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Node.js cms framework comparison

Node.js is becoming more and more popular and we can find an increasing number of frameworks available for different purposes. As the community is growing, so grows the user base of all of these frameworks.

Regarding the WEB, one framework type is exceptionally important. If we examine the World Wide Web today, we see, that 40% of the existing websites are using some kind of content management system.

CMS definition

CMS is the abbreviation of Content Management System and it is a commonly used framework type on the web. If you google it, you will find the following definition:

A content management system (CMS) is a computer application that allows publishing, editing and modifying content, organizing, deleting as well as maintenance from a central interface. Such systems of content management provide procedures to manage workflow in a collaborative environment.


Shortly: CMS helps to manage the content of our websites, providing a GUI to create / modify / organize / publish and delete content.

Though the general aim is the same, there are many different solutions and types. We can categorize them according to the following aspects:

Functionality aspect:
There are three popular types of use cases: blog systems, wikis and online shopping solutions. Of course there are more ways to use them, in pretty much any way you can imagine.

Extendibility aspect:
Some CMSs are “ready”, you can use them as they are, but not really extend them. Some others make it really easy to add new features and functionality. They are the plugin based ones.

End user aspect:
Some CMSs are really easy to use and they require no programming knowledge. On the other side, some others are directly developed for programmers to make their work easier.

Today WordPress is obviously dominating the CMS market as it has a share of 60% out of all the websites using CMS. WordPress is built on PHP and mostly used as a blogging platform, but this is not the only use case. It has an amazing plugin system and an unbelievable huge list of useful plugins. It can be used by anybody, not just programmers.

Node.js based CMS options

Ok, PHP is the winner, but what about node.js? Is there anything interesting in the hands of the fast growing community? Here are the most interesting projects:

Note: After “Github” you will find three Github metrics for each CMS. These metrics are the following: stars / forks / last commit, each recorded in April, 2015. As you’ll see, these metrics give quite a good picture about the popularity of these systems.


Github: 14.702 / 3.453 / 2 days
Ghost is an open source blogging platform and at this time, it is the most famous CMS built on node.js. It provides two versions, one for everyone and one for developers.
They started their work thanks to a successful kickstarter campaign. They are also famous about their transparency policy as they have a public revenue dashboard. If you are looking for an easy blogging system, Ghost is a good choice. They also provide a nice marketplace for themes.


Github: 3.005 / 532 / 1 day
KeystoneJS is an open source framework built for developers. As they claim, they make it really easy to build database-drives websites or APIs. That means, you have to add and configure just one data-model and you’ll get an automatically generated admin interface for CRUD (create, read, update, delete) operations and an API. That makes the development process pretty fast. They are using Express and MongoDB and these are the only prerequisites before installing their product.
They have pretty big “clients” like Continental, Sony or Vodafone, it’s not a wonder that they are the second most famous CMS built on node.js. They provide great docs, community and examples.


Github: 1.559 / 286 / 3 month
Calipso is a simple CMS system using Express and MongoDB. They say, they are built along similar themes to WordPress and they would like to be simple, fast and flexible. They idea is really good, but:
1. Their github repo activity does not seem too promising.
2. They have just five community modules, that’s not a good sign. (The strength of WordPress is in their plugins.)
Despite the numerous stars on the github repo I wouldn’t recommend this project at this time, later it might be worth to visit again.

Reaction Commerce

Github: 775 / 150 / 7 days
Reaction Commerce is a really interesting project as they are the only one building something for theeCommerce industry. They are using Meteor, Node.js (note: interesting combination), MongoDB and CoffeScript and it is launched as a Docker container.
They promise “real time merchandising”, real time pricing, promotions and conversion monitoring. They are functional but unstable, with HEAVY ongoing development.


Github: 705 / 91 / 2 days
Pencilblue looks like something quite similar to Calipso but with a much better marketing. The project is using MongoDB and Bootstrap and it supports AngularJS. They are also totally extendible and they are also providing their plugin system. They have 14 plugins at the moment and just 3 of them were developed by community contributors. Anyway, they have useful tutorials, documentation, blog posts, they organize events and they are providing partnerships. And maybe the most important, they are really active on GitHub. It’s worth to keep and eye on this project.


Github: 558 / 69 / 10 days
Apostrophe provides a content-driven solution just like KeystoneJS. They have their installer in the form of an npm package and they are also using mongoDB. They mention simple templating and modular functionality.
It’s kind of surprising, but originally they started in 2007 as a Symfony CMS. The project activity on Github is moderate.


Github: 301 / 85 / 6 hours
Cody is the first framework using MySQL, otherwise they are also using Express as backend framework – version 4. The framework is written for developers and claims to be user friendly with the use of wysiwig editors and drag-and-drop solutions. Multi language support is built in and they host your website for free if it’s using Cody. In the last time they are quite active on Github.


Github: 255 / 69 / 6 months
TiddlyWiki is also a unique project as they are focusing on building wikis. As they have no competitors, TiddlyWiki is highly recommended in case you want to create wiki using JavaScript.


Github: 176 / 28 / 2 years
Nodize is a CMS for coffescript lovers. It’s and adoption of the Ionize CMS which is based on PHP, not a wonder that they are using MySQL. They have good ideas like cloud hosting, multi language support, caching, SEO friendliness, drag & drop admin, etc., but the GitHub project is actually dead for years.


Github: 19 / 2 / 3 months
TaracotJS is using mongoDB and redis. They would like to provide an all in one framework from blogging to e-commerce through social network. Unfortunately the project is dead for 3 months. Update: The project is being really active lately.


Github: 0 / 0 / 1 year
Hatch.js is providing widget-based page building, social networking, performance and scalability. On their homepage it’s really difficult to find their github repo as it’s hidden in the downloads menu. The project is unfortunately dead for 1 year.


Github: 903 / 118 / 9 days
Bucket.io is built by the Assembly community. Regarding their Github popularity buckets.io has a nice position. Altough, even if the last commit was just 9 days ago, the activity of the project seems to be slowing down – they write, that it’s under active development and it’s not ready yet. You can use buckets.io in any express project, they also have an npm package avilable. They provide routing and flexible data management – it’s using MongoDB.


Github: 46 / 16 / 7 days
We.js is a pretty new project, started in February, 2015. We.js is good for creating sites and blogs as well, you can extend it easily by writing your own plugins and themes. It also supports profiles – authentication and user management -, images – upload and resize -, comments, groups, etc. Community plugins and example sites are missing, but hopefully they will come soon.

Buckets.io (updated in May, 2015)

Github: 903 / 118 / 9 days
Bucket.io is built by the Assembly community. Regarding their Github popularity buckets.io has a nice position. Altough, even if the last commit was just 9 days ago, the activity of the project seems to be slowing down – they write, that it’s under active development and it’s not ready yet. You can use buckets.io in any express project, they also have an npm package avilable. They provide routing and flexible data management – it’s using MongoDB.

Node.js cms framework comparison

If you collect all the Github popularity metrics together and try to visualize it, you’ll get something similar to the following graph:

The number of stars and forks show correlaion, more stars mean more forks. Statistically, 4-6 stars mean 1 fork.
The top 5 frameworks are the followings:

  • Ghost
  • KeyStoneJS
  • Calipso
  • Reaction Commerce
  • PencilBlue

Ghost is specialized for blogging, Reaction Commerce is specialized for eCommerce, KeyStoneJS, Calipso and PencilBlue are for general purposes. As Calipso is not too active on GitHub, let’s examine KeyStoneJS and PencilBlue in details.

About cmadmin

Web Developer & Designer | Android App Developer

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