Component-Level CMSs

Programming - Mar 31, 2024

When a component lives in an environment where the data queries populating it live nearby, there is a pretty direct line between the visual component and the database where that exact content lives. That is opening up doors to site editing experiences that travel that line. We’re starting to see CMSs that directly leverage that.

Original Dribble shot.

For example, if I build my site where I’m writing GraphQL queries with a <Query /> component to grab the data I need, it makes sense that I could change that data and put it back with a <Mutation />.

Take a look at TinaCMS, which is turning a lot of heads.

I just saw BodilessJS, which is up the same exact alley. They are trying to coin a new term here — where the content for a headless site comes from a headless CMS (via an API, as in, the content is elsewhere, rather than alongside the site itself) and a bodiless site has the content alongside the site in the same repo. Eh, I’m not huge on the word, but that kind of site probably does deserve some kind of classification.

Stackbit has a product in the works (“Stackbit Live”) that is another one down this alley. Here’s a screenshot from their interactive demo to give you an idea:

All of these seem to focus on React with a “probably other stuff later” vibe.

The (sponsored) video I did with Webflow last year had a CMS experience very much like this. It’s incredible what their CMS is able to do because of that direct line between the visual component and the data behind it.

Editing a site from the “front end” in Webflow

The desire for this kind of site experience has been around forever. I remember services that were like, “Just put our special class on your elements and FTP credentials,” which would allow you to log into their site and edit the content on elements with a UI. It literally uploaded the changes back to static files on your server. I’m not sure any of those are around anymore as they went out of vogue for a while.

In a slightly more modern vein, Lea Verou’s Mavo is like this. The only place you can edit content is from the front end.

I think there will always sites where this type of editing experience is highly desirable.

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