Contentful Launches General Availability with Three Content APIs

Mark Boyd
May. 19 2014, 11:37AM EDT

Following last July’s beta-release, Contentful has now moved into full General Availability this week. The platform-agnostic, API-driven content management service allows content producers and app developers to deliver composable blocks of content on any device. The Contentful API is already being used internationally by brand names and media partners, and has perked the interest of Adam Wiggins, Founder of Heroku, who recently joined Contentful’s Advisory Board. Founder Sascha Konietzke spoke to ProgrammableWeb about some of the latest API features.
 

Three RESTful APIs

“We have worked with many organizations and feel one hundred percent confident in declaring that this is now a Generally Available release,” Sascha Konietzke, Founder and CEO of Contentful told ProgrammableWeb after this week’s official launch.

“We have added a ton of new features since July. We have added new SDKs for iOS, which allow users to log content interactively."

“The Synchronization API is also new. After talking with many organizations using Contentful, they wanted the ability to make some content available to their end customers offline. Say you have a travel guide app, but you want the content available for offline. You can ship the app with pre-built-in content, and then you can push updated content to the app when it is online through our synchronization API,” Konietzke says.

Already, major enterprises are interested in this new potential. “An airline wants to get content on the touch-screens in their planes. They can now synchronize the content before the plane takes off, passengers can access the content in-flight, and then the airline can synchronize the content and get all the updates when the plane lands.”

Contentful offers three APIs to help customers create and deliver their content. Konietzke explains:

  • “The content management API is where you can manage all your content.” This includes the ability to upload content in JSON and binary. All content is fully indexed and searchable.
  • “The content delivery API manages delivering your content at high scalability.”
  • “And the content synchronization API is available if you have a use application for offline and online content management.”

Disrupting the Content Creation Process

Contentful also supports content producers within a business who may not be tech-savvy with pushing their content out via API. A content creation interface is available to let creators upload their content, leaving the API for the developers within a business team. As a result, Contentful is impacting on how business teams manage content delivery.
 

Creators are changing the ways they produce content in the first place, being encouraged to think about content as a series of composable bits that can the be plucked and plugged in to the right end-user interface depending on the size of the end user’s screen, the mobility/location of the end user, and the environmental context where the content is being read.

Konietzke explains:
 

“It’s really about having these lego-like pieces of content. You should create a structure of your content that can be used in any presentation layer. You can then load just the specific parts of your content you need. This is interesting for interactive JavaScript applications. You only load the content that is needed, and you can resize images on the fly for the screen resolution of the current device.

“For example, a big shopping chain might want to get content onto their digital signage. But as digital signage moves on to smartphones and other connected devices, they really want to have a well-structured content so they can deliver it to any platform. So, for example, if no one is using touchscreen kiosks in the future because everyone is coming in to the mall with Google Glass on their head, the content can still be delivered in a well-structured format.”

Building Trust in an API-as-Product Business

While many customers are excited, there still remains some wariness in moving an entire business model’s content delivery systems to an API-as-a-product service. Following Contentful’s launch this week, Twitter user Jens Scherbl asked “What happens if the service shuts down?”

Konietzke understands the importance of building trust by businesses in the API economy and has focused on creating a business model that does not lock in the customer’s data:
 

“We are completely open, so you can always get your content out of our APIs,” Konietzke confirms. “Working with media companies and larger enterprises, we synchronize their content to an offsite backup, to a server on their site. So they still have a copy at their location, and they can always serve their content again. We also have white labeling of the APIs, so we can use custom subdomains so that all the content can be served through for example, cdn.publisher.com. If they wanted to completely transfer to their own system, they would need to build their own API, but they would still have access to all of their content and they would not even need to change the applications they have deployed so far.”

APIs are fundamentally altering the content supply chain. Traditional media systems were organized so that content moved along a linear pathway — being produced in one location and then being pushed out to publication and media networks. APIs are already enabling a content-everywhere dynamism where content exists in all locations, and is then pulled on an as-needed basis wherever the end-user needs it. Contentful is at the forefront of this new publishing frontier, one that is sure to change the media landscape even further as the API ‘composable’ mindset becomes more attuned and understood across industry.

Mark Boyd is a ProgrammableWeb writer covering breaking news, API business strategies and models, open data, and smart cities. I can be contacted via email, on Twitter, or on Google+.

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