Contao vs. Grav: A Comprehensive Comparison of Leading Content Management Systems

Contao vs. Grav: A Comprehensive Comparison of Leading Content Management Systems


Welcome to our comprehensive comparison guide between Contao and Grav, two leading Content Management Systems (CMS) in the market. As digital leaders and decision-makers, it is crucial to conduct thorough research before determining which CMS is the right fit for your organization. In this guide, we will provide an in-depth analysis of the features, functionalities, and overall performance of both Contao and Grav, equipping you with the knowledge you need to make an informed decision.

Foundations of CMS

Contao is a PHP-based CMS that offers a structured and intuitive content management experience. With its modular architecture, Contao allows for the creation of complex websites while maintaining flexibility. On the other hand, Grav takes a different approach by utilizing a file-based structure and a flat-file database instead of relying on traditional relational databases. This file-based approach enables Grav to deliver faster page load times and improved performance compared to CMSs that heavily rely on databases.

In terms of ease of use, Contao provides a user-friendly interface with a straightforward setup process. Its intuitive backend allows content editors to easily manage and organize content, providing a seamless editing experience. Grav, while requiring a slightly steeper learning curve, offers a highly flexible and customizable framework that appeals to developers and tech-savvy users.

Both CMSs provide extensive documentation and support forums to assist users in getting started and troubleshooting any issues. Contao offers comprehensive documentation and frequent updates, ensuring that users have access to the latest features and security patches. Grav, being a more lightweight CMS, benefits from its active community of developers who contribute to the continuous improvement and expansion of the CMS's capabilities.

Next, let's delve into the design and user experience aspects of Contao and Grav to assess their respective strengths and weaknesses.

Design & User Experience

Contao offers a wide range of customizable themes and templates, allowing users to create visually appealing websites that align with their brand identity. The CMS provides a responsive design framework, ensuring that websites look great on various devices and screen sizes. Contao also supports multi-language websites, making it suitable for organizations targeting a global audience.

Grav, on the other hand, excels in terms of flexibility and design customization. With its sleek and modern flat-file architecture, Grav allows developers to create unique designs without being limited by predefined templates or themes. While this design freedom appeals to developers and experienced users, it may require more technical expertise and time investment compared to Contao's more user-friendly approach.

In terms of user experience, Contao offers an intuitive backend interface that simplifies content management for non-technical users. The system provides a clear structure for organizing pages and content elements, empowering users with an efficient workflow. Grav, with its file-based structure, offers a more minimalistic and developer-focused interface that prioritizes code editing and customization options.

Both CMSs support integrations with popular design tools and third-party plugins, ensuring that users have access to additional functionalities and elements. With Contao, users can easily extend the CMS's capabilities by utilizing its extensive plugin directory. Grav, being a flat-file CMS, allows for a lightweight and modular approach to design and development, making it an excellent choice for developers seeking more granular control over their websites' design and functionality.

Content Management

When it comes to content management, Contao offers robust features that cater to the needs of both small and large organizations. The CMS provides a hierarchical structure for creating and organizing content, facilitating the management of complex websites. Contao also offers a wide range of content elements and modules, allowing users to create dynamic and engaging content without the need for extensive coding knowledge. The CMS also includes built-in version control, simplifying the process of tracking and reverting to previous content versions.

Grav, with its file-based approach, offers a lightweight and efficient content management system. It provides a flexible content structure and markdown-based editing, allowing users to easily create and update content using a simple syntax. Grav's file-based CMS also ensures rapid content delivery, as content is served directly from the file system without the need for database queries.

Both Contao and Grav offer multi-site management capabilities, making them suitable for organizations with multiple websites or microsites. Contao allows for centralized content management across multiple sites, simplifying the process of maintaining consistent branding and content across different web properties. Grav, with its modular design, offers a scalable framework for managing multiple sites while providing flexibility in terms of customization and content sharing between individual sites.

As we move forward, let's explore the collaboration and user management features of Contao and Grav to assess which CMS better suits your organization's needs.

Collaboration & User Management

Contao offers a range of features to facilitate collaboration among content editors, administrators, and other stakeholders. The CMS allows for granular user permissions, enabling organizations to define access levels and roles for different users. Contao also provides a workflow system that allows for content review and approval processes, ensuring content quality and consistency.

Grav, while more developer-centric, still provides essential collaboration and user management features. It offers user account management, allowing administrators to create and manage user profiles with different permissions. Additionally, Grav supports the integration of third-party authentication services, making it possible to integrate existing Single Sign-On (SSO) solutions for user management.

Both CMSs offer version control and content history, ensuring that organizations can track changes made by different users and revert to previous versions if needed. Contao's version control system allows for easy comparison of content versions and provides a straightforward interface for reverting to earlier versions. Grav, with its file-based structure, offers a simplified version control system that can be integrated with popular version control tools, such as Git.

Now that we have examined collaboration and user management, let's dive into performance, scalability, and hosting capabilities of Contao and Grav to assess their ability to handle your organization's website demands.

Performance, Scalability, & Hosting

Contao offers excellent performance and scalability capabilities, with the ability to handle large volumes of content and traffic. Its modular architecture ensures efficient page loading and quick response times. When it comes to hosting options, Contao is compatible with various hosting providers and supports both shared hosting and dedicated servers. The CMS also has caching mechanisms in place to improve performance, reducing the load on the server.

Grav, with its flat-file structure, excels in terms of performance and scalability. The use of a file-based database allows for faster data retrieval and reduces the need for database queries, resulting in improved page load times. Additionally, Grav's lightweight design makes it highly scalable, ensuring that websites built on this CMS can handle significant traffic without sacrificing performance. In terms of hosting, Grav is compatible with various hosting providers and also supports headless CMS architectures, offering even more flexibility in deployment options.

