Orchard Core vs. Pelican: A Comprehensive Comparison of Two Powerful CMS Platforms

Orchard Core vs. Pelican: A Comprehensive Comparison of Two Powerful CMS Platforms


Welcome to our comprehensive comparison between Orchard Core and Pelican, two highly popular Content Management Systems (CMS). As a digital leader or decision-maker seeking the right CMS for your organization, it is crucial to understand the features and capabilities of each CMS in order to make an informed decision. In this comparison, we will cover various aspects of both Orchard Core and Pelican, including their foundations, design and user experience, content management capabilities, collaboration and user management, performance and scalability, customization and extensions, SEO and marketing features, security and compliance, as well as migration, support, and maintenance. Let's dive in and explore the similarities and differences between these two powerful CMS platforms.

Foundations of CMS:

Orchard Core is an open-source, modular, and extensible CMS built on the ASP.NET Core framework. It is designed to be versatile and adaptable, allowing developers to create highly customizable websites and applications. On the other hand, Pelican is a static site generator written in Python. It is known for its simplicity and ease of use, making it a great choice for bloggers and small websites. Both CMS solutions have their unique strengths and cater to different use cases.

In terms of ease of installation and setup, Pelican takes the lead. As a static site generator, Pelican does not require a database or server-side processing. This makes it quick and straightforward to get started. Orchard Core, however, requires a bit more technical knowledge and setup as it is a full-fledged CMS with database requirements and configuration.

When it comes to community support and documentation, both CMS platforms have active communities. Orchard Core benefits from being backed by Microsoft as part of the .NET Foundation, ensuring continuous development and support. Pelican, although not as widely known, also has a dedicated community of developers who contribute to its improvement and offer support through forums and documentation.

Overall, if you are looking for a simple and lightweight CMS for a personal blog or a small website, Pelican may be the right choice. However, if you require more advanced functionality, extensibility, and scalability for larger projects, Orchard Core should be considered.

Design & User Experience:

When it comes to design and user experience, both Orchard Core and Pelican provide flexibility and customization options. Orchard Core offers a wide range of visually appealing themes and templates that can be easily customized to match your brand's identity. With its powerful layout engine and support for responsive design, Orchard Core allows you to create stunning and user-friendly websites.

Pelican, being a static site generator, provides a simpler approach to design. It allows you to choose from various themes or create your own using HTML and CSS. While the design options are not as extensive as in Orchard Core, Pelican still offers enough flexibility to create visually appealing websites.

In terms of user experience, both CMS platforms offer admin interfaces that are intuitive and user-friendly. Orchard Core provides a feature-rich admin dashboard with drag-and-drop functionality, allowing users to easily manage and organize their content. Pelican, on the other hand, offers a minimalistic and straightforward admin interface that focuses on content creation and publishing.

Ultimately, the choice between Orchard Core and Pelican depends on your design requirements and the level of customization you seek. If you prioritize advanced design options and extensive theming capabilities, Orchard Core may be the better choice. However, if simplicity and a minimalistic approach are more important, Pelican could be the right fit for you.

Content Management:

Both Orchard Core and Pelican excel in content management capabilities, albeit in different ways. Orchard Core provides a robust and feature-rich content management system that allows you to create, organize, and publish content with ease. It offers a flexible content modeling system that supports custom content types, taxonomies, and relationships between content items.

Pelican, as a static site generator, takes a different approach to content management. It treats content as simple files, typically in Markdown or reStructuredText format. While this simplicity may be appealing for certain use cases, it may lack some of the more advanced features offered by Orchard Core, such as versioning, content workflows, and multilingual capabilities.

However, where Pelican shines is in its simplicity and ease of content creation. With its straightforward file-based approach, Pelican allows content creators to focus on writing and publishing without the need for a complex CMS interface. Additionally, since Pelican generates static HTML files, websites built with Pelican tend to have excellent performance and caching capabilities.

Ultimately, the choice between Orchard Core and Pelican for content management depends on the complexity of your content requirements. If you need advanced workflows, multilingual support, and robust content modeling capabilities, Orchard Core is the way to go. On the other hand, if simplicity and performance are your main priorities, Pelican may be the better fit for your organization.

Collaboration & User Management:

Collaboration and user management are crucial aspects of any CMS, especially for larger organizations that require multiple users with varying roles and permissions. Both Orchard Core and Pelican offer features and capabilities to facilitate collaboration and user management, although they differ in their approaches.

