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App Framework

This section helps you to understand what the App Framework is and what it is capable of. It should also inspire you to find ways to improve your editor experience within Contentful.

What are apps?

Apps are packages that simplify customization and integration by modifying your space. An app can help adapt Contentful to individual business processes and integrate with other services.

With the App Framework, we give you the tools to build apps that can customize Contentful to fit your user and business needs. With it, teams can easily integrate market-leading third-party services with the Contentful platform, or build custom integrations tailored specifically to your business. Integrating services with Contentful through apps means that you can create a stack that’s seamlessly connected, bringing all relevant tools into the context of your editorial UI. Whether it’s for optimization, deployment, and delivery, analytics, or collaboration, you can mix and match exactly the right services and be sure they all reference the same set of durable content on Contentful.

What can apps do?

A better question is -- what do you want to do with apps? Using apps, a huge variety of enhancements to the Contentful web app are possible. From small field editor improvements to deeply integrated full-page applications, the App Framework makes customizing the web app effortless.

Some common use cases are:

  • Adding custom field editors to improve the editor experience
  • Managing content versions for running A/B tests on structured content using personalization tools
  • Triggering actions such as CI builds in third-party systems
  • Tailor the default entry editor to suit your specific needs

For a full picture of what's possible with the App Framework, take a look at the publicly available apps in our Marketplace.

Anatomy of an app

Frontend apps

Front end apps are single-page applications rendered within an iFrame in seven different locations of the Contentful web app:

  • Entry Field
  • Entry Sidebar
  • Entry Editor
  • Page
  • Home
  • App Configuration
  • Dialog

You can enable or disable these locations individually via the app definition.

Apps can be customized based on location and context within the Contentful web app. This allows for a seamless integration with the editing experience. Hosting apps is as simple as hosting static files -- no code has to run on your servers. The only requirement is that files must be accessible via URL by users of the Contentful web app.

Backend apps

In addition to providing a customized user interface with controls or dashboards within the Contentful web app, apps can also perform asynchronous work on a server without any user interaction. These apps are running on your servers and their behavior is therefore fully under your control. With app identities and events, apps can interact with the Contentful Content Management API with their own identity. Apps can individually subscribe to events within their installed environment, in a manner similar to webhooks. The big advantage of backend apps compared to using regular webhooks and CMA tokens is, that app identities are not user bound and therefore not restricted to a specific user account's permissions. Also, the frontend and backend configuration comes as a bundle and can be installed into an environment with a single click without manual setup of webhooks filters or updating the backend code for new environments.

Managing and distributing apps

Custom apps

A custom app is built by you for your specific organization's needs to optimize your organization's editorial experience. It is fully under your control and not accessible by other organizations. Apps are created within your organization and installed into one or more environments, each with the ability to be individually configured. The total number of apps and installations within your organization/environment is limited based on your Contentful plan, as explained in our technical limits.

Marketplace apps

Marketplace apps are built by our technology partners and connect Contentful with other systems allowing you to assemble the stack of your choice. Marketplace apps can be installed free of charge from within the Contentful web app without touching a single line of code. Many of them are open source apps, so if you are interested in how these apps were built, feel free to check out our apps repository. Currently, Contentful’s Marketplace is open to only a select group of technology and integration partners. If you or your organization wants to publish an app on the marketplace, please fill out this form and our partnerships team will reach out to you to get the process started.

Watch the App Framework course

If you are looking to get started building apps and learn best by watching others, the App Framework course walks through all the tooling and setup required to start building your first app!