Apostrophe vs. Gatsby: A Comprehensive Comparison of Two Powerful Content Management Systems

Apostrophe vs. Gatsby: A Comprehensive Comparison of Two Powerful Content Management Systems


Welcome to our comprehensive comparison of Apostrophe and Gatsby, two popular content management systems (CMS) that cater to the needs of digital leaders and decision-makers. Both Apostrophe and Gatsby offer unique features and functionalities that can greatly enhance your organization's online presence and content management capabilities. In this guide, we will delve into various aspects of these CMS platforms, including their foundations, design and user experience, content management, collaboration and user management, performance and scalability, customization and extensions, SEO and marketing capabilities, security and compliance measures, as well as migration, support, and maintenance options. By the end, you should have a clear understanding of which CMS best suits your organization's requirements.

Foundations of CMS

Apostrophe is a robust CMS built on Node.js, a powerful JavaScript runtime. It leverages the Express framework to provide a solid foundation for managing and delivering content-rich websites. While Apostrophe is primarily designed for developers, its user-friendly admin interface makes it accessible for content creators and editors as well. On the other hand, Gatsby is a static site generator that uses modern web technologies such as React.js and GraphQL. It allows you to build incredibly fast and performant websites by preloading all the necessary assets during the build process. Gatsby's flexibility and scalability make it an excellent choice for organizations that prioritize speed and efficiency.

When it comes to ease of use, Apostrophe's drag-and-drop interface makes content creation and management intuitive for users of all technical levels. Its "widgets" system enables easy customization of content types without extensive coding experience. Conversely, Gatsby's learning curve may be steeper for those unfamiliar with React.js and GraphQL, but its powerful ecosystem provides endless possibilities for developers to create highly customized websites.

Regarding hosting, Apostrophe requires a Node.js environment, while Gatsby generates static HTML, CSS, and JavaScript files that can be hosted on any server or content delivery network (CDN). Both CMS platforms offer deployment options that can be tailored to meet your organization's specific needs.

In summary, Apostrophe and Gatsby have different foundations and are suitable for organizations with varying technical requirements and preferences. Apostrophe excels for those in need of a user-friendly CMS, while Gatsby is a top choice for organizations seeking a performant and flexible platform.

Design & User Experience

Design and user experience (UX) are crucial aspects of any successful website. Apostrophe provides beautifully designed templates and themes that can be customized to match your brand's identity. Its drag-and-drop interface enables users to easily create and arrange content blocks without the need for complex coding. Additionally, Apostrophe's responsive design capabilities ensure that your website looks great on various devices and screen sizes.

Gatsby, on the other hand, offers a highly customizable approach to design. With its access to an extensive library of pre-built React components, you can create unique and visually appealing websites. Gatsby also excels in its performance and loading speed, thanks to its static rendering and preloading of assets.

Both Apostrophe and Gatsby emphasize a user-centered approach to design, allowing you to create intuitive and seamless experiences for website visitors. Whether you prefer Apostrophe's simplicity or Gatsby's customization options, both CMS platforms offer the tools to create visually stunning websites that engage and delight your audience.

It is worth noting that while Apostrophe focuses primarily on content management, Gatsby's design capabilities are enhanced by its integration with popular design tools such as Figma or Sketch. This integration makes it easier for developers and designers to collaborate on creating visually engaging websites.

Content Management

Apostrophe shines in terms of content management capabilities. Its intuitive interface makes it easy to create, edit, and publish content. Administrators can define custom content types with specific fields to ensure consistency across the site. The dashboards provided by Apostrophe allow for easy organization and management of content, with seamless options for content revisions and version control.

Gatsby, as a static site generator, offers a different approach to content management. Content is sourced from various data providers, including headless CMS platforms, APIs, or markdown files. This flexible approach allows for greater control over content sources and enables the use of different data structures. However, this also means that content updates require rebuilding the site, which may not be as instantaneous as in a dynamic CMS like Apostrophe.

