Hello Magnolia - Headless

In this introductory headless tutorial, we are going to:


We received the UX from our design team, but they still haven’t decided on the details yet. However, the content from our travel packages is already defined and we do not want to hold our marketers back from writing their content.

Install the demo project

To jumpstart our project, we will install our demo project. The easiest way to do this is to clone our git repository.

  1. Clone the Git repository.

    git clone git@bitbucket.org:magnolia-cms/basic-headless-demos.git
  2. Switch to the basic-headless-demos folder:

    cd basic-headless-demos

Install Magnolia

  1. Change directory to magnolia.

    cd magnolia
  2. Start magnolia installation.

    mgnl jumpstart
  3. Choose 2) magnolia-community-webapp:

    ? What Magnolia would you like to install?
      1) magnolia-empty-webapp
      2) magnolia-community-webapp
      3) magnolia-community-demo-webapp
      4) magnolia-dx-core-webapp
      5) magnolia-dx-core-demo-webapp
      Answer: 2

    Once the installation is finished, you will see an output similar to this on your console:

    info Magnolia has been successfully setup for light development!
    info You can now open a new terminal tab or window and start it up with the CLI command 'mgnl start'
    info Magnolia will be ready after a few seconds at localhost:8080/magnoliaAuthor. Username and password is superuser
  4. Now, pick up some handy configuration and sample images.

    From the magnolia directory, run:

    • Mac or Linux

    • Windows

    cp -rv ./_dev/content-to-bootstrap/* ./apache-tomcat/webapps/magnoliaAuthor/WEB-INF/bootstrap/common (1)
    xcopy .\_dev\content-to-bootstrap .\apache-tomcat\webapps\magnoliaAuthor\WEB-INF\bootstrap\common\ /E/H (1)
    1 This copies all files inside /magnolia/_dev/content-to-bootstrap into /magnolia/apache-tomcat/webapps/magnoliaAuthor/WEB-INF/bootstrap/common.
  5. Start Magnolia.

    mgnl start

    When the terminal shows Server startup in […​] milliseconds, Magnolia is up and running.

  6. Open http://localhost:8080.

  7. Click Run the Web update on the author instance.

  8. Login with:

    1. username: superuser

    2. password: superuser

      Help is here. Are you having any trouble with starting Magnolia? Ask for help on our Google group, and we’ll get you setup!

What are we going to build?

We are going to build a Travel Website SPA promoting travel packages. Marketers can add new navigation items. They can create new pages and arrange the content freely with pre-defined content blocks.

What is a Headless CMS?

When talking about Headless CMS, we are typically talking about something we call "Form-Centric or API first Approach".

You want to create a technology and layout agnostic way for marketers to create content, and for developers to consume the content and use in any way they want, and whatever tools they want.

What will we do next?
  • Create a Content Type

  • Create a Magnolia app

  • Define a REST API endpoint

Defining a Content Type


After talking to the design and marketing team, we know that our Travel Packages can have the following information: name - description - featured - image - tour types - location - date - duration - tour operator - body, some rich text to describe the travel package.

What we have just described is our Content Model. It’s the contract between developers and marketers to create their website.

With Magnolia CMS, we describe the model of content with something we call "Content Types". Implementing content types is very developer-friendly: just describe the type in a YAML file.

When creating YAML definition files, make sure the file extension is yaml, not yml.
  1. In our hello-magnolia-headless folder, we will go into contentTypes directory:

    cd ./basic-headless-demos/magnolia/light-modules/basic-tours-lm/contentTypes
  2. Create a file named tours.yaml with the following content (or just check that the file and the content is already there):


        workspace: tours
        autoCreate: true
          label: Name
          required: true
          i18n: true
          label: Description
          i18n: true
          type: Boolean #Types 'Decimal', 'Long' and 'Double' are also available.
          label: Feature this item
          type: asset
          label: Image
          label: Tour Types
          type: reference:category
          multiple: true
          label: Start City
          i18n: true
          label: Date
          type: Date
          type: Long
          label: Tour Duration
              value: 2
              label: 2 days
              value: 7
              label: 7 days
              value: 14
              label: 14 days
              value: 21
              label: 21 days
          label: Tour Operator
          i18n: true
          type: richText
          label: Body
          i18n: true
Magnolia will automatically pick up the new content type and will make it available on our running instance.
Check out Content types for more details.

Creating a Magnolia app

  1. Change to the basic-tours-lm/apps directory.

    cd ../apps
  2. Create a file named tours.yaml with the following content (or just check that the file and the content is already there):

    name: tours
    label: Tours
    # Optionally override any of the app configuration supplied by the content type.
        label: Tour Detail
              buttonLabel: Featured
To see your new Tours app, log out and log back in, and press the grid icon.

Installing content

We have prepared Demo Content to start with. To install the Demo Content, follow these steps:

  • Open the Tours app.

  • Click the Import action. (You might need to scroll down in the Action bar.)

