Best 18 Open-source Flat-File CMSs in 2023

Best 18 Open-source Flat-File CMSs in 2023
Photo by Manuel López / Unsplash

Content management systems or CMS for short, like WordPress, often comes as database applications. But, these are not the only types of CMSs out there, we have other types to consider:

  1. Flat-file CMS
  2. Headless CMS
  3. Git-based CMS

A Flat-file CMS is a content management system that does not use any database, in other term "Databaseless". It stores its content in text files like: Markdown, TXT, JSON or even XML.

In this article, we listed a neat collection of Flat-file publishing systems which serve many purposes starting from blogging, documentation projects to enterprise websites.

I have always been fascinated by databaseless solutions, which I tend to use and recommend to my clients, and flat-file CMSs are not an exception.

Why do we need Flat-file CMS?

  1. Simplicity to install, use, run and manage
  2. No Database setup, configuration, or maintenance
  3. Security: No need to worry about SQL related security issues (SQL-injection)
  4. Easy to install (Just put the file on your server)
  5. Simple backup and restore  

So, here is our list:

Open-source Flat-file databaseless CMS

1- Automad


Automad is a flat-file CMS with many enterprise features like clean themes, inline editing, media support, automatic package install and upgrade, and more.

Unlike other flat-file CMS, Automad comes with built-in search support which search app pages and content.

It takes no time to setup and run with minimal configuration. We published a review about Automad and the remarkable features it has also noted what it does not have.

Automad: An Open-source Flat-file CMS with style
Flat-File CMSs (content management systems) have always been a fascination for me. They don’t require database to work and usually work out-of-the-box with low-resource server and a minimal requirement. However, as I test many every year to recommend to my clients, I didn’t fancy any like I did for…

2- Aloia CMS


Aloia CMS is a flat-file content management system for developers, built on top of Laravel PHP framework.  

It supports support for 3 types of flat-files: HTML, Markdown, TXT and uses YAML front matter for posts and pages options, settings and meta tags.

Aloia CMS offers 4 built-in content types which include: Page, Article, ContentBlock and MetaTag. However, developers can create their custom content types as well with simple intervention.

Keep in mind that, Aloia is built pirmarly for developers.

Aloia CMS: Next Generation Flat-file CMS for Laravel developers
Laravel is a trending PHP7 development framework. It gained popularity among PHP developers especially newcomers and old-school developers who are migrating from other legacy frameworks. Many PHP companies and enterprise prefer Laravel for in-house and client projects. As example at Neoxero.com, we…

3- FlexType


FlexType is a features-rich content management system for designers, developers and enterprise. It comes with all traditional CMS features with a powerful built-in REST-API, dynamic content types, and a clean productive admin panel.

FlexType offers a useful set of plugins to help users move it from simple CMS into enterprise-grade publishing and content-based system. The plugins include: accounts, admin accounts, sections, sitemap. Redirects and PHP embed plugin which allow adding PHP codes directly with FlexType.

FlexType is a nifty solution for creating a quick data-oriented product without the need to setup a database or focus on server setup. It can be used for IoT projects, gaming projects, and more.

Flextype
Top website engines

4- Grav CMS


Grav CMS is an open-source lightweight features-rich web publishing system and CMS for companies and individuals.

Grav is an easy choice for developers and designers because it has easy theming system, plugin API, dynamic content type, strong image processing and a powerful backup and restore system.

Beyond its rich features set, It has a rich ecosystem full of useful plugins and themes which is powered by its strong community.

Grav is easy to setup especially by using Docker. It does not require many configurations and offers a high customization options for both backend and front-end.

Grav: a Databaseless free Open-source WordPress Competitor
Grav is an open-source CMS and web publishing system which uses Flat-file to store content and data instead of a Database. If you are familiar with WordPress, then you know it has a rich community, a vast extensions libraries, free and commercial and a numerous list of themes. The main

5- OctoberCMS


OctoberCMS is an open-source CMS built with Laravel the popular PHP framework. It is packed with a strong community and can be used as a base to create complex projects.

