The name Flat File CMS is itself giving a notion that it is entirely different from that of traditional CMS’s, like Drupal and WordPress. You might also be hearing this buzzword since the halt of 2014, and might be wondering that why anyone would use a system like that instead of the eminent Drupal and WordPress. Before moving further, let’s understand what exactly Flat File CMS is. The Flat File CMS does not have a database like other traditional CMS’s. Moreover, it does not show any database calls every time a page gets loaded, which does not mean that the page templates are mixed with the content. Rather, it refers to the fact that your content is stored in files and folders. This might sound like that you can only create basic sites with Flat File CMS with limited functionality, but this is not the case.
Version control: In the traditional website, the content needs to be stored in a database, which requires a regular site backup to assure that any important information is not lost when your site ever gets down or hacked.
The beneficial aspect associated with the Flat File CMS is that all the files can put under version control to have a secured site backup whenever you edit a blog post or page. You can make a commit to any favorite version control tool that you use. The same goes with the template editing and changing styles. Whatever you do can be saved and archived and can be retrieved whenever needed. The Flat File CMS keeps both clients and developers happy.
Speed: The Flat File CMS is usually faster than the traditional CMS, which prevents you from waiting for the database calls. Furthermore, since you are dealing just with the files, it becomes easy for you setting up a site with Amazon’s lightening fast server called S3, which not only is cheaper, but also gives you excellent speed.
Easy site migration: The easy site migration in Flat File CMS makes it easy to move the site from one hosting provider to another. As your site is comprised of only files, the only thing you have to perform is to copy the root folder from one server to another. Unlike the traditional CMS system, Flat File CMS offers several advantageous functions, which has made many developers excited about it.
Easier setup: There is no database setup in the Flat File CMS, and therefore you do not have to waste time setting up a database, or copying content from the server for testing, which makes it an easy to setup CMS.
Lack of large community to rescue: This is one of the shortcomings of Flat File CMS that illustrates that there is not a community yet to troubleshoot the problems that arises and comes up all of a sudden. This is because of the reason that many of the CMS’s are brand new, and therefore there is a lack of community to assist them. Moreover, a new product does not contain all the new features at once that you used to enjoy in the traditional systems. Apparently, when Flat File CMS will be comprised with all the features, it will be stronger than any other existing CMS tool. However, most of the CMS’s have a great documentation; you have to manage a little on your own before starting out using the new Flat File CMS.
Learning a new system: The Flat File CMS uses standard template language, like liquid or twig, which are considered to be the future of the web. These template languages are pretty new to the developers as most of the big and popular CMS’s, like Drupal and WordPress do not use them currently. Hence, the developers will have a task of learning an all new language before they can create something on Flat File CMS.
Flat file CMS is an effective solution for small websites and projects. Here are different types of flat file CMS’s mentioned that have multiple user capability and are comprised of markdown powered editor.
Kirby: Kirby is one of the best flat file CMS given in this list. It comes with a solid user base, and is also a well documented true file based CMS. The process it uses to organize the content is by organizing the folders. These folders can be easily synced with Dropbox. Kirby can run on any host that has Apache, PHP 5.2, and Linux.
RazorCMS: This flat file CMS runs on Angular JS and PHP. It has a small core which makes it lightening fast in downloading from other systems. It makes the task of the admin easy through in-page WYSIWYG editing plugins, and is also optimized for site crawling, and SEO.
Monstra: Monstra is one of the most lightweight CMS, which gives it the advantage of loading the page faster with the help of CSS, .js, and HTML. Monstra offers multiple page administration, mobile responsiveness, and multi-level security.
Flatpress: Flatpress is a standard flat file blogging engine, which has an uncluttered and simple interface that makes the tedious task of website designing easier. The default editor of Flatpress uses BBcode, which is applied generally in message boards and forums. Plugins, like Tiny MCE and Akismet are enabled in this flat file CMS.
Statamic: This is again one of the most established sites. It can create both static and dynamic websites. Statamic is known to run on PHP framework and using YAML for layouts, templates, content, and config files. This flat file CMS is powered by the WYSIWYG editor.
Feindura: The major target of Feindura is the small and the medium websites. The easy to use interface of Feindura is best for the beginners. It also contains a backup utility and multi-language backend.
Anchor: This is again one of the lightweight blogging engine, which focuses on keeping the writing process as simple as possible. This self-hosted blogging engine uses HTML or Markdown, and is also compatible with Ruby I18n. For publishing the content easily, JS and CSS along with the post images can be customized using the drag and drop option.
Pulse: Designed for small website, Pulse has a user friendly interface that is best even for those who have no technical experience. It comprises of traffic stats, one-click backup process, form builders, and a WYSIWYG editor.
Dropplets: Dropplets is relatively a fresher platform in the list of flat file CMS. It can be downloaded on any server within seconds. It can be uploaded to publish easily after composing offline with the help of markdown.
JekyII: This is a simple, static generator flat file CMS, which takes a template directory in various formats containing text files. It runs it through Markdown or liquid converters and produces a static website that serves any suitable web server.
Summarizing the whole article precisely, if you have just a static site or a simple blog to run, then flat file CMS will prove to be a boon to you, but if your website is big, which has a large amount of information to share, then a big site is more suitable. Many of the mentioned types of flat file CMS’s are intended only for personal blogging and simple sites. Even the developers get confused whether to call these applications, CMS or not. Therefore, before ditching the current CMS that you are using analyze the needs and requirements of your website.
Manish Jain is the co-founder and Managing Director at Konstant Infosolutions. He is responsible for the overall operations of the company and has played a major role in bringing Konstant up from its humble beginnings and, with his immense energy and drive, transforming it into a globally trusted name in IT solutions.