Self Hosted CMS

Hey awesome Community Webflowers!

Haven’t experienced on hand with any CMS before. My first was Webflow. Love the dynamic functionalities … populating content from one place to all other referenced. Now the biggest problem is not being able to export and host elsewhere :frowning: … which is needed because some of the limitations of Webflow for my current project is unbearable. Can anyone share their experience with other CMS’s that could meet such requirements:

  • can do what Webflow can do (e.g. populating content)
  • Open source
  • for large enterprise sites / web apps ( eg. a yelp site)
  • secure
  • scale-able
  • flexible / customize-able to my design instead of vice-versa
  • extendable
  • whitelabel (optional)
  • visual interface (optional but best)

The most I heard of is drupal … but taking a look at their site … they don’t seem to have a nice dashboard and very branded. Also, I don’t know if they can do what Webflow can.

Or would anyone suggest to forget about the opensource cms and reinvent the wheel? Create your own!

Please share. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

P.s. Taking a look around the forum and found that CMS related topics are everywhere but this seems to be the first after Webflow has launched its CMS. Looking for a solution as close to Webflow CMS as close as possible! Hope this is not wishful thinking.

Cheers, :beers:

Diana :smiley:


Hi there. Working on CMS design and integration since the beginning of PHP-Nuke.

With your list of requirements, you don’t have many choices. I’m not sure about what “Do what Webflow can do” means… I suppose it’s about creating databases (CMS/collections) and types of content (collections).

It’s going to be Wordpress, Drupal or Joomla.

As weird as it is, Wordpress still is built as a blogging software, and you can extend it to make pretty much everything, but it quickly becomes quite a mess on the backend side, between types of contents, extensions, themes and sub themes, visual composer. With modern themes, you start with 4 different UIs minimum, only for the main backend and the theme. Cumbersome to say the least. There’s room to develop your own extensions. There are a bunch of visual composers, all of them being very very far from what Webflow propose.

Joomla starts to be a bit outdated, but it has a developing crowd and fans. Known to be less powerful than Drupal but never worked with it really so…

Drupal is powerful, and a real CMS. And in its last iteration, version 8, it’s not even a CMS anymore or just a CMS, it’s a framework. Nothing is impossible and you design the front and the backend. Requires real coders. Learning curve is steep. Design and integration is the most ungrateful thing on earth (I did it from Drupal 4 to 7). You spend so much time on integration and browser bugs that you hardly have time and energy to add interactions, fine tune things etc. One thing that is revelatory: these days I noticed, Dupal developers tend to propose responsivity with… 2 levels. The very very super bare minimum. It’s because it’s not easy. When I design for Drupal (and I now stop after the production of HTML5, I don’t do integration anymore), I build elastic layouts because I know that if I don’t, the responsivity’s going to be butchered, batched. By doing elastic at least there’s little left to do for responsivity.

Ok so, we could have a debate on each and every point of your list. To me, with this list, you’re closing doors before thinking about what the project can be.

If you like Webflow and try to find something similar, not only you’re not likely to, but it’s not going to happen before a while. Webflow is far from the competition. I understand why it’s too limited for your projects, totally, I’m only talking about the experience.

Now there was a time when CMS were the go to solution… to make a site like Yelp for example. But this time has passed. The CMS we described here are PHP/SQL based, the old world. If I had to make a serious project for a serious scalable site meeting all of your reqs, I’ll do it from scratch with modern tools like Node.js and a database like Mongo db (just an example). A real development. Like the Webflow team does… I guess they used React.js and a lot of other things. I used to say this is crazy to start out of a CMS, but I don’t think that way any more.

For 10 years I was asked to design “in the tool direction”. Now I use either Webflow or a mix of Webflow and the modern solution described above, and I design what I want, with tons of time left for fine tuning and interactions, UX analysis, A/B testing. And I NEVER have to debug anything regarding browser compatibility.


i don’t know anything about it but maybe check out craft


I’ve had good luck with both CloudCannon and CushyCMS but they are flat file CMS systems and they don’t store anything in a database. They are really simple to use and it’s a breeze setting up an exported Webflow site and integrating it.


I learned a lot just from reading your explanation here… Thanks for that… Care to share your opinion on Wordpress’ latest developments with Javascript and so…? I’ve always hated WP exactly because of these different UI’s and overcomplicating of stuff but I understand it’s still a broadly used, sort of industry standard framework and it just sounded to me like they are now trying to up their game (competing with browser based tools like webflow) and perhaps move towards node.js and more recent technologies, away from PHP… Did I get that right? What’s your opinion on that…?

Thanks a lot…

We had a discussion recently you can read here : Webflow to WordPress Conversion Tool :smile:

I’m not skilled enough in Wordpress anymore. I had hard time with the most recent themes.

