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Yuriy Sountsov
Yuriy Sountsov

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Faster Content Modeling with Kimmel

Content modeling in Kontent

Kontent is a headless CMS platform that allows enterprises to reach more customers, unify content across the business, and structure content for future content needs, all in one place. As a headless CMS, all content delivery is API-driven, so the same content can show up on any device or channel. ๐Ÿง 

What about content modeling? Modeling in Kontent is an art that has a dedicated space in the Kontent documentation. A successful content model can bring a project faster to release, make it easier to maintain, and satisfy future content needs beyond the initial requirements. Content models come in myriad forms, but largely involve content types, content type snippets, and content type elements. ๐Ÿงฉ

Why does content modeling need to be faster?

The modern world is all about prototyping, iteration, and automation. Faster development, faster campaigns, faster release cycles, faster time to market. There are build and deployment pipelines, and AI-driven personalization algorithms. The faster you create your content model, the sooner downstream components can do their thing, thus making your colleagues happier and other teams in the company busier sooner. โšก

With faster content modeling, all stakeholders can feel more empowered to contribute their insights and ideas, because they know that the effort-to-reward ratio is elevated with a faster process. It also means that mistakes are less significant, and any issues in the content model can be resolved with less time lost. ๐Ÿ’ฏ

Kimmel interface

What is Kimmel?

Kimmel is an app where you can use Kontent Model Language (KML) to quickly scaffold content types. Kimmel contains three parts: writing, parsing, and deploying. Writing is done in the browser just like Kontent. Parsing is done on a server and deploying is how you move the model into Kontent so you can start working with content based on the model. โŒจ

How Kimmel helps you, the marketer

At the very start of the project, all stakeholders need to be involved in the content model. As a marketer, you can use Kimmel to quickly iterate some of your ideas on what the types should be and how they should relate. In Kimmel, you can quickly glance over everything described for the project so you can spot anything that is missing or unclear. Since KML is text-based, you can easily send it via email or chat to colleagues for review, or collaborate over a call. ๐ŸŽ‰

How Kimmel helps you, the developer

When it comes to development, having a strong content model helps the applications using it be simpler and easier to read. Quickly iterating a content model in Kimmel accelerates the time it takes to reach the application architecture step and reduces the time until deliverables are ready for review. Seeing the types and their relationships can also give you a preview of what UI components to create or what backend services will be needed. If there is a need for custom elements, then you will be able to allocate time to make those or import them from the Custom element sample gallery. ๐Ÿ“ฆ

Content modeling in Kimmel

Content modeling in Kimmel

Writing KML

KML as a markup language is a shorthand for many of the same actions you can take in the Kontent interface when making content models. Its syntax is a of cross between YAML and TypeScript, but simplified for content modeling. First you describe a type like this:

Type My type
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Then, on each new line under this first one you describe the elements, which are called properties in KML:

Type My type
  Date[] A date
  Text[] The title
  MultipleChoice[Awesome,Only amazing] How cool this is
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Each property almost one-to-one corresponds to a Kontent element:

  • One major difference is that the multiple choice element is broken into two properties: SingleChoice and MultipleChoice to represent radio options and checkboxes, respectively.
  • Linked types are referenced by name:
  Type My type
    Date[] A date
    Text[] The title
    MultipleChoice[Awesome,Only amazing] How cool this is
    Type2[] A linked type

  Type2 My linked type
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  • Snippets use a special prefix:
  Type My type
    Date[] A date
    Text[] The title
    MultipleChoice[Awesome,Only amazing] How cool this is
    Type2[] A linked type
    ...SnippetType

  Type2 My linked type

  SnippetType My snippet type
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  • Url slugs and other supporting elements are not supported yet.

Properties can have options:

Type My type
  Date[*] A date
  Type2[1-3] A linked type

Type2 My linked type
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The * means that the property is required, and 1-3 means that there is a minimum of 1 and a maximum of 3 items allowed in that property. ๐Ÿง 

Options can have details:

Type My type
  Text[words(60)] The title
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Writing words(60) means that property can have a maximum of 60 words. Different properties have their own options and details.

Using the Kimmel text editor, it is easy to write new properties and move them around between types. By clicking on a name, you can also see where else it shows up, all on one screen. ๐Ÿ’ป

Parsing KML

Once you have some KML written, Kimmel automatically parses it and shows you a structure of what you wrote (in our favorite format, JSON). If there are no syntax issues, you can expand and collapse types to see their values and relationships. This is a preview of how the types will look once they are in Kontent and ready for content. ๐Ÿƒโ€โ™€๏ธ

Kimmel includes a toggle called Strict which switches parsing between Strict mode and Loose mode. Strict mode produces an error if there is any issue with the structure that the KML represents: an undescribed linked type, a snippet inside a snippet, et cetera. Loose mode tries to fix some types of issues, and can be useful when you're quickly jotting down KML and wish to see the parsed result. ๐Ÿงช

