Why We Love Flat-File CMS and Grav


What are Flat-File CMSs?

Flat-file CMS platforms, also known as file-based content management systems, use text-based files to store and manage content in place of a traditional SQL-based, relational database.

There are numerous advantages to going flat-file:

  • Simple to install and easy to use
  • No database required
  • Fast performance
  • Reduced cost for implementation and hosting
  • Small footprint
  • Easy to scale

There are number of great reasons to use a flat-file CMS:

You Can Keep Things Simple: Flat-file CMSs are straightforward to develop and use, making them ideal for small and medium-sized websites. They do not require any database setup or administration, making them easy to create, maintain, backup, and restore.

They are Fast: Flat-file CMSs are speedier than traditional databases - they don't require queries to get content, reducing overhead.

They Are Secure: Flat-file CMSs do not require a separate database server, reducing the number of possible side doors and making them less vulnerable to hacking.

They are Portable: Flat-file CMSs are portable, as all the website data is stored in plain text files. This makes it easy to move a website from one server to another, or to backup and restore data.

They are Cost-effective: Flat-file CMSs are often open-source, making them a more budget-friendly choice for small and medium-sized businesses.

Who Uses Them?

Flat file CMSs work well for most small to medium-sized websites and suited for a number of use cases, including:

  • Small business websites
  • Landing pages
  • Conference and event websites
  • Informational websites
  • Non-profit sector websites
  • Customer education websites

Why Is Flat-File a Good Fit for These Sites?

Websites like the ones outlined above typically do not need to have thousands of page templates, making a flat-file CMS a good fit. If dynamic data is needed, headless CMS or API integrations can be leveraged to create millions of pages based on a set of templates and dynamic content. For example, Snipcart can be used to add countless products and secure checkout functionality to a flat-file CMS-based site.

Which Flat-File CMS Platform is the Best?

The best flat file CMS depends on business needs and the skill level of the implementation team. Here are a few well-known options:

  • Grav CMS
  • Hugo
  • Pico
  • Statamic

The Subschema team loves Grav CMS

Grav has a great support community, extensive documentation, and is a well-designed and extensible platform. We are Grav experts and have also leveraged Gantry with Grav. We have implemented over ten Grav business websites clients, most being migrated off of WordPress. For over eight years, we have enjoy working within Grav’s ecosystem, including using its theme engine, Twig templating, and blueprints for making admin panels for custom page types.

If you’re curious about Grav and going flat-file, or hybrid (headless + flat-file), reach out. We love to chat and talk shop.

Scott Fillman, EdD

Analytics Implementation Engineer and CMS Evangelist