In its core, OcoberCMS comes with a dashboard, content management system, editor, themes, media library, file-based template, AJAX framework, and a rich plugin API to extend it.

OctoberCMS can work with databases like MySQL or MariaDB, but it can also work seamlessly as a flat-file CMS.

Because its popularity and support, OctoberCMS is a preferable solution for enterprise projects

October - PHP CMS platform based on the Laravel Framework
October CMS is a self-hosted award-winning platform based on the Laravel PHP Framework

6- Typemill


Typemill is a simple open-source flat-file CMS for creating manuals, web-novels, documentations, handbooks, white papers, tutorials website, landing pages and more.

Typemill is created with PHP, Vue framework and uses Twig template engine.

It features a built-in markdown editor, Table-of-content (ToC), a good number of themes and plugins.

Typemill - A CMS for Micro Publishing
Typemill is an open-source flat-file cms for text-driven websites. Create handbooks, documentations, manuals, web-novels, traditional websites, and more.

7- DodgerCMS  (Amazon-based CMS)


DodgerCMS is a flat-file static Markdown CMS built on top of Amazon S3. It requires an Amazon Web Services account which will be used for data and media storage.

DodgerCMS features a Markdown editor, menu, user authentication, image upload to the cloud, custom layout, live update.

DodgerCMS does not support search.

DodgerCMS

8- PicoCMS


Pico is a simple yet powerful CMS for building websites quickly. It uses Markdown files and Twig templates to extend and build beautiful themes and layouts.

The Metadata can be set with YAML without the need to setup them in the admin panel.

PicoCMS community released a good number of themes and plugins which include: search, user management, tags, pages list, AMP and more.

Pico - A stupidly simple, blazing fast, flat file CMS.
Pico is a flat file CMS, this means there is no administration backend and database to deal with. You simply create .md files in the ‘content’ folder and that becomes a page.

9- Lektor


Lektor is a flat-file content management system (CMS) built with Python for simple and complex projects.

Lektor is basically a static file generator with a customizable admin, rich image library, a plugin ecosystem, Python API and a multi-lingual support.

Because it comes with a rich developer tools and a rich documentation, many Python developers use Lektor in their project as they can scale, extend and build new features easily on top of it.

Welcome | Lektor Static Content Management System

10- TypesetterCMS

TypesetterCMS is a free open-source PHP-based CMS focused on providing a simple editing controls for flat-file based storage. It comes with a distraction-free editor and control panel.

TypesetterCMS helps you to build a quick website within minutes by focusing on the content not the system. It is packed by set of usable functions that takes the pain of installing and configuring plugins like SEO options, email-ready contact form, multiple-languages support and dozens of plugins and themes.

The Faster and Easier CMS - Typesetter CMS
Typesetter is an open source CMS written in PHP focused on ease of use with True WYSIWYG editing and flat-file storage. Typesetter CMS, A Free and Easy CMS for everyone.

11- Bludit


Bludit is an outstanding lightweight flat-file CMS.   It is easy to setup, configure and use. Unlike most CMSs on this list, Bludit store all data in JSON files not Markdown text files, but it features content editing in Markdown.

The system offers a built-in SEO friendly support, Markdown and WYSIWYG editor.  

Bludit has a many pro-looking themes, some of them with RTL support. It also has a rich list of useful plugins for content creations, image presentation, AMP support, Reactions, Redirects and more.

Bludit - Flat-File CMS
Bludit is a web application to build your own website or blog in seconds, it’s completely free and open source. Markdown support.

12- FlatPress


One of the oldest flat-file content management solutions, FlatPress started back in 2006, since then, it is packed by a strong community of loyal developers and users.

FlatPress offers a rich developer-friendly plugin API, a theme and template system based on Smarty template engine and many customizable themes for blogging, enterprise, companies, landing pages and more.

