The Headless CMS Glossary

Here is our list of commonly used Headless CMS terms. The industry is always evolving, so we've created this index to crystallize any confusing jargon you may encounter. Not only will it help you to take full advantage of our features, but it will empower you to build better websites.



Eleventy (11ty) is a static site generator capable of mixing template languages. Content can be written with Markdown or another ten template languages. Or dynamically create pages from local data or external sources compiled at build time.


A/B testing

A/B testing is a user experience research methodology. A/B tests consist of a randomized experiment with A and B variants.


Ajax is a set of web development techniques that uses various web technologies on the client-side to create asynchronous web applications.


AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) is a mobile-friendly website page format for mobile devices. AMP pages are designed to accelerate page display on mobile platforms.


Angular is a platform and framework for building single-page client applications using HTML and TypeScript. Angular is written in TypeScript.


API stands for application programming interface, a set of definitions and protocols for building and integrating application software.

API Economy

Refers to the set of business models and practices designed around the use of APIs in today's digital economy.


An API-first approach means that your APIs are treated as “first-class citizens for any given development project.” Everything about a project revolves around the idea that mobile devices will consume the end product and that Client applications will consume APIs.


Apollo is a platform for building a unified graph, a communication layer that helps you manage data flow between your application clients and your back-end services. At the heart of the graph is a query language called GraphQL.

Atomic deploys

A deployment that has either been executed entirely or not executed at all, leaving no trace to the working code on the server. This means that your live website will only be updated once the deployment has finished successfully


Amazon Web Services (AWS) is the world's most comprehensive and broadly adopted cloud platform, offering over 200 fully-featured services from data centers globally.



The back-end of a website consists of a server, an application, and a database. A back-end developer builds and maintains the technology that powers those components, which, together, enable the user-facing side of the website to even exist in the first place.


It is a term used to describe a logical space where lost, deleted or unrecoverable data goes.



A high-speed data storage layer that stores a subset of data are typically transient. Future requests for that data are served up faster than is possible by accessing the data's primary storage location.

CDN (Content Delivery Network)

A content delivery network, or content distribution network, is a geographically distributed network of proxy servers and data centers. The goal is to provide high availability and performance by distributing the service spatially relative to end-users.


In software engineering, CI/CD or CICD is the combined practice of continuous integration and delivery or deployment. /CD bridges the gaps between development and operation activities and teams by enforcing automation in the building, testing, and deployment of applications.


Abbreviated as CLI, a Command Line Interface connects a user to a computer program or operating system. Through the CLI, users interact with a system or application by typing in the text (commands).

Client render

Client-side rendering (CSR) means rendering pages directly in the browser using JavaScript. All logic, data fetching, templating, and routing are handled on the client rather than the server.


"The cloud" refers to servers accessed over the Internet and the software and databases that run on those servers.


Cloudflare is a secure content distribution network (CDN) that uses proxy servers and an edge-computing architecture to deliver content safely and quickly from the cloud. Cloudflare services sit between the requesting client and the content publisher's website, essentially acting as a reverse proxy.


A content management system is computer software used to manage the creation and modification of digital content. A CMS is typically used for enterprise content management and web content management.


In computing, configuration files are files used to configure some computer programs' parameters and initial settings. They are used for user applications, server processes, and operating system settings.


Cascading Style Sheets is a style sheet language used for describing the presentation of a document written in a markup language such as HTML. CSS is a cornerstone technology of the World Wide Web, alongside HTML and JavaScript.


Data source

In the context of computer science and computer applications, a data source is a location where data is being used. The data source for a computer program can be a file, a data sheet, a spreadsheet, an XML file, or even hard-coded data within the program.


A database is a repository of information managed by a database engine that ensures the integrity of data and fast access to the data.


The separation of previously linked systems so that they may operate independently.


Decryption is a process that transforms encrypted information into its original format.


All the processes involved in getting new software or hardware up and running properly in its environment, including installation, configuration, running, testing, and making necessary changes.


Deferred Static Generation is a rendering method that seeks to delay or defer the building of certain pages until run-time.


The Document Object Model (DOM) is an application programming interface (API) for HTML and XML documents. It defines the logical structure of documents and how a document is accessed and manipulated.


Distributed Persistent Rendering (DPR) allows developers to defer rendering any given URL or asset until it’s first requested. With DPR, you can still prerender critical pages at build time—perhaps your homepage or recent blog posts.

