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

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


Welcome to our comprehensive comparison guide between Pelican and ProcessWire, two popular content management systems (CMS). In today's digital landscape, having a flexible and efficient CMS is crucial for organizations to manage their online content effectively. Whether you are a small business, a blog owner, or an enterprise-level company, choosing the right CMS can significantly impact your digital presence and streamline your content workflows. In this guide, we will dive deep into the features and capabilities of Pelican and ProcessWire, helping you make an informed decision for your organization.

Foundations of CMS

Pelican and ProcessWire have different foundations that set them apart in terms of how they approach content management. Pelican is a static site generator that uses Python as its core programming language. It follows a simple yet powerful concept - you write your content in Markdown or reStructuredText, and Pelican generates a completely static website that can be easily hosted on any web server. On the other hand, ProcessWire is a PHP-based CMS that offers a dynamic and database-driven approach to content management. It provides a user-friendly graphical interface to manage content, enabling non-technical users to easily create, edit, and publish content without the need for coding knowledge.

While Pelican's static site generation approach excels in terms of speed, security, and scalability, it requires some technical expertise to set up and customize. ProcessWire, with its dynamic nature, allows for more flexibility and real-time content editing. This makes it a better fit for websites that require frequent content updates and collaborative workflows, such as news portals or e-commerce platforms.

When considering the foundations of these CMS, it's essential to assess your organization's specific needs regarding content management and development workflow to determine which approach aligns better with your requirements.

Now let's move on to exploring how Pelican and ProcessWire differ in the areas of design and user experience.

Design & User Experience

The design and user experience of a CMS play a crucial role in determining how easily content creators and editors can work within the system. Pelican, being a static site generator, gives you complete control over the design and layout of your website. You can choose from a wide range of pre-designed templates or create your own using HTML, CSS, and Jinja2 templating. This level of customization allows you to create visually stunning websites that align with your brand's identity.

ProcessWire, on the other hand, offers a more intuitive and user-friendly interface for managing content. Its admin panel provides drag-and-drop functionality, making it easy to arrange content blocks and customize page layouts without any coding skills. ProcessWire also comes with a variety of built-in templates and themes, allowing users to quickly apply different designs and switch between them, depending on their preferences.

In terms of user experience, both Pelican and ProcessWire offer straightforward interfaces that are relatively easy to learn and navigate. However, Pelican may require more technical knowledge upfront, as it involves setting up the static site generator and customizing the templates. ProcessWire, being more user-friendly, enables non-technical users to start managing content right away with minimal learning curve.

Next up, let's delve into the content management features of Pelican and ProcessWire.

Content Management

Content management is at the core of any CMS, and both Pelican and ProcessWire provide robust tools for creating, organizing, and publishing content. Pelican's main strength lies in its ability to generate static websites quickly and efficiently. You can write your content in Markdown or reStructuredText, organize it in directories and subdirectories, and Pelican will convert it into HTML pages that can be served statically. This approach eliminates the need for a database, resulting in faster page loads and improved security.

ProcessWire, on the other hand, offers a more traditional content management system experience. Through its intuitive admin interface, you can create pages, add multimedia elements, and format content using a familiar WYSIWYG editor. The dynamic nature of ProcessWire ensures that changes are immediately reflected on the live website, making it suitable for websites that require frequent updates.

Both Pelican and ProcessWire allow you to create custom content types, such as blog posts, product pages, or news articles, and assign specific fields and attributes to each type. This flexibility enables you to tailor the CMS to your unique content requirements.

When it comes to content management, consider whether you prioritize speed and security or real-time editing and collaborative workflows, as this will help you determine which CMS suits your organization's needs better.

Collaboration & User Management

Efficient collaboration and user management features are vital, especially for organizations with multiple content creators and editors. Pelican, as a static site generator, does not offer built-in collaboration features out of the box. However, you can integrate Pelican with version control systems like Git, allowing multiple contributors to work on content simultaneously and facilitating efficient versioning and review processes. Pelican also supports plugins that can extend its functionality to include user roles and permissions management, enabling you to control who has access to specific parts of your website.

ProcessWire, being a dynamic CMS, excels in terms of collaboration and user management. It provides a robust user and permission system that allows you to create different user roles with varying levels of access and control. You can assign specific roles to different content creators, editors, and administrators, ensuring that each user has the appropriate permissions to perform their tasks. ProcessWire also offers workflow management features, such as content approval processes and user activity logs, facilitating smooth collaboration and content publishing workflows.

Consider the size of your content team and the level of collaboration required when evaluating the collaboration and user management capabilities of Pelican and ProcessWire.

Next, let's discuss the performance, scalability, and hosting aspects of these CMS.

Performance, Scalability, & Hosting

Performance and scalability are critical factors to consider when choosing a CMS, as they directly impact the speed, reliability, and user experience of your website. Pelican's static site generation approach ensures exceptional performance by generating HTML files that can be served directly by the web server, eliminating the need for database queries or dynamic content generation. This results in lightning-fast page loads and minimal server resource usage. In terms of scalability, Pelican can handle high traffic volumes and large websites efficiently, as it generates static files on-demand and can be deployed on a CDN (Content Delivery Network) for global availability.

ProcessWire, being a dynamic CMS, relies on a database to generate content dynamically. While this offers real-time editing capabilities, it can introduce some overhead in terms of database queries and server resources. However, ProcessWire is designed to handle scalability effectively, and with proper server configurations, caching mechanisms, and optimization techniques, it can deliver excellent performance even under heavy loads.

