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Prismic vs. Sanity - Which Headless CMS is Best?

Posted by Rejoice Anodo on November 24, 2023

There are two primary approaches to content management: traditional CMS platforms and headless CMS platforms, with the former being used for a considerable time. However, traditional CMS platforms, such as pre-designed templates and a rigid integration between content and its presentation, have increased the demand for headless CMS platforms.

Headless CMS platforms offer flexibility with multi-channel content delivery, API integrations, customized user interfaces, and efficiency rates. 

Developer teams must consider the following criteria before choosing a headless CMS platform.

  1. API scalability and flexibility: A headless CMS platform provides content through APIs; hence, it should be scalable enough to handle many requests without experiencing a break in transmission. It should support load balancing to distribute incoming API requests across many servers. Caching mechanisms and content delivery networks (CDNs) should be available to reduce server load.

    API flexibility ensures content can be structured according to your needs. A headless CMS should support various data formats, the creation of custom API endpoints, authentication, and version control mechanisms. All of these ensure high availability and optimum performance even during high traffic.

  2. Security: A headless CMS should possess the following security details: data encryption when content is at rest or in transit, defined roles and permissions for users to prevent unauthorized access, loggings, screening for third-party integrations, and regular security updates. These ensure minimal data loss during usage. 

  3. Integration with front-end networks: A headless CMS platform should allow API integrations with any front-end framework you choose. Some frameworks used include Faust.js, Vite, Svelte, VuePress, Next.js, and many others. A headless CMS should allow integrations with the supporting serverless platforms for dynamic content rendering if the front-end framework uses serverless architecture, such as AWS Lambda. A headless CMS platform with varying integration options offers flexibility, speed, and security during content delivery.

  4. Image asset management features: A headless CMS should provide optimal support for teams whose work revolves around visual elements. It should offer integration with digital asset management systems, editing features, upload of bulk material, image optimization, responsive image support, and other unique features. These promote the efficiency of content creation.

  5. Usage limits: Every headless CMS platform has restrictions imposed based on usage. The team scrutinizes these and ensures they fit the company’s needs without obstructing scalability and growth. Some restrictions can be based on the amount of stored content, API request limits within given timeframes, and the amount of transferable data. It is important to check these out and ensure they fit your present plans, with possible accommodations for the company’s growth.

While this comparison will primarily focus on Sanity and Prismic, developer teams should also consider ButterCMS as a compelling alternative. At the end of this guide, we will discuss how ButterCMS compares to these two solutions and ultimately presents itself as a suitable alternative.

Sanity, Explained

Sanity.io is a headless CMS platform that uses structured content to reuse content across different channels. Using a composable approach, it offers integration services to front-end frameworks, data sources, and third-party technologies. Its backend is decoupled, and the workspaces can be customized. Sanity offers access to APIs, tools, and libraries that connect your team’s content pool. It provides a real-time data store for structured content and numerous libraries that allow content query and third-party integration services.

Core features of Sanity

Sanity offers a range of features. Prominent ones include:  

  • Editorial workflows: Editorial workflows, also known as custom workflows, allow developers to customize the structure of their documents. Users can make changes to the document structures using Structure Builder, a tool that aids in creating customized content and unique content segmentation using Javascript and Graph-relational object queries (GROQ). 

  • Sanity Content Lake: Sanity Content Lake is a cloud-based storage platform managed by Sanity. Users can access it through the Sanity API, the HTTP API, or a client library. Some core features in Sanity Content Lake include API versioning and content source maps.

  • Asset pipeline: Asset pipeline is an image management feature that handles image metadata and transformations on the front-end framework. It is served from a global content delivery network (CDN). Uploaded image content is considered an asset, and an extensible user interface exists for managing them. 

  • Perspectives: Perspectives allow dataset query from little to no configuration without publication. There are three perspectives available: previewDrafts, published, and raw. These enable modifications to be observed without publishing them and allow developers to exclude unpublished content from the final results.

  • Sanity DataStore: The Sanity DataStore performs the same function as Sanity Content Lake. It is based on the cloud and stores all of the content owned by Sanity. It can be accessed with their APIs.

