Friday, 05 March 2021 07:00

WP Engine launches Atlas, which it dubs 'The Future of Headless Wordpress'


In one well-known novel, Atlas famously shrugged, and the world tilted off its axis, but in WP Engine's world, Atlas is the headless future of Wordpress, delivering "exponentially faster dynamic sites" that shrug off slowness forever. 

WP Engine. The company bills itself as the "world’s most trusted WordPress technology company," has announced Atlas, its "new headless WordPress product line."

We're told WP Engine’s Atlas is "the complete headless WordPress platform, enabling exponentially faster, dynamic sites with the flexibility and security that comes with headless solutions."

Promoted as "delighting both developers and content publishers," we're told "Atlas brings together the customer’s choice of modern development framework with powerful front-end node.js hosting and headless WordPress all in one complete package, providing one trusted partner, one price, and one responsible party for troubleshooting."

Jason Cohen, Founder and Chief Technology Officer at WP Engine said: "Headless solutions are absolutely the future of enterprise WordPress, yet there isn’t one end-to-end solution out there that includes the dynamic Node.js layer, the static CDN layer and the Headless content management systems (CMS) layer, in one package.

“That’s why we created Atlas. Using the modern frameworks they prefer, developers can build personalised, omni-channel experiences integrated with backends at the speed normally reserved for static brochure sites. Marketers maintain critical publishing functionality lacking in other headless CMSs like post previews, SEO optimisations and pages they can control.

"With Atlas, developers aren’t forced to choose between incredible site performance and dynamic experiences. And they can keep the open source CMS platform that drives 40% of the web, now upgraded to support developers’ modern architecture. It’s the best of all worlds.”

Why Headless Matters

In short, WP Engine explains that "headless WordPress simply means “no WordPress front-end.” Companies who use an entirely headless solution will typically host a separate JavaScript application for the front-end, which pulls specific WordPress data via APIs -- the WordPress REST API or the WPGraphQL plugin.

"Headless WordPress provides developers with the ultimate flexibility and freedom for the "right tech, right job,” easy integrations with other software, additional layers of security and the ability to future-proof the CMS for marketers who gain a new level of flexibility and control of the content. They can anticipate new channels, new devices and the ability to publish more broadly and to any device."

Developer Pain Points

We're told "today’s developers are under pressure to deliver highly performant and secure omnichannel digital experiences that rank higher and convert better on a platform that easily scales and integrates with an increasing array of martech SaaS tools.

"Solution engineers have had to fill in the gaps to architect a complete stack that meets these’ needs. In doing so, they faced significant time-to-market delays, had to hire talent to manage multiple systems, lacked transparency on total cost of development and had to jump through a lot of technical hoops to troubleshoot."

Depending on the choice of existing technology, various limits or trade-offs exist: 

  • Monolithic CMSs can restrict content publishers’ content types and location, and prevent developers from using modern JavaScript frameworks.
  • Static site generators solve for client site speed, yet they inhibit easy content updates, limit dynamic site builds, and lack custom APIs to integrate with other corporate systems.
  • Native headless CMSs are fast and provide supreme front-end flexibility for omni-channel and internet of things (IoT), but can get expensive with scale, forfeit an agencies’ expertise in WordPress, and lack critical CMS features like SEO, layouts, and authoring workflows that restrict publishing.

Atlas: The Complete Headless Solution for WordPress

WP Engine promotes itself as "the leader in managed WordPress, as well as the leader in large WordPress sites, in terms of number of sites, agency partnerships and WordPress tools.

"It’s also the fastest among the top WordPress hosts with the highest percentage of sites that load in less than 200ms among all other WordPress platforms. This speed advantage is a critical feature given WordPress now powers 40% of the entire Internet, making it the most dominant form of website in the world."

The company says its Atlas solution "is the only headless solution that includes the dynamic node layer, the static CDN layer, and the Headless CMS layer in one package. It’s also the only headless solution where the front-end and back-end work in harmony, to deliver features that aren’t possible when other solutions are sold separately and not bundled together, like post previews and SEO."

More information, including all the technical detail, can be found here

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

Alex Zaharov-Reutt is iTWire's Technology Editor is one of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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