There were a couple sessions at Drupalcon 2015 about headless Drupal and the move from web pages to web applications.
The first session in this ilk that I attended was Decoupled Drupal: When, Why, and How. This was the introduction to setting up Services in Drupal especially in Drupal 8. The presenters showed, although there is not a standard “Drupal” way to build headless Drupal, they showed that using the RestfullWS module you can build a complete interface to Drupal using another front end. They are proposing that we standardize on a “Drupal” way to do this. One of the presenters went to the Angular conference last week where they were building amazing front ends or web apps, but they did not consider the back end. One of Drupal’s strengths is the administration of a CMS, things like reseting your password are tried and true, if you use Drupal int he backend these are done for you with little effort.
A similar presentation was Angular with Drupal 8, in this session it was presented the idea I presented before. We need to start thinking about building web apps, applications that run in a browser or on a device that gets content as needed from the back end, rather than this one system that builds the pages and presents HTML pages. Angular pages are a single web page that will get new content and present it to the user as requested. The present an interface that is much closer to the user, giving a better experience. It also means that you may not need as much from Drupal. Currently if you want to include a map in Drupal you install a module that interfaces with Google Maps to present a map. With Angular all you need to do is present the geo location (address) from Drupal and Angular can go to Google to get the map information. Drupal can be less dependent on modules, Angular gains by not having to invent an admin interface to your back end components. They presented a new concept API first design, when you create a Drupal site you first create a clean API that can be used by mobile apps, and other front end systems. Then if you need to you can develop a web interface as well. Angular is not the only front end tool in use. It is currently the hot new tool but there are other frameworks are good as well.
I think it would be wise for us to consider this in future development. We are already using Drupal’s services module to drive our app, so we are started in the correct direction.