A Comprehensive Analysis of Forestry and Netlify CMS

A Comprehensive Analysis of Forestry and Netlify CMS


When it comes to choosing the right Content Management System (CMS) for your organization, it's important to consider your specific needs and requirements. In this comparison guide, we will take a closer look at two popular CMS options: Forestry and Netlify CMS. Both of these CMS platforms offer unique features and capabilities, so let's dive in and explore what sets them apart.

Foundations of CMS

Before we delve into the specifics of each CMS, let's first discuss the foundational aspects that are essential for any CMS. Both Forestry and Netlify CMS are open-source and Git-based, which means that they leverage version control systems to manage and track changes made to your content. This allows for easy collaboration and ensures that your content is always up to date.

Forestry is built on the Jekyll framework, a popular static site generator written in Ruby. It automatically generates your site as a collection of static HTML files, which is then deployed to a hosting provider of your choice. Netlify CMS, on the other hand, works seamlessly with the Netlify hosting platform, offering an all-in-one solution for managing and deploying your website.

Both CMS options provide a user-friendly interface, allowing non-technical users to easily create, edit, and publish content without the need for coding knowledge. Now, let's explore the design and user experience aspects of these CMS platforms.

Design & User Experience

When it comes to design and user experience, Forestry and Netlify CMS offer slightly different approaches. Forestry provides a clean and intuitive interface that focuses on simplicity and ease of use. It offers a visual editor where you can see a live preview of your website as you make edits to the content. This allows you to have a better understanding of how your content will look once published.

Netlify CMS, on the other hand, offers a more customizable and flexible interface. It allows you to define your own content models and configure the CMS to match your specific website structure. This level of customization gives you more control over the design and layout of your website.

In terms of user experience, both CMS options prioritize ease of use and aim to provide a smooth and efficient content creation experience. The learning curve for both platforms is relatively low, making it accessible for both beginners and experienced users. Now, let's move on to the content management capabilities of these CMS platforms.

Content Management

Content management is a crucial aspect of any CMS, as it determines how efficiently you can create, organize, and publish your content. Let's explore how Forestry and Netlify CMS handle content management.

Forestry provides a user-friendly interface for managing your content. It offers a structured content approach, allowing you to create custom content types with defined fields. This enables you to have control over the structure and organization of your content. You can easily add, edit, and delete content, as well as organize them into categories or tags for better navigation and discovery.

One notable feature of Forestry is its support for content blocks. Content blocks are reusable components that can be composed together to create dynamic layouts and sections on your website. This flexibility allows you to build complex pages with ease, without the need for extensive coding.

Netlify CMS also offers a robust content management system. It allows you to define content models using Markdown or YAML, giving you the flexibility to structure your content to match your website's specific needs. It supports multiple content types and provides a user-friendly interface for managing and editing your content.

One standout feature of Netlify CMS is its real-time preview. As you make changes to your content, you can instantly preview how it will look on your website. This allows you to visualize your content in context and make any necessary adjustments before publishing.

Both Forestry and Netlify CMS have powerful content management capabilities, providing you with the tools and flexibility to create and organize your content effectively. Let's move on to discuss collaboration and user management.

Collaboration & User Management

Effective collaboration and user management are essential for organizations working on content creation and management. Let's explore how Forestry and Netlify CMS facilitate collaboration and user management.

Forestry offers robust collaboration features that make it easy for teams to work together. You can invite team members to join your project and assign them specific roles and permissions. This allows you to control who can access and modify content, ensuring that only authorized individuals can make changes. Forestry also provides a content review process, allowing team members to leave comments and suggestions on content before it is published.

Netlify CMS also provides collaboration capabilities, with the ability to invite team members and assign roles and permissions. It integrates seamlessly with Git, allowing for easy collaboration and version control. You can track changes made by different team members, enabling better teamwork and accountability. Netlify CMS also supports content staging, where you can preview and review changes before they are published.

Both CMS options offer user-friendly interfaces that make it easy for team members to collaborate and manage content. They prioritize security and ensure that only authorized users can access and modify content. Now, let's examine the performance, scalability, and hosting capabilities of Forestry and Netlify CMS.

Performance, Scalability, & Hosting

Performance, scalability, and hosting are crucial factors to consider when choosing a CMS. Let's compare how Forestry and Netlify CMS excel in these areas.

Forestry, being built on the Jekyll framework, offers excellent performance and scalability. Jekyll generates static HTML files, which can be cached and served quickly to website visitors. This results in fast page load times, improving the overall user experience. Additionally, since Jekyll sites are static, they can handle high traffic volumes efficiently, ensuring that your website remains responsive even during peak periods.

