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LuxSE IT Series #4: LuxSE turns to Headless CMS to improve digital experiences

Going deeper into its digital transformation strategy, the Luxembourg Stock Exchange (LuxSE) has chosen a new approach to content management and web publishing. Having deployed a robust and flexible Headless Content Management System, LuxSE is now able to provide clients and users with more personalised digital experiences while bringing more agility to development teams.

"Data is at the core of our business," says Eric Pantalone, Head of Core Products Delivery at LuxSE. "Until now, we have used a traditional Content Management System, but we realised at one point that a conventional CMS was not ideally suited for presenting data in an efficient way. We therefore turned to a new type of system called Headless CMS."

Designed for the future

In a traditional CMS, the back-end - where content is created - and the front-end - which displays content on HTML pages - are linked. All website design and customisation applications are stored in the back-end while visitors view the front-end.

 Traditional content management tools offer little flexibility for integrating new delivery formats. For example, introducing mobile or IoT functionality into an application architecture can present major challenges, which is why more and more businesses are choosing to go headless. The “head" in Headless CMS refers to the front-end. A Headless Content Management System primarily consists of an API and the back-end technology required to store and distribute content. With this approach, content storage and delivery are handled by separate software tools.

"With a traditional CMS, feeding different media is a very cumbersome process, not to mention that you never get exactly the expected result," says Eric Pantalone. "In a headless CMS, the back-end is queried through APIs. The presentation layer - the front-end - is completely free. It is not attached to the CMS and developers can freely choose the programming language to define this layer."

A familiar language

For the front-end of its new CMS, LuxSE choose ReactJS. ReactJS is a JavaScript library, the most used language for displaying client-side web pages, which can be executed on a PC browser, as well as on a tablet or a smartphone. "We could have chosen any other language suitable for smartphones, IoT or Big Data, for example," Eric Pantalone explains. "But with one single CMS, you can develop several front-end interfaces that query the same content. This means that you can adapt the front-end to the medium you use, without having to suffer from the approximate solutions offered by traditional systems. As front-end programming language, we chose NodeJS, which is a perfect fit for ReactJS. As a result, we are completely programming language-agnostic."

Even though the implementation of the system required a certain learning period for the web and marketing teams, the developers were not too affected by the adoption of the new CMS, since they were already trained in the use of ReactJS. LuxSE actually has ReactJS developers who use this language to create operational applications.

"As our system is being decoupled and deployed in the cloud," adds Eric Pantalone, "another advantage is a significant gain in performance at the display level because the rendering is not linked to the CMS. In addition, the components of the solution are installed in Docker containers and, if needed, we have the possibility of improving performance transversally and no longer vertically as with a traditional CMS, by simply increasing the number of nodes."

The best of both worlds

Headless systems nevertheless have drawbacks. The first one is the lack of ready-made templates for webmasters. The second disadvantage concerns the monitoring of user experience. Marketers and webmasters cannot follow the user's journey as when using a traditional CMS.

"We choose a Headless CMS that fills these two gaps, a hybrid Headless CMS allowing the creation of a framework for webmasters through an interface designed for this purpose," says Eric Pantalone.

"With regard to user experience monitoring," he adds, "the solution we have chosen has an integrated Big Data database which makes it possible to store everything that passes through the API in order to be able to collect information and trace the user's journey."

Better productivity, higher availability and improved security

"Our new system drives substantial productivity gains and shortens time to market," Eric Pantalone underlines. The new CMS of LuxSE enables new web portals to be created rapidly. The LuxXPrime and LGX Academy sites were in fact developed quickly and efficiently using this solution. "Moreover," he adds, "we have large amounts of financial data to deal with. To display these data, we use widgets. And with ReactJS, NodeJS and the APIs, everything is much easier for developers: they simply create widgets and make them available to the web team which then integrates them into the web pages. Generally speaking, developers have more freedom when it comes to page rendering since they are not affected by the heavier constraints imposed by conventional systems"

Here are the other interviews in the LuxSE IT Series:

LuxSE IT Series #3: LuxSE accelerates software delivery with CI/CD

LuxSE IT Series #2: LuxSE embraces NoSQL to boost efficiency

LuxSE IT Series #1: The Luxembourg Stock Exchange heads to the clouds

Interview by Michael Renotte