  • Personalization and localization: Localization is a process of modeling translated content as a field value in a document. This can be done using plugins. One refers to translations as references, and another scales and authors as many languages as requested. There are two methods of localization: field-level localization and document-level localization. Choices are made based on the use case and content model.

  • Sanity Studio: Connected to Sanity Content Lake, Sanity Studio is an open-source application for content creation and user collaboration. Content models must be defined with Javascript objects for the application to generate an editing environment automatically. This can be tailored according to your specifications alongside inherent features. These features include initial form values, nested conditioning, document versioning, and real-time collaboration.

Looking for a Sanity alternative? See how ButterCMS stacks up.
Start a free trial now

Pros of Sanity

Sanity offers several benefits to its users. Some of its benefits are:

  • Compatibility with most Jamstack frameworks: Sanity.io’s content APIs merge well with most JAMstack frameworks and static site generators. Some frameworks are Next.js, Gatsby, Nuxt, Gridsome, Eleventy, and Sapper—several plugins aid integration with these frameworks.

  • Supports most multiple data types: Sanity supports basic and composite data types. GROQ is a strongly typed, declarative language used to query JSON document collection in Sanity.io. Examples of data types supported by Sanity are Boolean, Float, Integer, Null, String, and others. Sanity also provides a wide range of schema types that define reusable and nested fields for complex data relationships. Examples of these schema types are Number, Array, Boolean, Image, Date, and Object. 

  • Version control and scalability: Version control is available on Sanity.io through its API versioning feature. The API might break during bug fixes. When there are breaking changes to Sanity’s API functionality, users still experience seamless behavior. When services evolve, and these bug fixes occur, the URL of every API call includes an explicit version as the first path segment. This ensures that the API’s old versions don’t change.

    Sanity.io is scalable and can handle large amounts of data. It provides a pathway for continuous scalability on cloud-based infrastructure.

  • Workflow automation: This feature involves automating repetitive tasks using software tools and custom workflows tailored to your team’s needs. Sanity Studio possesses several powerful APIs to build these custom workflows. API examples include Dashboard, Localization, Document actions, and Document badges. Users can define action badges and build custom approval processes with APIs.

Cons of Sanity

While benefits come with choosing Sanity, it also has drawbacks. Some of them are discussed here:

  • Edit processes depend more on manual inputs than automated actions: Creating custom workflows and documenting actions to suit individual actions comes at a cost, so every step must be done manually, from the setup to the configuration. This can increase the time spent on building. Users can utilize automation tools to speed up the building process; it does not pertain to every part of the workflow.

  • Usage-based pricing exists on Sanity.io: It is a flexible pricing table that exists on a pay-as-you-go basis. These plans offer tiered services according to the pricing plans. Sanity has four pricing plans: free, team, business, and enterprise. These affect services such as Sanity Studio, Sanity Content Lake, developer experience, delivery and network, security and compliance, support, and services.

  • Dependence on external resources: Sanity does not offer complete reliance on its resources. External plugins are needed for multi-language support. There are API integrations with other API-based services to improve the custom workflows.

  • There is limited support for localization and authentication: Team members should watch the attribute limit when setting up localization fields. These determine the number of attributes and datatypes developer teams can have in their datasets based on the pricing models in use. The attribute limit is a hard technical limit, so Sanity does not offer pay-as-you-go options for extra attributes. Authentication on Sanity.io involves using tokens for authentication on Sanity Studio and using third-party authentication providers like AuthO and Okta to grant users access to read access to published documents with exceptions. 

  • There are technical limits based on the pricing plans: These limits ensure the CMS remains performant for users. API calls that exceed these limits are responded to with an error. Sanity uses standard SI units, where 1 MB is 1,000,000 bytes. There are limits on Sanity Studio based on these segments: datasets, documents, listeners, API calls, API rate limits, HTTP requests, and the number of users. Companies that have a need for services that exceed such limits can reach out to Sanity for customization.