Orchard Core provides a comprehensive user management system that allows you to create and manage user accounts, assign roles and permissions, and control access to different parts of the CMS. It supports authentication and authorization mechanisms, ensuring secure user access to the administrative interface and content editing capabilities.

Pelican, being a static site generator, does not have built-in user management features. However, you can integrate third-party authentication systems or deploy your Pelican-generated site on platforms that offer user management functionality. This allows you to leverage existing user management systems, taking advantage of their advanced features while still benefiting from Pelican's simplicity and performance.

Whether you choose Orchard Core or Pelican for collaboration and user management depends on your specific requirements. If you need an all-in-one CMS with built-in user management capabilities, Orchard Core is the logical choice. However, if you prefer to integrate external user management systems and prioritize simplicity, Pelican offers the flexibility to do so.

Performance, Scalability, & Hosting:

Performance, scalability, and hosting are crucial considerations when selecting a CMS, as they directly impact the user experience and the ability to handle increasing traffic and demand. Both Orchard Core and Pelican have their strengths in terms of performance and scalability.

Orchard Core, being built on the ASP.NET Core framework, benefits from the performance optimizations and scalability features provided by the underlying framework. It leverages the power of the .NET ecosystem, which includes caching, load balancing, and other performance-enhancing capabilities. Additionally, Orchard Core supports various hosting options, including self-hosting, cloud hosting, and platform-as-a-service solutions.

Pelican, as a static site generator, generates static HTML files that can be served directly by a web server, such as Nginx or Apache. This inherently provides excellent performance and caching capabilities, improving the overall website speed. Additionally, Pelican can be easily hosted on various platforms, including shared web hosting, content delivery networks (CDNs), and static site hosting services.

When it comes to scalability, Orchard Core typically performs well in handling large amounts of content and concurrent user requests. With its modular and extensible architecture, you can scale your Orchard Core application horizontally by deploying it to multiple servers or by leveraging cloud platforms that offer auto-scaling capabilities.

Pelican, being a static site generator, is especially suited for small to medium-sized websites that do not require dynamic content or real-time updates. However, if your website needs to handle rapidly changing content or user-generated interactions, the limitations of static site generation may hinder scalability.

In conclusion, if performance, scalability, and extensive hosting options are your top priorities, Orchard Core is the recommended choice. On the other hand, if simplicity, speed, and ease of hosting are more important, Pelican provides an excellent solution for smaller websites without complex dynamic requirements.

Customization, Extensions, & Ecosystem:

Customization, extensions, and the availability of a thriving ecosystem are essential factors to consider when choosing a CMS. Both Orchard Core and Pelican offer customization options and extensions, although they differ in their approaches.

Orchard Core provides a modular and extensible architecture, allowing you to add custom modules and features to suit your specific needs. It offers a wide range of modules and themes created by the community, which you can easily customize or extend. Additionally, Orchard Core follows the open-source philosophy, enabling developers to contribute their own modules and themes to the ecosystem.

Pelican, being a static site generator, lacks the extensibility and module-based approach of Orchard Core. However, it provides a simple and flexible structure that is easy to customize and extend using Python programming. With Pelican, you have the freedom to create custom plugins or modify the core functionality to meet your requirements.

While both CMS platforms have an active user community, Orchard Core benefits from the support and contributions of the broader .NET community. This ensures a wider selection of modules, themes, and resources. Pelican, although not as widely known, has a dedicated user base of Python developers who contribute to its ecosystem of plugins and themes.

If you value extensive customization options and a large ecosystem, Orchard Core is the recommended choice. However, if you prefer a simpler, lightweight CMS that allows for custom programming and flexibility, Pelican may be the better fit for your organization.

SEO, Marketing, & Monetization:

For organizations aiming to achieve better search engine visibility, effective marketing strategies, and possible monetization, the CMS platform plays a crucial role. Both Orchard Core and Pelican provide features and capabilities to support SEO, marketing, and monetization efforts.

Orchard Core offers various built-in SEO features and extensions that help improve search engine rankings and optimize website content. It provides features like customizable URLs, metadata management, XML sitemaps, and integration with popular SEO plugins. Additionally, Orchard Core supports integration with marketing automation tools and customer relationship management (CRM) systems, enabling you to implement targeted marketing campaigns and track user interactions.

