This blog post describes factors that I believe differentiate Contentstack from competing SaaS headless CMS products considering only features that affect content delivery. I tried to focus on features that are not present in almost every SaaS headless CMS. Contentstack is not the only vendor that provides each of the features listed here, although I have not seen another product with anything like Contentstack’s modular blocks. This is my perspective based on my experience. If you are aware of other vendors with comparable or additional features, please comment on this blog post.
- Field Types: Contentstack supports a good balance of field types (at least asset, Boolean, checklist, datetime, dropdown, reference, HTML, link, markdown, multiline, number, radio, and single line) relative to other CMS that I have encountered, and it is extremely easy to implement custom field types.
- Multiple Values: Developers can specify that any field can contain multiple values, for example to associate several dates with an event.
- Groups: Contentstack allows grouping fields to separate them visually in the user interface and structurally in JSON representations. Groups can also repeat.
- Globals: Contentstack content types can use groups of fields defined at a global level, such as the fields to capture basic metadata for every type of page in a website. These globals reduce developer effort while making the CMS UI and JSON representations of different types of entries more consistent.
- Modular Blocks: I think that modular blocks are Contentstack’s most significant differentiating factor when it comes to data modeling, which is the critical element of any CMS implementation, including for content delivery. Rather than modeling each individual collection of data elements as a separate entry, modular blocks allow developers to implement flexible structures as fields nested within entries, balancing CMS usability and developer productivity against excessive data type normalization and allowing page modeling rather than page composition. Modular blocks can reduce the overhead of merging JSON from multiple sources, especially when each entry requires a separate HTTP call.
- SDKs: Some CMS that may market themselves as decoupled or even headless are relatively tightly coupled by requiring extensive use of vendor SDKs that may be available for only a subset of technology platforms. Contentstack provides SDKs that wrap its HTTPS APIs for developers to use with common mainstream technologies such as .NET Core, Java, PHP, NodeJS, and others, and you can call the APIs directly with any of these or with any technology that can speak JSON over HTTPS.