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content management systems

CMS platforms have evolved over the years, from traditional models to headless to serverless and beyond.

As you may know, Content management systems (CMSs) are software applications that aid users in generating, editing, publishing and managing content.

CMS content is usually stored in a database and shown in a so-called presentation layer based upon predetermined templates, themes and plugins.

Open Source

A traditional open-source CMS comprises a CMS stack wherein the backend and frontend are tightly bound, without an intervening API to ease communication between the two. This means that developers using this type of CMS must handle their own web servers and databases.

Some well-known examples of open-source CMS platforms are WordPress, Joomla and Drupal.

WordPress.org alone powers approximately 35% of all websites, according to one source, making it the single most popular CMS software. Although technically, by modern standards, WordPress is not a CMS at all, but rather a blogging platform, it operates enough like a CMS that it is usually designated as such. Open-source CMSs for e-commerce include Magento and PrestaShop.

Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) CMS

SaaS is a step up from open-source software in terms of the effort required to operate the system. SaaS is essentially a managed CMS, meaning that the user does not need to deal with any backend code. This type of virtual solution is hosted in the cloud and usually based upon a subscription model. The subscription package generally includes web content management software as well as ongoing technical support and web-hosting allotments for data transfer bandwidth and storage for content and data. SaaS is ideal for owners of small to medium-sized businesses.

Serverless Headless CMS

content management systems

A headless CMS is one that allows you to build the presentation layer on your own, using whichever technology stack you would like. This allows for greater flexibility than can be found with WordPress or Drupal. A headless CMS will usually have two stacks: the client-facing stack, as just discussed, and the backend stack.

Meanwhile, a serverless CMS is simply a CMS that is designed to run in an environment devoid of a server. There is a definite trend towards serverless architecture so this type of CMS will be a hot commodity in the future. As with a headless CMS, a serverless CMS comprises two parts: the client portion and the backend portion.

As the name would imply, a serverless headless CMS combines headless and serverless CMSs. According to Contentful, “The flexible nature of serverless architecture allows for a number of qualities unavailable to traditional CMS.” These capabilities include using your preferred languages and frameworks, testing and developing more effectively, and ensuring high uptime when your site is online and allowing access to myriad tutorials.

Overall, CMS platforms are great tools to use in the creation, maintenance and modification of digital content. A CMS on the headless and serverless end of the spectrum will provide more flexibility and control, while traditional frameworks still exist and have their uses.

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