For my design, I want to have Drupal handle all security and presentation. My backend is an api that returns JSON. All I could find showed Drupal as "headless," where Drupal was the back end.

I am trying to avoid building too much into Drupal and being dependent on it.

Is using Drupal for the frontend and having separate API for the back end possible? It sounds like I have it backwards, but I do not to build everything in Drupal. I want to do all the Database and Business logic outside of Drupal.

Edit: This is for an Intranet where I hit many databases.

2 Answers 2


Drupal 7/8 can make use of Remote Entities which could be provided in a JSON format. But, what your describing seems needlessly complex. If you have a JSON based backend I would do something more simple like create the frontend using Javascript to talk to your backend, or maybe using a more generic php framework.

Attempting to use Drupal as a frontend and ignoring its data creation CRUD, Content Types and storage mechanisms -- sounds like big headache.

  • I really wanted it for its thememing and security. I guess that's a lot over overhead to just get those two things.
    – johnny
    Dec 17, 2015 at 19:06

It is technically possible. You could model the external data as "remote entities:" https://www.drupal.org/project/remote_entity

However I would not recommend pursuing that strategy. The reason there are more "headless" examples that show drupal as the backend is because Drupal's data modeling is much better than its theming system.

  • Don't I lose a lot though? How does security work in that context? I lose content types, articles, and so on (I thought).
    – johnny
    Dec 17, 2015 at 19:07

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