Grav vs. Pelican: A Comprehensive Comparison of Two Powerful Content Management Systems

Grav vs. Pelican: A Comprehensive Comparison of Two Powerful Content Management Systems


When it comes to selecting the right content management system (CMS) for your organization, it's important to consider the unique needs and goals of your business. In this comparison guide, we will dive into the features and capabilities of two popular CMS options: Grav and Pelican. Both platforms offer powerful tools for managing and publishing content, but they differ in terms of their approach and target audience.

Foundations of CMS

Grav and Pelican have different foundations when it comes to their underlying technologies. Grav is a file-based CMS that uses the flat-file architecture, which means that your website's content is stored as individual files rather than in a database. This approach provides flexibility, speed, and ease of deployment. On the other hand, Pelican is a static site generator that converts your content into static HTML files, which can then be served directly by a web server. This architecture offers security, performance, and simplicity, making it an excellent choice for smaller websites and blogs.

In terms of ease of use, Grav shines with its user-friendly admin panel, which allows users to manage and publish content intuitively. It offers a visual editing experience that is reminiscent of traditional CMS platforms. Pelican, on the other hand, requires some technical knowledge and proficiency with the command line as its content creation and management process involves writing content in plain text or using Markdown. While this may be a slight learning curve for non-technical users, it provides more control and flexibility for developers.

Design & User Experience

When it comes to design and user experience, both Grav and Pelican offer a range of themes and templates to choose from. Grav has a rich ecosystem of themes and plugins, allowing users to easily customize the look and feel of their websites. The platform provides a variety of options for layout, typography, color schemes, and more. Pelican, although not as extensive as Grav, still offers a decent selection of themes and templates that can be tailored to suit your website's requirements. Additionally, since Pelican generates static HTML files, the websites built with it tend to load faster, providing a seamless user experience.

Additionally, both CMS options offer responsive design capabilities, ensuring that your website looks great and functions well on various devices and screen sizes. Grav and Pelican also allow you to create multilingual websites, making it easier to reach a global audience. Overall, both platforms offer a solid foundation for designing and delivering a visually appealing, user-friendly experience.

Content Management

When it comes to content management, Grav and Pelican offer different approaches. Grav provides a robust admin interface that allows users to create, edit, and organize content effortlessly. Its intuitive content editor provides a familiar WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) interface, allowing users to format content without any technical knowledge. Grav's admin panel also includes features like media management, version control, and content scheduling, making it a suitable choice for content-heavy websites.

On the other hand, Pelican uses a file-based approach to content management. Users create content using plain text files or Markdown, which are then converted to HTML during the generation process. This approach provides more control and flexibility, especially for developers who prefer working with code directly. However, it may not be as user-friendly for non-technical content creators.

Both Grav and Pelican offer support for various content types, including blog posts, pages, media files, and more. They also provide built-in search functionality, allowing users and visitors to find content easily.

Collaboration & User Management

Collaboration and user management are essential aspects of a CMS, especially for larger organizations with multiple content contributors. Grav offers robust user management capabilities out of the box. It allows you to create user accounts with specific roles and permissions, ensuring that each contributor has the appropriate level of access. Grav also supports user authentication with popular services like LDAP or OAuth, making it easy to integrate with existing user management systems.

Pelican, on the other hand, does not have a native user management system. Since Pelican generates static HTML files without the need for a database, it doesn't have features for user registration or authentication. However, you can integrate third-party solutions or implement your own custom authentication system if needed.

For collaboration purposes, both Grav and Pelican support version control systems like Git, allowing multiple contributors to work on content simultaneously without conflicts. This feature is particularly valuable for teams working in a collaborative environment.

Performance, Scalability, & Hosting

When it comes to performance and scalability, both Grav and Pelican have their advantages. Grav's flat-file architecture and caching mechanisms contribute to its excellent performance, allowing it to handle large amounts of content efficiently. Additionally, Grav's lightweight nature ensures faster page loading times, providing a seamless user experience. However, since Grav relies on server-side processing to generate pages dynamically, it may have limitations in terms of scalability compared to static site generators like Pelican.

Pelican, being a static site generator, offers excellent performance and scalability. With Pelican, your website's content is converted into static HTML files during the generation process, eliminating the need for server-side processing. This results in faster loading times and the ability to handle high traffic loads without performance degradation. The static nature of Pelican also makes it easy to host your website on various platforms, including static hosting services, CDNs, or traditional web servers.

