RichStyle: The Angel is in The Detail.

WordPress Alternatives
for Individual Bloggers
Flat CMSs vs. SSGs


Bloggers today realize that traditional content management systems —and WordPress first among them— became repleted with many features and capabilities that often exceed their needs and requirements as individual bloggers, to the extent that these features may seem a burden on their shoulders.

The Current State of Traditional CMSs

Those advantages that have become a burden for many, are reflected in four aspects:

Alternatives to Traditional CMSs

Static Site Generators (SSGs)

In the face of this increasing inflation situation, which is witnessed by traditional CMSs, from individual-blogger's perspective, several alternative systems that take simplicity and speed as a basic principle in their structure have begun to appear, the most famous of which was Ruby Jekyll system, which works to generate static HTML pages (Non-dynamic) based on Markdown files created by the blogger, meaning that this system will not need any type of processing from the server side, but it is sufficient for the blogger to create his/her article in Markdown format, and then generates an HTML version of it to display on the blog pages.

For this reason, this category of content management system has been termed "Static Site Generator", or SSG for short.

Since a SSG system is ultimately composed of static HTML files that do not require any type of processing by the server as we have indicated, it outperforms traditional systems in terms of performance.

But by doing so:

  1. Does not involve any interactive interface to manage or edit articles. This can be bypassed for a technical blogger who is fluent-enough in handling Markdown format and server handling tools, such as FTP protocol and generic control panels…
  2. Visitor does not usually have the advantage of searching across articles.
  3. Unless user (blogger) is proficient in Git or any of other Version Control Systems, SSG will seem for him/her to have a lack of flexibility in managing updates.

Flat CMSs

Faced with the second and third limitations, a third category of content management systems has emerged that tries to combine the advantages of the previous two categories:

  1. Dynamic: Web pages are automatically generated from article files (often in Markdown format), similar to traditional systems and unlike SSG systems.
  2. But flat: Adopts files instead of databases as a solution to store content in them: the same as SSG systems and unlike traditional systems.

Traditional CMS vs. SSG vs. Flat CMS

The admin panel issue is leaved as an optional feature that can be installed as a plugin.

SSGs vs. Flat CMSs

The following table shows the main differences between SSGs vs. Flat CMSs.

The main differences between SSGs vs. Flat CMSs
Feature Traditional CMSs SSGs Flat CMSs
Admin panel Optional
Content format Database Markdown Markdown or any file-based format
Markdown to HTML conversation Dynamic Static Dynamic

List of the Most Popular Flat CMSs

Consequently, what are the most prominent flat dynamic alternatives available for content management?

Below I review the most prominent of these alternatives, and compare the characteristics of each.

It should be noted that the cells highlighted in red are still in need of revision, however, I chose to publish the article as it is, rather than keeping it locked in drawers, claiming that it is incomplete, hoping to complete work on it in the coming days.

Comparison between the most popular flat CMSs
Name Release Release Date Content Format Theme Template Language-File Format Admin Panel Size License URL Note
Automad 1.5.4 2020-06-17 Folder/TXT TXT 5.9 MB MIT It has a caching engine, tagging system and search engine baked into it.
Baun 1.3.2 2015-03-18 0.13 MB MIT
Bludit 3.13.1 2020-07-29 Folder/MD PHP JSON 5.2 MB MIT
Bolt 3.7.1 2020-5-07 SQLite Twig JS 17.8 MB MIT
CMSimple 5.1 2020-06-15 PHP 3.9 MB GPL 3.0
CMSimple_XH 1.7.3 2020-07-28 PHP 9.6 MB GPL 3.0
FlatPress 1.1 2019-02-22 TXT (BBCode) TPL PHP 2.1 MB GPL 2.0 Requires e-mail address.
FlexType 0.9.9 2020-08-05 MD Twig YAML 12.9 MB MIT
GetSimple 3.3.16 2020-03-03 XML PHP PHP 4.2 MB GPL 3.0
Ghost SQLite
Grav 1.6.26 2020-09-05 ##.folder/ Twig YAML 15.5 MB MIT
Grav+Admin 1.6.26 2020-09-05 ##.folder/ Twig YAML 28.7 MB MIT
HTMLy 2.7.5 2020-05-06 PHP INI 3.8 MB GPL 2.0+
Kirby 3.4.2 2020-08-07 Folder/MD.txt JSON 4.3 MB EULA
Mecha 2.3.2 2020-06-21 0.38 MB GPL 3.0
Monstra 3.0.4 2016-04-05 XML PHP PHP 4.7 MB MIT Multi-user capabilities
Nesta 0.12.0 2020-05-30 Ruby 0.176 MB MIT
Phile 1.11.1 2020-07-18 Twig 0.307 MB MIT
Pico 2.1.3 2020-07-10 Twig 2.9 MB MIT
PivotX 2.3.11 2015-06-21 PHP MO 7.9 MB GPL 2.0
PluXML 5.8.3 2020-05-19 XML PHP PHP For installation only 3.0 MB GPL 2.0 Requires email address.
razorCMS 3.4.5 2015-02-15 SQLite PHP 4.1 MB GPL 3.0
Stacey 2.3.0 2011-04-14 0.71 MB MIT
Statamic EULA
TextPress 2.0.1 2014-10-11 date-json+markdown.txt PHP 0.39 MB MIT
TypeSetter 5.1 2017-08-12 Folder/PHP PHP PHP 10.5 MB + cache GPL 2.0 Requires email address. Its cornerstone feature is the true WISIWYG editor that appears on every page of the site, to easily make changes.
WonderCMS 3.1.1 2020-07-21 database.js PHP 0.81 MB MIT
Yellow 0.8.15 2020-08-07 Folder/MD.txt PHP YAML.txt 0.914 MB GPL 2.0


if (flatCMS && !SSG) {
    echo "Grav or Pico; that is the question!";

Despite the maturity of Grav compared to Pico, I favored Pico and its simplicity over Grav and its maturity. In other words, I favored Pico despite its lack of support for multilingualism, over Grav which is about to crowd out Wordpress with its maturity and sophistication!