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Choosing between a CMS (with a REST API) and Contentful

Contentful is a competitor to CMSes like WordPress, Drupal and Joomla. In fact the company specifically targets the classic CMS market directly on their website:

Like a CMS… without the bad bits.

How well does this statement hold water? First of all you have to consider the limited scope that Contentful targets. They only provide a CRUD and an API for their proprietary Content Repository.

For many use cases this is enough. If you’ve got an iOS/Android API that you want to complement with FAQs, for example then this is what Contentful works very well for. The provided APIs, SDKs and Documentation are top notch – and as a centrally controlled Commercial Entity they are arguably more stable than an Open Source effort which can lack direction.

Where Contentful does nothing is website management.. There are no tools for creating menus, no tree like structure to visualise your site’s information architecture. In simple cases it’s fine just to push content to a repository and pull it out with Angular 2 front end of a Metalsmith site generator.

But if your business needs focuses heavily Content and managing the the experience visitors get – then you’ll likely be better off with a Content Management System (CMS), which provides a lot of the tools you need to work on a site / web application on a daily basis. Managing content lifts, layouts, site languages and more dynamically is an effort that you’ll need to do manually then. And this is potentially a lot of work.

So Contentful is useful, but it’s hardly the only thing you’ll need to run a content based business like a Media Portal. You’ll need to add custom features, which will eat on the promise of simplifying and focusing on content.

Learn more about CMSes, Contentful and other options:

 

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