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Building Content APIs with CrafterCMS and Groovy

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Mike Vertal

To dynamically share content from a headless CMS to your apps, you must transfer more than just raw content. Content APIs help to connect and share content, metadata, relationships and structure across all of your sites and applications. Sometimes, however, this may not be enough due to an organization’s customization and personalization requirements. This can be difficult to achieve with simple headless CMS solutions.

To solve this, CrafterCMS supports server-side scripting. By leveraging Groovy, you can deliver lightweight, fast, easy-to-use, and sophisticated custom content solutions. That means you won’t be limited to the fixed APIs provided by simple headless CMSs, and you can use Groovy to easily script RESTful services and MVC controllers.

In this article, you’ll discover how you can use Java-based CrafterCMS to create a custom content API with Groovy.

What Is an API?

An API or Application Programming Interface is a bridge or connection for two applications to interact. Basically, it acts as an intermediary, delivering requests to providers and retrieving its response for relay to the original query source.

One of the reasons APIs are so important is that they let users access several functionalities without writing code for them. They eliminate the need for developers to write code for previously designed functionalities by making it readily available. That makes APIs extremely valuable to businesses, enabling them to integrate other applications. That way, you can create an application that is highly scalable and flexible with dynamic functionalities.

For instance, a React application can communicate with CrafterCMS by making HTTP requests to the Crafter API. Afterward, you'll get a response delivered to your React application. Say you want to display a list of movies present within your Crafter application in a React app. You can send an HTTP request to Crafter, and the API will return a JSON response containing the list of movies.

REST APIs

REST APIs are the most common API used for web applications. These APIs conform to an architectural style and guidelines that define how the APIs look. They are used by several prominent organizations such as Netflix, Google, and Amazon.

GraphQL APIs

GraphQL is an API that provides users with just the data they need and nothing more. That enables greater flexibility, security, and efficiency than REST API. REST consists of stateless servers and structured resource access, making it the standard for web APIs. The downside, however, is its rigidity. Users may find difficulty retrieving or accessing specific data points. That eventually results in over-fetching, meaning applications retrieve more data than they actually need. That can lead to a security vulnerability in your application. In light of these, several organizations are adopting GraphQL as a much better option.

Read More: Why a native GraphQL implementation matters for your CMS

What Is a Content API?

Content APIs help to deliver content, metadata, schema, types, relationship, and other data needed to enhance content experiences across different platforms. When used correctly, content APIs deliver a tremendous amount of value.

A headless CMS helps you deliver content across various channels over a GraphQL or REST API. APIs typically move data from one application to another, rather than the actual content. To transfer content between apps, APIs must be capable of moving data and processing the metadata and relationship associated with that data. When you include metadata, associations, and relationships, you can enrich your content, giving it more context and meaning.

With the use of a content API, you can:

  • Retrieve content for display in an app or website
  • Create and modify content
  • Enable in-context preview of the content
  • Generate schemas and query or filter content
  • Facilitate content personalization

Custom Content APIs

When using a modern Java-based CMS like Crafter, Groovy scripts provide several features and customization options that allow you to automate any logic during a request or response pipeline. These scripts enable developers to develop custom REST API services, MVC controllers, scheduled jobs, servlet filters, and execute code before page or component rendering.

With Groovy scripts, you can enhance productivity because of their familiar syntax and ease of learning. Groovy seamlessly integrates with any Java program and provides your applications with powerful features such as scripting capabilities, DSL authoring, meta-programming at runtime and compile-time, and functional programming.

As a result, Groovy scripts are an excellent resource to have at your disposal so you can inspect and even modify data content such as payloads, queries, and headers. The Groovy programming language has no limitations in terms of implementation aside from its specification.

How CrafterCMS Helps Developers Build Content APIs With Groovy

As the demand for content continues to grow, the technologies and tools that deliver them have also become more sophisticated. That’s why it’s important to use powerful content APIs along with a headless CMS. Headless CMSs provide a central repository of content that is accessible from multiple frontends such as React, Vue, and Angular.

Despite this, an effective headless CMS doesn't just provide APIs for content. They should help with the creation, management, and delivery of content. For instance, content authoring APIs can provide a wealth of value by turning a headless CMS into a content creation powerhouse. In this way, brands can develop, update, and modify omnichannel content and create consistent customer experiences.

When delivering content over a headless CMS, you’ll need the flexibility to manipulate and modify content and content structures to enhance user experience. As a Java-based headless CMS, Crafter leverages Groovy to deliver custom APIs across several channels with options for creating several content management functionalities.

The following are some of the capabilities you can deliver with content APIs in Crafter.

Define Content Models

With CrafterCMS, you can visually define content types and sophisticated content models with all types of properties, and Crafter will then automatically expose content through a variety of APIs based on your definitions. You can use REST APIs, GraphQL APIs, a Javascript API/SDK, and even in-process Java APIs, to retrieve and deliver this content data over to your application. Choose the best API for the job; Crafter provides complete flexibility.

Create Custom APIs

Unlike other headless CMSs, Crafter offers the possibility of creating custom APIs in REST or GraphQL by taking advantage of scripts in Groovy to enhance or process the content or business logic, giving you a content API that's richer and more robust. You can use CrafterCMS to create Groovy scripts and wire them up with Spring Boot to deliver unique content-rich functionality.

Deliver Personalized Experiences

With modern digital experiences requiring greater attention to user activity and needs, personalization has become an integral part of the customer experience. By enabling personalization, you can deliver higher conversions and engagements on your content. Crafter provides an API-first approach that natively leverages GraphQL, REST, JavaScript, Java, Groovy, Spring, and Freemarker content APIs to deliver dynamic content to users.

Creating Custom APIs with CrafterCMS and Groovy

Meeting content demands and delivering modern experiences requires robust and powerful technologies. By building content APIs with Groovy, you can take advantage of several possibilities, including creating unique content API endpoints, delivering personalized content, and leveraging an API-first headless CMS with a sophisticated Git-based repository.

CrafterCMS is an API-first headless CMS that facilitates Groovy script creation to deliver custom API and works seamlessly with AWS to provide unique capabilities essential to delivering content-rich experiences.

Want to learn more about Crafter content APIs and server-side scripting? Have a look at this talk from ApacheCon 2021: Extending Headless CMS APIs with Groovy

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