A flat–file CMS is a platform that does not require a database but rather, saves it's data to a set of text files. There are many advantages to using flat-file CMS as opposed to database driving systems, read on to find out what we consider to be the best flat file CMS on the market.
Most content management systems tend to use databases to store their content but lately, there's been a trend of flat file CMS coming to market. With solid state drives and increased internet access speeds, database driven solutions may not always be the best choice. Today, I'm going to share with you a selection of actively developed and popular flat file CMS systems to explore.
As a side note, there are many more solutions out there, I'm aiming to only list ones that have been updated within the last year as there are numerous that still have websites but have seen no activity or updates in quite some time.
A recent winner of our CMS Critic award for Best Open Source CMS, Grav is a popular flat file CMS developed by the folks from RocketTheme. It's fast, has a very sweet looking admin plugin and has a nice selection of available themes to choose from.
Kirby offers a nice looking interface that should feel familiar to those accustomed to WordPress and the like and is another great choice for flat-file CMS. The difference between this and the others on this list is that Kirby is a commercial product that is available for purchase for a one time fee of less than $20 (US pricing). It's well worth the investment if you want an easy to use CMS for basic websites.
Monstra is an XML based flat file CMS that is fast, extensible and has a nice selection of plugins to extend the system. Monstra is multi-user and very customizable as well. You can also check out their website for a free demo of the interface to see if it's right for you. From my testing, it was very responsive and has a well designed administrative interface.
razorCMS is an easy to use flat file CMS that provides you with easy in-page editing as opposed to having to modify your content from within an admin panel. It's been around for many years and has forums you can use to get support should you need it, although at last check, they didn't appear to be very active in the last year.
GetSimple has been around for many years and is another great option to consider. It is a flat file XML based CMS that has plenty of plugins, themes available for you to use. With an easy to use admin interface and content editor (as well as a demo on their website for you to try) it's a good option to consider.
HTMLy is an open source blogging platform that focuses on simplicity and speed. It's a great option to consider if you are looking to start a blog or simple CMS and is easy to install and set up. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to find a screenshot of the admin interface so I'm sharing a screenshot of a theme instead.
Automad is a file-based flat CMS that offers a two step caching system makes your site extremely fast. A web-based user interface makes it easy – even for beginners – to manage a website. The template engine enables designers to build custom themes and templates without PHP knowledge. The extension interface allows developers to create plugins for all kind of functionality. It is also possible to put a whole site under version control using Git or Mercurial.
WonderCMS is an open source CMS (Content Management System) built with PHP, jQuery, HTML and CSS. It doesn't require any configuration and can be simply unzipped and uploaded to your hosting provider. The database is a text file which is easily copied, moved, backed up and restored.
Typesetter is another flat file content management system that lets users create rich and flexible Web sites with a simple and easy-to-use interface. True WYSIWYG takes the guesswork out of editing page content while auto-saving makes sure none of your work is lost.
Batflat is a Polish content management system that is simple, light and fast. It was first released in May 2016. It requires no installation, is chock full of features to make your website fast and efficient and uses no database, like other flat file CMS.
Flextype is an open source flat file CMS that was developed in 2018 by Sergey Romanenko. It's purpose is to provide a lean, open source solution without the complexities found in many other content management systems. You can read more about it over on our FlexType review.
Are you aware of any that I am missing in this list? If they are actively maintained (meaning updates within the last year), please feel free to point them out in the comments below.