A Deeper Look at Magnolia's Open Suite Approach

When hunting for a new web content management system, exploring your options can feel exhilarating. After all, with new software, comes new possibilities.

However, things take a serious turn when it comes to assessing the flexibility of your short-listed platforms in terms of integration options.

Most businesses will be looking at a long list of tools that need to be integrated with their new CMS. This includes databases, third-party or legacy apps, a CRM, an eCommerce system – and sometimes all of the above.

Not to mention, future technologies will also need to work seamlessly with the new CMS as and when they release.

In other words, the CMS needs to be compatible with what is already in place, and future-proof at the same time.

No platform can truly offer such flexibility right out of the box. Unless of course, it comes without a box.

Why Open Suite?

Magnolia has recognized that a one-size-fits-all solution is unrealistic. So instead, they ship their CMS without the confines of a conventional “box”, taking the Open Suite approach instead.

Magnolia’s Open Suite approach, along with its totally open source nature, gives users the power to choose their own tools and applications, and to decide for themselves exactly how they are integrated.

Users can combine the best available tools without any vendor restrictions, and with all the benefits of Magnolia’s enterprise-grade Java foundation.

Here’s a quick summary of the benefits brought about by Magnolia’s open suite approach:

  • Tool Freedom: Maximize choice by using best-of-breed tools.
  • Cost Effectiveness: Pay only for components you need and will use.
  • Seamless Integration: Reduce disruption by integrating with existing business know-how and processes.
  • Intelligence & Flexibility: Upgrade parts of the suite at different speeds, depending on current needs.
  • Risk Reduction: Lowering costs and adding flexibility means less risk.

For further details on what Magnolia’s open suite approach brings, you can check out my previous coverage: Magnolia's Open Suite Approach: Maximizing Choice & Future-proofing Digital Investments .

Development teams however, will want to dig a little deeper into the technicalities of Magnolia’s open suite approach. So, let’s take a look at exactly how it works.

Getting Technical

Magnolia’s open suite approach is all about integration – on a whole new and ultra-inclusive level.

Magnolia's Open Suite approach is based on an enterprise-grade stack, best-of-breed open source tools and a framework that balances best practices for content, configuration and templates.

Complete freedom can be exercised with every aspect of the CMS, from which templating engine you choose to which analytics provider you integrate. It’s entirely under your control.

Magnolia’s combination of open APIs, open standards and open source code allow developers to swap out components or build custom components as needed. In fact, Magnolia's App repository is growing all the time .

This complete openness makes Magnolia a highly adaptable and interoperable CMS. It simplifies the building of custom suites, all of which can be specific to your organization’s needs.

Below is a handy developer transit map that gives you a birds-eye view of the integration options available, illustrating which technologies are best suited for your requirements.

Combating Common Obstacles

Magnolia’s open suite approach is as practical as it is intelligent. Here are some common obstacles faced by enterprises, along with Magnolia’s solutions.

Access your website content from other applications

JCR: Magnolia CMS stores all content (web pages, images, documents, configuration, data) in a Java Content Repository (JCR). JCR is an open standard. This makes custom development of content-based applications easier.

Read more about how Magnolia stores and structures content .

REST: Magnolia CMS also offers a REST API, which allows you to read and modify website content over HTTP. The content can be pages, components, contacts or anything else that is stored in Magnolia’s content repository. You can also execute commands to activate, export and import content.

Read more about Magnolia’s REST API .

PHPCR and WebDAV: Coming to Magnolia CMS from the world of PHP? No problem. You can also access JCR content with PHPCR, the DavEx module and the PHP Jackalope implementation. And you can use Magnolia's built-in WebDAV support to let users easily create, edit and manage templates on the Magnolia CMS server.

Check out Magnolia’s PHPCR webinar and WebDAV screencast .

Create workflows that reflect real-world business processes

Apps: Magnolia CMS Apps are browser-based applications that run inside Magnolia CMS and help enterprises integrate content authoring with business process workflows.

With Apps, users can control and manipulate data stored in the CMS. Magnolia's Apps work equally well on mobile and desktop devices, and can therefore be used on the move. Apps can be connected with databases, Web services, workflows and notifications.

Magnolia provides an App framework to quickly bootstrap new Apps, and you can use Vaadin and GWT to build the user interface for your Apps.

Read more on Magnolia apps .

jBPM: jBPM workflows can be used to connect common Magnolia CMS actions, such as content activation or versioning, with your business processes.

Out of the box, Magnolia CMS comes with a “four-eye” workflow , and you can also create your own custom workflows. Workflows can also be integrated with Magnolia’s messaging hub, “The Pulse” , for real-time notifications and messaging.

Read more about Magnolia’s workflow functionality .

Observation: Using Magnolia's content observation mechanism, you can trigger customized actions in response to content changes.

Event listeners can monitor changes in content and trigger pre-defined responses when changes are detected. Common examples include automatic publishing or deactivation of content and sending emails.

Read more about Magnolia’s Observation module .

Give your website a consistent look and feel, even on mobile devices.

Templating: Magnolia CMS uses templates to give structure to rendered content. Out of the box, Magnolia CMS understands Freemarker and JSP templates, but you can also plug in your own custom engine. Microformats and JSTL tags are supported as well.

Read more about Magnolia templates .

Magnolia's Standard Templating Kit (STK)  is a production-ready collection of templates for common use cases. It implements the principles of RESS: Responsive Web Design + Server-Side Components.

Web pages rendered with the system are compliant with HTML5 and CSS3, as well as modern accessibility guidelines.

Read more about Magnolia’s STK .

For even more information on the technical workings and benefits of Magnolia’s open suite approach, check out this white paper.

The white paper also holds Magnolia's solutions to other common obstacles, including security, performance, using external documents and assets, and adding custom functionality via Spring or Grails.

Also, be sure to check out Magnolia CMS via our CMS Directory .