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Native Data

Easy and extendable data-driven tools are the native difference.

Native data capabilities set ByteCMS apart. The simple ability to thoughtfully manage databases doesn't sound like much, but it's a foundational difference that lets us build custom integrations that make data sense into every website we build.

If we're imagining website pages and items on the page as the data system, the Wordpress way of seeing data, generally, we're missing a world of opportunities. There isn't only one interface a website, a web page view, say, there's actually multiple ways to understand the same data -- an internal search engine, an external search or RSS feed, a bucket on other pages, a landing page with lookahead links that show what's a page about, a mega-navigation menu, and another twenty interfaces parsed by humans and machines, Native data isn't emulating or trying to make database content fit into each view in a system, it is the system, and that gives the ability to dig deep into the data in every interface your visitors see and use.

Think of an internal site search system. We've come to think of Google as the gold standard for search, but there's more to search than just ten results and a headline plus context text for people to see. There should be an understanding of taxonomy:

  • where the page is in the system
  • what's nearby to it
  • what's parent or child to it
  • what category or tags is it within
  • what's related to it

There should also be an understanding about what’s relevant about a result, often considered ‘meta information’:

  • item or page images
  • item date and time, say, if it's an event
  • how much content or items are on a page
  • publish date
  • author

There's also specific information related to specific results or users, what was called a 'decision engine' and more recently 'knowledge graph', like:

  • if the search is a book, show meta info like the cover, author, publisher, date, etc
  • if the search is a movie, show related results like actors, producers, showtimes, etc.
  • if the visitor identifies themselves as a student, say, making resources for students more prominent in the results
  • if the visitor is logged in, showing them protected content in search results

But in-site searches for most CMSes are generally flat and not terribly relevant. ByteCMS has a natural link to data sources, both on-site and off, so making a more relevant internal search system is trivial once we get to know what the users needs are.

In-site search isn't the only substantial improvement that happens with native data, there are hundreds of minor features that are smarter, more relevant, more ADA compliant and more search engine friendly, and each site we create has interesting. More importantly, native data makes a site 'semantic', meaning that the layout and architecture follows the content itself, which means it'll be easier to understand and easier to manage in the future.

Connecting to offsite data sources, or importing offsite data sources, allows opportunities that go beyond the usual bounds of a website. Sometimes it's a convenience factor to use an offsite data system or source, like:

  • Offsite events for event registration and ticket purchasing
  • Offsite products for a commerce or donation system
  • Offsite knowledge bases or issues systems

And sometimes there's a distributed nature of data within an organization, like a library that has a separate system for their books and resources or an art museum that reads from an open-source system for their manuscripts. We built our CMS to thrive on external data and to find priorities and 'knowledge graph' answers within the data.

Most importantly, native data allows data to be data, and allows the collections of data to grow and not be wrapped into the content and presentation of the website. That means your data outlives the current version of a website, and that content managers know and trust that their hard work of importing and curating data will live beyond the current context.