Built.io Releases API-Driven CMS, Contentstack

Back-end-as-a-service provider Built.io has completed a major upgrade to its API-driven content management system, Contentstack, and relaunched the service as general availability.

Originally, Contentstack was made available to customers as requested, but new features have warranted the product being made available more generally, explains COO Matthew Baier.

Baier says Contentstack has been regularly updated over the past year, with a doubling of its customer base in the past six months. The latest raft of features marks the most significant update to the product. New features include:

  • Support for import and export, using JSON format
  • Support for WebHooks that can trigger actions from the website built in Contentstack to notify external applications that a change has been made
  • Improved logging of all content changes
  • The release of a JavaScript SDK

Baier and Nishant Patel, founder and CTO at Built.io, say that part of the advantage of Contentstack is that all content is stored in JSON format, meaning that websites don’t require database management to serve up a blog or pages such as a set of customer case studies.

“Business users love the ease of management for managing their content,” says Patel. “All content is stored in JSON files. So in one case, for one customer, infrastructure costs went down from $10,000 a month to about $200 to $300, because they don’t need a database to manage their website. Content just gets pushed out to small servers; the infrastructure is so light.”

Patel points to several companies with large websites — such as Elastic — that are building on Contentstack.

Developer documentation for the Built.io Contentstack includes a getting-started guide and API documentation that includes in-method sandbox areas to test each API call as users read the documentation. APIs can be used to build and serve all content that ends up being cataloged and displayed in the CMS. API documentation has been produced using the Swagger API description language.

contentstack API documentation example

Patel sees the JavaScript SDK as an important component in helping developers build mini-apps within a website based on the company's APIs: “Simple databases, ROI calculators, blogs and wikis can all be built using the SDK,” he says.

The company plans to release mobile SDKs. Baier and Patel say that while the main game for Contentstack for now is to build websites, the modular architecture nature of the CMS means that this same content can easily be used to create mobile applications and content for other device displays.

In fact, Contentstack’s initial customers include companies in the Internet of Things space (such as Ayla Networks, Sierra Monitor and Cooper Lighting), which — for now — may be using Contentstack to manage their Web presence, but have a future vision of this enabling them to more easily convert that content for suitable use on devices, mobile and in the broader IoT.

Baier explains:

This used to be two separate conversations: How do I build our website and how do I build our mobile apps? Now they only need one CMS across all channels. They can build very sophisticated applications. Already we see with IoT customers, they tend to jump straight into wanting to have one CMS. We do expect IoT use cases to gain in popularity. It's already being used to power interfaces that are a mobile app and moving away from Web-only. That’s the vision; that’s what Contentstack is meant to do.

While new websites can be created with Contentstack, legacy sites require some work to convert to Contentstack, says Patel:

Currently, we have a best practice to break down current website content. We break the content down and make a structure of it. Eventually, we hope to use something like KimonoLabs or Import.io, which creates an API from your website content. So we might look at some automation down the line, but automation tools like that will only get you 50% along the way.

What we have seen is that when customers with existing Web content look at a new CMS, they are taking the opportunity to do a complete redesign at that time. So the process has to go through an information architecture approach in any case.

Developers can sign up for a trial with Contentstack and discuss ongoing customer needs directly with Built.io.

Mark Boyd is a ProgrammableWeb writer covering breaking news, API business strategies and models, open data, and smart cities.

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