Hello Magnolia - SPA


In this Tutorial we will learn how to use the Visual Single Page Application (SPA) Editor to build stunning websites with ReactJS and Angular.

Basic Form-based headless CMS systems are good for constrained and predefined content types. But to give marketers the ability to create articles, page structure or create their own custom landing pages or micro-sites, the Magnolia SPA Editor will accelerate your Marketer and free up your development capacity.

The Visual SPA Editor is bridging the gap between enterprise-level content management systems and SPA frontend development.

New to Headless CMS?

Checkout our Hello Magnolia Headless Tutorial to get started with some basics.

What are we going to build?

We are going to build a Travel Website SPA promoting travel packages.

In the previous tutorial we have built a basic Headless CMS Website. In this tutorial we will create an application, but enable the Marketer to visually change the SPA.

  • Marketers can add new navigation items
  • They can create new pages and arrange the content freely with a pre-defined list of Components.

Developers and Marketers creating cool stuff together


  • Magnolia CLI and required development tools. The instructions are here

Install the demo project

To jumpstart our Project we will install our demo Project. The easiest way to do this is to clone our git repository.

Create a directory named "hello-magnolia-headless" (if this directory is alredy existing you can reuse it):

cd hello-magnolia-headless

Clone the git repository:

git clone https://git.magnolia-cms.com/scm/demos/minimal-headless-spa-demos.git

Install Magnolia for the project

Switch to the cloned project:

cd minimal-headless-spa-demos
cd magnolia
mgnl jumpstart

Next, choose number 2 (magnolia-community-webapp)

? What Magnolia would you like to install?
1) magnolia-empty-webapp
2) magnolia-community-webapp
3) magnolia-community-demo-webapp
4) magnolia-dx-core-webapp
5) magnolia-dx-core-demo-webapp
Answer: 2

Once the installation is finished you will see an output similar to this on your console:

info Magnolia has been successfully setup for light development!
info You can now open a new terminal tab or window and start it up with the CLI command 'mgnl start'
info Magnolia will be ready after a few seconds at localhost:8080/magnoliaAuthor. Username and password is superuser

Before starting, get some handy configuration and sample images. From the magnolia directory, run:

cp -rv ./_dev/content-to-bootstrap/* ./apache-tomcat/webapps/magnoliaAuthor/WEB-INF/bootstrap/common
(It copies all files inside `/magnolia/_dev/content-to-bootstrap` into `/magnolia/apache-tomcat/webapps/magnoliaAuthor/WEB-INF/bootstrap/common`)

Start Magnolia

Open a new terminal window, and from within your minimal-headless-spa-demos/magnolia directory execute following command to start your Magnolia Headless CMS:

mgnl start
  • When the terminal shows Server startup in [...] milliseconds, magnolia is up and running
    • Open http://localhost:8080
    • Click 'Run the web update on the author instance'
    • Login with username:superuser and password:superuser

welcome screen

Help is here

Are you having any trouble with starting Magnolia? Just send us an email, and we'll get you setup!

Install the SPA

We include a React, Angular & Vue example, just choose which one you want to use.

In your terminal, go to the actual frontend app directory (for React, Angular or Vue). Install the dependencies either with npm or yarn, and do your first build.

cd ../spa/react-minimal
npm install
npm run deploy:mgnl

See It In Action

Let's have a look at the running demo containing the starter content before we are going to inspect the Starter Code. We have started Magnolia and built and deployed the project in the chapter before.

Install demo content

We have prepared Demo Content to start with. To install the Demo Content follow these steps:

  • Open the Pages App in your browser.
  • Click Import action (You might need to scroll down in the action bar.)
  • For React: Select the file ./magnolia/_dev/content-to-import/website.react-minimal.yaml
  • For Angular: Select the file ./magnolia/_dev/content-to-import/website.angular-minimal.yaml
  • For Vue: Select the file ./magnolia/_dev/content-to-import/website.vue-minimal.yaml

Terminal Create Content Type

Page Builder

In the Pages App, open the SPA Project by double clicking on react-minimal, angular-minimal or vue-minimal depending on which project you have installed.

Now you can see the React, Angular or Vue app rendered in the Magnolia Page Builder. Go-ahead and try to change the title or add an image.

Note: You are editing a SPA!

Page Builder

Inspect the Code

Let's have a look how our demo project is structured:

Component Mapping

The blue and green components are fixed components, the developer controls them and their position. The magenta components inside the Area Component are controlled and freely arranged (added, moved, deleted, etc.) by the marketer. The marketer uses the Page Editor to edit the SPA with components built and defined by the developer.