Dynamic Programming

Dynamic Programming (DP) is an algorithmic technique for solving an optimization problem by breaking it down into simpler subproblems and utilizing the fact that the optimal solution to the overall problem depends upon the optimal solution to its subproblems.



E-commerce (electronic commerce) is the buying and selling goods and services or transmitting funds or data over an electronic network, primarily the internet.


ECMAScript is a JavaScript standard meant to ensure the interoperability of web pages across different web browsers.


Encryption in cyber security converts data from a readable format into an encoded form. Data encryption software, also known as an encryption algorithm or cipher, is used to develop an encryption scheme that theoretically can only be broken with large amounts of computing power.



A framework is a set structure in which tasks are performed or completed. A software framework is an abstraction in which software that provides generic functionality can be selectively changed by additional user-written code; this provides application-specific software.


Front-end web development is the development of the graphical user interface of a website through HTML, CSS, and JavaScript so that users can view and interact with that website.


Full-stack: the entirety of a computer system or application, comprising both the front-end and the back-end.

Functional Web Apps

Functional Web Apps are the best way to build dynamic, full-stack, auto-scaling web applications and APIs.



A React-based open-source framework

Git-based CMS

Git-based CMSs are built upon the Git version control system (VCS). Git stores your files and their history of changes in a repository. It allows you to branch out, merge, clone, react to changes, and in general easily manage your content—especially the text element.


GitHub is a web-based version-control and collaboration platform for software developers. GitHub facilitates social coding by providing a web interface to the Git code repository and management tools for collaboration.


GitLab is an open-source code repository and collaborative software development platform for large DevOps and DevSecOps projects. The repository enables hosting different development chains and versions and allows users to inspect previous code and roll it back to it in unforeseen problems.


GraphQL is a query language for your API and a server-side runtime for executing queries using a type system you define for your data. GraphQL isn't tied to any specific database or storage engine and is backed by your existing code and data.


Gridsome is a modern website development framework for creating fast and secure websites deployed anywhere. Static HTML files are generated to develop SEO-friendly markup that hydrates into a Vue. js-powered SPA once loaded in the browser.



The Hasura GraphQL Engine is a blazing-fast GraphQL server that gives you instant, realtime GraphQL APIs over Postgres, with webhook triggers on database events and remote schemas for business logic. Hasura helps you build GraphQL apps backed by Postgres or incrementally move to GraphQL for existing applications using Postgres. The Hasura GraphQL Engine is open-source.

Headless CMS

A headless content management system, or headless CMS, is a back-end-only content management system that acts primarily as a content repository. A headless CMS makes content accessible via an API for display on any device without a built-in front-end or presentation layer.

Headless technology

Headless technology is an approach to storing, managing, and delivering content without a front-end delivery. If we say that a website, mobile application, or IoT hardware is the "head," in this approach, it's separated from the content, making content "headless." That's why we have Headless CMSs.


Heroku is a cloud platform (PaaS) supporting several programming languages. Enabling developers to build, run, and operate applications entirely in the cloud.


The service of providing the computer equipment and software for a website on the internet and making it available for people to see


HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) is the code used to structure a web page and its content. For example, content could be structured within a set of paragraphs, a list of bulleted points, or using images and data tables.

HTML Rewriter

The HTMLRewriter class allows developers to build comprehensive and expressive HTML parsers. Leaning on a powerful JavaScript API to parse and transform HTML, HTMLRewriter will enable developers to build deeply functional applications.


Hydration refers to the process of filling an object with data. An object that has not yet been hydrated has been instantiated and represents an entity with data, but the data has not yet been loaded into the object.



Identity as a service (IDaaS) is a cloud-based subscription model for IAM, where identity and access services are rendered over the internet by a third-party provider rather than deployed on-premises.

Immutable deploys

Immutable Deployment is one of those approaches, and it simply means: Immutable: the" staging" environment, once ready to become production, doesn't change.

Island architecture

The general idea of an “Islands” architecture is deceptively simple: render HTML pages on the server, and inject placeholders or slots around highly dynamic regions. These placeholders/slots contain the server-rendered HTML output from their corresponding widget.


Incremental Static Regeneration (ISR) enables developers and content editors to use static-generation on a per-page basis without rebuilding the entire site.