Both Apostrophe and Gatsby offer powerful content management capabilities, but the choice depends on your organization's needs. Apostrophe provides a user-friendly interface that simplifies content creation and management, making it an excellent choice for organizations with non-technical content creators. Gatsby, on the other hand, offers more flexibility and control over content sources, making it suitable for organizations that require complex integrations or have specific data requirements.

Ultimately, the best content management system for your organization depends on the nature of your content, your team's technical capabilities, and your workflow preferences.

Collaboration & User Management

Efficient collaboration and user management functionality are essential for organizations with multiple contributors and roles. Apostrophe offers robust user management features, allowing administrators to define different roles and permissions for various users. This ensures that only authorized individuals can access and modify specific areas or types of content. Apostrophe also supports collaborative content creation and editing with its seamless workflow, enabling multiple users to work simultaneously on different sections of a website.

Gatsby, being a static site generator, doesn't have inherent collaboration features. However, it can integrate with headless CMS platforms like Contentful or Strapi, which offer extensive collaboration functionalities. These headless CMS platforms provide role-based access controls, content versioning, and collaboration features for teams working on content creation and management.

If your organization requires extensive collaboration features within the CMS itself, Apostrophe is an excellent choice. However, if you prefer a headless CMS approach with greater flexibility and scalability, Gatsby combined with a headless CMS can provide the collaboration and user management capabilities you need.

It is important to consider the specific collaboration requirements of your organization when making a decision between Apostrophe and Gatsby.

Performance, Scalability, & Hosting

Performance and scalability are key factors to consider when choosing a CMS. Apostrophe is built on Node.js, which is known for its ability to handle high traffic and deliver fast responses. It leverages caching and server-side rendering to optimize website speed and performance. However, since Apostrophe is a traditional CMS, scalability may become a challenge as the website grows in complexity and traffic.

Gatsby's static site generation approach ensures exceptional performance by preloading assets and generating static HTML. This allows for near-instantaneous loading times and a seamless user experience, even with high traffic. Gatsby's ability to generate static files also makes it highly scalable, as the CDN can handle heavy traffic without straining server resources.

Regarding hosting, Apostrophe requires a Node.js environment, which can be hosted on various platforms such as AWS, Heroku, or dedicated servers. Gatsby, on the other hand, generates static files that can be hosted on any server or CDN. This gives you the freedom to choose the hosting provider that suits your organization's specific needs, whether it be a cloud hosting platform or a traditional web hosting provider.

Both Apostrophe and Gatsby offer excellent performance and scalability, but Gatsby's static site generation capabilities make it particularly well-suited for organizations that prioritize speed, performance, and scalability.

Customization, Extensions & Ecosystem

Customization and extensibility are crucial factors when selecting a CMS, as they determine the level of flexibility and functionality available to your organization. Apostrophe provides a wide range of customization options through its flexible "widgets" system. With Apostrophe, you can create custom content types, add fields, and design templates tailored to your organization's specific needs. Additionally, Apostrophe has a growing ecosystem of reusable modules, allowing you to enhance the functionality of your website with ease.

Gatsby's extensibility lies in its plugin system, which offers a vast library of pre-built plugins that integrate seamlessly with your Gatsby site. These plugins provide additional functionalities, such as SEO optimization, image optimization, analytics integration, and more. Gatsby's plugin system makes it easy to enhance your website's features without extensive coding.

Both Apostrophe and Gatsby have active and supportive communities, providing resources, tutorials, and support for customization and extension development. Apostrophe's community is primarily focused on developers, while Gatsby's community caters to both developers and designers.

Ultimately, the choice between Apostrophe and Gatsby for customization and extension capabilities depends on your organization's specific requirements. Apostrophe offers extensive customization options and a growing ecosystem of modules, making it ideal for developers seeking flexibility in designing and building websites. Gatsby's plugin system provides a wide range of pre-built functionality, offering a more streamlined approach to extending your website's features.

SEO, Marketing, & Monetization

Search Engine Optimization (SEO), marketing capabilities, and monetization options play a vital role in the success of any website. Apostrophe offers built-in SEO features, allowing you to easily optimize your content for search engines. It provides options for configuring meta tags, generating search engine-friendly URLs, and managing redirects. Additionally, Apostrophe integrates seamlessly with popular marketing tools, enabling you to track analytics, manage campaigns, and personalize user experiences.

