Collaboration on Composable Architectures

Samuel is the Head of Product at Storyblok - a headless content management system. With over 10 years of experience in the tech industry, Samuel is a Creative FrontEnd Knight & DesignOps enthusiast who's passionate about Jamstack and crafting beautiful web experiences.

When he's not busy building products, Samuel can be found indulging in his hobbies - trail running, exploring new specialty coffee shops, and geeking out over the latest Star Wars release. With his love for adventure, caffeine, and the Force, Samuel brings a unique perspective to everything he does.

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Samuel Snopko

Hello, everyone! I'm truly delighted and happy to be here. I still remember the first time I saw the talks on Smashing Magazine about building the Smashing Magazine website with headlights. It was truly awesome, and I couldn't have imagined I'd be standing here on this stage. Anyway, let's dive into the talk.

So, does headless really work? I want to start with some questions because I've seen discussions on social media, LinkedIn, Twitter, or whatever we call it now, with some articles claiming that monoliths are making a comeback, and headless or composable approaches are too complex. It's a valid question, and it's a bit provocative. Is headless dying, or is something else happening? That's the focus of my talk.

You might be wondering why I'm discussing this, considering I come from a headless CMS background. Well, before that, I was involved in product development, web development, and tried numerous JavaScript frameworks. I've talked to many Storyblok clients, including Education First, Ally, and more, to understand their perspectives.

Now, a bit about Storyblok. We are a headless CMS, but our mission is not only to be the best headless CMS but a CMS in general. We aim to enable all users, not just content editors, to work effectively at every stage of the content lifecycle. What sets Storyblok apart is our real-time visual editor and component-based CMS. These are unique features that I encourage you to explore.

Now, how many of you are using a headless CMS? Raise your hands. I see a couple of hands in the audience. It's essential to think about what headless really means because it can be confusing, especially when talking to enterprise clients or marketing and sales teams. Many people believe it's all about having an API, but I think it's more about how we set up our projects and structure the content.

In the past, when most monoliths were built, we didn't consider how content should be consumed across various platforms, including future ones we couldn't predict. Modern headless CMS focuses on content structure. I advocate for a content-first approach, where you determine the most effective way for content to live and then request it from the system. This approach provides flexibility and scalability, though it might not be the easiest.

So, don't be headless just for the sake of being headless. It's not about the API. The real motivation behind this shift is efficiency. Organizations want to be faster and enable content editors, marketers, and optimization experts to create new content efficiently. Headless, or what we now call composable, offers this efficiency.

So, why do some claim it's dying or too complex? It's not dying, but it's transforming. It's evolving because it's no longer only for innovators and early adopters. Big enterprise companies are now looking to adopt this approach to be more efficient. I've heard this from clients like Education First, Pendes Reynold, Ally, Adidas, Netflix, and Tesla. They present new challenges, especially regarding migration, education, and tooling.

Migration is about moving content from the old world to the new world. Education and enablement are crucial to help organizations understand how to adopt this approach. Tooling is essential to make it easy for developers to set up projects efficiently. Providing rich SDKs and templates can be game-changing.

Now, we have the opportunity to offer strong opinions because we know what works best for composable or headless projects. We can guide clients in making the right choices, helping them build their projects efficiently. AI can enhance efficiency, but it won't replace every aspect of content management. AI will help make processes more efficient, such as content authoring and translations.

We need to think more about the users involved in the content creation process. It's not just developers and editors but also designers, translators, SEO experts, and leaders. Collaboration is key, starting from the project's conception to its completion. We should enable users to collaborate throughout the process and break the cycle of defining, designing, developing, and creating endless tickets.

For that, I'd like to show you a quick demo, but if the video doesn't start, I'll describe it. The demo illustrates how users can collaborate in Storyblok, working together on a project. It allows users to assign tasks, provide feedback, and view real-time previews, streamlining the collaboration process.

In conclusion, we have a long way to go to be the most loved CMS and to replace monoliths, but we have opportunities to improve the concepting, development, and generating phases. Collaboration is key, and we should empower our users to create better, composable apps and web projects. Thank you for listening.