Acquia JavaScript support lets developers build web apps that combine content, data

Acquia, the commercial arm of the open-source Drupal web content management tool, has long offered a cloud-based user interface designed to make it easier for customers to build web sites. Today, the company announced a new way of interacting with Drupal where it will be exposing the different parts of the platform as a set of services, while supporting node.js for scripting.

This will enable developers to build web applications in JavaScript that combine content and data in a single interface without explicitly accessing Drupal to do it. This offers several distinct benefits. First of all, it means web programmers don’t have to generate parallel development tracks, one for data and one for content. Secondly, it allows developers to take advantage of shared resources across the content and data pieces such as a shared database, and finally it gives them access to the various parts of Drupal such as search, security and content management as a set of APIs.

This decoupling of the content services from the content management system front-end has long been a vision of the industry and of Dries Buytaert, the company CTO and co-founder. Companies like Box have already started doing this, as have some startups like Contentful, which is built from the ground up as an API-driven content management tool.

This marks the first time that Acquia customers can access these content service APIs in this fashion, while building data-driven applications along the way, says Chris Stone, Chief Product Officer at Acquia. Stone says this approach is designed to make it much easier for developers to build applications that operate across channels, whether that’s a voice assistant like the Amazon Echo or the latest iPhone.

“Strategically, it’s good idea for us. It brings in a marriage of data and content. We are content guys and we can now start to create journeys out of data captured from ecommerce transactions,” Stone told TechCrunch. This could be the classic’ what to do next’ or kicking off a workflow to respond to an abandoned shopping cart, as a couple of examples.

Buytaert has always seen this level of personalization as the ultimate goal of the web content management system, and along the way, the company has created tools to personalize the web content management experience. Today, the website is just one way customers interact with a company, and Acquia is hoping this new approach will enable developers to create a data-driven application experience across multiple access channels, while still taking advantage of Drupal services when needed.

Acquia has raised over $173 million since it was founded in 2007. Its headquarters is in downtown Boston.