Sanity Pricing

Sanity.io has a flexible, scalable pricing plan that developer teams can use based on their size and budget. These plans are free, team, business, and enterprise plans. The table below shows their pricing, features, and limitations.

Pricing Plans 

Free

Team 

Business

Enterprise

Target Description

For users getting started and scaling up with Sanity.

For small teams and agencies who want predictable pricing.

For mid-sized companies who have more complex requirements. 

For large organizations that have business-critical applications.

Price

Free forever

$99 per project/month

$949 per project/month

Custom per project/month

Number of users

3 non-admin users included.

10 non-admin users included.

20 non-admin users included.

Custom number of users and roles.

Core  

Sanity Studio

Included

Included 

included

Included 

Content Lake

Included 

Included 

Included 

Included 

Developer Experience

Included 

Included 

included

Included 

Delivery & Network

Global content delivery network

Yes 

Yes 

Yes 

Yes 

Image pipeline

Yes 

Yes 

Yes 

Yes

Security & Compliance

SOC 2, GDPR, & CCPA compliance

Yes 

Yes 

Yes 

Yes 

PCI DSS

Yes 

Yes 

Yes 

Yes 

Support & Services

Community support

Yes 

Yes 

Yes 

Yes 

Billing 

Pay by card 

Yes 

Yes 

Yes 

Prismic, Explained

Prismic is a headless page builder that developers and marketers use for building and managing websites and applications. It was founded in 2013 by Guillaume Bort and Sadek Drobi. Users can utilize its interface for content creation and management. It merges with most front-end frameworks like React, Vue.js, and Angular. Prismic’s services cater to developer teams, marketers, and agencies.

Core features of Prismic

These are the core features of Prismic’s headless CMS system:

  • Slice machine: Prismic's slice machine is a developer tool used to build slices and reusable website sections and deliver them in custom page builders to marketers. It works with front-end frameworks like Next.js, Svelte, and Nuxt.js. 

  • Rich text: Prismic’s rich text enables text to be written in a user interface. Rich text from online word processors like Google Docs and Microsoft Word have complicated encoding. Prismic stores text in a JSON format called “structured text,” which allows convenient customizations. Three rich text fields are available: key text, titles, and rich text.

  • Locales: In Prismic, a locale represents a region or a language. Users can create localized versions of a document. A locale has a five-character locale code, written as la-re, where la stands for a language, and re stands for the region. Users employ locales for translating English and French Canadian content, localizing content for British and American content, and translating and localizing for English U.S. and Mexican content. If the locales you need are unavailable, you can create a custom locale. 

  • Content relationship: Prismic’s content relationship allows the creation of complex data structures where documents can be linked internally and data can be retrieved. Users utilize content relationships to display linked data, create custom types for taxonomies, and create nested menus.

  • Webhooks: A webhook is a message Prismic sends to any URL you choose as an HTTP request when a document is created or edited in your repository. Only repository owners or users with admin rights can create webhooks. Prismic allows users to add webhooks to hosting platforms such as Vercel, Amplify, and Netlify.

  • Page builder: Prismic possesses an intuitive, headless page builder to create and edit pages. Webpages are created in repositories after a Prismic account has been created. This course teaches how to set up a webpage using the headless page builder on Prismic using next.js.

Pros of Prismic

Prismic has numerous features to help developers. These include:

  • Cloud-based hosting: Prismic offers plugins with cloud-based hosting platforms, allowing content preview sessions, access to published website content, and secure cloud hosting. Prismic has Gatsby Cloud, Netlify, and others. 

  • Role-based access control: Prismic offers granular user roles, which means users are limited to their content types and can access just their respective sections. Administrators can edit user roles and invite users to access specific roles at their discretion. This prevents content from being changed accidentally.

  • Dynamic page layouts: Prismic’s content slices create dynamic web pages for landing pages, micro websites, testimonials, and similar applications. Slices can be rearranged with a drag-and-drop feature. Page Builder also provides web page reviews that can be shared with teams in real time for approval. Publications can occur immediately or at scheduled times, depending on user needs.