Deploying KML

The last step is deploying to Kontent. By clicking Deploy to Kontent and providing a Management API key, all of the KML is added to the key's project as new types. Once the model is deployed, you can start making content based on the model! ๐ŸŽข

Building in progress

Photo by ่ด่Ž‰ๅ„ฟ DANIST on Unsplash

Modeling common scenarios with Kimmel

Blog

A blog is a common content channel that easily decomposes to a complex content model. At the very top, you might have a name, featured posts, and information on social profiles:

Blog Blog
  Text[characters(60),*] Name
  Post[1+] Featured posts
  Social[1+] Social profiles

Social
  Text[*] URL
  Asset[images] Icon
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The name is required and limited to 60 characters. We do not want long blog names! There is always at least one (read as "one plus") featured post, and the same for social profiles. ๐Ÿ“ฑ

Posts have some useful properties, like a title, teaser, authors, a header image, categories, and, of course, the body:

Post Blog post
  Text[characters(80),*] Title
  Text[*] Teaser
  Person[1+,*] Authors
  CreditedImage[1,*] Header
  Category[1+] Category
  RichText[p,b,i,a,ul,images,h2,*] Body
    Product

CreditedImage
  Asset[images,*] Header
  Person[1+,*] Authors

Category
  Text[words(3)] Name
  MultipleChoice[Highlight] Options
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The header image is more than just an asset: it also includes information about the authors or photographers of the image. The body allows a few common styles, images, and one component, product. This represents a callout of an external product that the authors reference in their copy. ๐ŸŽ

The last two types represent a person and a product. Both of them can have a single photo asset and descriptions with limited styles:

Person
  Text[words(3),*] Name
  Text[] URL
  Asset[1,images] Photo
  SingleChoice[Contributor,Associate,Owner] Position
  RichText[p,a,words(30)] Short biography
  RichText[p,a,words(60)] Biography
  Social[] Social profiles

Product
  Text[*] Name
  Number[*] Price
  Number[*] Discount
  Text[*] Store name
  Asset[1,images,*] Photo
  RichText[p,a,words(60)] Description
  Text[*] URL
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Only the person's name is required; everything else is optional! Contrast that with product, where only the description is optional. โš–

With these types, you can create rich blog content with room for expansion down the line: more components in the posts' rich text, or wider restrictions for different copy. ๐ŸŽ‰

Billboard

Kimmel, like Kontent, is not limited to web content models. A billboard, or a non-web screen, is a good example of a channel outside of websites. Billboards typically have rotating ads with transitions between each one. At the top is the billboard itself:

Billboard Billboard
  Ad[1+,*] Ads
  Transition[1] Default transition
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There is no name or other external information because the billboard is presented without a user context: it could be by a highway, at a bus station, or in a shopping mall, so only the ads are presented. Ads and transitions represent just enough content for an editor or an integration to compose a billboard experience:

Ad
  Asset[images,1,*] Content
  Number[*] Duration in seconds
  SingleChoice[Preferred,High,Medium,Low,Filler,*] Priority
  Transition[1] Custom transition

Transition
  Text[words(5),*] Name
  RichText[p,b,i,a] Description
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You may have an integration to expose the model to a reseller using a custom presentation where they can configure their ads any way they want. This means that transitions need a name to distinguish them, but a description is optional. ๐Ÿท

Todo list

Lastly, we can consider a classic content model example: a todo list. A todo list is structured into projects and each project has any number of todo items in a hierarchy:

TodoList Todo list
  Project[1+,*] Projects

Project
  Text[*] Name
  RichText[p,a,b,i] Notes
  TodoItem[] Todo items
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There are no restrictions on the number of todo items in a project. Each todo item has reminders and todo tasks:

TodoItem Todo item
  RichText[p,a,b,i,*] Content
  Date[] Due date
  Text[] Comment
  Reminder[] Reminders
  SingleChoice[Not started,In progress,Completed] Status
  SingleChoice[Red,Blue,Green,Orange,Yellow,Purple] Label
  TodoItem[] Todo items
  TodoTask[] Tasks

Reminder
  SingleChoice[Email,Text message,App] Type
MultipleChoice[Monday,Tuesday,Wednesday,Thursday,Friday,Saturday,Sunday,*] Days
  Date[*] Time
  SingleChoice[Once,Weekly,*] Frequency
  Number[] Maximum times

TodoTask
  RichText[p,a,b,i,*] Content
  MultipleChoice[Highlight,Optional] Options
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Since todo items can link to other todo items, this model contains "closed chains", which are measured in the stats of KML:

  1. TodoItem>TodoItem
  2. Project>TodoItem>TodoItem
  3. TodoList>Project>TodoItem>TodoItem

Faster and faster

Kimmel promises to accelerate content modeling, simplify the content pipeline, and improve analytics on your content model. This ensures a strong foundation for the rest of the project, so that both marketers and developers can benefit and future changes can be prototyped. ๐Ÿš…

Let me know down below if you have any questions or would like to start a discussion!

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