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Understanding the architectural workflow

Node.js with Decoupled Drupal on Acquia Cloud – Back to intro
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Lesson Goal

Understand the core workflow of a decoupled architecture.


Before diving into the technical steps, let’s understand the high-level design of the architecture itself. A “headless” or “decoupled” Drupal architecture typically involves the communication between two separate applications: a Drupal website (acting as a data source) and a front-end application (acting to display data provided by Drupal). For the purposes of this tutorial, we will use a Node.js based front-end application.

simple decoupled

Benefits of a Decoupled Architecture

There are often project requirements which help to surface benefits of leaning on a decoupled Drupal architecture. These project requirements usually revolve around the intent of an “API-first” methodology. API-first Drupal can be contextually understood as leveraging the CMS to expose data for consumption in another application. Benefits of this architecture typically revolve around the desire to store data in Drupal, while offering options of displaying that same data in other locations outside of Drupal.

Role of Drupal in a Decoupled Architecture

The core function of Drupal within the decoupled architecture to serve as a data source, but that role could translate into a couple of different things. There are project scenarios in which the Node.js application is intended to emulate the content type fields and mirror the data in the same manner. Some project requirements indicate that selected content combine to offer promotional or real-time updates. While there are a wide range of technical purposes, the end result of this scenario is typically structured around the housing of data. In this case a “data source” should be interpreted for both database storage and data construction patterns.

Role of Node.js in a Decoupled Architecture

The role of Node.js within our decoupled architecture is two-fold: presenting data that is ingested from Drupal and sending data back to Drupal. In most cases, the Node.js application core focus serves the application and displays data from Drupal. This is not a suggestion that the application pulls data from Drupal solely, but for the purpose of this tutorial we will make this assumption. This need is a key driver for the adoption of Node.js as the abstracted presentation layer.