Ask DN: Does a flat-file CMS exist for large blogs?

3 years ago from , Product Designer @ Dribbble / Maker

I'm curious if there are good options for flat file CMS platforms that can scale? I'm on WordPress now but speed and security are becoming annoying. Anyone have any experience with a platform that doesn't utilize a database and is big?


  • Norm Sheeran, 3 years ago

    Pulse CMS?

    3 points
  • Jeremiah ShoafJeremiah Shoaf, 3 years ago

    You should look into Statamic—v2 was just released. Tons of features and can work for pretty big sites.

    3 points
    • Roman HorokhovatskyyRoman Horokhovatskyy, 3 years ago (edited almost 3 years ago )

      I had a bad experience with Statamic especially with images so I choose Kirby CMS instead.

      1 point
      • Andy Leverenz, 3 years ago

        I've been looking into Kirby. It seems like a simple concept and simple setup. How do you utilize it?

        0 points
        • Jonathan BrodheimJonathan Brodheim, 3 years ago

          I just updated my site to use Kirby as the backend. I have multiple templates for the different types of posts, and love it. I also switched from Wordpress, and got tired of all of the bloat. Check it out, and I'll try to answer any questions you have. http://jony.io/

          1 point
          • Andy Leverenz, 3 years ago

            Love what you've done and I read your post about WordPress vs. Kirby. Definitely helpful. Thanks for sharing!

            1 point
  • Diego LafuenteDiego Lafuente, 3 years ago

    I use Jekyll since 3 years or more. unbeateable. Middleman also is nice.

    3 points
  • Josh Carr, 3 years ago (edited 3 years ago )

    I'm actually curious: what exact issues do you have with the speed and security of WordPress? I'm constantly hearing that criticism, but I’ve had the exact opposite experience. I’ve been able to optimize the security and speed of WordPress so it outperforms most of the alternatives. I have a few suggestions: a properly-configured security plugin like iThemes Security, a good webhost, a robust caching plugin like W3 Total Cache, a good CDN, and a good image optimizer tool like EWWW Image Optimizer.

    I have no affiliation with any those plugins. Part of my business is to help my clients optimize WordPress by using the right combination of plugins and other performance strategies. iThemes Security closes most of the popular ways to attack WordPress installations. W3 Total Cache is complicated, but it's extremely important for caching optimizations. A properly configured CDN will improve your page load speed and actually help your SEO performance too. Lastly, the image optimizer will do the things most of us are too lazy to actually do ourselves - resize and compress images so they load properly.

    With those plugins properly configured — yes, it takes time to learn them -- WordPress performs brilliantly. Here are a couple pingdom tools examples of sites I’ve optimized:

    https://tools.pingdom.com/#!/c2dUuq/https://eciov.com/ - https://tools.pingdom.com/#!/bXixtd/https://driftmgmt.com

    eciov.com is a blog that I’ve optimized. It’s very image-heavy but still loads the entire homepage under 2MB. The main reason it scores 91% on the scale is that I have external resources like analytics, twitter, and facebook loading on the site. Every external tool slows down your website. Use them sparingly. driftmgmt.com, on the other hand, scores a 98% because I use fewer external resources.

    Sure, a static CMS is an alternative, but since you're already familiar with WordPress, maybe it'd be good to learn how to optimize it instead of giving up on it. I'm guessing that would probably take less time than learning a completely new CMS. I personally have no interest in moving away from WordPress, but that’s because I like its flexibility and expandability — and I’m good at optimizing its performance.

    1 point
    • Andy Leverenz, 3 years ago (edited 3 years ago )


      Thanks for the in-depth response. The main issue I have with WordPress is the fact that it's a big target for security attacks. Even optimized, WordPress still feels "heavy" to me. I've made use of all the plugins you mentioned here, and while yes, they dramatically make a huge impact on a website's rendering speed, it's a shame you have to rely on them completely.

      I'm not worried about learning something new in regards to technology under the hood of a new CMS. I'm more concerned about how many "plugins" I don't have to depend on to get my website to perform as it should. Yes, this will likely mean more manual optimizations but at least I will be in better control you know?

