Decoupled Drupal, on the other hand, leverages Drupal as an admin and content management system only. It provides content and data through web service APIs to a entirely different frontend system for maximum flexibility, including:
- Highly interactive websites
- Voice apps
- Progressive web apps
- Native/mobile apps
- Third-party services
When Take It Off—The Benefits of Decoupling
Decoupled Drupal's main benefit is the freedom to present content in a variety of user experiences. It also future-proofs a platform. Using decoupled Drupal, the front-end experience could be later updated or replaced entirely without needing to migrate or rebuild the underlying Drupal architecture. This approach is great if you’re looking for:
- "Pageless" navigation with little transitions for a fast, app-like feel
- Numerous state changes to control data visualizations or dashboards
- Updating parts of a page with real-time data like complex ecommerce or booking apps
- A native mobile app and web app powered by a single codebase
When to Leave it On—The Downside to Decoupling
You may be asking, "Why you wouldn't always go headless?" The answer is there are always trade offs. With decoupled Drupal, you're typically spending additional time building out the front and back end separately, which takes more time up front. Often, some core Drupal functionality is lost in the process as well and must be recreated, such as user authentication or page routing. It all depends on how it's built and the use case at hand.
However, hybrid approaches to decoupled Drupal can offer the best of both worlds—interactivity with a robust and reliable backend that scales.