Skip to main content Accessibility Feedback

Static Site Generators and CMS's

I write a lot about my love of Static Site Generators.

They’re fast. Easier to theme. Easier to maintain. Less prone to vulnerabilities. More portable.

But they also require you to author your content in markdown. They don’t have a built-in CMS.

To me, that’s a feature, not a bug. But if you’re building a site for clients, the people who add content to that site or app often won’t be developers who know how to author a markdown file or push a commit to git.

I get a lot of questions about this. I wrote an article on it five years ago, but the ecosystem has changed a lot since then.

The short version: there are CMS’s for Static Site Generators.

They typically use an API to read markdown files from git and display them in a WYSIWYG editor. When you save changes, they push an update to git, which triggers an automated build process.

Today, I think the best options for this are…

  • Tina, formerly Forestry (which I used and loved). They provide self-hosting options, a free cloud-hosted version, and paid options with more features.
  • CloudCannon, which seems pricey but has an affordable tier for small agencies and soloists hidden a little bit further down on their pricing page.
  • Decap, formerly known as Netlify CMS. This one is self-hosted, but requires a backend for authentication. And because of its origins, it’s very Netlify oriented, with little documentation on how to use other platforms.
  • Static CMS, a fork of Decap that’s focused on the core experience over adding new features.

Of the three, my go-to choice for clients is Tina, but they’re all good options, in my opinion.