AEM Franklin / Helix / Composability: Pros and Cons

Krassimir BoyanovAEM FranklinLeave a Comment

What is AEM Franklin?

AEM Franklin, also known as Project Helix or Composability, is a new way to publish AEM pages using Google Drive or Microsoft Office via Sharepoint. Instead of components, Franklin uses “blocks” to build pages. Blocks are pieces of a document that will be transformed into web page content. There are boilerplate blocks that define commonly used page components such as: text, images, buttons, headers, footers, hero images, etc. These blocks allow users to generate new pages quickly and even create templates to reuse. 

AEM Franklin projects will be managed using the Helix Bot and the Sidekick, a Github app that publishes the content generated by authors. These pages can live alongside standard AEM pages, so users can use whichever tool is most appropriate for their current needs. 

What are the Pros?

The main selling point for AEM Franklin is that users will be using software they are already familiar with, like Microsoft Office products Word and Excel, or Google Drive applications Pages and Sheets. If users wish to create new templates and page designs, there is no additional specialized knowledge required like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. It is easy to publish this new content directly.

An additional benefit to AEM Franklin is that pages are extremely fast and well optimized with a Lighthouse score of 99 or 100. This can help when creating an initial product with a short delivery window. On the other hand, it’s possible to achieve these scores with a standard AEM page, even if it requires more forethought and implementing programming best practices. 

What are the cons?

While AEM Franklin has a lot of up-front advantages, many of them are easily matched by AEM standard functionality with proper training and code standards. Franklin is purely front-end, limiting the possibilities compared to traditional components, which can be augmented with the backend functionality. Additionally, customizing blocks still requires knowledge of HTML/CSS and JavaScript programming. While Franklin pages achieve high Lighthouse scores, according to some early reviews, the markup it generates can be messy with the excessive div tags usage. 

Franklin is outside of the AEM Assets (aka DAM) environment, forcing users to access the DAM to obtain assets or to have a separate storage solution. When editing pages and content in the DAM, it’s much easier to see how the content will appear once published. The Helix Bot can build a preview, but the blocks themselves don’t accurately represent the content during construction and editing. Google Docs and Microsoft Office/Sharepoint may also require additional licenses, and they also may have other limitations. For example, Google Docs downsizes images to a maximum of 1600 x 1600 px. Finally, Franklin is not yet fully integrated with Adobe Cloud, but Adobe does indicate that they plan for full integration in the future. 


During the initial setup of an AEM production environment, AEM Franklin gives the option for higher initial velocity, but over the long term doesn’t seem to have any broad advantages. The performance enhancements can be matched by following best practices with code. While using familiar software might make the onboarding of authors somewhat smoother, the AEM Assets and editing environments are already user-friendly and easy to train new authors on. The ultimate benefit seems to be using Franklin alongside AEM to quickly publish short-lived content like blogs, marketing microsites, and other deliverables with a short lifespan.

KBWEB Consult is a boutique technology consulting firm specializing in the implementation and delivery of AEC technologies, such as AEM Sites and AEM Assets. You can learn more about me and about KBWEB Consult on our About Us page.

Are you already taking advantage of KBWEB Consult’s services? If not, isn’t it time to see what we offer? Schedule a free, confidential 30-minute consultation to learn what KBWEB Consult can (and cannot) do for you. Perhaps we can suggest some ideas about how Adobe AEM Franklin can best work for your company’s needs and improve your company’s effectiveness.

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