How to make your CMS backend agnostic? Consider content federation

By Arso Stojović
Read time 2 min
Posted on May 29, 2024
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Content Federation

Would you believe me when I tell you that content federation is one way to a backend agnostic CMS? Ok, I know it sounds crazy, but back in the day, the whole world thought that WordPress was the ultimate solution (some still think the same) and then admitted they were wrong.

Maybe right now you can't even imagine why you would need a backend agnostic CMS, so here's a scenario:

Imagine that you have a rapidly growing e-commerce platform, you initially started with WordPress due to its ease of use and extensive plugin ecosystem. It was all great & fun and then suddenly, as your platform grows, you start facing significant challenges, such as performance issues, limited customization, scalability constraints, and content delivery to multiple channels.

traditional cms

You decided to transition from WordPress to a headless CMS to address these issues. A headless CMS decouples the backend from the frontend presentation layer, allowing greater flexibility and scalability. This shift enables your team to deliver content across multiple channels, including web, mobile, and IoT devices, ensuring a consistent user experience.

headless cms

Awesome, you’ve got a fronted agnostic approach thanks to a headless API-first platform and you can run your e-commerce with the solved problem of multichannel distribution relying on a single backend.

Despite the improvements brought by the headless CMS, imagine your e-commerce grows and you are managing an e-commerce website with product data coming from multiple suppliers’ APIs, a blog hosted on WordPress, and user reviews stored in a custom database. That is when content federation comes in:

Content federation structure

In this case, content federation with a headless CMS is a part of the composable architecture that allows efficient content management and delivery from multiple sources, through a unified interface. This setup allows you to scale different components independently, and integrate advanced technologies like real-time updates and AI-driven recommendations, ensuring your e-commerce remains flexible, scalable, and capable of providing a seamless shopping experience across all channels.

How Content Federation contributes to a backend agnostic CMS

The explanation is simple. Do the same on the backend as on the frontend. Using data from multiple backends leads to unified content management.

Here are the federation benefits:

  • Content aggregation: Aggregation from various backends makes managing and delivering content easier without being tied to a specific backend system.

  • Consistent API layer: It provides a consistent API layer to access and manage content, regardless of the database.

  • Decoupled architecture: Support a decoupled architecture where the CMS does not depend on a single backend. This decoupling enhances the ability to switch or use multiple backends.

  • Interoperability: It enables interoperability between different systems, allowing you to leverage the strengths of various backends without being restricted by a particular one.

  • Independent scaling: Each backend can be scaled independently based on its specific requirements, leading to more efficient resource usage.

  • Adaptability: You can adapt to new technologies or migrate to new backend systems without significant disruptions, as the content federation layer abstracts the backend complexities.


For implementation, you need to use specialized middleware or platforms that can:

  1. Integrate with various CMSs, databases, and other content repositories.

  2. Gather content from different sources into a central hub. Convert content into a consistent format for presentation.

  3. Provide APIs or other mechanisms to serve aggregated content to end-users.

Headless CMS as a content federation platform

Here are the steps to implement federation with a headless CMS:

Step 1: Choose BCMS

BCMS is an open-source API-first headless CMS that is ideal for this kind of project.

Step 2: Identify content sources

content sources

Determine the different sources of content you want to federate from. These could be other CMS platforms, databases, external APIs, or anything that you use daily for your website.

Step 3: Set up the BCMS

BCMS configuration involves:

  • Identify content types: Determine the kinds of content you need, such as a home page, blog, articles, product pages, user profiles, and more.

  • Setting up content collections.

  • Creating API endpoints for content delivery.

Step 4: Source integration

  • Identify integration points: Determine which systems need to connect with the BCMS, such as CRM systems, E-commerce platforms, or marketing automation tools.

  • Use APIs: Leverage the BCMS’s API to integrate with these systems.


Step 5: Normalize Content

Ensure that content from different sources is normalized into a consistent format. This might involve:

  • Transforming data fields to match BCMS content models.

  • Standardizing content metadata.

Step 6: Set up federated queries

Create federated queries that can fetch and aggregate content from multiple sources. With GraphQL, for example, you can write queries that pull data from various services and combine the results.

Step 7: Select frontend technologies

Choose technologies for developing the frontend(s) that will consume the CMS content. As you can guess, BCMS is frontend agnostic so you can choose your stack.

Also, there are some official integrations with the popular frontend frameworks that can help them make a decision easier.

BCMS integrations

Step 8: Implement caching and optimization

To improve performance, implement caching strategies at different layers:

  • API response caching

  • CDN (Content Delivery Network) for static content

  • Client-side caching using service workers or local storage

Get prepared for BCMS as your backend agnostic CMS

You've seen the reasons, you learned how to set up BCMS headless CMS as a federated content platform. The only thing left is to give it a try.

Ok, one more, to understand how this approach differs from content hub.

To learn more about it check out: Content Hub vs Content Federation: Is the same thing?

So at the very end, I'll leave you with sources that you may find useful:

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