With Forestry, you have the freedom to choose your hosting provider. This means you can select a hosting service that aligns with your organization's specific requirements for performance, reliability, and scalability. Whether you opt for traditional hosting services or go for cloud-based solutions, Forestry gives you the flexibility to make the right choice for your organization.

Netlify CMS, as part of the Netlify platform, also offers excellent performance and scalability. Netlify uses a global content delivery network (CDN) to serve your website, ensuring that content is delivered quickly to visitors from various locations. Netlify's built-in caching, automatic image optimization, and asset compression help improve the performance of your website.

Netlify CMS's hosting capabilities are a standout feature. It provides hassle-free deployment and hosting directly from your version control repository. This means that as you make changes to your content, the updates are automatically deployed, ensuring that your website is always up to date. Netlify's scalable infrastructure ensures that your website can handle high volumes of traffic without compromising performance.

Both Forestry and Netlify CMS excel in terms of performance, scalability, and hosting capabilities. They offer reliable and efficient hosting options, enabling you to deliver fast and responsive websites to your visitors. Now, let's dive into the customization, extensions, and ecosystem aspects of these CMS platforms.

Customization, Extensions, & Ecosystem

Customization, extensions, and ecosystem are vital considerations when choosing a CMS. Let's explore how Forestry and Netlify CMS offer customization options and integrate with third-party tools.

Forestry provides a range of customization options to tailor your website to your exact needs. With Jekyll as its foundation, you have access to a wide variety of Jekyll themes and templates. This allows you to choose a design that aligns with your brand and style. Additionally, Forestry's content blocks feature enables you to create unique layouts and sections, providing flexibility in customizing the look and feel of your website.

Forestry also integrates seamlessly with various content management tools and services, such as popular static site generators, hosting providers, and third-party services. This allows you to leverage a wide ecosystem of tools to enhance your website's functionality, SEO, and overall performance. The active and supportive Forestry community provides ample resources and plugins to further extend the capabilities of the CMS.

Netlify CMS offers extensive customization options as well. With its flexible content models, you can define your own fields, data structures, and relationships to suit your specific requirements. This gives you the ability to create complex, dynamic websites with ease. Additionally, Netlify CMS integrates seamlessly with the Netlify platform, providing a wide range of build plugins, webhooks, and deployment options to enhance your workflow.

Netlify CMS also has a strong ecosystem with a thriving community of users and developers. As an open-source project, it benefits from continuous improvement and the contributions of the developer community. Netlify CMS integrates with popular static site generators and offers various plugins and extensions, allowing you to further extend its capabilities and integrate with third-party services.

Both Forestry and Netlify CMS offer robust customization options, enabling you to create unique and tailored websites. They integrate with a wide range of tools and have active ecosystems that provide ongoing support and development. Now, let's move on to discussing the SEO, marketing, and monetization aspects of these CMS platforms.

SEO, Marketing, & Monetization

SEO, marketing, and monetization are critical factors for the success of any website. Let's compare how Forestry and Netlify CMS support these aspects.

Forestry, being built on Jekyll, offers inherent SEO advantages. Jekyll generates static HTML files, which are search engine friendly and can be easily crawled by search engines. Additionally, Forestry provides built-in features such as customizable meta tags, URLs, and sitemaps, allowing you to optimize your website for search engines. This helps improve your website's visibility in search results and drive organic traffic.

Forestry also integrates with popular SEO tools and services. You can add third-party SEO plugins to enhance your website's SEO capabilities even further. Moreover, Forestry's content blocks feature allows you to create engaging and shareable content that can boost your marketing efforts.

Netlify CMS understands the importance of SEO as well. It provides options for defining metadata such as titles and descriptions for each piece of content, allowing you to optimize your website for search engines. Netlify CMS also integrates with various SEO plugins and services that can help you optimize your website's performance and visibility in search results.

When it comes to marketing, both Forestry and Netlify CMS provide features that make it easy to share and promote your content. They integrate with social media platforms, allowing you to share your content directly to your social channels. Additionally, both CMS options offer integrations with popular marketing tools, enabling you to track website analytics and measure the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns.

In terms of monetization, both Forestry and Netlify CMS provide the necessary tools for integrating advertising and monetization options into your website. You can easily integrate ad networks, such as Google AdSense, and implement sponsored content or affiliate marketing strategies. The flexibility of both CMS options allows you to customize and monetize your website in ways that align with your business goals.

Both Forestry and Netlify CMS offer features and integrations that support SEO, marketing, and monetization. You can optimize your website for search engines, promote your content through various channels, and monetize your website effectively. Now, let's move on to discussing the security and compliance aspects of these CMS platforms.

Security & Compliance

Security and compliance are crucial considerations when selecting a CMS, especially if you handle sensitive data or operate in industries with strict regulatory requirements. Let's compare the security and compliance features of Forestry and Netlify CMS.

