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.
Jekyll is another very popular flat file CMS written in Ruby. It is a very popular CMS and has a large community of user and developers. Jekyll does not have an administrative interface by default but there are plugins that can provide simple ones such as the one below:
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.
Statamic is built on the fast Laravel framework and is a very nice looking CMS with a slick looking control panel to boot. Statamic is not a free solution, however, and comes at a cost of approximately $99 per site (although cheaper packages exist for developers). There are plenty of themes and plugins available as well to help you expand your system.
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.
There you have it. With the list above, you should easily be able to find a flat file CMS for your website or at the very least, try out a few and see what you think. 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.