Headless CMS & Vue.JS Apps: Delivering Innovative Digital Experiences

Jason Smith

As the demand for omnichannel experiences grows, businesses must find ways to develop applications that can seamlessly transition between channels. Along with a headless CMS, one technology that has gained significant attention in recent years to help accomplish this are single-page applications (SPAs). 

These applications provide a faster, more dynamic user experience, making them ideal for creating omnichannel experiences that meet the needs of today’s digital consumers. Among the many JavaScript frameworks available for building SPAs, Vue has emerged as a leading option thanks to its simplicity, flexibility, and performance.

However, the move towards SPA frontend frameworks like Vue is largely driven by frontend developers and often leaves marketers in the dark when it comes to managing the content-driven app. That’s because the typical headless content delivery approach doesn’t have the authoring tools marketers require. Organizations, therefore, need the right technologies in place to empower marketing teams if they’re going to provide compelling customer experiences with SPAs.

With this in mind, we’ll look at why Vue.js continues to grow in popularity, how you can deliver content-driven experiences with Vue Apps to meet future digital ambitions, and how CMS can ensure that marketers have the tools they need.

Introducing Vue.js: The Framework for Building Dynamic, Headless SPAs

Vue.js is a JavaScript framework for building user interfaces and single-page applications, popular for its simplicity, flexibility, and performance. Created by Evan You in 2014, the open-source framework also has a vibrant community of contributors and developers who actively maintain it, ensuring it stays up-to-date with the latest web development trends and practices. 

Vue.js enables declarative rendering by extending the standard HTML with a template syntax. This allows developers to describe HTML output based on JavaScript state clearly and concisely.

In addition, Vue.js provides reactivity by automatically monitoring changes in the JavaScript state and efficiently updating the Document Object Model (DOM) whenever changes occur. This results in a more seamless and efficient development process, as developers can focus on the underlying data and let Vue.js handle the updates to the UI.

The Nuxt.js Metaframework

A meta-framework on top of Vue.js, named Nuxt.js, simplifies the development of server-side rendered (SSR) web applications. Developers can also build high-performance, SEO-friendly, and scalable web applications. Since Nuxt.js uses Vue.js components, developers already familiar with Vue.js can get started with Nuxt.js quickly.

What Are Single Page Applications?

Single-page applications are web applications that load and operate entirely within a single web page without needing page refreshes or server-side rendering. 

Instead of navigating between multiple pages, the user browsing the page interacts with a single page that dynamically updates its content as the user interacts with the application. Gmail and social media applications like Facebook or Twitter are prime examples of SPAs in action. 

SPAs are typically built using JavaScript frameworks such as Vue.js (React, Angular, and others).

Why Vue.js Remains Popular Among Developers

While React and Angular are more widely used, Vue has been steadily used among frontend developers. According to the State of JavaScript 2022, Vue.js remains in the top five most commonly used frontend JavaScript framework, with 46% of developers using it, while Angular ranks second with 49%, and React continues to lead the way with 82% of developers using the framework. 

The framework has a much easier learning curve than other SPA frameworks, meaning there are lower barriers to experimentation and innovation, enabling organizations to build and launch new applications quickly.

Vue is highly modular, with loosely coupled components which reduces development time. Modularized apps are also easier to develop and maintain at an enterprise scale. This component-based architecture also has advantages from a content management standpoint.

On the marketer side of things, Vue and other SPA apps generally offer a better customer experience than traditional websites. Vue apps are optimized for mobile devices and tablets and can be turned into Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) with little additional effort. That means marketers can utilize push notifications, geolocation, and other native-like capabilities to interact further with consumers. 

dotCMS: Headless Meets Vue

Using headless capabilities, companies can quickly launch a Vue-based app that’s tightly integrated with dotCMS. It’s straightforward for developers and marketers to collaborate when launching new digital experiences because dotCMS has a multitude of frontend integration points, a powerful SPA editing experience, and SEO optimization capabilities.