  • Internationalization: Prismic allows users to add several locales and languages with its natural translation workflow. Administrators can assign roles to editors by locale, and new content releases can be done simultaneously. This feature boosts the efficiency of developer teams, irrespective of their locations and language barriers.

Cons of Prismic

While Prismic offers ease of use with its features, there are drawbacks. They are:

  • Prismic’s user interface is not customizable: Besides its inherent features, users must outsource other customizable components. This reduces the team’s work rate and increases expenses on the project budget.

  • It requires a third-party plugin for multi-language content: Advanced features such as multi-language content and built-in image resizing can only be accessed with third-party plugins. These require additional configuration and costs for the team.

  • No SMIs for React.js and Vue.js: According to Prismic’s documentation, no Slice Machine Integrations (SMIs) exist for React.js and Vue.js. There are only integrations for Next.js, Nuxt 3, Nuxt 2, and SvelteKit. 

  • A limited set of integrations: At the moment, Prismic has a limited set of integrations. The available ones are Imgix, Prismic Review for Gatsby, and Prismic Rich Text. This makes users rely more on plugins to enhance the functionality of the CMS for their projects.

  • Prismic’s third-party integration services aren’t available for everyone: Prismic’s integration field is a feature that allows third-party services to be integrated into a created repository. This feature is still in beta and isn’t available to everyone. It is still being deployed to all repositories and can be accessed by contacting Prismic’s community forum. 

Prismic Pricing

This is a chart showing the various prices and features offered by Prismic.

Pricing plan

Free

Starter

Small

Medium

Platinum

Enterprise

Target Description

Individuals

Individuals

Individuals

Teams 

Teams 

Teams 

Price

$0

$9

$20 

$125

$575

Custom

Users

1

3

7

25

Unlimited 

Unlimited

API

API Calls

4 Million/month (no overages, rate limits)

4 Million/month (no overages, rate limits)

4 Million/month (no overages, rate limits)

5 Million/month (no overages, rate limits)

10 Million/month (paid overages allowed up to 50 million)

Custom

Rest API

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

GraphQL

Yes 

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Webhooks

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Image API

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Content

Bandwidth consumption

$0.20/GB

$0.20/GB

$0.20/GB

$0.17/GB

Custom

Page Builder

Yes

Yes 

Yes 

Yes

Yes 

Yes

Translations

Locales

2

2

2

3

8

Custom

Translation workflows

Yes

Yes 

Yes 

Yes

Yes

Yes 

Security and Compliance

Backups

Weekly/daily option available

Support 

Support level

Basic

Basic

Basic

Basic

Basic

Priority

Sanity vs. Prismic Feature Comparison Chart

This is a comparison chart of Sanity and Prismic’s features.

Feature

Sanity

Prismic

Payment Plans

Free Plan

Supported

Supported

Paid plans for teams & businesses

Supported

Supported


Developer Experience

API Calls

Supported

Supported

Rest API

Supported

Supported

GraphQL

Supported

Supported

Webhooks

Supported

Supported

Image API

Supported

Supported

Image processing and optimization

Supported

Supported

Translations

Locales

Supported 

Supported

Security and Compliance

Security and compliance

Some security features are free, while some are available on subscription payment

All security features are available on subscription payment

Customer Support

Customer representative and support

Community support is available for all payment plans, but advanced modes of support are restricted to Enterprise plans

All modes of customer support are available after subscription payment on Custom plan

AI Assist

Supported

Not supported

ButterCMS as a welcomed alternative

We have discussed Sanity and Prismic as headless CMS platforms for your team, but there are other strong alternatives, and ButterCMS is one of them.

ButterCMS is a cloud-based headless CMS using an API-first approach to build web applications uniquely. It creates, manages, and optimizes online content for businesses, blogs, marketing agencies, and e-commerce platforms. ButterCMS is capable of SEO optimization, content management, media library support, split-screen preview, and revision history. 

