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Jul 14, 2016 | 3 Minute Read

Legacy.com Launched Using Headless Drupal by Axelerant

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Axelerant launched Legacy.com, a top 50 U.S. website, on a headless Drupal platform.

The website is purpose-built to offer a superior authoring workflow, editorial layout control, and multi-channel publishing of content across its global obituary network of over 1,400 branded site instances.

Headless Drupal will empower the right application build.

After more than a decade of building a broad range of applications to support their newspaper obituaries, editorial content, Guest Book screening operations, and search platforms, Legacy.com was looking to innovate on the front-end user experience. To achieve the goal, the company expanded its engineering team and built the Node and React application that will eventually manage the presentation of their full stack. The goal was simple: to support the portions of the site that needed content management, and to do so in a way that would allow expansion of RESTful content services as new sections rolled out.

“We needed a rock-solid system that leveraged the power of Drupal’s content administration with absolute control of page rendering. Pursuing a headless Drupal implementation with a web delivery platform heavily based on server-side JavaScript, Node.js and React was the way to go. Partnering with Axelerant got us live in the market very quickly.” - Mark Castrovinci, CTO, Legacy.com

If you've got plans for Drupal, the same team can help. 

To meet the particular needs of an enterprise-grade publishing platform and content management system—one that would integrate with a highly customized, lightweight Javascript-based front-end—a decoupled Drupal implementation was chosen for the Legacy.com platform. With Drupal still managing and rendering the layout or skeleton of the page architecture, the platform structure implemented was a progressive, decoupled architecture as discussed in Dries Buytaert’s recent DrupalCon Barcelona keynote.

“As our first decoupled implementation or headless Drupal, it was a tremendous opportunity for the team and a perfect use-case fit for Legacy.com to implement an integration at the forefront of web technology trends. The platform enables editors to manage and promote content faster with a front-end that integrates data across a diverse set of applications to create rich user experiences for their audience.” 

- Ankur Gupta, CEO at Axelerant.

At a high level, the Legacy.com system is based on Drupal 7 CMS, ReactJS, and Apache SOLR Search, and is hosted on Acquia Cloud. The front-end implementation was led by the in-house team at Legacy.com and Axelerant provided the necessary Drupal application to the team in a record 4-month delivery timeline. This work included site building and migration from MSSQL to Drupal 7 with further API development and performance testing.

Though Legacy.com is a decoupled system, the layout specification is still managed in Drupal. The team provided a specific endpoint, exposing layout and data, which lets the front-end manage the viewable page. The system utilizes the panels module, allowing administrators to modify the layout using the back-end that is built with components based on Drupal 7’s RESTful module. This system provides a clean, modern, object-oriented pattern for implementing services in an organized and testable manner. Legacy retains complete flexibility in managing widgets on pages that may come from their existing or future implementations.

After choosing a RESTful API, which is essential for a headless Drupal setup, the team faced several challenges—URL redirects, granular caching, metatags, panels integration, and more. These challenges were solved and scaled by architecting integrated solutions. One of these solutions became a contributed module that was brought forward to Drupal by the project’s Technical Architect.

“Together the implementation teams effectively addressed the unique requirements of Legacy.com, created a great solid foundation for the future and delivered it all on an extremely aggressive timeline.” - Mark Castrovinci, CTO, Legacy.com


Legacy.com is the global leader in online obituaries and a top 50 website in the United States serving 37 million visitors each month. Legacy.com collaborates with more than 1,500 newspapers and 3,500 funeral homes in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, U.K. and Europe to provide ways for consumers to express condolences and share remembrances of loved ones. Legacy.com partners benefit from its unparalleled scale that enables continuous innovation of its industry-leading obituary products and accompanying e-commerce engine. Legacy.com is headquartered in Evanston, Illinois.


Axelerant is a full-scale, agile-based powerhouse, fueled by a globally distributed team of open source innovators. By demonstrating software success with acclaimed projects and hundreds of open source community contributions, Axelerant has asserted itself as the global leader in Drupal development, support and maintenance, and dedicated staff augmentation. For more information, visit Axelerant's Drupal Services.

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About the Author
Abhi Goel, Axelerant Alumni
About the Author

Abhi Goel, Axelerant Alumni

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