SilverStripe 4 just changed the website game

Why keeping content separate from design is a winning strategy

Members of the Solnet development team recently attended the StripeCon conference held at Te Papa Museum in Wellington. Great insights were shared over two days and the team, who specialise in SilverStripe development, got pretty excited about the following innovations:

First, a revolution has begun ...

Have you heard of something called a headless CMS? The latest version of SilverStripe, SS4, not only supports this notion but caters to it as a platform.

While SS4 comes packaged with a powerful templating system that can interact directly with content published in the CMS, it now offers a powerful API which allows multiple separate frontend applications to consume content  — even applications hosted outside your business.    

What does this mean for any organisation building a new website?

1) Separate content from design
SS4 offers a well-designed CMS administration system while the frontend, your design which displays your content, is treated as a separate application.

headless cms 4

The primary benefit: when it’s time for a refresh of your website, this can be done solely by creating a new customer interface. Leave your CMS and content as it stands!

2) Create once, publish everywhere
Do you have regional sites with different styles? What about social media pages or a mobile application?

Presenting content from a single, central CMS to all locations is probably the most powerful feature SS4 can offer your business. (This innovation also represents an exciting thought shift toward component-based content management.)

With most CMS systems, content structure is often managed via a mixture of developer-provided page layouts. Content managers tend to manually fiddle with HTML code using large Rich editors in the CMS to get things “just so” ...

Are you tired of being constrained by design and your CMS structures?


Enter Elemental

A new SS4 module featured at StripeCon ushers in new approaches to content management. The module provides the safety of developer-led improvements while giving content managers power over how their pages are laid out, not just what is displayed.

Now you can design, develop and replace parts of a page instead of starting from scratch.

Want a new graph with a live feed to the company’s share price? Rather than code this onto a page, developers can create this as an Elemental module that a content manager can add to any page …. Move it around. Resize it. Remove it. Reuse it somewhere else. Want to display this same graph with the latest library? Replace just this component.

Buzzword alert: you’re looking at a brave new world with Content as a Service (CaaS).

The advantages of SS4 for the content manager are clear. Yet, this encapsulated approach for developing sections of a page rather than an entire page are a win for any development budget.

To continually make enhancements to the platform, the Elemental module is commercially supported and released to the SilverStripe community. Generous backing is great news for any Open Source project!


SS4 puts user experience first 

One of SilverStripe’s strengths has always been its intuitive CMS.

SS4 offers a completely new CMS built using latest technologies such as ReactJS and GraphQL. While the user interface has not deviated from its famously unintimidating structure, changes were made based on feedback to make life easier for content managers.

New tools include:

  • A file management system that tracks versions of uploaded files

  • A campaign section which allows for collaborative page editing and

  • Coming soon: you’ll be able to schedule automatic content updates

How does all that sound? Beyond these innovations, we’ve got one more thing to share:


Get better system performance

PHP is the language and engine that drives the majority of the internet including Facebook, Baidu and Wikipedia. It is, of course, the backbone supporting SilverStripe as well.

What’s notable about this? SS4 comes with full support for the latest PHP 7.  

This fact may seem inconsequential to business decision makers but this is actually an important consideration due to the performance benefits PHP 7 offers.

Coupled with the many code optimsations of SS4, our tests on PHP 7 vs the next most recent version (PHP 5.6) exhibited a 300% performance increase in some metrics. Feel free to use this final fact when you make your internal case to adopt SS4 as your new website platform!


Solnet was a platinum sponsor for StripeCon 2017. As we’ve got several experts who already love developing with SilverStripe, we're diving straight into new projects using SS4. 

Want to know more about SS4 and how it could work for you as part of your overall digital strategy? Get in touch.