Gatsby also offers strong SEO capabilities by generating static HTML files that are easily crawled by search engines. Its use of React.js and GraphQL enables high-performance, interactivity, and dynamic content loading, enhancing the user experience while maintaining search engine visibility. Gatsby integrates with various marketing tools, including analytics platforms, A/B testing tools, and email marketing services, allowing you to have a comprehensive marketing stack.

Regarding monetization, both Apostrophe and Gatsby support integrating e-commerce platforms and payment gateways. Apostrophe has modules to easily connect your website to popular e-commerce solutions, while Gatsby's extensive ecosystem provides plugins for e-commerce integrations and custom payment gateway implementations.

Overall, both Apostrophe and Gatsby provide robust SEO capabilities, marketing integrations, and monetization options. The choice between the two depends on your organization's specific requirements and preferences.

Security & Compliance

Security and compliance are critical considerations when choosing a CMS, especially for organizations handling sensitive data or operating in regulated industries. Apostrophe prioritizes security by adopting industry-standard security practices and regularly patching vulnerabilities. Its user management system allows for granular control over user access and permissions, ensuring that only authorized individuals can make changes to the website's content.

Gatsby, being a static site generator, offers enhanced security by eliminating some of the common attack vectors associated with dynamic CMS platforms. Since Gatsby generates static files, there is no direct access to a database or server, reducing the risk of server-side attacks. However, it is still essential to follow recommended security practices when hosting and maintaining Gatsby sites.

Regarding compliance, both Apostrophe and Gatsby can be customized to meet specific regulatory requirements. Apostrophe provides options for adding consent management, securing sensitive data, and implementing encryption measures. Gatsby can be extended with plugins that handle compliance-related functionalities, such as cookie consent banners and privacy policy generation.

When it comes to security and compliance, it is crucial to consider your organization's specific requirements and consult with your IT and legal teams to ensure that the chosen CMS meets all necessary standards and regulations.

Migration, Support, & Maintenance

Moving from one CMS to another can be a complex process, so it is essential to consider the ease of migration when selecting a CMS. Apostrophe provides a migration tool that aids in transferring content from other CMS platforms, making the transition smoother. It also has an active community, offering resources and support for migration-related challenges.

Gatsby offers flexibility in migration by allowing you to source content from various providers, making it easier to integrate with existing systems. However, migrating a traditional CMS to Gatsby requires careful planning and development work to ensure a seamless transition.

Regarding support and maintenance, Apostrophe provides comprehensive documentation, an active community, and professional support options for organizations that require additional assistance. Gatsby also has extensive documentation and an active community offering support and resources. However, Gatsby projects may require ongoing development and maintenance, as updates to plugins or dependencies might be required periodically.

It is crucial to assess your organization's migration capabilities and support requirements when considering Apostrophe or Gatsby as your CMS. Consulting with your IT team or engaging with professional support can help ensure a successful migration and ongoing maintenance of your chosen CMS.


In conclusion, both Apostrophe and Gatsby offer unique features and functionalities that cater to the needs of digital leaders and decision-makers. Apostrophe provides a user-friendly CMS with extensive content management capabilities and customization options. It is an excellent choice for organizations that prioritize ease of use and a gentle learning curve for non-technical content creators. On the other hand, Gatsby excels in performance, scalability, and flexibility. Its static site generation approach ensures lightning-fast websites and the ability to integrate with a variety of data sources and headless CMS platforms.

When making a decision between Apostrophe and Gatsby, consider the specific requirements of your organization, including design and user experience preferences, content management needs, collaboration and user management functionalities, performance and scalability expectations, customization and extension requirements, SEO and marketing capabilities, security and compliance needs, and migration and ongoing maintenance considerations. By carefully evaluating these factors, you can select the CMS that best aligns with your organization's goals and objectives, ensuring a successful digital presence.


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.