You can look at it as the developer putting 'handles' and 'knobs' on frontend components, so that marketers and content authors can move them around and tune them with custom content.

The green Page Component and Area Component are provided by Magnolia.

  • The Page Component is responsible for rendering the 'top' frontend component, and preparing the Magnolia Page Editor.
  • The Area Component is mapping the content created by the marketer , to the components defined by the developer, in order to render them. You can define multiple area components on the same Page Component, and a component can have one or more areas of its own.

Putting handles and knobs on components

Light Modules

You can share code and components in multiple light modules.

Shared Light Module: spa-lm

The Magnolia templates and dialogs are the same no matter the front-end framework, so the demo project puts all the shared content in the "spa-lm" module.

cd magnolia/light-modules/spa-lm

Template definitions register the component with the Magnolia system. They also point to the Dialog definition.

cd templates/components
  • headline.yaml
  • image.yaml
  • paragraph.yaml

Dialog definitions provision the form that Marketers will use to tune and enter content. They define the fields and the names of the properties to be persisted.

cd ../../dialogs/components
  • headline.yaml
  • image.yaml
  • paragraph.yaml

Application Light Module

The actual SPA will be deployed to a front-end framework specific module.

We have defined two Page Templates, which the marketer will be able to include in our SPA in the page builder. In the page template you can define Areas and which components which will be available in that area.

cd ../../../react-minimal-lm
cd templates/pages

Have a look at

  • basic.yaml
  • contact.yaml

Frontend App Structure

Open your project in


We have two categories of templates. Page and Components.

In our source directory we have two sub directories. Page (containing Layout Components) and Components.

  • Pages
    • Basic
    • Contact
  • Components
    • Navigation
    • Headline
    • Image
    • Text


The componentMappings in this file are what the Magnolia JS libraries use to determine which SPA component to instantiate, based on the templateID (for example: spa-lm:components/paragraph) which is received in the JSON from the Magnolia endpoint.

import Basic from "./pages/Basic";
import Contact from "./pages/Contact";
import Headline from "./components/Headline";
import Image from "./components/Image";
import Paragraph from "./components/Paragraph";
import Expander from "./components/Expander";
import List from "./components/List";
import Item from "./components/Item";
const config = {
componentMappings: {
"react-minimal-lm:pages/basic": Basic,
"react-minimal-lm:pages/contact": Contact,
"spa-lm:components/headline": Headline,
"spa-lm:components/image": Image,
"spa-lm:components/paragraph": Paragraph,
"spa-lm:components/expander": Expander,
"spa-lm:components/list": List,
"spa-lm:components/listItem": Item
export default config;

Frontend Components

Root Component / Bootstrap Component

The Root Component (App.js in React, root.component.ts / root.component.html in Angular, App.vue in Vue) is the main entry point of our app. it defines the page structure and routing.

Note the imports of the Magnolia JS lib: @magnolia/react-editor or @magnolia/angular-editor.

return (
<BrowserRouter basename={base} forceRefresh={true}>
<Navigation />
<div className="container">
<Route path="/" component={PageLoader} />
Integer posuere erat a ante venenatis dapibus posuere velit aliquet.
<br />
Copyright © 2020

From /helpers/PageLoader.js

import { EditablePage } from "@magnolia/react-editor";

Page Component

The Page Component is defining the layout and the placement of the Area components. Let's have a look at the Basic Page. The EditableArea is defining which conntent should be displayed. In our case we have defined main and extras in our page template.

import React from 'react';
import { EditableArea } from '@magnolia/react-editor';
const Basic = props => {
const { main, extras, title } = props;
return (
<div className="Basic">
<div className="hint">[Basic Page]</div>
<h1>{title || props.metadata['@name']}</h1>
<div className="hint">[Main Area]</div>
{main && <EditableArea className="Area" content={main} />}
<div className="Extras" >
<div className="hint">[Sercondary Area]</div>
{extras && <EditableArea className="Area" content={extras} />}
export default Basic;

Component Components 🤔

We learned earlier that the Magnolia SPA editor framework is helping to map the content structure created in Magnolia to frontend components. Let's have a look at the Headline Component as an example.


import React from 'react';
const Headline = props => <h2 className="Headline">{props.text}</h2>;
export default Headline;

You can see how the fields defined in the dialog is passed through to the component, directly as props!

Build a Component

In the "Headless CMS" tutorial we have created a headless app to show tour packages. Using the Visual SPA Editor and the basic Form-Centric approach is not mutually exclusive. On the contrary, both approaches complement each other.

