Choosing the Best Headless DAM Vendor to Power Your Production Environment

headless DAM
May 11, 2022
Choosing the Best Headless DAM Vendor to Power Your Production Environment

While many think pieces have been written about the importance of headless DAM architecture, not all of them explain what headless DAM is, why you’d want it, and (most importantly) what you should look for in a headless DAM vendor.

This article is designed to fill in those gaps and give you the basics you’ll need to make an informed decision.

What is a headless DAM?

Headless DAM solutions let you easily connect your content to your CMS, PIM, and any other system in your tech ecosystem that needs access to your assets. 

In a typical DAM, you interact with the platform through a graphical user interface (GUI). In other words, you have a visual interface that must be developed by content creators. This interface is called the “head” of your DAM, while the backend is called “the body”.

In a headless DAM, you connect systems, platforms, and tools to your DAM through APIs. You can access every datapoint, every asset through APIs — no graphical user interface needed. 

That doesn’t mean you can’t interact with your DAM’s interface. It just means you don’t have to.

Why should you use a headless DAM? 

A headless DAM lets you perform actions and processes you would typically perform within the DAM, when you’re not. For instance, you can allow users to perform actions or upload content to a specific folder. You can even embed content on a website using API calls without having to manually download, upload, or transfer assets or content. 

In short, a headless DAM offers other platforms, systems, and applications two-way access to controlled content without wasting high-value resources on time-consuming manual tasks.

That’s because a library of APIs and webhooks automates and synchronizes your assets, sending them to the right people in the right place at the right time.   

What should you look for in a headless DAM? 

There are a few qualities to look for if you’re considering the best headless DAM vendor for you: 

Variety of APIs 

If a headless DAM is going to work for you, it has to offer as many robust, granular, and well-documented APIs as possible. 

A sign that you’ve found the right DAM is API-First development. API-First DAMs start enhancements by developing the API. This method results in a system that’s more flexible, stable, and built to support a headless DAM.

Robust APIs

Not all APIs are created equal. Some may have restrictive functionality or limited scope that make them less flexible, and therefore less useful. A good API offers developers clear documentation and room to effectively add to it where it’s needed. In addition, if you make updates, the API should have backwards compatibility, so if you update the API, it won’t break your current workflows.

Ask prospective DAM vendors if you can see documentation for the APIs ahead of time. If they aren’t willing to share their API documentation, give your vendor a set of user stories and ask them if they would be able to support those use cases.

Easy access

Different DAMs have different methods for granting API access. Some systems want to set the APIs up for you. Others may give you API access as an add-on. A few (including Orange Logic) share their complete API library, so authorized users are free to explore, test, navigate, and trigger APIs available through the DAM. 

When you’re developing headless DAM systems, you don’t want to run to your DAM vendor every time there’s a change. Find Digital Asset Management vendors that are open with their APIs and let you use them in a way that makes sense for your specific ecosystem and organization.