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Time to Take a Leap: Integrating React with Drupal

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Aug 17 2022

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It’s amazing to leverage technology that allows businesses to advance digital platforms without needing to re-develop the whole content management system. It is no less than a wonder that such technology exists with the name of "decoupled architecture." It is a computing architecture that has gained so much popularity in the developing world. It enables developers to build high-performing digital platforms by isolating and executing individual components independently and in parallel.

It's the gateway to powerful APIsprofessional content management systems, and beautiful interfaces. However, leveraging all these features in a single package wasn't possible until recently when the combination of Drupal with React came into being. 

Drupal allows you to leverage an Application Programming Interface (API) based Content Management System (CMS). On the other hand, React will enable you to leverage the features to develop beautiful interfaces. 

A spike in using React with Drupal has been recently noticed, but how is this combination making an impressive breakthrough in the web development world? This blog provides enough details on why you should break the barriers to leverage the great features of this combination of Drupal with React. Let's dive in.

 

Introduction – The Combination of Drupal and React

Sometimes a need might arise when you want a sophisticated, advanced backend and a brilliant and slick interface or frontend. Both these features aren't possible to efficiently achieve through a single tool. Hence, to benefit from these resources, the combination of React and Drupal comes into place.

But, before diving into the details of this combination, let us understand what Drupal and React has to offer independently.

React

React is a web development library used for frontend and user interface development based on JavaScript by Facebook. Keep in mind that React is a library and not a programming language, but developers have started using it more frequently in web development. 

React allows you to create dynamic frontends of the applications as it doesn't involve much programming and coding needs. With React, you can develop dynamic, interactive, and responsive interfaces, also referred to as frontend, using various tools and packages. It is also referred to as a component-based architecture. 

In our case, React acts as a tool to develop a responsive frontend, while the backend is based on Drupal. Refer to the section below to gain insights into Drupal.

Drupal

Drupal is an open-source API-based content management system used to develop digital applications and websites through Hypertext Preprocessor (PHP; a programming language). Drupal offers you a separate dashboard or backend interface that you can use to handle and publish the content for your application.

However, note that Drupal is not the same as the headless Drupal that we are talking about in this blog. Headless Drupal, sometimes called decoupled Drupal, is a separate system or interface that is not attached to the frontend. Decoupled Drupal allows you to handle the content in the backend repositories without caring how the frontend will affect a change in the backend. In a headless Drupal, the frontend is separated from the backend, i.e., Drupal. At the same time, the frontend communicates back and forth with the backend Drupal with the help of an API. 

Why Pairing Drupal with React?

React and Drupal combine to give the most exquisite development experience. Here are listed some crucial aspects of this combination:

  • In this combination, React allows you to develop a beautiful responsive frontend, while Drupal will enable you to develop an advanced backend CMS 
  • The frontends and backends, i.e., the frontend user interface and backend content management system, communicate with each other through an application programming interface (API)
  • The combination of React with Drupal can also be referred to as headless architecture since both these ends are decoupled and do not communicate directly.
  • Decoupled combination means that any change in the backend CMS will not require an indefinite modification in the frontend UI

What Evolution did this combination Bring to the Web-Development Realm, and Why Should I Consider It?

In a headless or decoupled situation, React acts as a frontend for an application, while Drupal acts as a backend management system. Web development had never been this easy before this combination was ever known. Some of the most revolutionary features of this combination are the ability of flexibility, customization, and experience from both user and admin's ends. The combination of Drupal with React is best for you if you're looking to:

  • Develop a brilliant website or application that will extract data from some other website or source
  • Develop a progressive mobile application for your users
  • Have better control over the elements and components
  • Have better flexibility both for the application/website users as well as the frontend and backend developers
  • Target better user experience over anything
  • Develop an easy-to-access application that pulls data from a Drupal-based complex system 

All these features refer to the benefits one can leverage from using this combination. Moreover, some of these benefits and features are discussed in detail in the later section of this article. 

Benefits of Combining React with Drupal

We have been discussing the combination of React with Drupal, but you must wonder what advantages you can leverage with the powerful combination. Take a look at the benefits of combining React with Drupal below:

Easy to handle

React is an easy-to-use platform with no complicated programming approaches, yet it provides the opportunities to develop the best dynamic and responsive frontends of your applications. On the other hand, Drupal is also an easy-to-use CMS that can handle the backend complexity, constantly changing data and real-time updates from the API. Therefore, the combined capabilities with advanced features are an easy-to-handle combination. 

Best User Experience

Great user experience is the first and foremost priority of most businesses. Using React with Drupal allows you to customize the interfaces in such a way that results in the best of best user experiences. No matter how much you alter the frontend and try to acquire the most user satisfaction, the backend will stay the same, operate with the same performance, and require zero-to-no alterations. Thus, this brilliant combination allows you to develop the best user interfaces for your audience. 

Flexibility

By combining Drupal with React, you have the opportunity to be as flexible as possible. From flexibility, it is referred to as the frontend developers will have the frontend on their own, and they can adjust it flexibly each time they want to alter an element and will not have to communicate much with the backend developers. 

On the other hand, the backend developers will have the whole backend on their own, and each time they want to adjust the systems, the frontend will not get affected and will perform with the same processing speed. 

This independence of both ends makes them easier to use and much more flexible as the frontend developers will have a separate dashboard to use, and backend developers will have a different dashboard for their needs. Hence, they are flexible with the alterations they want to make without relying much on each other. 

Sophisticated Backend with Slick Frontend 

One of the best benefits of this amalgam is to be able to leverage the sophisticated and complex backends and slick and slim frontends at the same time. 

React allows you to develop a powerful user interface that is not just appealing to their eyes but focused on attaining the best user experience. While with Drupal, you can create as complex and sophisticated backends as possible. Thus, no matter how complicated your environment and business are, Drupal allows you to develop the best CMS for your needs. The feature of a slick frontend with React and a sophisticated backend with Drupal adds value to each other, and thus these are one of the best combinations to work within the web development realm. 

Better Control with Independent Components 

Finally, the feature of no interdependencies allows one to have the most control over the best-of-breed components and elements suitable for both ends. As both ends do not rely on each other, you can use different integrations that support your needs. 

Adding custom integrations can leverage better control over both ends, resulting in better experience and management. Moreover, since there are no interdependencies, you can adjust or alter the components for one end without even disturbing the other end. This flexibility allows you to have the best control over your digital platform. 

How to Integrate React with Drupal?

Here's a brief guide on how you can combine and integrate React with Drupal:

  1. Set up your backends through Drupal.
    1. Build your content management system and architecture
    2. Expose the data in your Drupal CMS through a JSON web service API
  2. Develop the React App
    1. Setup your frontends through React
    2. Display data on the frontend
  3. Set out the React components
    1. Render the components in HTML
  4. Catch Backend data through the API and display it in the frontend
    1. Fetch the data from API through URL
    2. Display the data on the frontend

Why Using Drupal with React is a Promising Move?   

This amalgam of Drupal with React has opened the doors to a much better and more flexible web development realm. Hundreds and thousands of businesses are now shifting to this combination for its promising results. Thus, it won't be wrong to say that you can develop the best digital application for your business with this fantastic combination. 
To learn more about the combination of Drupal with React, feel free to reach out to our experts and discover what's best for your business needs. Explore Icreon’s Web Development Services.