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Entity Reference as a Component-based Site Builder

Track: Site Building | Skill level: Intermediate


Modern websites require the brand new understanding of what content is and how it is structured. Well-organized content architecture makes the website semantically transparent and the content management process simple and clear. Today by term “content” we don’t mean narrative content. Not anymore. That’s why things like Markdown or WYSIWYG are just not enough.

“We’re not designing pages, we’re designing systems of components.” — Stephen Hay

There are a plenty of proven concepts and modules which aimed to help us here: Display Suite, Panels, Panelizer and of course Paragraphs. But with Drupal 8 release we have a lot of opportunities right in core and our mission is to utilize them as much as possible to get the same functionality (or even more!).

In this session we will try to define a set of common problems when building rich websites with dynamic layouts and to design a solution for creating flexible content for such websites. We will try to use Drupal 8 core modules widely, and especially Entity Reference because of its flexibility and wide support in contrib modules. Finally we will go through a live demo of a complete sandbox website.

The following topics will be highlighted:

  • How to structure a page? In which independent components to split and how granularly?
  • How to re-use content throughout website? How to render the same content differently depending on context? How to just re-style without rendering differently?
  • How to nest components? How to aim flat nesting to get maximum performance?
  • How to organize templates?
  • How to refer to a specific revision of an entity?
  • How to translate a content with layout? How to translate a content partially?
  • How to build custom layouts right in admin UI? How to share layouts between components?
  • How to implement components with dynamic content? Like Views?
  • How to get a maximum benefit from a semantically structured content? How to get responsive design done automatically?

The following modules will be covered:

  • Entity Reference
  • Quick Edit
  • Contextual Links
  • Entity Construction Kit
  • Entity Translation
  • Entity Reference Revisions
  • Dynamic Entity Reference
  • Entity Browser
  • Inline Entity Form
  • Entity Reference Live Preview
  • Bricks
  • Display Modes (core)
  • View Field

In this session I want to share a real experience when designing a content architecture of large multi-lingual and multi-layout websites for enterprise and academics.

These very simple but extremely flexible techniques can be used for any entity type (not just Paragraphs!) and in almost any project. Re-understand your content today and create your own site buidling experience on top of Entity Reference from Drupal 8 core and its wide contrib ecosystem!


Slide URL

Keynote Speakers

Matt Glaman

Matt Glaman

(Saturday keynote)

Matt Glaman is a developer at Commerce Guys. He is an open source developer who has been working with Drupal since 2013. He is author of the Drupal 8 Development Cookbook, maintainer of, and lover of Irish Whiskey.

Twitter: @nmdmatt

Jeffrey A 'JAM' McGuire

Jeffrey A. "jam" McGuire

(Sunday keynote)

Jeffrey A. "jam" McGuire—Evangelist, Developer Relations at Acquia—is a memorable and charismatic communicator with a strong following at the intersection of open source software, business, and culture. He is a frequent keynote speaker at events around the world. He writes and talks about technology, community, and more on weekly podcasts and as a blogger on This all helps satisfy his inner diva, which he also feeds with performances as a storyteller and musician.

Twitter: @horncologne

Danese Cooper

Danese Cooper

(Sunday closing keynote)

Danese Cooper currently serves as chairperson of the Node.js Foundation. She also works in an open source role at PayPal. Previously she was Director of the Open Source Hardware Association and CTO of the Wikimedia Foundation. She had brief stint at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as a consulting open source strategist. She has been involved with open source since 1999.

Twitter: @divadanese

CxO Day Speakers

Sarah Wood OBE

Unruly Co-Founder (CEO)

Sarah Wood

David Axmark

Co-founder of MySQL

David Axmark

Ben Finn OBE

Co-Founder of Sibelius and CEO at Stealth Poker

Ben Finn

Barney Brown

Head of Digital at Cambridge University

Barney Brown

Professor Andre Spicer

Professor of Organisational Behaviour at Cass Business School City, University London

Andre Spicer

Paul Reeves

Reevo UN Limited

Paul Reeves



CxO Day

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