Both Pelican and ProcessWire can be hosted on a variety of platforms, including traditional web hosting services, cloud providers, and virtual private servers. Pelican's static nature allows for easier deployment on various hosting environments, while ProcessWire's PHP-based dynamic nature may require specific server configurations, such as PHP versions and modules. Consider your organization's hosting preferences and requirements when evaluating the performance and scalability aspects of these CMS.

Now let's move on to discussing the customization options, extensions, and ecosystems available for Pelican and ProcessWire.

Customization, Extensions, & Ecosystem

Pelican's customization options are extensive, primarily because it relies on templates and static site generation. You can create your own HTML templates, apply custom CSS styles, and leverage Jinja2 templating engine to define dynamic elements within your website. Pelican also has a vibrant community that provides a wide range of pre-designed themes and plugins, allowing you to enhance the functionality and appearance of your website with ease.

ProcessWire offers a highly extensible ecosystem with a vast collection of modules and plugins. You can extend the core functionality of ProcessWire by installing additional modules for various purposes, such as form builders, media management, e-commerce capabilities, and SEO optimization. Additionally, ProcessWire has its own built-in API, allowing developers to create custom modules and templates, further expanding its functionality.

Consider the level of customization and specific features you require for your website, as well as the availability of themes, plugins, and community support when evaluating the customization options of Pelican and ProcessWire.

Next, let's discuss the SEO, marketing, and monetization features offered by Pelican and ProcessWire.

SEO, Marketing, & Monetization

Ensuring your website is search engine optimized, and equipped with marketing and monetization capabilities is crucial for achieving your online goals. Pelican, being a static site generator, produces highly SEO-friendly websites that load quickly, have clean HTML markup, and are easy for search engines to crawl and index. However, Pelican does not offer built-in marketing features or monetization options out of the box, requiring you to integrate third-party tools or customize the system to meet your specific requirements.

ProcessWire provides SEO-friendly URLs, customizable metadata, and built-in SEO modules, making it easier to optimize your website for search engines. It also offers integrations with popular marketing tools like Google Analytics, allowing you to track visitor behavior and measure the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns. Furthermore, ProcessWire can be extended with monetization modules, enabling you to implement advertising networks, membership systems, or e-commerce functionality seamlessly.

Consider your organization's SEO strategies, marketing goals, and monetization requirements when evaluating the SEO, marketing, and monetization features of Pelican and ProcessWire.

Now let's move on to discussing the security and compliance aspects of these CMS.

Security & Compliance

Security is a paramount concern for any organization managing online content, and both Pelican and ProcessWire offer robust security features to protect your website. Pelican's static site generation approach inherently eliminates many security vulnerabilities associated with dynamic CMS. The resulting static files are less prone to hacking attempts, SQL injections, and other common web exploits. However, as with any web application, you should ensure that your hosting environment, server configurations, and website deployments are properly secured.

ProcessWire follows industry-standard security practices and provides various security-related modules and features. It offers role-based access controls, user authentication mechanisms, and supports SSL/TLS encryption for secure data transmission. ProcessWire also benefits from its active community, which keeps the CMS up-to-date with security patches and regularly audits the codebase for vulnerabilities. To maintain the highest level of security, ensure that you regularly update ProcessWire and follow recommended security practices.

Compliance with data protection regulations and accessibility guidelines may also be crucial for your organization. Both Pelican and ProcessWire can be customized and configured to meet various compliance standards and accessibility requirements. Evaluate your organization's specific compliance needs and consider the available tools, features, and community support when assessing the security and compliance aspects of these CMS.

Finally, let's discuss the migration, support, and maintenance considerations for Pelican and ProcessWire.

Migration, Support, & Maintenance

Migrating from one CMS to another can be a significant undertaking, and the availability of migration tools and support is essential. Migrating from other CMS to Pelican might involve manually converting your existing content into Markdown or reStructuredText format. However, Pelican provides comprehensive documentation and helpful resources that guide you through the migration process step-by-step. Additionally, Pelican's active and friendly community is always ready to assist you with any migration-related questions or challenges you might face.

ProcessWire offers built-in functionality for importing content from various CMS, such as WordPress or Drupal. The automated content importers can significantly simplify the migration process and save valuable time. ProcessWire also provides extensive documentation and user support forums, where you can find answers to common migration questions or request assistance from other experienced users.

When it comes to ongoing support and maintenance, Pelican and ProcessWire differ in their approaches. Pelican's static nature reduces the need for regular updates and maintenance, as the generated static files can be deployed and cached on a CDN without requiring active server-side management. ProcessWire, being a dynamic CMS, requires regular updates to its core system and any installed modules to ensure security, stability, and compatibility. The ProcessWire community, along with the core development team, actively supports the CMS, providing regular updates, bug fixes, and new feature releases.

Consider the migration efforts, available support resources, and your organization's maintenance capabilities when evaluating the migration, support, and maintenance aspects of Pelican and ProcessWire.


After a comprehensive comparison of Pelican and ProcessWire, it is evident that they cater to different needs and use cases. Pelican's static site generation approach offers exceptional speed, security, and scalability, making it an excellent choice for websites with low content update requirements and a focus on performance. ProcessWire, on the other hand, excels in dynamic and collaborative content management, providing a user-friendly interface and comprehensive features for frequent updates and team collaboration. The choice between Pelican and ProcessWire ultimately depends on your organization's specific requirements, priorities, and expertise. By considering factors such as content management needs, collaboration requirements, customization options, performance expectations, and security considerations, you can make an informed decision that best aligns with your organization's goals.


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.