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Headless CMS comparison from JAMStack perspective (Gatsby)

Naga Chaitanya Konada
I am a frontend developer best known for developing highly performing web applications using most modern technical solutions which proved to stand the test of time. My best work is in ReactJS, NodeJS.
・2 min read

What are JAMStack projects

JAMStack has been popularised by teams like Netlify who along with many static site generator frameworks like Gatsby are making the process of hosting sites way better than before. If you are anyone like me, you must have utilised Gatsby and Netlify and one of the headless CMS tools out there already. No?

Checkout JAMStack.org site to know more about JAM stack and its advantages over traditional stacks.

What are Headless CMS tools

These are CMS tools where content is decoupled from their respective templates, thus avoiding the tight dependency of frontend projects on these CMS tools. If these are used, front-end developer can easily get the content and plug it in wherever required for the application they are making.

These CMS tools will expose an API layer that gets consumed by the front-end setup, as a traditional REST api or a GraphQL api.

Static Site Generators, will consume this API and generate static HTML pages that can be hosted easily without an actual server -- the whole point of JAMStack.

Checkout the HeadlessCMS.org site for a quick look at the plethora of these kind of CMS solutions out there, sorted by their popularity.

Also checkout StaticGen.com which has a similar listing for Static Site Generator tools out there, sorted by their popularity.

What is the comparison then

Recently, I went through a bunch of these CMS solutions against the Gatsby framework, mainly understanding how well and easy, we can integrate them with an existing Gatsby setup, how easily we can migrate content to these CMS tools and how easily we can maintain these.

Here is a full list of comparisons I did ⬇️

Feature Netlify CMS Contentful Strapi CMS Tina CMS
Gatsby integration Yes Yes Yes Yes
Cloud based No Yes No No
Separate repo No No Yes No
Authentication GitHub/GitLab/BitBucket GitHub/Google/Twitter Email based/random UID Anyone with access to the repo
Static files Yes No No Yes
Same repo Yes No No Yes
Multi-media Repo-based Cloud-based Independent Repo-based
Integration changes Low Low Low Medium
Incremental builds Yes, possible No, full build required No, full build required Yes, possible
CMS UI Separate Separate Separate Integrated
CMS Component support No No Yes No
Content Types Yes Yes Yes No
File formats Markdown, Yaml, JSON N/A N/A Markdown, JSON
Component modification required (one time) No No No Yes
Multi-site support No Yes Yes No
Webhooks Not required Yes Yes Not required
Content migration Possible Not possible Not possible Possible

How do you find this comparison to be? Would you like to add more details? Probably more points to compare? Have you done a similar comparison with these (or other) CMS tools? Please jump in and leave a comment. I will definitely check them out.

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