Contentful vs. Apostrophe: An In-Depth Comparison
Join us as we compare CMS platforms, Apostrophe and Contentful, to figure out which is best for you.
Contentful and Apostrophe represent two of the best content management systems available on the market, especially for enterprise companies. In this Contentful vs. Apostrophe article, you will understand what the main differences between the two solutions are and which service better fits your needs.
Recently, CMS solutions have become increasingly popular while options for headless CMS solutions in particular have grown at a massive rate. The Jamstack site alone boasts a list of nearly 100 alternatives. So, figuring out which of these is the best CMS for you can be an exhausting process. Luckily, comparisons like this can save you a lot of time and energy.
Follow this article and learn about a Contentful alternative, and why Apostrophe is a more flexible and comprehensive solution.
Introducing Contentful and Apostrophe
First, let's get a better understanding of what Contentful and Apostrophe are and whether they are comparable.
Contentful is a frontend-agnostic, backend-only, headless CMS solution. You can think of Contentful as a cloud platform that enables you to create, edit, and manage content through a simple to use admin interface. Then, you use the APIs offered by Contentful to distribute your content across websites, mobile apps, and smart devices.
In simpler terms, Contentful and Apostrophe are both companies that develop advanced CMS platforms. Let’s now try to understand how their products differ, and which CMS represents a more complete solution.
What Are Their Target Companies?
Many members of your company will spend time working in the CMS. This means that once you integrate one CMS solution into your company's technology stack, it is difficult to switch to another. Thus, choosing a CMS technology that does not align with your business goals could cost you time, money, and energy.
Let’s dig into what kind of companies Contentful and Apostrophe are for.
Contentful is for enterprise companies
Contentful is a service designed for enterprise-level companies. This is evident by looking at their pricing model. Like most CMSs, they offer a free plan. This allows a team of up to five members to try out the platform, but it comes with too many limitations to use it at the enterprise level. So, if you need technical support or want to use Contentful professionally, you need to buy their Team plan. This costs $489 per month for medium-sized companies and $879 for large companies.
In other terms, their pricing goes from $0 to $489/$879 per month. This is a price jump that a small- or medium-sized company can hardly afford. This is especially true given the number of cheaper CMS options available.
So, suppose you try Contentful by taking advantage of their free plan. Initially, this may be sufficient to manage the content of your site. If your business grows or your needs change, you will be forced to upgrade to a paid plan. This will cost you up to $879 per month. If this is beyond your budget, you will be forced to drop Contentful and change the data retrieval logic on your site completely.
Also, keep in mind that Contentful hosts all of your data. This means that if you decide to leave Contentful, you have to migrate your data someplace else. On the contrary, with Apostrophe you are the owner of your data. Let’s now learn more about Apostrophe.
Apostrophe is for both enterprise and small/medium companies
Apostrophe is developed with enterprise companies in mind. At the same time, Apostrophe is a highly scalable tool that can easily adapt to many business environments. This is pretty clear by looking at Apostrophe’s pricing model.
Just like Contentful, Apostrophe offers a free plan. Specifically, ApostropheCMS is a free and open-source technology that allows you to build a wide variety of websites and digital experiences. Launch the ApostropheCMS demo right in your browser and test what it has to offer.
If you need a commercial option with Apostrophe, you can upgrade to a paid plan. Apostrophe Pro is a premium option for Apostrophe projects, which unlocks enterprise-level features for teams that are not available in the open-source, community version of ApostropheCMS. Enterprise level modules included with an Apostrophe Pro subscription include Advanced Permissions, Document Versions, testing tools, and more. The cost for an Apostrophe Pro subscription for a single site begins at $150 USD per month. Significantly less than Contentful’s beginning price tag.
Rounding out the commercial offerings is Apostrophe Assembly, a cloud multisite commercial solution designed to help enterprise companies manage and build many websites from a single platform. The cost of Apostrophe Assembly starts at $200 USD per month/site, with volume pricing options beginning at only 10 sites. This is a much more reasonable price jump than Contentful, and provides enterprises with the ability to scale their sites at a rate aligned with their business goals; thus, allowing even small and medium-sized enterprises the ability to afford an Apostrophe paid plan.
