Decoupled Drupal

While Drupal has been a wildly popular content management system, a growing number of digital teams are turning to decoupled Drupal architecture to have more freedom when creating digital experiences across a broad range of channels. Decoupled Drupal, or headless Drupal, uncouples the back-end of the CMS system that manages content from the front-end that is responsible for presenting or displaying content, allowing Drupal to expose content to other front-end systems and enabling digital teams to use the tools of their choice when rendering content across channels.

To implement a decoupled or headless Drupal architecture, organizations need a platform that allows developers to work both with traditional Drupal sites as well as decoupled Drupal projects. As the #1 hosting and development platform for Drupal sites, Acquia provides such a solution in Acquia Cloud Platform.

How decoupled Drupal works

With decoupled Drupal architecture, developers have the option of working with Drupal in three modes:

  • In a fully decoupled Drupal approach, Drupal’s back-end serves as a decoupled CMS, storing and managing data and making it available to the front-end systems of the developer’s choice to render the content and communicating with Drupal through web service APIs. 
  • Developers may also opt for a hybrid (progressively decoupled) Drupal approach, where a layer of JavaScript is added to a webpage to render a single block or component, or to create a more interactive end-user experience. 
  • Developers continue to have the option of working with traditional Drupal, where Drupal is responsible for both the front-end rendering and the back-end management of content.

As with any headless content management system, the benefit of decoupled Drupal is the freedom it provides developers to choose the right front-end tools for any channel or device. That allows developers to continue to rely on Drupal’s headless CMS to serve content to a broad variety of devices, including:

  • Websites and native mobile apps 
  • Internet of Things apps
  • Digital signage
  • Virtual reality programs
  • Smartwatches
  • Chat platforms
  • CRM systems
  • Conversational UIs like Amazon Echo or Apple’s Siri     

Use preferred front-end technologies with decoupled Drupal in Acquia 

Acquia Cloud Platform is the leader in enterprise Drupal hosting. As a secure, scalable and fully managed platform for building and managing Drupal-based digital experiences, Acquia Cloud relieves digital teams from the need to manage a Drupal platform and frees them to innovate on every channel, to engage customers more dynamically and to grow the enterprise brand.

Now, with support for Node.js runtime, Acquia Cloud also supports the development of decoupled Drupal applications. Developers can use Acquia Cloud to develop, deliver and manage traditional Drupal experiences as well as decoupled Drupal or standalone applications built with their preferred JavaScript framework, delivering cross-channel customer journeys with speed and flexibility.

Advantages of Acquia for decoupled Drupal

Using Acquia Cloud to manage decoupled Drupal sites offer significant benefits for an organization, including:

  • A write once, publish anywhere approach: By using decoupled Drupal as a hub for storing content that can be served to a constellation of sites and digital experiences, you can syndicate content more effectively and cost-efficiently.
  • A more compelling user experience: A decoupled Drupal architecture allows developers to use any tools required to better customize the front-end experience for users.
  • Happier developers: Decoupled Drupal enables developers to continue using the tools they prefer or are most familiar with as they develop front-end experiences.
  • More efficient development pipelines: With decoupled Drupal, front-end teams and back-end teams can work in parallel without slowing the other team’s progress.
  • A future-proofed digital experience: Decoupled Drupal makes future site redesigns easier, as developers need only overhaul the front-end rather than completely restructuring the back-end as well.

Why Acquia is a natural for decoupled Drupal architecture

Acquia was founded by Dries Buytaert, who is also the founder of Drupal, and Acquia continues to be Drupal’s biggest backer. As an open digital experience platform designed specifically for Drupal, Acquia developers have a unique understanding of the inner workings of Drupal and the core technology that powers both Drupal sites and decoupled Drupal applications. For more than five years, Acquia has been working to develop and support a variety of decoupled Drupal architectures with and without Node.js. Now, with support for both Drupal and Node.js on Acquia Cloud, Acquia has made it possible for developers to access both Drupal and Node.js environments from a single user interface, continuing Acquia’s mission to provide customers with the best platform and tools for building the world’s greatest digital experiences.

FAQs: what is decoupled Drupal?

What is decoupled Drupal?

Decoupled Drupal refers to a Drupal architecture where Drupal’s back-end exposes content to other front-end systems, essentially serving as a central repository of content that can be served to a wide variety of devices. 

What is headless Drupal?

Headless Drupal is essentially synonymous with decoupled Drupal – the terms can be used interchangeably.

What are the advantages of decoupled Drupal?

A decoupled Drupal architecture enables the development team to take advantage of Drupal’s highly regarded back-end functionality, using Drupal as a repository for content that can be made available to other front-end systems. As the variety of ways that people consume digital information continues to expand, development teams value the ability to use the most effective or appropriate front-end tools for serving content to different technologies.