I decided to trial Umbraco Heartcore (then known as Umbraco Headless) as soon as the public beta was announced.
Building a simple .NET Core website with Umbraco Headless, I presented it in tutorial style to the Melbourne Umbraco meetup in August 2018. The developers in Melbourne loved the fact that Umbraco was heading in the direction of CaaS (Content as a Service). Taking their cue, I next presented a polished, albeit shorter, version at the Umbraco Down Under Festival 2019. This is what Chief Unicorn Neils Hartving, who was in the audience, had to say...
All the Unicorns
There are so many flavours of Umbraco out there and it's good to understand what is what.
- Umbraco - An open-source content management system (CMS) platform for publishing content on the World Wide Web and intranets. It is written in C# and deployed on Microsoft based infrastructure. Umbraco was developed by Niels Hartvig in 2000 and released as open-source software in 2005. Umbraco has over 500,000 active installs, over 220,000 active community members and its package ecosystem has over 1200 free packages.
- Umbraco Cloud - Formerly known as Umbraco as a Service (UaaS), this is the hosted version of Umbraco. Run as a commercial venture by Umbraco HQ (the core team behind the open-source version), this takes away your hassles of hosting and managing infrastructure, starting from a mere €25 per month.
- Umbraco Heartcore - The new SaaS (Software as a Service) offering by Umbraco HQ. The headless CMS service enables you to connect the Umbraco back-office with any – and multiple – platforms, devices, channels etc in order to distribute your content. A super dynamic RESTful API under the hood allows for this versatility.
All of this comes from an award-winning CMS. Umbraco won DIGITALEUROPE's Future Unicorn Award 🦄 aimed at celebrating SMEs from across Europe that have the potential to become the future European Tech giants.
Umbraco as a future European Tech Giant! 😲
I can definitely see that happening with the initiatives Umbraco HQ is taking and the level of community engagement. 🙌
Heartcore as a Service
Umbraco HQ describes Heartcore as a SaaS offering. But I beg to differ and would like to classify Umbraco Heartcore as Content as a Service (CaaS).
CaaS, as a sub-group of SaaS (Software as a service) approach, moves the content from your servers to the vendor's cloud. That means that every CaaS user doesn't have to set up, maintain, and scale the infrastructure on their own — the vendor does that for each of them.
Umbraco Heartcore provides the infrastructure, maintains your content repository, and provides you with content delivery and content management APIs. Your only responsibility is the content you need to create, update and distribute.
You don't need to be an Umbraco developer or even a developer to use Umbraco Heartcore. With three simple steps, you can output content which you can consume where you want, how you want, and when you want.
- Create a Document Type which describes your content model
- Create a Content item where you will populate your content
- Retrieve your content via a restful API or via a URL
While reading through this article you may be wondering about the name Umbraco Heartcore. The HQ team have cleared up this mystery for us.
... adding “headless” in the actual name becomes a bit redundant. One of the main things we want to highlight with the name is that you get Umbraco at its core - that it’s friendly at its core. And of course, there’s a little wordplay of being hardcore or creating hardcore solutions as well. 😉
Heartcore Love 💙
As with any other CaaS offering, Umbraco Heartcore wins the hearts of developers with the following features:
- Dynamic APIs - Heartcore's RESTful API ticks this requirement. GraphQL is on the roadmap.
- Platform/technology independence - You can use a simple HTTP request from any platform. Also with .NET Core and Node JS libraries in place, and with many more libraries to come, technology independence is truly here.
- Code simplicity - Your code does not have to deal with content creation, just the delivery.
Management also love Umbraco Heartcore as it brings in the following benefits:
- No upgrades or maintenance – This is taken care of by Umbraco HQ.
- Low operating costs – To be announced. But since you don’t specifically pay for any infrastructure and you only pay for what you consume, it would definitely be cheaper than a self-hosted Umbraco CMS.
- Cloud scalability – Umbraco HQ should be able to easily scale up to align with your consumption and needs and give you the performance levels you are looking for.
- System security – Once again, taken care of by Umbraco HQ.
- Reduces time to market – As soon as your wireframe and Information Architecture is locked down, you are able to start creating content models and gathering content. With Umbraco Heartcore this reduces your time to market.
If you need more details, read about headless or CaaS benefits and how it fits in with your IOT strategy.
There are a few unique features in Umbraco Heartcore, which sets it apart from the rest of the pack.
Familiar Umbraco back-office
All CaaS providers who started out with a traditional CMS dropped their old back-office and went in for something totally different. But Umbraco Heartcore has stayed true to its roots by embracing the familiar Umbraco back-office. Using the new Umbraco version 8 back-office makes content editors and developers feel right at home.
Content in a tree structure
While other CaaS providers moved to have a very flat structure to manage content, Umbraco decided to stay on with its tree structure. This is very advantageous when using CaaS to drive both your website and other channels. It allows for easy routing and URL structures when the need arises.
Umbraco Heartcore also comes with other features out of the box from day one, such as:
- Content Management API or a CRUD API
- API browser
- Image Manipulation Service on the CDN
- Multi-language support
Umbraco also has a public roadmap where you can read more about these features and more to come.
What does Umbraco Heartcore run on under the hood?
- Runs on Umbraco Cloud which is hosted in Azure West Europe region
- Azure Blob Storage for media storage
- Cloudflare CDN for content and media delivery
- Umbraco CMS version 8.x excluding packages
Heart + Arms + Legs
With Umbraco Heartcore, the way you think of content or even your website needs to change. Rather than one large monolithic system which does everything, you need to think in terms of microservices.
CaaS is one such microservice which needs to tie into your microservices architecture. E-commerce, forms, email sending and other data feeds need to be tied to bring together a cohesive system. It's not like using Umbraco CMS or Umbraco Cloud to do everything as in the past.
So if Umbraco Heartcore is the heart of your content delivery system, you can attach arms and legs to get your system moving.
Want to learn more
The Umbraco Christmas countdown 24days.in has also got a very good article where you start saying hello to Heartcore. This article was co-authored by Morten Christensen (@sitereactor) from HQ who's been really helpful to me when I had questions regarding Umbraco Headless in those early days.
The verdict of the Heart
Having spent over three years working with various headless and Content-as-a-Service providers, I can say the following:
I've used Umbraco Heartcore since beta. The main drawcards for me were the familiar Umbraco back-office, creating content items in a tree structure and coding with .NET Core. In a nutshell, heartcore means: happy marketers who reduce their time to market; happy editors who create content early on; and happy developers who get to use the latest tech.
It's early days for Umbraco Heartcore. But here at Luminary we are excited and hope you will join us on the journey with Umbraco Heartcore.
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