Pelican, although not as feature-rich as Orchard Core in terms of SEO and marketing, still allows you to optimize your website for search engines and implement basic marketing strategies. You can customize meta tags, add structured data markup, and leverage external tools and services to enhance SEO and marketing efforts. However, advanced features and integrations may require additional customization or third-party plugins.

In terms of monetization options, Orchard Core provides integration with various e-commerce platforms and payment gateways, allowing you to sell products, subscriptions, or digital downloads directly from your website. It offers a wide range of extensions and modules to support different monetization strategies.

On the other hand, Pelican, being a static site generator, requires additional manual integration or custom development to implement monetization features. This makes Pelican more suitable for websites that rely on third-party services or platforms for monetization.

In conclusion, if SEO, marketing, and monetization are critical aspects for your organization, Orchard Core offers a more comprehensive and integrated solution. However, if you have simpler requirements or prefer to integrate with external tools and services for SEO and monetization, Pelican can still be a viable choice.

Security & Compliance:

Security and compliance play a vital role in selecting a CMS, especially for organizations that handle sensitive data or operate in regulated industries. Both Orchard Core and Pelican prioritize security and provide measures to ensure the protection of data and compliance with security standards.

Orchard Core benefits from being built on the ASP.NET Core framework, which includes various security features and best practices. It provides protection against common web vulnerabilities, such as cross-site scripting (XSS) and cross-site request forgery (CSRF). Additionally, Orchard Core follows secure coding practices and promotes adherence to industry standards, ensuring your website or application is built with security in mind.

Pelican, as a static site generator, is inherently more secure compared to dynamic CMS platforms. Since it generates static HTML files, the attack surface is significantly reduced, minimizing the potential for security vulnerabilities. However, it's important to note that Pelican's security heavily depends on the underlying web server and hosting environment.

For compliance with regulations such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) or the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), both Orchard Core and Pelican can be configured to meet specific requirements. However, given its flexibility and extensibility, Orchard Core provides more robust features and tools to ensure compliance.

Ultimately, the choice between Orchard Core and Pelican for security and compliance depends on the sensitivity of your data and the specific regulatory requirements you need to meet. If strong security measures and compliance features are critical, Orchard Core is the recommended choice. However, if you prioritize simplicity and have relatively lower compliance requirements, Pelican can still provide a secure CMS solution.

Migration, Support, & Maintenance:

Migration, ongoing support, and maintenance are important considerations when adopting a new CMS. Both Orchard Core and Pelican offer support and maintenance options, although their approaches differ.

Orchard Core, being an actively maintained open-source CMS with strong community support, offers continuous updates and bug fixes. It follows a release cadence and provides long-term support versions for stability. Additionally, Orchard Core offers extensive documentation, forums, and community resources, making it easier to find support and guidance.

Pelican, despite having a smaller community compared to Orchard Core, still provides support through forums and online resources. However, it's important to note that Pelican may require more technical knowledge and customization compared to Orchard Core, which may impact the ease of ongoing maintenance.

In terms of migration, Orchard Core provides import/export functionality that allows you to migrate content from other CMS platforms, making the transition smoother. Additionally, the Orchard Core ecosystem includes tools and modules that facilitate data migration from popular CMS solutions.

Pelican, being a static site generator, requires a different approach to migration. You would typically export your content and templates from the previous CMS, convert them to the Pelican format, and then generate the static website. This process may require more manual effort compared to Orchard Core's import/export functionality.

In conclusion, if ongoing support, maintenance, and ease of migration are important factors, Orchard Core is the recommended choice. However, if you have the technical expertise and prefer a simpler CMS that requires less ongoing maintenance, Pelican can still be a viable option.


In conclusion, both Orchard Core and Pelican are powerful CMS platforms with their own strengths and areas of focus. Orchard Core offers a robust, extensible, and feature-rich solution that is well-suited for larger projects requiring advanced functionality, scalability, and customizability. Pelican, on the other hand, provides a lightweight, easy-to-use, and performant CMS option, particularly suitable for smaller websites or personal blogs.

When making a decision between Orchard Core and Pelican, it is crucial to assess your organization's specific requirements, including design preferences, content management needs, collaboration and user management functionalities, performance and scalability considerations, customization requirements, SEO and marketing strategies, security and compliance demands, as well as ongoing support and maintenance expectations.

By carefully evaluating your needs and comparing them to the detailed analysis provided in this guide, you can confidently select the CMS that best aligns with your organization's goals and objectives. Remember, the right CMS choice can significantly impact your online presence, user experience, and overall success in the digital world.


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.