Which CMS Offers More Features?
Result: Apostrophe wins 7 - 6
Let's take a general view of the features offered by both CMS services. Note that Contentful and Apostrophe basically offer the same features, but Apostrophe comes out as the winner.
Headless API: the two solutions offer headless capabilities to create, read, update, and delete content through powerful APIs.
Custom content types: both CMS options allow you to model your data via an advanced content schema. In detail, you can create a schema by defining data collections and their attributes. At the time of writing, Contentful supports 11 field types, while Apostrophe supports 22.
User role management: both tools allow you to define different user roles. At the same time, note that Contentful limits the user roles to 2/4 on a paid plan. Instead, Apostrophe offers 4 groups for free and is essentially unlimited with a paid plan.
A simple-to-use UI for content management: making content management easier is at the heart of the two projects. For this reason, they have a great UI designed for every user, even non-technical ones.
Extensions support: both Contentful and Apostrophe support extensions. At the same time, the open-source and modular nature of Apostrophe makes it much easier for the community to create new extensions. Instead, Contentful only offers a few extensions for a limited set of third-party services.
Localization support: both technologies support localization and allow you to make the same content available in several languages.
Website building capabilities: Contentful is a headless CMS for the backend only. This means that it is your job to build the frontend. On the other hand, Apostrophe is also a website builder that provides components to visually design and create a website. In addition, Apostrophe supports in-context editing.
Responsiveness to Customers and the Community
Being responsive to customers is one of the most important aspects to consider before adopting a commercial software product. When you have a question or a problem, you want to receive an accurate and effective response as soon as possible.
Many customers make sure to point out that the Apostrophe team is highly responsive. From the initial engagement when evaluating business solutions, through development and deployment, and on into the longevity of the partnership. These customers define Apostrophe as a collaborative team that provides helpful support for all questions and needs.
Also, Apostrophe is open to establishing cooperative partnerships with its customers to understand what is important to them. If a feature is on the roadmap but a customer needs to apply it more quickly than the original release plan, the Apostrophe team is willing to prioritize and release the feature sooner. This is unlikely to happen with a company as large as Contentful.
Director of Engineering, Thirstie
"If you are looking for a responsive, personable and creative partner to build something innovative, the Apostrophe team will be a match.”
Note that it is also important to be responsive to the community. Both Contentful and Apostrophe have a community server on Slack and Discord, respectively. Anyone can freely join to ask questions or simply to stay updated on future releases. The pivotal difference is that ApostropheCMS allows anyone in the community to ask for technical support, report bugs, propose features, and help other members directly on GitHub.
Which Handles Support Better?
Contentful's team is much larger than Apostrophe's team. Thus, chances are that Contentful has more experience and has supported more customers. However, this does not mean that the quality of support offered by Contentful is better than Apostrophe’s. Let’s see why.
With any paid Apostrophe plan, you gain access to support from the technical team as well as a dedicated success team. In other terms, Apostrophe will provide you with technical support to achieve your goals and help you bring any digital experience to life with Apostrophe. This truly means caring about the customers and supporting them to achieve their goals. Instead, Contentful only mentions technical support on their pricing page.
In detail, according to data collected by G2, Apostrophe’s customers gave an average score of 9.3 out of 10 to the question "Has the product been a good partner in doing business?", compared to 8.5 given by Contentful customers.
Which Tool Can Be Customized the Most?
Result: Apostrophe wins 4 - 2
A marketplace for plugins and extensions and integrations: Contentful and Apostrophe both come with a marketplace where you can explore the extensions supported by the CMS. Note that Contentful's marketplace is limited, while Apostrophe's offers an advanced search system.
Support for community extensions: Contentful only supports extensions developed in-house or by a limited group of integration partners. Thus, Contentful does not support extensions maintained by the community. Instead, Apostrophe fully supports extensions developed by the community and anyone can submit an extension directly on the Apostrophe Extension Marketplace.
