The Free Tier of the Limitless CMS Landscape

Many web technologies are solved problems. Some are overly solved problems. Others are overly engineered, solved problems. Content management is in a stage where there are many interesting tools being created without much consensus being reached. Creativity is fun but stressful. Consensus is boring but powerful.

I am on a continuous content management journey in my professional career, trying to find the best options for various use cases. Right now my personal content is distributed across Firebase, Contentful, and Blogger, delivered through various apps in a myriad of ways, all living under the alexlockhart.me domain. This complexity is intentional as I am always using my own personal content as a means of exploring web technologies.

At the moment I am looking for a free tier CMS that can support my own content needs in the long run and can be used to support small level clients while being capable of cheaply evolving into large scale solutions. Integrating Contentful with a custom built static site generator called OrisonJS following the JAMstack pattern has been an amazing experience. Using this I was able to build websites with maximal performance and SEO, with single page application and progressive web app features.

However the cost of scale on the Contentful platform makes me nervous. Handled individually, CMS and hosting are cheap. There are many open source CMS platforms, and many cheap hosting services that provide world wide CDN capabilities. Taken together these two technologies multiply in cost. This makes sense when you consider the power of the content as a service paradigm.

However I wanted both - and I wanted a powerful free tier. So I began researching. My plan is to use Firebase hosting which has a powerful free tier combined with an open source CMS. Currently I am looking at CannerCMS which has an open source Firestore integration. This combination of technologies should provide a content infrastructure upon which I can create both content and feature rich websites and apps. Now at the paid level this is a solved problem with content infrastructure services such as the previously mentioned Contentful. However this setup should allow me to duplicate it at a free and yet scalable level.

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