Frontend Integration

The dotCMS Everything as a Service approach means developers have the flexibility they need when integrating the platform with a Vue app to pull nearly any information they want from the CMS using APIs. The component-based architecture of Vue can closely match dotCMS objects or content types to seamlessly align the frontend UI to content within the CMS on the backend.

Using the Page API and dotCMS’s Layout as a Service, frontend developers can pull the pages, layouts, and content marketers create within the CMS and display the information using Vue. The dotCMS layout — rows, columns, and other information about rendering a page — can be parsed into a Vue template, and the containers can become child components within the Vue app as well. When a visitor navigates to a particular Vue route, the app can pull the content and display it within the appropriate components and templates.

Edit Mode Anywhere

Edit Mode Anywhere is dotCMS’s solution for managing SPAs like Vue. With Edit Mode Anywhere, the Vue app can be deployed external to dotCMS on any server techonology as long as you specify the endpoint of the app within the Edit Mode Anywhere plugin. This plugin will POST all the relevant page information to the external SPA app, which can then be parsed and rendered within the Vue code.

Once you have dotCMS pointed at the Vue app, you need to include specific HTML attributes within the container code so that marketers can work with the app from the Edit Mode Anywhere interface. These data attributes begin with the “data-dot-” prefix and include the appropriate metadata that Edit Mode Anywhere detects to provide in-context editing, drag-and-drop, live previews, and other advanced authoring capabilities.

Further Reading: Personalizing Single Page Apps with dotCMS’s Headless Capabilities  

SEO Optimization 

One of the greatest concerns with using SPAs from a marketing perspective is ensuring the site is optimized for SEO. Vue apps don’t have pages in the traditional sense, so it’s more challenging for search crawlers to index them properly. You should do everything you can to assist search engines by using slug URLs instead of URLs with hashtags, embedding metadata directly into the Vue code, and providing a sitemap. 

With dotCMS, you can easily manage additional metadata and make it available via APIs. You can also create a URL map to expose content using SEO-friendly slug URLs. Another unique approach is to build a hybrid app using dotCMS that functions like a SPA but has site navigation similar to traditional page-based websites. It’s possible to have multiple integrated SPAs using dotCMS so that marketing teams can find the right balance between better digital experiences and SEO optimization for their particular organization.

dotCMS: Ready For SPAs

The API-first approach of dotCMS makes headless content delivery straightforward. We’ve covered how dotCMS can tightly integrate with Vue apps — and React apps in the past — but this barely scratches the surface of what’s possible with headless content management and the additional capabilities of Edit Mode Anywhere. 

Not only can marketers easily manage a variety of frontends, but they have the tooling they need to SEO optimize them. The flexibility of dotCMS enables content-driven SPAs, PWAs, Alexa, and nearly any other use case in the future. 

Accelerating Agility and Performance With Enterprise SPA Hosting

From a developer perspective, the dotCMS Everything as a Service — and Layout as a Service in particular — streamlines the integration with SPAs. That means a faster time to market and reduced development costs for delivering modern customer experiences. dotCMS enables organizations to achieve their digital ambitions at a lower total cost of ownership through dotCMS Cloud

dotCMS Cloud is a platform as a service (PaaS) solution built on AWS infrastructure, explicitly designed for dotCMS customers. This highly secure and scalable hosting service provides businesses with a reliable option for hosting their content assets.

dotCMS Cloud leverages AWS Amplify to host enterprise-grade SPA sites. With this platform, customers can connect to their SPA git repository and have various environments (such as DEV, UAT, PROD) automatically rebuilt and redeployed on Amplify.

Furthermore, dotCMS Cloud also utilizes dotCDN to deliver static sites across the globe. This means that content authors can continue to use dotCMS’ visual editing and publishing capabilities as they would with a traditional site. However, the site is deployed statically on dotCMS Cloud.

Read dotCMS' case study with our customers at White Castle, who leverage Vue.js to serve up cutting edge customer experiences.

Jason Smith
Chief User Experience Officer
July 19, 2023

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