Both CMSs offer built-in caching mechanisms and support for content delivery networks (CDNs), enabling organizations to further enhance their website performance and deliver content efficiently to audiences worldwide. Whether you choose Contao or Grav, you can expect reliable performance and scalability.

Next, let's explore customization, extensions, and the ecosystem surrounding Contao and Grav to assess their flexibility and ability to adapt to your organization's unique requirements.

Customization, Extensions, & Ecosystem

Contao boasts a vibrant ecosystem with a wide range of extensions and templates available. The CMS provides an intuitive extension repository, allowing users to explore and install various plugins, modules, and themes. This extensive ecosystem ensures that users have the flexibility to customize their websites and add additional functionalities without extensive development work. Contao also offers a Template Designer, which simplifies the process of creating and customizing website templates.

Grav, being a flat-file CMS, has a diverse ecosystem fueled by its active and passionate community of developers. The CMS offers a wide range of plugins and integrations, empowering users to customize their websites to their precise specifications. Grav's modular approach also allows developers to create custom themes and plugins that align with their specific needs.

Both Contao and Grav offer extensive documentation, tutorials, and support communities that ensure users can easily dive into the customization capabilities and leverage the available extensions. Whether you choose Contao or Grav, you can trust in their flexibility and adaptability to meet your organization's unique requirements.

As we move forward, let's explore the SEO, marketing, and monetization capabilities of Contao and Grav to gauge their effectiveness in promoting your organization's online presence and generating revenue.

SEO, Marketing, & Monetization

Contao provides a range of built-in SEO features and best practices, allowing organizations to optimize their websites for search engines. The CMS supports custom meta tags, friendly URLs, XML sitemaps, and more, ensuring that your content gets discovered by search engines and attracts organic traffic. Contao also offers integrations with popular marketing tools, allowing organizations to track website performance and engage with their audience effectively. When it comes to monetization, Contao provides features for e-commerce integration and the creation of paid member areas, empowering organizations to generate revenue from their websites.

Grav, being highly customizable, allows for granular SEO optimization, ensuring your websites are search engine friendly. The CMS supports friendly URLs, meta tags, and other on-page SEO elements. Grav also provides integration with popular marketing tools, enabling organizations to implement effective marketing campaigns. While Grav does not have built-in e-commerce features, its flexible framework allows for seamless integration with third-party e-commerce solutions.

Both CMSs provide the necessary tools and features to enhance your website's visibility, engage with your target audience, and generate revenue. Whether you prioritize SEO, marketing, or monetization, both Contao and Grav offer robust capabilities to support your goals.

Now, let's shift our focus to the crucial aspects of security and compliance that organizations need to consider when selecting a CMS.

Security & Compliance

Contao takes security seriously and provides regular updates to address any vulnerabilities. The CMS has a dedicated security team that focuses on identifying and patching security vulnerabilities promptly. Contao also offers features such as fine-grained access control, password policies, and secure file management to ensure the integrity and confidentiality of your website's data.

Grav, being a file-based CMS, provides a robust security framework by default. The use of a flat-file structure reduces the attack surface, making it more difficult for potential threats to exploit vulnerabilities. Grav also offers access control mechanisms and supports additional security measures, such as Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) plugins, to enhance the overall security of your website.

Both Contao and Grav adhere to industry best practices in terms of security and ensure that their CMSs comply with relevant data protection regulations. While both CMSs prioritize security, it is recommended to regularly update the CMS and implement additional security measures to mitigate potential risks.

Lastly, let's discuss the migration, support, and maintenance aspects of Contao and Grav to ensure a smooth transition and ongoing CMS management.

Migration, Support, & Maintenance

Contao provides detailed migration guides and support to assist organizations in transitioning from other CMSs or older versions of Contao. The CMS also offers long-term support (LTS) versions, ensuring stability and ongoing maintenance for organizations that prefer a more conservative approach. Additionally, Contao's active community and support forums provide a valuable resource for troubleshooting and obtaining assistance when needed.

Grav offers migration tools and documentation to simplify the migration process from other CMSs or static websites. The CMS also provides regular updates, bug fixes, and new feature releases to keep the CMS up to date. Grav's community forum and developer resources further supplement the support ecosystem, ensuring users have access to help and answers to their questions.

Both Contao and Grav have reliable support systems in place, making the transition and ongoing maintenance of your website hassle-free. Regardless of your choice, you can expect ongoing updates, bug fixes, and a supportive community to rely on.


In conclusion, both Contao and Grav are powerful Content Management Systems (CMS) that cater to different needs and user preferences. Contao excels in terms of user-friendliness, extensive customization options, and robust content management capabilities, making it an excellent choice for organizations seeking a straightforward and flexible CMS. On the other hand, Grav offers exceptional performance, scalability, and design customization, making it a preferred option for developers and organizations looking for a lightweight, file-based CMS.

As a digital leader or decision-maker, it is essential to consider your organization's specific requirements, technical expertise, and goals when selecting a CMS. By carefully evaluating the features, performance, user experience, customization options, and ecosystem surrounding Contao and Grav, you can make an informed decision that aligns with your organization's needs.

We hope this comprehensive comparison guide has provided you with valuable insights to guide your selection process. Remember to thoroughly evaluate each CMS's strengths and weaknesses based on your organization's priorities and requirements. Whichever CMS you choose, both Contao and Grav offer reliable and feature-rich solutions for your content management 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.