Building Decoupled Drupal Sites

Publish Date

Decoupled CMS - Overview, Benefits, and Challenges

In his keynote at DrupalCon Portland 2022, Dries Buytaert discussed decoupled Drupal along with many other topics. In a presentation by Bob Snodgrass for Fox Valley Computing Professionals meetup this material was presented during the May 2022 meetup.

Note: As a follow-up to the presentation and further experimentation, this content is actively being revised and is subject to change.


  • We started hearing about decoupled Drupal sites way back when Drupal 8 was in early-stage development (was that really 2011-2012?)
  • What's a small shop to do? How do we keep up with the new stuff, do R&D, do product management, do project management, give back to the community, do the administratrivia, keep the lights on, strategic planning...
  • Disclaimer - This presentation evolved from Decoupled CMS to only Decoupled Drupal.
    NOT a coder, my perspective is as a business owner providing Drupal services, wearing multiple hats (business development, project management, product development, business owner...). That's okay, this is my R&D.
Article Section

Investigation Process

  • Tome Recipe
  • Intro to ContentaCMS NY Drupal Lunch and Learn-Sept. 2021,  ...and his continued posts on The Future of Drupal - Thanks to Jacob Rockowitz!
  • First attempt was a ContentaCMS install - A fork and go distribution configured from Drupal
  • Lots of research, asking lots of questions,
  • Some hands on attempts, setting up local sites to experiment with
  • Selecting the demos, very little scripting.

What Is Decoupled?

  • A marketing buzzword... combining lots of ideas
Accessible Flowchart Decoupled Options from
Excerpt from

What type of approach to use?

Decision Flowchart for Decoupled
excerpt from


Don't leave editors / content creators behind
excerpt from
  • KISS - Keep it Simple Snodgrass
  • Very Important to have a solid content model
  • The more consumers the more complexity and maintenance (and likely cost)


  • Speed
  • Security
  • Support to develop consumers for multiple channels; microsites, mobile apps, IoT, kiosks, management dashboards

Demo (play) Time

I selected one static example and one decoupled Drupal backend using a Next.js front end.

Drupal - Tome - Netlify

Proof of concept - Tome in the wild

More notes coming later, stay tuned

Next - Drupal

Similar to ContentaCMS without all the bells / whistles.

More notes coming later, stay tuned

Gatsby and Drupal

Sorry, not time for preparation to do an actual demo, however here are some excellent resources to review later.

Penn State Scales Static Drupal to New Heights

Gatsby on

Some deeper stuff from Brian Perry (now with Pantheon): Configuring gatsby-source-drupal to only Import Referenced Images



So far I feel like we have more questions than answers at this point and we will need further investigation into what and how we will attempt decoupled Drupal projects.

Putting together the right resources, for the right projects, for the right reasons is the biggest challenge.