Alternatives to Forestry

Introduction

I've been happily using Forestry for editing this website for a couple of years now. But development of that tool has stopped as they are releasing Tina.io which will replace Forestry. However, I am uncertain how that tool will help me, if it is an improvement or maybe missing something I liked. The promise is that there will be an upgrade path from Forestry to Tina, and most likely I will simply follow that.

About a year ago I did a lot of research on headless CMSs, especially git backed ones. Specifically, this post was a good overview of tooling for static sites. I thought I would have another look now. The Jamstack site has a nice overview of CMS options. Here are the ones I have come across and an analysis of whether they offer what I am looking for.

Requirements

My requirements, which haven't changed much from last year, are:

  • Free - must have a free pricing level for hobbyists like me
  • Git-based - I use GitHub to build and host my site so content must be storable in GitHub.
  • User friendly editing interface - to make it easy to edit. Does not need to be full WYSIWYG, just enough to understand the structure.
  • Hosted - I don't want to self-host the CMS
  • Should work with Eleventy.

Discarded CMSs

These are all the possible CMSs I managed to find this time, mainly using the Jamstack site. Process of elimination leaves me with very few options. These are the ones I have discarded:

  • CloudCannon - no longer have a free tier
  • CrafterCMS - Open source, so free as such, but hosted versions are expensive and with no free tier
  • GitPod - a hosted coding environment more than a CMS
  • FlyCode - unclear to me how this works, seems to be an editor more than anything else.
  • Forestry - no longer in active development, otherwise a great tool
  • GitHub - I could just edit my files online in GitHub. In fact I do that from time to time anyway. But it is not really a CMS. Would be great if they provided a mardown editor with WYSIWYG like features...
  • GitHub Writer - This is an editor for GitHub that you install as a browser plugin editor. Didn't seem to do what I was expecting and not sure if I want a browser plugin for this, but the idea is nice and worth keeping an eye on.
  • Prose - seems promising from the description, but "currently looking for maintainers". Not in active development.
  • Publii - desktop only
  • Sanity - has a free tier and appears to use GitHub, but seems overly complicated for my needs.
  • Siteleaf - free version only supports public github repos.
  • Statamic - this seems like a powerful tool, but does not seem to store content outside of it's system. So whilst it might be git based, you appear to be locked into the Statamic as it uses it's own git system. Not sure.
  • Appernetic, BowTie, Coisas, FrontAid CMS, Hexo, JekyllAdmin, Stastic, Troglio all seemed to be either no longer maintained, available or focussed on a specific SSG, usually Jekyll.

CMSs to look into

And these are the remaining ones which seem a possibility:

  • Netlify CMS - last year I wasn't sure if this tool was really being maintained and improved as it felt a bit buggy. But it seems like it is still under active development. And now that I know a lot more about git based headless CMSs I think I should give it another go.
  • Tina.io - I will have to wait and see. It seems to be taking them forever to produce a first version of Tina.io and there is very little talk of the migration path promised from Forestry to Tina. Their focus is on React based sites, and I will not be using React. If Netlify CMS proves to be suitable for me, I might switch to that.

There are lots of Jamstack options, somewhat less if you are looking for git-based solutions and apparently only two that seem suitable for me given my constraints. It looks like I will either migrate to Tina.io or give Netlify CMS another try.


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