Identities and events unlock new automation capabilities within the Contentful App Framework

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Published
November 2, 2020
Category

Product

Today we are introducing two new app framework capabilities: app identities and events. Identities elevate apps to the status of autonomous actors. They can perform assigned tasks and support custom workflows without requiring any human intervention. App events takes this valuable skill one step further and allows apps to subscribe to changes within a space. With app identities and events, developers now have a way to build the next generation of editorial tools and organizational services. We wanted to highlight some popular use cases enabled by these capabilities.

Storing secrets 

One thing that the App Framework has in common with Swiss banks is a talent for keeping secrets. Asynchronously running apps can securely store private keys, authentication tokens, and other sensitive information in the backend and authenticate with other systems without revealing authentication details to end users. This is great for building middleware solutions and accessing internal business systems, and it opens exciting possibilities for companies operating in regulated industries. 

App identities also streamlines the governance process. Organizational admins don’t need to create service accounts to maintain backend integrations, and app access is tightly scoped to the space environment where the app is installed. This reduces the scope for security breaches and accidental mishaps.

Scaling workflows

Some of our customers found the App Framework extremely useful for implementing custom workflows and validations. For example, a global CPG company built an app replacing the standard publish button with a two-step publishing process involving a legal sign off. MATCHESFASHION, a global luxury retail company based in London, used the App Framework to build a campaign app that visualizes active marketing campaigns in an interactive dashboard, inside the Contentful web app, and notifies the marketing team when campaigns go live and stop via Slack notifications. “Our marketing team was really happy about how easy it is to work with campaigns using the app we built,” notes Chloe Doncieux, senior product manager.

Syncing content 

App events offer a way to keep content consistent without the need to write tons of code. For example, some of our customers rely on specialized platforms like Algolia or Elasticsearch to power their site search. Previously, this required developers to configure multiple webhooks (one for published, one for archived and one for updated entries), transform webhook payloads and repeat the setup process for every new space where the app was installed. Updating the app, similarly, required the developer manually update the instance of the app in each space. 

The new app structure does away with all of that, since developers only need to configure events and install the app definition once, at the organization level, and can then re-use this configuration across all of their spaces.

Real-time updatesThe ability to update your content independently is especially appreciated by our global customers, because operating in multiple markets often requires robust integration with external translation services. As long as apps acted as extensions of individual users, translated content had to be imported by users hitting a button inside the Contentful. 

The new generation of translation integrations by vendors like Acclaro, XTM Connect and Translations.com fetch translated content the moment it becomes available, offer project management tools for editors overseeing translations and provide better governance for managing the integrations. Customers using these apps during the early access period gave them glowing reviews and we’re excited to see these apps being made available for all Contentful users.

Apps are for builders

What makes us particularly excited about the new features is how dynamic they are. Developers can write backend components in any programming language, run them on any hosting platform and use any technical architecture. This approach gives all our customers — startups and century-old businesses alike — a way to seamlessly integrate Contentful into their existing stack.

Teams building apps for public use can leverage our App Marketplace to build awareness and enable customers install their app with a single click. Marketplace apps address common content management scenarios — everything from embedding external assets, to fusing content and commerce, to translating content and  integrations with popular hosting providers. 

Marketplace apps are just the tip of the iceberg. For every new app published on the marketplace, we see customers build another ten for their private use. This rapid uptake would not be possible without the features we've added throughout the year: a centralized way of installing and updating apps, ability to define installation and instance parameters and new app locations. Building an app for your organization is simple and fast. 

Get started today

Our new features are available worldwide starting this week. We’re also shipping new tools to help you build apps faster. You can now generate private-public key pairs directly in the web app and use the node-app-toolkit library to add secure tokens to the backend component of your app.  

To learn more about how to leverage app identities and events, follow this getting started tutorial or sign up to view the recorded webinar on creating your first Contentful dashboard. We couldn't be more excited to see what you create!

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