Beyond SaaS: What is Zesty.io Web Engine?

WebEngine represents one step beyond your basic headless CMS and brings the benefits of a PaaS into Zesty.io’s DXP offering.

Beyond SaaS: What is Zesty.io Web Engine?

Randy Apuzzo 08.25.2021

While headless CMSs can provide plenty of performance gains to companies willing to future-proof and disrupt themselves, most pure headless CMSs struggle to deliver a solid content preview environment, which results in issues or a poor fit between what the developer intended and what the end-user gets. 

WebEngine was born to solve that need. It represents one step beyond your basic headless CMS and brings the benefits of a PaaS into Zesty.io’s hybrid headless offering. In this article, we talk about WebEngine and talk about how it is the best of both the SaaS and the PaaS worlds. 

What is WebEngine?

WebEngine is Zesty.io’s tool that builds, renders, and delivers webpages at 99.99% uptime in addition to providing all of the benefits of a headless CMS. Our unique hybrid approach handles the complete content delivery process from database to destination.

WebEngine comes integrated with every Zesty.io instance to render views for any page or page group created in Zesty.io. We handle everything on the backend to serve web pages optimized for search engines that load extremely fast. The best thing about WebEngine is that you don’t have to worry about the infrastructure as you would with other PaaS-based CMSs.

WebEngine has three options for rendering output to work with different data access styles, which are called modes. Modes give teams the flexibility to work in the style of their implementation target. Mode changes the output behavior of WebEngine, from only serving JSON structured content to rendering full HTML pages. Let’s see what each mode can do:

  • Traditional Mode: Auto-generates HTML documents that can be exposed via GraphQL and REST APIs or not. The automatic mode also automates SEO, for easier building of digital experiences.

  • Headless Mode: This is a great mode for teams whose developers work outside of Zesty.io. The headless mode enables devs to build digital experiences using frontend frameworks and libraries such as NextJS, NuxtJS, or Angular. 

  • Hybrid Mode: Hybrid is the best of both worlds. Pages still render HTML at their routes, but they can also render JSON with a simple get parameter and leverage JavaScript frameworks. 

Read More: WebEngine Modes

PaaS vs SaaS CMS

In a world where developers are constantly looking for new technologies to solve their challenges, there is an ongoing debate about which type of cloud-based content management system (CMS) will provide the most benefits. 

Zesty.io’s WebEngine combines elements of both PaaS and SaaS platforms to provide users with greater control and flexibility on how to build, host, and deploy digital experiences. With WebEngine you can instantly deploy anything, JSON, HTML, JavaScript or mix and match languages to build pages using Zesty.io. 

The first thing to understand is that both of these options are fully hosted but in a different way. With a SaaS CMS, all data and software are stored on remote servers while with PaaS CMS you choose where to host your data. Some people say that SaaS CMS offers the best flexibility and scalability while others argue that PaaS CMS provides more control over performance and customization.

Take a look at this comparison table to understand more the similarities and differences of these two software models and how Zesty takes the best of both worlds to build a solid platform.

PaaS SaaS
What does it offer?
  • Wide variety of services that can be used to develop, design, test, and deploy new applications.

  • Hosting and storage space.

  • Support for multiple users.

  • Integrated databases and web services.

  • Monthly subscriptions, 

  • Hosted applications

  • Maintenance, security, and updates are provided as part of your subscription.

  • Users are not required to pay for future updates.

Benefits
  • Enables you to work with third-party hosting services.

  • Perfect for large companies with specific requirements.

  • Doesn’t require infrastructure deployment or maintenance.

  • Requires minimal input from users.

Limitations
  • Limited customizability
  • Could cause vendor lock-in

One of the main advantages of Zesty.io’s WebEngine vs other headless CMS is that most headless CMSs need third-party tools to deploy and preview their digital experiences. With WebEngine you don’t need to use static site generators like Gatsby or Hugo or deploy using Netlify or Next.js. 

Plus, with Zesty.io you to simplify the development pipeline. However, if you’re used to working with these tools, you can use WebEngine’s full headless mode, but if you want to simplify things you can use WebEngine and get the same results. 

Benefits of WebEngine 

Simpler Experience for Developers 

While other headless CMSs allegedly make things simpler for developers, it's often not the case as developers need to choose, build, and maintain extensive toolchains with at least three different types of tech, all interdependent. Plus, if you're using Gatsby, for example, and you take a closer look at the code, you'll see that Gatsby has a long list of dependencies that you have to maintain. Therefore, if you're building something on Gatsby, you'll have to keep iterating to keep your website or app working. With WebEngine, on the other hand, you don't need anything other than Zesty to build your digital experiences, which simplifies work for developers and reduces the amount of code that they have to maintain. 

Better Performance 

The truth is that sites built using WebEngine need to be refined and reiterated to perform well. While that sounds relatively normal, the issue is that all that work falls on the developer, making performance a subjective term closely related to the developer's skill. Similarly, sites built using a headless CMS aren't great at SEO, and they need to be engineered to be SEO-friendly. With WebEngine, you get solid performance right off the bat. Websites built using WebEngine start with 90+ scores on Google PageInsights, and these results are possible for even the less tech-savvy content editors. That way sites built using Zesty start great, and you only need to refine them rather than having to build performance from scratch. 

Better Security

While static sites are often much more secure than their dynamic counterparts, they're still vulnerable to cross-site scripting attacks, among other things. WebEngine helps mitigate security risks because they come with a web application firewall built in front of it. Many CMSs, on the other hand, don't give you any security out of the box and requires that developers build it, and the sad truth is that many developers skimp on it. As a result of these bad practices, sites built using a headless CMS can be significantly less secure than those built using WebEngine because the latter has all the security built-in in both the staging environment and the actual, client-facing website. 

Lower Costs

When pure headless CMS vendors talk about their sites being cheaper than their counterparts, they're talking about small sites where security and code reviews aren't a big issue. For bigger organizations that need multi-site deployments and specific compliance requirements, traditional headless CMSs will end up eating a significant portion of your budget. WebEngine, on the other hand, enables you to predict costs and saves you money on hosting and deployment environments while offering you more out of the box. 

Greater Scalability

Scalability is one of the main things pure headless CMS vendors proponents tout when waxing poetic about how cool of an architecture it is. However, scalability isn't exclusive to sites built on a pure headless CMS. WebEngine enables sites to scale as much as pure headless-built digital experiences because WebEngine has its own CDN, enabling multi-tenant, multi-site content authoring environments.

Experience a Headless Content Management System, Join Zesty.io.


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Randy Apuzzo photo

Randy Apuzzo

Founder & CTO, Zesty.io

Randy has had a penchant for computer programming from an early age and started applying his skills to build business software in 2004. Randy's stack of skills range from programming, system architecture, business know-how, to typographic design; which lends to a truly customer-centric and business effective software design. He leads... Learn More

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