Data source set up and data modeling


This page is only relevant if you are using an Edgehancer-based approach to connect to external data sources.

To connect your components to external data, first you need to specify where the data is coming from, how to connect to it, and how to query it.

On a high-level this involves the following steps in Canvas:

  1. Define data sources, which represent a data instance such as a CMS instance or API base URL, and store secure credentials.
  2. Define data types, which are a specific type of data contained in a data source such as a CMS content type or REST API resource.
  3. Create a data resource or a pattern to make a specific instance of a data type available to composition or pattern, such as a specific piece of CMS content or a product query result.
Connecting external sources to Uniform design system components requires you to use data types.

Here is a visualization of these steps using an example "Search" data type:

A data source defines the common settings needed to integrate with an instance of an API. Data sources are links to sets of data. Examples of data sources might include:

  • The development instance of your CMS using a specific API key
  • A publicly-available API such as, using an authorization header (resources in this API are data types)
  • Any composable system that offers an API is a candidate to connect to Uniform


Access credentials for APIs should only be configured in data sources where they're secure.

These credentials aren't exposed through any public API, SDK or CLI commands. They're only used internally by Uniform's Edge API to perform API calls to external services.

Data sources are based on data connectors that can provide bespoke and service-specific user interfaces and settings for managing data sources, data types, and data resources.

By default, Uniform provides two built-in data connectors:

  • JSON data provides arbitrary, static JSON data for prototyping or mocking APIs. Adding this data source will let you create data types for individual JSON document data sources. You will enter:
    • Name: Identifies the data source
    • Public ID: Uniform auto populates this field with the information you added in the "Name" field. You can change the information in this field, but only until the data source is saved. Once created, you can't change it.
  • HTTP requests bring in data from any publicly available API, such as REST or GraphQL APIs. These are a great way to add external APIs just by configuring some endpoints without having to create a custom integration. You will enter:
    • Base URL of the API
    • Query parameters
    • Headers

In addition, installed integrations can also add their own data connectors to a project. Integrations provide a simplified user experience for retrieving data from their target system. You can also build your own integrations.

Once you've configured your data sources, you can start defining which kinds of data you want to connect to by creating a data type. Data types represent a specific form of data that you want to retrieve from a data source, such as a specific product or the results of querying for a content type or product category. Behind the scenes, they extend the base URL from the data source with a specific resource path for the data type.


Any query strings or HTTP headers defined for the data source are automatically applied to its data types. If both define the same key, the data type will overwrite the data source.

To configure data types:

  1. Log into your project in Uniform and select Data types from the Content menu.
  2. Click the "Add data type" button. A dropdown list of available data sources is provided. The list will include any integrations that are in the project and support Edgehancers, and the built-in HTTP request or JSON data sources. If the project doesn't have any configured data sources yet, this is can be done by choosing the "Create new" option in the appropriate section.
  3. Depending on the chosen option the interface in the next step will differ:
    • JSON data: allows you to enter a static JSON string into the "JSON Data" input
    • HTTP request: define the specifics of the API call definition
      • Relative path of the API endpoint
      • Variables for dynamic queries
      • Query parameters
      • Headers


        If you have worked with API tools like Postman or Insomnia this kind of configuration should feel familiar.

    • Integration: shows integration-specific inputs for configuring which external resources to fetch from the external system.
  4. Give the data type a name and public ID.
    • Name: Identifies the data type.
    • Public ID: Uniform auto populates this field with the information you added in the "Name" field. You can change the information in this field, but only until the data type is saved. Once created, you can't change it.
  5. Review the Advanced Options (optional).
    • Allowed on Components: Whitelist of components on which the data type can be used. Defaults to all components if left empty.
    • Enable Edge Cache: Turn this off to disable caching of external data on the edge. It's enabled by default.
    • Edge Cache Time: How long (in seconds) the resource data should be cached at the edge before being updated. Default is 30 seconds.
    • Edge Cache Purging: Provides purge keys to invalidate the edge cache for this data type.
  6. Click Save to save and return to the Data types overview screen or click Test to check if the correct data is returned by the API call.
    Example of testing the API response of a data type

You can create custom variables for HTTP Request data types so authors can provide a static or dynamic input value for any data resource of that data type. For example, you can let an author specify a product ID to retrieve from product data resource, or to specify a category, keyword, and page number for a product list data resource.

These variables can be inserted in any part of the API query which includes API path, query parameters, and headers. To insert a variable you need to type $$ in the input field to open the "Insert variable" dropdown. Or, you can click on the Insert Variable button on the input field and select the desired variable from the list in the dropdown:

Example of inserting a custom variable in the path of an API endpoint.

To create a new variable click on the add variable button and fill out the name, help text, and default value in the "Add Variable" form. Once you click Ok the variable is added to the variable list and can be inserted in the desired location (see screenshot above).

Example of adding a custom variable to a data type.

Once a variable is defined it will show up as a text input on data resources that are instantiated from the data type.

Example custom variable on a data resource.