What are we going to build?

We will build a Tour List Component. Our Marketers will be able to choose and add the component anywhere they want.

  • Create a new component using light modules.
  • Create a dialog for Marketers to add a headline.

Create Tour List Component

Let's create a new Component in Magnolia CMS first. Go to:

cd magnolia/light-modules/spa-lm/templates/components
touch tourList.yaml

Edit the component file tourList.yaml and paste in:

title: Tour List
dialog: spa-lm:components/tourList


Next we will define a simple dialog for our Marketers.

cd ../../dialogs/components
touch tourList.yaml

Edit the dialog file tourList.yaml and paste in:

label: Tour List
label: Tour List Headline
$type: textField
i18n: true

Make the Component available

Next we want to define where the component can be used. We will add our tourList Component to the available components of our Basic Page

cd ../../../react-minimal-lm/templates/pages

Edit the file basic.yaml and add following text to the availableComponents from the main Area:

id: spa-lm:components/tourList

The full file will look like this:

title: "React: Basic"
templateScript: /react-minimal-lm/webresources/build/index.html
dialog: spa-lm:pages/basic
renderType: spa
class: info.magnolia.rendering.spa.renderer.SpaRenderableDefinition
# jsPaths:
# - http://localhost:3000/static/js/bundle.js
# - http://localhost:3000/static/js/0.chunk.js
# - http://localhost:3000/static/js/1.chunk.js
# - http://localhost:3000/static/js/main.chunk.js
title: Main Area
id: spa-lm:components/headline
id: spa-lm:components/image
id: spa-lm:components/paragraph
id: spa-lm:components/expander
id: spa-lm:components/list
id: spa-lm:components/tourList
title: Extras Area
id: spa-lm:components/headline
id: spa-lm:components/paragraph
id: spa-lm:components/list

Now we can already select the component in the Page Editor.

Open the Pages App and add your component.

New Component in Action

But of course before we can see anything displayed, we have to implement the frontend component.

The Frontend Component

Our new component is now provisioned in Magnolia, and an instance of it is saved to the content repository. First, we want the component to display the Header entered by the Marketer. Once this is running and we have seen how to add and edit the component in the SPA Editor, we will extend the component to read and display our Tour List data.

Now, let's build out our component in React, Angular or Vue.

Switch to our React SPA directory:

cd ../../../../../spa/react-minimal

Go to the components directory:

cd src/components

Create a new file for our component:

touch TourList.js

Edit the Component:

import React from "react";
export default ({ headline }) => (
<div className="tourlist">

We will just print the headline surrounded by a div.

Next, open the Magnolia Config file to add our component to the mapping.


Import the new component:

import TourList from "./components/TourList";

Add to mapping:

'spa-lm:components/tourList': TourList

The full file looks like this:

import Basic from "./pages/Basic";
import Contact from "./pages/Contact";
import Headline from "./components/Headline";
import Image from "./components/Image";
import Paragraph from "./components/Paragraph";
import Expander from "./components/Expander";
import List from "./components/List";
import Item from "./components/Item";
import TourList from "./components/TourList";
const config = {
componentMappings: {
"react-minimal-lm:pages/basic": Basic,
"react-minimal-lm:pages/contact": Contact,
"spa-lm:components/headline": Headline,
"spa-lm:components/image": Image,
"spa-lm:components/paragraph": Paragraph,
"spa-lm:components/expander": Expander,
"spa-lm:components/list": List,
"spa-lm:components/listItem": Item,
"spa-lm:components/tourList": TourList
export default config;

Build the SPA (in the /spa/react-minimal directory.)

npm run deploy:mgnl

Try your Component

Now that you implemented your component and re-built (and deployed) your SPA, open up the Page Editor again and view your page.

Your component is displayed.

Nice work!

You've just gone through the complete cycle of building a component (with handles and knobs on it) that a marketer can place in a visual SPA Editor.

Next, keep going with your new component. Bring in the tour listing logic you implemented in the 'Hello Magnolia - Headless' section into your new component.