Custom field types: both tools allow you to introduce custom field types with their corresponding content management UI components.
UI component customization: Contentful offers UI customization through extensions, but it does not offer complete customization UI capabilities like Apostrophe. Specifically, you can build custom UI components simply by adding .vue files to the ui/apos/components subdirectory of any Apostrophe module.
Which Is More Flexible?
When it comes to content management, there is a well-known problem. Editors want a simple-to-use platform to manage content, while developers want to use cutting-edge technologies. For example, WordPress offers a good content management tool for editors but is technologically limiting for developers.
This is a big reason why headless CMSs have become so popular. In detail, a headless CMS is a frontend-agnostic technology that acts as a single source of truth. In a single platform, you can manage all your content and deliver it to any frontend technology via API. Thus, a headless CMS gives your editors access to a platform with a great UI to manage content. At the same time, your developers are free to use the frontend technology they prefer. Since there are many headless CMS options out there, it is important to take the time to compare headless CMS solutions to know which is the best fit for you.
Do not forget that Apostrophe also provides a web builder that offers in-context editing to manage content right on the page. Apostrophe provides intuitive document layout tools and advanced composition capabilities. So, Apostrophe is not a tool specifically designed for developers or publishers. The Apostrophe platform is for everyone!
Which Tool Makes It Easier for You to Scale?
Result: Apostrophe wins 2 - 0
Multisite support: Apostrophe is designed to scale with businesses. In detail, Apostrophe is backed by technology that enables companies to manage a mission critical single site, or thousands of sites around the world. Specifically, Apostrophe Assembly provides you with a multitenant architecture to manage several websites from a single platform. On the other hand, Contentful supports multisite architecture, but in a much more complex fashion without the intuitive ease offered by Apostrophe.
Support scaling: As a business grows, it is likely to require much more support. As seen earlier, Apostrophe's approach to customer support is collaborative, bidirectional, and proactive. In other words, Apostrophe grows as the business grows and vice versa. Instead, Contentful simply provides technical support and may not really help you grow.
CEO & Co-Founder, Thirstie
"Apostrophe Assembly allows us to launch new web storefronts for our clients in minutes, with our robust and hyper-compliant API technology pre-built. This has improved our customer onboarding speed by 10x, as we can now get new brands live faster than ever before. Apostrophe has transformed our sales process and our customer's speed to market.”
Which One Is Better for an International Business?
As mentioned above, both CMS solutions support localization for both text and images. At the same time, keep in mind that Contentful only allows you to translate your content into one extra language with the free plan. If you want to deliver your content in more languages with Contentful, you have to pay $489/$879 a month.
Instead, Apostrophe gives you full access to localization features for free. This is because localization is part of the open-source core of the Apostrophe technology. The reason for that choice is that many Apostrophe developers are based outside of the US. As a result, localization has always been a key priority for Apostrophe and always will be. Also, Contentful is limited to 7/10 locales, while Apostrophe is unlimited.
Apostrophe treats localization as a first-class feature. They do not want to limit their customers in the way they communicate to their audiences just to make a few extra dollars.
Contentful vs. Apostrophe: Final Result
Let’s summarize the results to declare the winner.
And the winner is… Apostrophe!
In this article, you learned the main differences between Contentful and Apostrophe. Both offer CMS solutions, and Contentful is undoubtedly a solid product. At the same time, Apostrophe is a more complete solution in almost all aspects analyzed.
Keep in mind that no service is better than another, especially when comparing platforms of such high quality. Much depends on your specific needs, and Apostrophe is the solution that can best fit multiple scenarios. Book a demo today!
Thanks for reading! We hope that this article helped you compare CMS platforms Apostrophe and Contentful.
Antonello Zanini is a passionate software engineer and technical writer with 4+ years of experience in full-stack development, plus 3+ years of experience in freelance writing. He has contributed to leading technology blogs and has authored over 250 articles. His technical content has generated more than 2.5 million views worldwide.
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