Customization, Extensions, & Ecosystem

Customization and extensibility are crucial factors to consider when choosing a CMS. Grav shines in this aspect, offering a thriving ecosystem of themes and plugins. The platform provides a vast collection of pre-built themes and templates that can be easily customized to match your brand's identity. Grav's plugin ecosystem is equally impressive, offering numerous extensions for added functionality such as SEO optimization, social media integration, forms, and more. This wide range of options allows you to tailor your website to meet specific requirements without the need for extensive development.

Pelican, although not as extensive as Grav, still provides a decent number of themes and plugins. Being a static site generator, Pelican's customization options primarily involve modifying the HTML and CSS directly, making it more suited for developers who prefer a hands-on approach. Pelican's simplicity also allows for easier integration with external tools and services, giving you the flexibility to extend your website's functionality as needed.

SEO, Marketing, & Monetization

In today's digital landscape, a CMS that supports SEO, marketing, and monetization features is essential. Grav comes with built-in SEO features, allowing you to optimize your website's metadata, URLs, and content structure easily. It also supports popular marketing tools such as Google Analytics, making it easier to track and analyze website traffic. Grav also offers various monetization options, including built-in e-commerce capabilities through plugins, allowing you to sell products or services directly from your website.

Pelican, being a static site generator, provides excellent SEO performance. The resulting static HTML files are optimized for search engines, ensuring high visibility in search engine results. While Pelican does not have built-in marketing features, it can easily be integrated with third-party tools for tracking and analyzing website traffic. When it comes to monetization, Pelican can be combined with external services or plugins to enable e-commerce functionality on your website.

Security & Compliance

Security and compliance are critical considerations, especially for organizations that deal with sensitive data or need to adhere to specific regulations. Grav offers robust security features, including access control, user authentication, and secure file storage. It also receives regular updates and security patches from its development team, ensuring that your website remains protected against emerging threats. Grav's active community also contributes to enhancing security by regularly auditing and improving the platform's codebase.

Similarly, Pelican's static site generation approach provides inherent security benefits. Since there is no server-side processing involved, there is a reduced risk of security vulnerabilities or attacks. However, Pelican's security depends on the hosting environment and server configuration. It is crucial to ensure that the server infrastructure is properly secured and up to date.

When it comes to compliance with industry regulations or standards, both Grav and Pelican can be made compliant by implementing necessary security measures and following best practices. It is recommended to consult with your organization's legal and compliance team to ensure adherence to specific requirements.

Migration, Support, & Maintenance

The ease of migration, availability of support, and maintenance requirements are essential considerations. Grav offers support for importing content from other CMS platforms, making the migration process relatively straightforward. The platform also has an active community forum, documentation, and tutorials, providing excellent community support. Additionally, Grav has a dedicated development team that regularly releases updates and bug fixes, ensuring the platform's longevity and ongoing support.

Pelican, being a static site generator, requires more involved migration if you're moving from a dynamic CMS. The process involves converting your existing content into a format compatible with Pelican's file-based structure. However, this can be a one-time effort, and once your content is migrated, you can enjoy the benefits of a fast and scalable static site. Pelican has an active community and documentation that offer support and guidance.

Maintenance requirements for both Grav and Pelican are relatively low compared to traditional CMS platforms. Regular updates and maintenance ensure security, performance, and compatibility with the latest technologies. However, since Grav is a more complex platform, it may require additional attention and technical expertise for maintenance and customization.


In conclusion, both Grav and Pelican offer unique features and advantages depending on your organization's needs and preferences. Grav, with its intuitive admin panel, rich ecosystem, and content-heavy capabilities, is well-suited for organizations looking for a user-friendly CMS with robust content management. On the other hand, Pelican's static site generator approach, excellent performance, and easy scalability make it a great option for smaller websites and blogs, especially for developers who prefer a hands-on approach and prioritize performance and security.

Ultimately, the choice between Grav and Pelican will depend on factors such as your organization's size, technical expertise, specific requirements, and long-term goals. It is recommended to evaluate both platforms side by side, considering your unique needs and testing them with a pilot project if possible.


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.