Future friendly web strategy

By Igor Vrdoljak -

Building a sustainable web strategy in hyper-changing environment that we have today requires using powerful content management technology.

A few thoughts on why we think eZ Publish is the right tool to choose.

The Past

In the web design/develop community, just a few years ago, there was a common sense that things are going in a well defined direction. The screen sizes were steadily being increased, with new “standard” resolutions claiming the throne in a monotone hereditary line. The network speeds followed the same pattern as ISDN replaced the dreaded dial-up service, just to be overrun by the superfast DSL lines. The computing power increased following the Moore’s law obediently, rich animation capabilities provided by FLASH were available on almost all the browsers used and the future seemed nice and tranquil.

But, as we all now know, the storm was just around the corner. 

The Now

The landscape today is far from a peaceful one. People are accessing web content and services with a growing number of different devices, using different network speeds and in use cases that seemed like science fiction back in the good old days. With famous movie directors tweeting from the bottom of the ocean, screen resolutions fragmenting as we speak (just think of phablets), network speeds varying from gigabit optic to poor GPRS connections, and people still surfing the web on crappy cheap feature phones, it seems that things are just getting worse. And they are.

The (very near) Future.

Just say Google Glass. Or internet fridges. Or internet of things. Or wearable computers. Or Apple/Google TV. One thing is sure, all of these devices will be (are) connected to the net and are going to consume the content and the services we are providing in a large number. And it is up to us to provide the appropriate interfaces.

What to do?

We need to embrace the constant change, and stay prepared. Just as (with responsive web design) we let go of the 960px wide canvas that was actually real only in our minds and started making layouts that fluidly fit 320px and 1600px screen widths, we need to go further and be ready for the brave new world of uncertainties. 

Responsive web design, adaptive content, progressive enhancement, mobile first - these are just some of the techniques/processes that we use to accommodate all the different kinds of usage patterns and contexts that we need to. And to do this well, you need the right tools.

Choosing the future ready tool 

In the CMS world, content (model) was and still is the king, and eZ Publish got it right a long time ago. With strict separation of content and presentation and a strong content model inspired by the object oriented paradigm we are provided with tools to build up the solutions that can last. 

In a great presentation by Karen McGrane, we are urged to get rid of thinking of our content as blob of HTML code and start creating chunks of data that can be reused in different use-cases. We need to define discrete content elements sprinkled with meta-data that can be assembled to whatever use we need, when we need it. 

For every eZ Publish developer out there this sounds pretty familiar, as we have been doing this for a long time. We know that there is no webpage set in stone, but that this is only one view on content lying underneath. In other use cases, this same content could be presented as a photo gallery, intro block on a landing page, mobile application screen, Facebook share, JSON block, Google map point of interest or a simple tweet. Contained in objects and defined by content classes, our content is ready to be used in whatever way we choose.

But having a well defined content model is not enough though, as we need well defined and standardized tools to manage it. Up to version 4, eZ Publish provided the developer with a solid API to integrate with the CMS without writing unmaintainable SQL code that could break in future upgrades. 

Now, with the integration with the full stack Symfony framework, and the new PHP and REST APIs that are in the core of the eZ 5 stack, we are experiencing a leapfrog advance that will enable eZ developers to generate a new wave of sites and applications built upon eZ Publish. Not only static, read-only experiences, but fully capable web applications that use eZ content management features should be easy to develop and maintain.

Do not fear

The rapid changes on the digital/online/web landscape, and the challenges that they bring could sometimes make your head feel dizzy. Native app or HTML based solution, creating a Facebook page or building your own site, these are choices that we are confronted with every day.

These challenges are also a great opportunity, if you equip yourself with the right tools. We believe that eZ Publish is such a tool.

If you want to know more about it, give us a call.

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