Flat File CMS Websites – Alternatives to MySQL powered sites?

By | March 10, 2010

When many think of content management websites they think of mambo, joomla, wordpress, drupal and similar. Powerful CMS’s storing data in MySQL databases with a wealth of features and backed up by huge communities. Meanwhile smaller less powerful cms’s such as flat file based ones are side lined and on occasion seen as the ‘poor mans’ option and bizarrely on occasion for those not willing to invest in mysql access. However it all depends on what your website needs to accomplish.

So what is a flat file cms? They simply store their data in individual files or a file. No need for a database server such as MySQL to power your dynamic website. Often easier for non-tech savvy users to create and edit pages, rather than having to migrate around a complex cms.

So what are the pitfalls? Many are created by an individual, never get traction and are often abandoned. Active ones are generally developed by a lone coder and fail to gain a momentum. Like any product, it’s not just about the functionality and features, as any sales person would tell you. There are some though that have been around for a number of years and gained small followings. With active communities contributing code, modules, support and templates.

Often though these cms’s are slow to receive updates, which can be critical if a security flaw is found. Due to the lack of developer time and the size of communities, if a community actual exists for the cms in the first place.

However that being said, a small flat file cms doesn’t need to compete with the large packages. It doesn’t need to offer bells and whistles. They are carving a market for themselves. The logically step for a site that will never be large. They don’t need communities the size of joomla or wordpress to be a cms to take note of and use.

What are the benefits of a flat file cms?

–    Speed. Flat file cms’s are generally faster than MySQL powered sites.
–    Easier to migrate between servers.
–    Generally less complex and smaller. Thus easier for novices to work with and take up less bandwidth and hosting space.
–    Often easier for non-tech savvy users to edit and create pages once the site has been initially setup.

Flat file cms’s generally lack the features that large cms’s have, however many can be upgraded by installing modules. You won’t find the huge number of available modules though, as you would for joomla or wordpress for example.

They are not geared towards hundred page sites, but for small niche sites they can be just what the doctor ordered.  So if you’re looking to setup your own small website, be it personal, small business or charity or even a micro site for an event, a flat file cms is worth considering.

So what are the recommendations? Well I’ve tried quite a lot, but my favourite has to be nanoCMS and the more developed fork called nanoCMS Community. I even like the cms so much, I setup the website www.nanocms.co.uk and am a strong community supporter and contributor. I’m going to be mean and leave the recommendation at the one.

Creating a dynamic website has never been so easy.

2 thoughts on “Flat File CMS Websites – Alternatives to MySQL powered sites?

  1. Lloyd

    Awesome! I always wondered if there was such a thing as a CMS for normal, non-SQL websites. Thank so much!
    .-= Lloyd´s last blog ..Fences =-.

  2. Pingback: Andrew Emmett » Blog Archive » Around the web – March 2010

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