Displaying List of Tours

Our Component is up and running. Next we want to:

  • Upload some Demo Content
  • Define the REST API endpoint
  • Extend our Frontend Component to display the list of tours
Add Tours Content Type

In the folder spa-lm switch to contentTypes directory:

cd ./contentTypes

Create a file named tours.yamland copy following content into it:

workspace: tours
autoCreate: true
label: Name
required: true
i18n: true
label: Description
i18n: true
type: Boolean #Types 'Decimal', 'Long' and 'Double' are also available.
label: Feature this item
type: asset
label: Image
label: Tour Types
label: Start City
i18n: true
label: Date
type: Date
type: Long
label: Tour Duration
value: 2
label: 2 days
value: 7
label: 7 days
value: 14
label: 14 days
value: 21
label: 21 days
label: Tour Operator
i18n: true
type: richText
label: Body
i18n: true

Create a Magnolia App

Change to the spa-lm/apps directory.

cd ../apps

Create a file named tours.yaml with following content:

name: tours
label: Tours
# Optionally override any of the app configuration supplied by the content type.
label: Detail Tour
buttonLabel: "Featured"
$type: jcrMultiValueField
type: String
$type: currentItemProvider
$type: linkField
appName: categories

To see your new Tours app, log out and log back in, and press the grid icon.

Install content

We have prepared Demo Content to start with. To install the Demo Content follow these steps:

  • Open Tours app
  • Click Import action (You might need to scroll down in the action bar.)
  • Select the file ./magnolia/_dev/content-to-import/tours.magnolia-travels.xml

Terminal Create Content Type

Add Tours REST API Endpoint

In the folder spa-lm switch to restEndpoints/delivery directory:

cd ./restEndpoints/delivery

Create a file named tours.yamland copy following content into it:

class: info.magnolia.rest.delivery.jcr.v2.JcrDeliveryEndpointDefinition
workspace: tours
depth: 10
bypassWorkspaceAcls: true
includeSystemProperties: true
- mgnl:content
- name: assetReference
propertyName: image
class: info.magnolia.rest.reference.dam.AssetReferenceResolverDefinition
- 960x720
- 480x360

This creates our new REST endpoint. Give it a try:

Finish the Frontend Component

Finally, we can extend our TourList Component to fetch and display the imported data.

Tourlist Preview

Add some more styling

In /spa/react-minimal/src/components create a file TourList.css in the same directory as TourList.js and copy in this stylesheet:

.tour-list .tour-list-cards {
display: flex;
flex-wrap: wrap;
justify-content: center;
.tour-list .tour-list-cards .card {
max-width: 150px;
margin-right: 15px;
margin-bottom: 15px;
-webkit-box-shadow: 10px 10px 28px -4px rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.53);
-moz-box-shadow: 10px 10px 28px -4px rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.53);
box-shadow: 10px 10px 28px -4px rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.53);
transition: transform 0.4s ease-in-out;
cursor: pointer;
.tour-list .tour-list-cards .card .card-img-top {
width: 150px;
.tour-list .tour-list-cards .card .card-body {
padding: 5px;
.tour-list .tour-list-cards .card .card-body .card-text {
margin: 5px;
opacity: 0.8;
font-size: 10px;
font-weight: 200;
transition: opacity 0.8s ease-in;
.tour-list .tour-list-cards .card .card-body .card-title {
margin: 0;
font-weight: 200;
.tour-list .tour-list-cards .card:hover {
transform: scale3d(1.5, 1.5, 1.5);
transform-origin: center;
background-color: #ffffff;
.tour-list .tour-list-cards .card:hover .card-body .card-text {
opacity: 1;
.tour-list .tour-list-cards .card:hover .card-body .card-title {
color: #00b39b;

Open your TourList.js file, and replace the code with this:

import React, { useState, useEffect } from "react";
import "./TourList.css";
const IMAGE_BASE = "http://localhost:8080";
export default ({ headline }) => {
const [tours, setTours] = useState([]);
useEffect(() => {
async function fetchTourList() {
let response = await fetch(API_ENDPOINT);
let data = await response.json();
}, []);
return (
<div className="tour-list">
{tours.length > 0 ? (
<div className="tour-list-cards">
{tours.map(tour => (
<div class="card">
src={IMAGE_BASE + tour.image.renditions["480x360"].link}
<div class="card-body">
<h5 class="card-title">{tour.name}</h5>
<p class="card-text">{tour.description}</p>
) : (
<h2>No Tours found</h2>

Build the SPA (in the /spa/react-minimal directory.)

npm run deploy:mgnl

You have upgraded your component and re-built (and deployed) your SPA. Now open up the Page Editor again and view your page.

You will see the new tour list.

Next Steps


You've fully upgraded a simple headless SPA into one marketers can fully manage, including placing a sophisticated listing component.

Next, take a well earned break. :)

Then, after this nitty-gritty hands-on practical work, learn more about the Visual SPA Editor & frontend libraries

Or get big-picture theoretical with the topics in the 'Concepts' section.