Looking for a Prismic alternative? See how ButterCMS stacks up.
Start a free trial now

How ButterCMS stands out

ButterCMS stands out from other headless CMS platforms like Prismic and Sanity with the following features:

  • Ease of use: ButterCMS does not have a steep learning curve. For instance, new pages can be easily created on ButterCMS’s centralized dashboard, and features like custom fields and validation rules can be added. Once the page has been modified to suit your taste, you can preview it in split-screen mode before it goes live. The page can also be scheduled for publication later at the user’s discretion.

  • Speed to launch: Developers can set up ButterCMS much quicker than Sanity or Prismic. There are over 20 supported programming languages and front-end frameworks to choose from. Commonly used examples of these are Angular, Vue.js, React, Django, and Python.

  • Pre-built blog engine: ButterCMS has a pre-built blog engine that integrates with web applications, unlike other headless CMS platforms. This saves cost and time for developer teams. The blog provides a unique user and admin interface, multi-site support, RSS/Atom Feeds, a search engine, SEO optimization, and customization for slugs, metadata, and webhooks. 

  • User permissions for team members: Administrators can invite users and assign different roles and permissions. The roles available are administrators, writers, editors, and developers. New users can be invited by going to Settings > Users. Once a user has been invited, individual roles and permissions can be set. Existing users can be managed by changing their roles or removing them entirely from your repository.

  • Existing content in other CMS platforms can be imported: ButterCMS has a migration tool enabling content and metadata from other headless CMS platforms to be imported into existing accounts. This can only be done for accounts with an active subscription.

  • Ease of front-end integration with ButterCMS Restful API: ButterCMS has a developer-friendly, global API that allows integration into any tech stack. It uses HTTP response codes to indicate API errors and returns JSON by default. The API can be used to create and manage content types, build landing pages, and create collections and components for dynamic landing pages, among infinite possibilities.

  • Daily backup of uploaded content: ButterCMS prioritizes safety, especially for users’ content, so it performs daily database backups automatically to prevent data loss and corruption. The backup data is encrypted and stored using the AES-256 encryption.

  • Flexible field types: Flexible field types are building blocks that create unique user interfaces. Examples of these field types include Components, References, and Repeaters. 

  • Digital asset management: This feature stores and manages digital assets in a centralized media library. Images are formatted automatically for web pages to prevent slow loading times and ensure a seamless experience for users. Users can upload images and customize them to be mobile-responsive, with different sizes and resolutions, using Butter’s Image API. 

  • Secure hosting on cloud-based platforms: Butter’s security and hosting are top-notch. Its infrastructure runs on Heroku and Amazon Web Services (AWS). The data centers used for storage are certified for compliance with the ISO 270001 standard. 

Sanity vs. Prismic vs. ButterCMS User comparison chart

The table below compares all the headless CMS platforms discussed in this article based on G2 ratings. ButterCMS is part of this comparison chart because it is an alternative headless CMS for developer teams.

Feature

Sanity

Prismic 

ButterCMS

Ratings

Meets requirements

9.1

8.0

9.1

Ease of use 

8.7

8.5

9.3

Ease of setup

8.8

8.8

9.2

Ease of admin

9.1

8.2

9.2

Quality of support

9.0

8.3

9.7

Has the product been a good partner in doing business?

9.3

7.8

9.7

Product direction (% positive)

9.2

8.0

9.0

Final thoughts

Ultimately, while both Sanity and Prismic offer unique capabilities, ButterCMS stands out as a well-balanced alternative that prioritizes ease of use, smooth migrations, and seamless customization. 

 Do you want your product or marketing team to test Butter CMS? We can set up a live demo to walk your team through the fast, easy-to-use interface.

Make sure you receive the freshest tutorials and Butter product updates.
    
 
Rejoice Anodo

Rejoice Anodo is a software developer and technical writer interested in documenting complex topics across several tech stacks.

ButterCMS is the #1 rated Headless CMS

G2 crowd review award G2 crowd review award G2 crowd review award G2 crowd review award G2 crowd review award G2 crowd review award G2 crowd review award G2 crowd review award G2 crowd review award G2 crowd review award G2 crowd review award G2 crowd review award

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