obviously still a big list for a company of our size and the size of the development team. So in the process of preparing the roadmap, we went through those and collected ideas on how to make impact in those areas. We’re now trying to match those ideas that could give us advantage in multiple areas with single implementation or those that are easy enough to deliver. To not spread ourselves too thin, we will limit to the topics in which we can bring biggest impact. It will be a somewhat painful process, or rather, the results of it might be painful for those whose ideas will not be selected, but we simply need to do things one after another. Trying to achieve everything would not help us to succeed at all.

If you could give sound advice to digital managers trying to pick a CMS, what would it be?

“Digital” is all around; you’ve got nothing to wait for if you were tasked to bring your organization to the digital age. Also, the task doesn’t get any smaller the longer you wait, so start somewhere, anywhere. Just start, one small task at a time, and before you know it, your organization will be fully digital. If you want help and decide to start with your CMS, we’re happy to help.


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About the author Jan Haderka

Jan is Magnolia's Chief Technology Officer. He has been developing software since 1995. On this blog, he'll write about Magnolia's connectors, integrations and coding ...with the odd Magnolia usability and development tip thrown in for good measure. He lives in the Czech Republic with his wife and three children. Follow him on Twitter @rah003.

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