      I guess you could say I'm going after the "Less is more" approach rather than when I have a problem, simply installing a plugin isn't the "fix" I'm after.

      1 point
      • Josh Carr, 3 years ago

        I definitely understand your perspective. Security hasn't really been an issue for me. WordPress is certainly a target, but you can eliminate the typical attack points with very little effort. Of course, there are always unknown vulnerabilities, but that happens with every piece of software ever written. It's also true that WordPress exploits are more sought-after than say, Jekyll, but I trust the WordPress core devs to fix vulnerabilities quicker than anyone else.

        I also know and trust the developers who produce the optimization plugins i use. If something breaks, they'll fix it quickly. I don't have that same level of trust with another platform -- especially the lesser-known static CMS's. Less can be more, but this works for me and I have no desire to change.

        Would I say that maintaining a professional-level WordPress site is easy? Absolutely not. It certainly takes effort. But I've developed standards and workflows that work well for me over the years and wouldn't choose to give up the power of WordPress for something easier.

        None of this means I don't have to talk customers into WordPress from time to time. Everyone has an opinion. Some customers come to me after talking with someone who's hardcore drupal or joomla and anti-WordPress. I laugh on the inside. It's not difficult to sell them on WordPress because most of their fears are baseless -- if you know what you're doing.

        That's my final point. Most people don't know what they're doing. Few people have as much experience with WordPress as I do. I'm 10 years into the ecosystem at this point. It's actually tough for me to come in and clean up after different WordPress developers as I see really stupid things every single day. But it's my job... and if I didn't do it, my clients would have severe on-going problems.

        Point being: I hear, understand, and validate your criticisms, but I'm comfortable with what WordPress is. It's certainly not for everyone.

        1 point
    • Roman HorokhovatskyyRoman Horokhovatskyy, 3 years ago (edited 3 years ago )

      Exactly! I used WordPress RestfullAPI with AngularJS for example. Crazy fast and still with WP

      0 points
  • Sacha GreifSacha Greif, 3 years ago

    Are you talking about a flat file CMS or a static site generator? Because they're different things.

    A flat file CMS works just like a regular CMS with an admin UI and a dynamic language (PHP, Python, etc.). It's not inherently more secure than WordPress, but it should definitely be faster since there's no database trip involved.

    A static site generator generates a site from static files, and then deploy the resulting HTML files. No PHP/Python/etc. or admin UI of any kind involved on the server, so it's 100% secure.

    SSGs don't usually feature admin UIs though, so navigating and organizing your files can be tough if you have a lot of content. i.e. you only have whatever file organization tools Mac OS or Windows gives you.

    1 point
    • Andy Leverenz, 3 years ago

      In this case, I'm not sure which I'll consider. I understand how both flat file and SSGs work but I'm still weighing the pros and cons.

      I think I've seen some CMS's pop up lately that make use of Jekyll but have an admin UI. The same is true for flat file systems.

      Unfortunately, there are so many to choose from its hard to decide which one can truly "scale" per my original question.

      What do you prefer? Or is WordPress fine as is?

      0 points
  • Nick Dominguez, 3 years ago (edited 3 years ago )

    You might find this article interesting.

    I believe the author choose to go with Metalsmith for it's flexibility but speaks highly of Hugo. I've also heard that Hugo is one of the better choices for large blogs based on it's speed and flexibility.

    1 point
    • Andy Leverenz, 3 years ago

      Just finished reading the article. It was very interesting! I'll check out metalsmith as well as Hugo. Appreciate the comment!

      1 point
  • Olivier FOlivier F, 3 years ago

    ...that doesn't utilize a database and is big?

    How big is "big"?

    0 points
    • Andy Leverenz, 3 years ago

      What immediately comes to mind are sites as big as popular online magazines for example.

      Or, from a WordPress user's perspective, a multi-site installation with several sites and hundreds of articles with images/media on each.

      0 points
  • Dennis Schmidt, 3 years ago

    I'm using Kirby and really enjoying it. https://getkirby.com

    0 points