Jamstack, previously stylized as JAMStack, stands for JavaScript, API, and Markup (generated by a static site generator). In Jamstack websites, the application logic typically resides on the client-side (for example, embedded e-commerce checkout that interacts with pre-rendered static content) without being tightly coupled to the back-end server. They are mostly served with a git-based CMS or headless CMS.

Jamstack architecture

Jamstack is the new standard architecture for the web. Using Git workflows and modern build tools, pre-rendered content is served to a CDN and made dynamic through APIs and serverless functions. Technologies in the stack include JavaScript frameworks, Static Site Generators, Headless CMSs, and CDNs.

Jamstack Microservice

Also known as microservice architecture, it is an architectural style that structures an application as a collection of highly maintainable, testable, and loosely coupled services. The microservice architecture enables the rapid, frequent and reliable delivery of large, complex applications.

Jamstack themes

Building a website using the Jamstack theme is the modern stack technology for web development using JavaScript on the client-side, APIs for connection, and Markup based on headless CMS at the back-end.


JavaScript is a dynamic programming language used for web development, web applications, game development, and lots more. It allows you to implement dynamic features on web pages that cannot be done with only HTML and CSS.


Jekyll is a simple, blog-aware, static site generator that takes content, renders Markdown and Liquid templates, and spits out a complete, static website ready to be served by Apache, Nginx, or another web server. Jekyll is the engine behind GitHub Pages, which you can use to host sites right from your GitHub repositories.


jQuery is a JavaScript library designed to simplify HTML DOM tree traversal and manipulation and event handling, CSS animation, and Ajax.


JSON is an open standard file format and data interchange format that uses human-readable text to store and transmit data objects consisting of attribute-value pairs and arrays. It is a common data format with diverse uses in electronic data interchange, including web applications with servers.


JSX stands for JavaScript XML. It is simply a syntax extension of JavaScript. It allows us to write HTML in React directly



Kong is an open-source API gateway and platform that acts as middleware between compute clients and API-centric applications.



LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP/Perl/Python) is an acronym denoting one of the most common solution stacks for many of the web's most popular applications. However, LAMP now refers to a generic software stack model, and its components are essentially interchangeable.



A markup language is a set of rules governing what markup information may be included in a document and how it is combined with the content of the document in a way to facilitate use by humans and computer programs. The markup can be converted programmatically for display into, for example, HTML, PDF, or Rich Text Format.


MDX is short for Multidimensional Expressions, a syntax developed for defining multidimensional objects and querying and manipulating multifaceted data in OLAP databases. The purpose of MDX is to make creating queries to access data from multiple dimensional databases more straightforward and more intuitive.


MERN stands for MongoDB, Express, React, Node, after the four key technologies that make up the stack.


Middleware is a type of computer software that provides services to software applications beyond those available from the operating system. It can be described as "software glue."


MySQL is a relational database management system (RDBMS) developed by Oracle based on structured query language (SQL). A database is a structured collection of data.



Netlify is a web development platform; by unifying the elements of the modern decoupled web, it offers hosting and serverless backend services for web applications and static websites.


Node. js (Node) is an open-source development platform for executing JavaScript code server-side. Node helps develop applications that require a persistent connection from the browser to the server and is often used for real-time applications such as chat, news feeds, and web push notifications.


NPM (Node Package Manager) is the default package manager for the JavaScript runtime environment Node.js. It consists of a command-line client and an online database of public and paid-for private packages.


Nuxt is inspired by Next. js, which is a framework of similar purpose, based on React. js. The framework is advertised as a "meta-framework for universal applications." The term universal is used here with the meaning that the framework's goal is to enable users to create web views in JavaScript utilizing the Vue.


On-demand Builders

On-demand Builders are serverless functions used to generate web content as needed that's automatically cached on Netlify's Edge CDN. They enable to build of pages for the site when a user visits them first and then cache them at the edge for subsequent visits.


Open-source software (OSS) is distributed with its source code, making it available for use, modification, and distribution with its original rights.



Plug-in, also called add-on or extension, is computer software that adds new functions to a host program without altering it.

Pre-render / Pre-generate

To generate the markup, which represents a view before it is required. This happens during a build rather than on-demand so that web servers do not need to perform this activity for each request received.


Fast 3kB alternative to React with the same modern API


Prisma is a modern ORM replacement that turns a database into a fully functional GraphQL, REST, or gRPC API. It provides powerful abstractions and building blocks to develop flexible and scalable backends.


Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) are web apps that use service workers, manifests, and other web-platform features combined with progressive enhancement to give users an experience on par with native apps.


Python is an interpreted high-level, general-purpose programming language. Its design philosophy emphasizes code readability with its use of significant indentation. Its language constructs, as well as its object-oriented approach, aim to help programmers write clear, logical code for small and large-scale projects



A database management system (DBMS) incorporates the relational-data model, generally including a Structured Query Language (SQL) application programming interface.


React is a free and open-source front-end JavaScript library for building user interfaces based on UI components.


A comment is a programmer-readable explanation or annotation in the source code of a computer program.


Representational state transfer (REST) is a software architectural style created to guide the design and development of the architecture for the World Wide Web.


Routing is the process of posting a path for traffic in a network or between or across multiple networks.


RSS (RDF Site Summary or Really Simple Syndication) is a web feed that allows users and applications to access updates to websites in a standardized, computer-readable format.



The activity of data modeling leads to a schema. In computer programming, a schema is the organization or structure of a database. The term is sometimes used to visualize a structure and sometimes to a formal text-oriented description.


Scully is the static site generator for Angular projects that embrace the Jamstack. It uses an application and creates a static index.html for each of your pages/routes. Each index.html will have the content already there, making your application show instantly for the user.


A software development kit is a collection of software development tools in one installable package. They facilitate the creation of applications by having a compiler, debugger, and perhaps a software framework.

Server-side rendering

Server-side rendering (SSR) is an application's ability to convert HTML files on the server into a fully rendered HTML page for the client. The web browser submits a request for information from the server, which instantly responds by sending a fully rendered page to the client.


Serverless is a cloud-native development model that allows developers to build and run applications without managing servers.

Source code

Source code is generally understood to mean programming statements created by a programmer with a text editor or a visual programming tool and then saved in a file.


Stackbit is the first open, complete platform for the Jamstack. Stackbit allows you to generate Jamstack websites with a combination of tools. You can start from a theme or your existing site, customize it in the browser with Stackbit Studio, and deploy it in minutes. You can choose a static site generator like Gatsby, Next.js, or Hugo and edit your site directly from Stackbit Studio.

Static Site

A static web page is a web page that is delivered to the user's web browser exactly as stored, in contrast to dynamic web pages which are generated by a web application.

Static site generator

A static site generator is a tool that generates a full static HTML website based on raw data and a set of templates. Essentially, a static site generator automates the task of coding individual HTML pages and gets those pages ready to serve to users ahead of time.


Svelte is a free and open-source front-end compiler. Svelte applications do not include a framework script. Instead, building a Svelte application generates the necessary code to manipulate the DOM within each component, reducing the size of transferred files and giving better client startup and run-time performance. Svelte has its compiler for converting app code into client-side JavaScript at build time.

SWR plugin

The name “SWR” is derived from stale-while-revalidate. SWR is a strategy first to return the data from cache (stale), then send the fetch request (revalidate), and finally, come with the up-to-date data.


User Experience

User experience (UX) design is the process design teams use to create products that provide meaningful and relevant experiences to users. This involves the design of the entire process of acquiring and integrating the product, including aspects of branding, design, usability, and function.

User interface

User interface (UI) design is the process designers use to build interfaces in software or computerized devices, focusing on looks or style. Designers aim to create interfaces that users find easy to use and pleasurable.



Vercel is a platform for frontend frameworks and static sites, built to integrate with your headless content, commerce, or database.


Vue.js is an open-source model–view–viewmodel front-end JavaScript framework for building user interfaces and single-page applications.


Web development

Web development involves developing a website for the Internet (World Wide Web) or an intranet (a private network). Web development can range from developing a simple single static page of plain text to complex web applications, electronic businesses, and social network services.

Web Forms

WebForms are pages that your users request using their browser. These pages can be written using a combination of HTML, client-script, server controls, and server code.


Webpack is an open-source JavaScript module bundler. It is made primarily for JavaScript, but it can transform front-end assets such as HTML, CSS, and images if the corresponding loaders are included.



XMLHttpRequest (XHR) objects are used to interact with servers. You can retrieve data from a URL without doing a full page refresh.


XML stands for an extensible markup language. A markup language is a set of codes, or tags, that describes the text in a digital document.