FlatPress is distributed under GNU GPLv2 license.

FlatPress

13- WonderCMS


Since 2008, WonderCMS has been running hundreds of websites for companies, and independent freelancers.

You can consider it like WordPress without Database. It has built-in themes and plugins installer, media library browser, SEO-options control, file manager,  SEO-friendly URLs, blog mode, custom menu, custom login page, custom home, 404 page and custom blog pages.

WonderCMS has many security features starting with full HTTPS support, hashed admin password, CSRF protection, one cookie session and SRI games for CSS and JS.

WonderCMS is a GDPR-compliant flat-file CMS built for users in the EU.

Home
WonderCMS is the smallest flat file CMS for building websites and blogs, runs only on 5 files.

14- HTMLy


HTMLy is an open-source file-based blogging platform. HTMLy supports thousands of posts or pages and helps the user list and filter any content type based on date, category, author, or tag.

Consider it a WordPress alternative on flat-file style.

HTMLy has built-in support for RSS feed, XML sitemap and multiple content types. Furthermore, it gives the user full control of menu and navigation with its menu builder. It also has many blogging themes, JSON-API, simple requirement and direct text-based configuration.

If you want to create a simple blog, Well, HTMLy us your answer.

HTMLy - PHP Blogging Platform, and Flat-File CMS
HTMLy is an open source databaseless PHP blogging platform. A flat-file CMS that allows you to create a fast, secure, and powerful website or blog in seconds.

15-  GetSimple

GetSimple is a simple customizable CMS which use XML to store data.

GetSimple features a simple easy-to-learn admin panel, WYSIWYG editor, files manager, theme component editor, backup manager, theme editor,  modular developer-ready structure, many add-ons as themes and plugins.

With GetSimple all you need is 5 minutes to install it on any Apache or Nginx server.

GetSimple CMS
GetSimple has everything your client needs, and nothing a CMS doesn’t

16- Monstra

Monstra is a lightweight content publishing system for hackers, designers and developers. It does not require any database as it is easy to install, upgrade and use.

Monstra reduces the payload of static files (CSS, HTML and JavaScript) by minifying them. It comes with a responsive design which works smoothly on all screen sizes.

Multi-user and SEO support are essential parts of Monstra, which makes it fit for enterprise, team and small/medium business.

The system is released as an open-source project under MIT license.

The Fast, Extensible, and Easy Flat File Open Source Content Management System | Monstra
Monstra is simple and light-weighted Content Management System written in PHP

17- Wiki|Docs

Wiki|Docs is an open-source databaseless markdown flat-file wiki and documentation engine.

Wiki|Docs features WYSIWYG editor, page revisions, images upload, content categories, search, syntax highlighting, dark mode, document printing, public and private pages.

As a simple system, it does not have a multi-user account or advanced management system.

The system can be easily installed with Docker in a few minutes.  

Wiki|Docs

18- TiddlyWiki

TiddlyWiki is an open-source one-file portable publishing platform. It does not require any setup, just drag and drop the file on your server.

Despite its lightweight size, it is full of features, comes with a rich ecosystem and has a strong supported community.

TiddlyWiki has offline-first mode as well as a set of supported desktop, mobile applications and browser plugins.

You can use TiddlyWiki as a resume builder, a blog, a CMS,  a documentation website, a to-dos' manager, a project management solution or even a note-taking application. The possibilities are unlimited for < 2mb .HTML file.

TiddlyWiki — a non-linear personal web notebook

Final thought

Here we listed our collection of flat-file databaseless CMS solutions. Some of them serve a specific purpose, others has multi-purposes, so we recommend choosing the right one by aligning your requirements with it purpose and features.

You may notice that some Flat-file CMSs are messing from this list, the primary reasons are: either they have a license problem (Not open source), they don't have good community support, or they were abandoned by their developers.

If you know of any other open-source flat-file CMS that we missed, please drop it in the comments beneath this post.




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