What we are learning about building DxPs (FOSDEM 2023)
After two years of Covid and travel restrictions making large in-person events difficult to organize, FOSDEM returned to Brussels this year. For those who are unfamiliar, FOSDEM (which stands for Free and Open source Software Developers' European Meeting) is one of Europe's largest software development conferences, and it is unique in that it is completely free for attendees and is powered by the community. Thousands of people attend. This year's event alone has featured over 700 talks and workshops.
For us, it was an opportunity to share our knowledge and the lessons we'd discovered while attempting to create a "Open and evolvable Digital Experience Platform", as well as to join thousands of other attendees, volunteer, and connect with some of our friends in the software development community.
What is a Digital Experience Platform?
Probably the most known definition of a Digital Experience Platform DxP is the one developed by Gartner:
"An integrated set of technologies [...] that provides a broad range of audiences with consistent, secure, and personalised access to information and applications across many digital touchpoints."
Previously, DxPs were reserved for large corporations with deep pockets to invest in powerful (but also complex and costly) integrated platforms. The landscape has shifted dramatically in recent years, with DxP tools becoming more diverse and accessible to small and medium-sized businesses. There are now enough options on the market to suit every taste and budget, whether it's about managing content, deploying personalised experiences, or offering multi-channel commerce.
Why Open and Evolvable?
With the democratization of tools and platforms, and the promise of MACH architecture composability, comes the conundrum: how can you reap the benefits of composability while avoiding building the next expensive spaghetti architecture? And, more importantly, how can you do so in a way that ensures you will be able to extend your capabilities in the future (including those you cannot predict)?
We see this as "the" challenge that our clients face today, and we believe that streamlining and minimizing all non-value adding activities is a good first step (for example, connecting and orchestrating different tools and technical resources). This not only speeds up the delivery of solutions, but also increases the return on investment by allocating more funds to the user experience and less to the "plumbing work" required behind the scenes.
We discovered two ways to get closer to our "ideal world scenario," which we presented during our talk:
- The use of tools that reduce the amount of effort required to connect the various systems that comprise your DxP architecture. We've been using Uniform Mesh for a few months now, and it's proven to be an effective tool for going "from zero to composable" in the shortest amount of time.
- The development of a headless design system using tools such as Mitosis. Mitosis is an open source framework that allows you to create UI components that can be translated into first class components of major frameworks such as Vue, Svelte, and React Native, among others.
We presented how to take an existing website and add new capabilities using Mitosis and Uniform Mesh, what we learned, and where we want to continue our exploration in the talk.
If you'd like to know more, you can watch the recording of our talk, which is available online , or drop us a line!