  • Select the file ./magnolia/_dev/content-to-import/tours.magnolia-travels.xml.

Browsing the content

These steps were already enough to browse the content and to use the Form Editor.

Browsing installed content

What did we just do?

  • We modeled our content and created a Content Type.

  • We created the Tours App.

  • We installed some Demo Content.

  • We browsed through the Tours app and viewed the Demo Content.

Defining a REST API Endpoint

Defining REST API endpoints is as easy as creating the content type and app.

  1. Change to the basic-tours-lm/restEndpoints/delivery directory.

    cd ../restEndpoints/delivery
  2. Create a file named (you guessed it) tours.yaml with the following content:

    $type: jcrDeliveryEndpoint_v2
    workspace: tours
    depth: 10
    bypassWorkspaceAcls: true
    includeSystemProperties: true
      - mgnl:content
      - name: assetReference
        propertyName: image
          class: info.magnolia.rest.reference.dam.AssetReferenceResolverDefinition
            - 960x720
            - 480x360

    We are now ready to see our app in action.

Accessing our content

  • The limit query parameter. Endpoints typically limit results to 10 results by default.

  • The orderBy parameter. You can order on any property.

Browsing JSON output

Extra: Updating and adding new Tours

What did we just do?

  • We have installed a Headless CMS.

  • We have imported Demo Content.

  • We have changed existing and added new content.

  • Without any coding, we can see the JSON to build our website.

Extra: Build a client

We have seen how easy it is to get started. Let’s build our website to consume the data. We will build a very simple project.

Demo Project screenshot

Open the basic-headless-demos/frontend directory.

Write the client

Edit index.html and copy in the following code:

<!DOCTYPE html>
<html lang="en">
    <meta charset="utf-8" />
    <meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1, shrink-to-fit=no" />
    <link rel="stylesheet" href="https://stackpath.bootstrapcdn.com/bootstrap/4.3.1/css/bootstrap.min.css" integrity="sha384-ggOyR0iXCbMQv3Xipma34MD+dH/1fQ784/j6cY/iJTQUOhcWr7x9JvoRxT2MZw1T" crossorigin="anonymous"/>
    <title>Hello, world!</title>
    <div class="jumbotron">
      <h1 class="display-4">Magnolia Tours</h1>
      <p class="lead">List of all Tours</p>
    <div class="container">
      <div class="card-columns tours"><!-- placeholder for results --></div>
    <script src="https://cdnjs.cloudflare.com/ajax/libs/babel-polyfill/7.8.3/polyfill.min.js" crossorigin="anonymous"></script>
    <script src="https://code.jquery.com/jquery-3.4.1.min.js" integrity="sha256-CSXorXvZcTkaix6Yvo6HppcZGetbYMGWSFlBw8HfCJo=" crossorigin="anonymous"></script>
    <script src="https://cdnjs.cloudflare.com/ajax/libs/popper.js/1.14.7/umd/popper.min.js" integrity="sha384-UO2eT0CpHqdSJQ6hJty5KVphtPhzWj9WO1clHTMGa3JDZwrnQq4sF86dIHNDz0W1" crossorigin="anonymous"></script>
    <script src="https://stackpath.bootstrapcdn.com/bootstrap/4.3.1/js/bootstrap.min.js" integrity="sha384-JjSmVgyd0p3pXB1rRibZUAYoIIy6OrQ6VrjIEaFf/nJGzIxFDsf4x0xIM+B07jRM" crossorigin="anonymous"></script>
      (function($) {
        const ENDPOINT = "http://localhost:8080/magnoliaAuthor/.rest/delivery/tours/?limit=100&orderBy=mgnl:lastModified%20desc";
        const IMAGE_BASE = 'http://localhost:8080';

        $.get(ENDPOINT, function(data) {
                  <div class="card">
                    <img src="${IMAGE_BASE + item.image.renditions['480x360'].link}" class="card-img-top" alt="...">
                    <div class="card-body">
                      <h5 class="card-title">${item.name}</h5>
                      <p class="card-text">${item.description}</p>

Run the frontend

The frontend needs to be run on a web server. In your terminal, go to /basic-headless-demos/frontend and start a web server, then access your page in the browser.

For example, use the http-server npm package:

npm install http-server -g
Just opening the index.html file in a web browser, for example by double-clicking on it, will result in a CORS error.

Permissions for images

What? No images displaying? We need to allow anonymous access to the image URLs since we are running on the author instance.

  • Open the Security app, open the Roles tab, and edit the anonymous role.

  • Go to the Web access tab, click Add new and enter the path /.imaging* set to GET.

Image Access for Anonymous

Now refresh your client, et voila - images!


In the meantime, we have the design. Our marketers want to enhance the travel portfolio page. They want to be able to add promotional teaser on top of the page and a custom sidebar too. They want to be able to define freely what to add there and add new article pages. They want to have full control of the navigation.





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