Wordpress is definitely a standard. And their future is obviously a live editor. But for now all these cool modern features are spread across their backend. One UI for WP, one for the theme backend, one for a third party live editor… minimum. Working again after a while on a wordpress is sometime a scavenger hunt to find where you can modify something. But I am a bit too far from the WP world and not enough a developer to have a valuable opinion on WP. The only thing I can say is as a designer who want to concentrate on design, WP is way too much work for me, and too time consuming. Every time you really want to do something that doesn’t come out of the box of the theme you chose, you’re back into the PHP templates, adding CSS extra code at multiples places in the backend and things like this. With Webflow I do what I want down to the pixel level, I got used to that, what I produce is far better than before.


I hear ya… thanks for that man… I completely agree with you WP is a pain in the ass and just not worth it IMHO… just wanted to hear a second opinion… cheers…!

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Hi Diana, have you considered some of the newer CMS solutions, like Grav or Statamic? Gray is free which is a bonus. They not be exactly what you want but I thought I would at least recommend you check it out.

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Thanks all for such amazing support! :heart_eyes:

@vincent Your detailed written experience is definitely GOLD!

In response to your post reply:

  • Yes, I do mean Webflow’s collections and referencing … as well as other CMS features.

  • I have took a look at all of those well know cms; Joomla and Wordpress is definitely a no since they target smaller to mid-size businesses. More for blogs and websites, not really web apps. Drupal is in consideration but again for blogs and websites. Also, a big con is that the styling is very restricted to the content. As a designer I feel trapped by having to follow templates that are structured for the cms I chose to use … design should be free and flexible.

  • You are correct about modern tools such as Node.js, no dbs … and Webflow being built with react.js (I researched on their stack to look for inspiration … they also use node) … since this project is certainly very SERIOUS I have considered for some time to use such modern technologies (which I find to love) but since I have a very limited time frame I really debate on reinventing the wheel (with no experience)… therefore I fell in love with Webflow CMS right away but just can’t do with the limit of having to host with them … so a solution I came up is to find a CMS that could match my requirements just for the content and for other data (eg. client) I could use such modern technologies.

  • What are your thoughts on Flat File CMS vs database one? Flat - File Cms seems to be marketed as extremely fast and due to no db, there is no security vulnerabilities like sql injections. Have you checked them out?

@rileyrichter Thanks for the suggestion. I do like how CloudCannon allows inline editing. Have you’ve built any large enterprise sites withmthem?

@GodlessGlen Yes, I have checked them out. I am certainly considering … from how they market it to be fast and secure. I chatted with the Grav community and they seem quite active … but still fairly new. Funny thing is I came across a comment that you made months ago to Bob about Statamic to Grav. When I saw “GodlessGlen” … I was like … “isn’t he using Webflow too?”. I also did when I researched in TidyCMS. Small world.

Did you experience with TidyCMS, Grav or Statamatic? How do you like them?



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For the day I have looked into numerous CMS already. Some that seems neat and are lightweight includes:

Flat File =

Others =

Has anyone experienced with anyone of these tools in dept and hands on? Please share your experiences.

Which ones would you recommend?

It seems the more and more I research … the more and more solutions I find and the more and more difficult for me to decide. A lot of pressures really on me to choosing a solution that we will not regret due to any reasons.

Any guidance would be greatly appreciated.



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It’s been a while since I installed them and played around with them so it’s not fresh on my mind. But I would be more likely to move forward to Grav if I had to pick one of those simply because it’s free. Statamic is a one time charge per site and TidyCMS is an on-going hosted solution and not priced where I want. Frankly I find Tidy to be rather expensive. And just as bad as the price is the fact that they dropped support for all of their customers while they were working on their “new” updated service. That is completely unforgivable as far as I am concerned. The webflow team would never pull such as stunt.


Hmmm … I guess your right about Grav being the better choice since it could do what Statamic could and that it’s free and opensource … meaning it’s extendable. TidyCMS is also downloadable but no support is no good. :neutral_face:

Thanks for your advices.



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You’re welcome Diana. However, keep in mind that after the launch of the new TidyCMS, they stated that support will be available again. And after looking at the new features, I’m considering giving it a try myself.

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Here’s a few more worth that are worth investigation…

I have not personally used any of these, but again, they look very viable.

Maybe a future contender?

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What are your thoughts on Flat File CMS vs database one? Flat - File Cms seems to be marketed as extremely fast and due to no db, there is no security vulnerabilities like sql injections. Have you checked them out?

Webflow actually hosts dynamic content as static content (aka flat file structure) so all the speed and security benefits apply for Webflow CMS hosted sites. :sunflower:


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