Forestry takes security seriously and offers several measures to ensure the safety of your content and data. It provides role-based access control, allowing you to define specific permissions for different user roles. This ensures that only authorized individuals can access and modify your content. Forestry also regularly updates its software to address any security vulnerabilities and maintains a secure infrastructure to protect your data.

Forestry supports content backups, so you can rest assured that your content is safe even in the event of accidental deletions or data loss. It also offers integrations with authentication providers like GitHub, allowing you to leverage the security features provided by these providers.

Netlify CMS also prioritizes security and compliance. It employs industry-standard security practices, such as encryption in transit and at rest, to protect your data. Netlify CMS integrates with popular identity providers, enabling secure authentication and access control for your users.

Netlify, as the hosting platform for Netlify CMS, has a robust security infrastructure. It provides DDoS protection, continuous monitoring, and automatic security updates to safeguard your website. Netlify also follows industry best practices for compliance, including GDPR and CCPA, ensuring that your website adheres to regulatory requirements.

Both Forestry and Netlify CMS prioritize security and offer features to protect your content and data. They adhere to industry standards and provide tools for secure authentication and access control. Now, let's move on to discussing the migration, support, and maintenance aspects of these CMS platforms.

Migration, Support, & Maintenance

Migration, support, and maintenance are important factors to consider when choosing a CMS. Let's compare how Forestry and Netlify CMS handle these aspects.

Forestry offers a straightforward migration process, allowing you to seamlessly import your existing content from various CMS platforms or static site generators. Whether you are migrating from WordPress, Hugo, or another system, Forestry provides intuitive migration tools and guidance to help you smoothly transition your content.

Forestry has a dedicated support team that is responsive and helpful. They provide assistance with technical issues, answer questions, and offer guidance when needed. Forestry also offers documentation and tutorials to help you make the most of the CMS's features and capabilities. Additionally, there is an active community forum where users can share experiences and seek advice from fellow Forestry users.

Netlify CMS also offers migration tools and documentation to facilitate a seamless transition. If you are migrating from another CMS or static site generator, Netlify CMS provides step-by-step instructions to help you migrate your content without hassle. They also offer extensive documentation and guides to assist you in setting up and using their CMS effectively.

Netlify's support options include a ticket-based support system, where you can reach out to their team for assistance. They also have a community forum where users can exchange ideas and seek help from other community members. Netlify provides regular updates and maintenance to ensure the stability and security of their platform.

Both Forestry and Netlify CMS offer robust support and resources to assist you throughout your CMS journey. Whether it's migrating your content, troubleshooting technical issues, or seeking guidance, you can rely on both platforms to provide the support you need. Now, let's summarize the key points of our comparison.


In this comparison guide, we have explored the features and capabilities of Forestry and Netlify CMS, two popular Content Management Systems. While both CMS options share similarities in their foundational principles, they also have distinct features and strengths that cater to different needs.

Forestry, built on the Jekyll framework, offers a user-friendly interface, structured content approach, and extensive customization options. Its content blocks feature allows for flexible page layouts, and its integration with various tools and services provides a rich ecosystem for managing and optimizing your website. Forestry excels in performance and scalability, allowing you to leverage your choice of hosting provider.

On the other hand, Netlify CMS, integrated with the Netlify platform, provides a highly customizable interface, real-time preview, and seamless collaboration through Git integration. Its extensive ecosystem, including build plugins and deployment options, enhances your workflow and allows for efficient website development and management. Netlify CMS shines in terms of hosting, with its global CDN and scalable infrastructure.

When it comes to SEO, marketing, and monetization, both CMS options provide the necessary tools and integrations to optimize your website for search engines, promote your content, and monetize your website effectively. They also prioritize security and compliance, offering features such as role-based access control, encryption, and adherence to industry standards.

In terms of migration, support, and maintenance, both Forestry and Netlify CMS offer smooth migration processes, comprehensive documentation, and dedicated support teams to assist you along the way. You can rely on their resources and communities for guidance and troubleshooting when needed.

In summary, choosing between Forestry and Netlify CMS depends on your specific needs, preferences, and technical requirements. Consider factors such as ease of use, customization options, hosting capabilities, and the ecosystem of integrations that align with your organization's goals. Evaluating these aspects will help you make an informed decision and select the CMS that best suits your organization's needs.


Martin Dejnicki
Martin Dejnicki

Martin is a digital product innovator and pioneer who built and optimized his first website back in 1996 when he was 16 years old. Since then, he has helped many companies win in the digital space, including Walmart, IBM, Rogers, Canada Post, TMX Group and TD Securities. Recently, he worked with the Deploi team to build an elegant publishing platform for creative writers and a novel algorithmic trading platform.