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Sanity vs Strapi: Which Headless CMS is Best for Your Team?

Posted by Isaac Okoro on November 30, 2023

Recent changes in the ever-evolving landscape of content management systems (CMSs) have grown the popularity of headless CMS solutions. Some reasons for this burst in popularity are due to the fact that headless CMS solutions offer speed, flexibility, scalability, and developer-friendly features. 

Choosing a headless CMS can present challenges like content structuring, increased security responsibilities, and search engine optimization (SEO). Overcoming these challenges requires careful planning and selecting the right headless CMS solution.

Enter Sanity and Strapi, two strong challengers in the headless CMS space that can offer some solutions to some of the challenges that come from choosing a headless CMS.

When considering a headless CMS, it's vital to establish buying criteria to ensure it aligns with your specific needs. By defining these criteria upfront, you can streamline the selection process and find the ideal headless CMS for your project. Buying criteria can include the following:

  • API flexibility and versatility: A reliable and adaptable API is essential for developers using headless CMS solutions. It enables you to seamlessly incorporate content into your applications, ensuring a positive user experience. 

  • Developer-friendly interface and documentation: Developers need user-friendly interfaces and comprehensive documentation to streamline content management tasks. 

  • Performance and scalability: Applications and websites with increasing user traffic must prioritize performance and scalability. It is important that you choose a headless CMS that improves the performance of your application.

  • Security and data privacy: For developers, protecting sensitive data and adhering to privacy laws is not only a best practice but, in many circumstances, a legal duty. It is imperative that you consider this when choosing a headless solution.

  • Community and support: A thriving developer community and reliable customer support can be invaluable when facing challenges.


While we primarily focus on comparing Sanity and Strapi, it's important to mention ButterCMS in this context. ButterCMS is another noteworthy headless CMS solution that offers unique features tailored to developers' needs. We will look at ButterCMS after comparing Sanity and Strapi to provide a comprehensive overview of the available options.

By the end of this comparison, you should have a clearer understanding of which headless CMS – Sanity, Strapi, or ButterCMS – aligns best with the needs of your team, allowing you to choose wisely for your forthcoming projects.

Strapi explained

Strapi is an open-source CMS that enables users to create and manage digital content. Strapi, founded in 2013, provides an interface for content editing and serves content via APIs to various front-end platforms.

Strapi enables content editors to maintain and update material without technical knowledge while allowing developers to create websites and applications.

Core features of Strapi

Core features are the fundamental and essential functionalities that a software or system provides, forming its foundation. Some core features of Strapi include:

  • User authentication and authorization: User authentication and authorization are core features of Strapi, providing security and access control mechanisms for web and mobile applications. Strapi comes with built-in user authentication and role-based access control features that allow you to define user roles. Strapi handles authentication with JSON web tokens, usernames and passwords, and third-party authentication services like Google and Facebook. Authorization is handled by methods such as roles, permissions, and policy-based authorization.

  • Customizable API: With the help of Strapi's customizable API, developers can create content models, modify API endpoints, and control data access. This enables a decoupled, headless design for adaptable front-end development and allows for updates without locking into inflexible structures.

  • Database agnosticism: Strapi can support multiple databases, allowing you to choose the best database for your needs. Strapi enables developers to select from various databases, including PostgreSQL, MySQL, SQLite, and MariaDB. 

  • Content localization: Managing content in multiple languages becomes hassle-free with the built-in support for localization provided by Strapi.Strapi supports content localization and allows you to create multilingual sites easily

  • Plugin system: Strapi offers a plugin ecosystem that allows you to extend Strapi's functionalities. Some plugins include Ratings, which enables users to review content, and GoogleAuth for easy authentication with Google, etc.

Looking for a Strapi alternative? See how ButterCMS stacks up.
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Pros of Strapi

Strapi offers several key advantages, which we will consider in this section. Some of those advantages include:

Customization

The extensive customization options enable developers to customize middleware, routes, and request handlers precisely. You can also customize your content models and user roles in an effective way that best serves your project. 

Scalability

Strapi effectively manages small-scale projects and large applications thanks to its scalable architecture. You can add or remove plugins, customize content models, and adjust resources to accommodate increasing data volumes and user traffic, ensuring your application remains responsive as it grows.

Media management

Media management in Strapi allows efficient handling and organization of digital assets, such as images, videos, and documents. This feature simplifies content creation and management by providing a central location for storing and retrieving media files, streamlining the workflow for content editors and developers.

Active community

Strapi's vibrant community is another key benefit. One reason for this is the introduction of Strapi community stars, where consistent users can gain stars that can be exchanged for swags and a free Strapi enterprise version. This has led to an active and enthusiastic user base, with developers, contributors, and users often exchanging knowledge, offering help, and adding new plugins and extensions to the platform's ecosystem. 

Strapi is a solid option for developers looking for support, tools, and a collaborative environment for their projects because of the active community that keeps it current, well-documented, and adaptable to changing industry needs.

Cons of Strapi

Now that we have looked at the advantages of Strapi as a headless CMS, let’s consider some of the challenges that come with using Strapi.

Ease of use

Strapi can occasionally become complicated to configure, from configuring security measures to properly setting up your work environment. These complications could make it less user-friendly for individuals looking for an easy, out-of-the-box solution.

Steep learning curve

Strapi's challenging setup for non-technical users and the complexity of content modeling are the leading causes of its steep learning curve. It is frequently necessary to have prior web development knowledge and to commit to self-guided learning using the resources available to get through this learning curve.

Resource-intensive

Strapi can consume many resources, especially when dealing with heavy data loads or high concurrent user activity. For Strapi to function at its best, servers must have sufficient CPU and memory resources. This resource consumption may be problematic for users with constrained server resources or on a tight budget, resulting in longer response times or requiring more extensive infrastructure, which can raise operational expenses. 

Database migrations

Database migrations in Strapi can be viewed as a potential drawback due to the complexity they introduce. Handling schema changes can be intricate and pose risks such as data loss and compatibility issues when upgrading Strapi versions. Migrations can also extend development time and require ongoing maintenance as projects evolve, potentially affecting overall project maintainability. While they are an everyday necessity in web development, Strapi's approach to migrations may require careful planning and testing to mitigate these challenges.

Speed to launch

Strapi's intricacy may be an issue for small applications with straightforward content management requirements. It could take more time and effort than necessary to set up Strapi, define content models, and configure the API for a simple project. In such circumstances, a more straightforward and lightweight CMS can be a more effective and economical solution, as it can get small projects up and running quickly and simply.

Sanity explained

Sanity is a content management system that was founded in 2015 and allows users to structure and manage digital content for websites, applications, and other digital platforms. It provides an interface for content creation and editing while delivering content through APIs, making it a choice for developers seeking flexible content management solutions.

By giving developers and content creators access to a platform where structured material is at the center of the experience, Sanity equips teams with the tools they need to easily develop, manage, and publish content through real-time collaboration, customized editing interfaces, and flexible APIs. 

Core features of Sanity

  • Structured content: Structured content in Sanity refers to content that is organized and defined within a clear, predetermined schema. In Sanity, content is structured using schemas and models, specifying how data should be organized and what data types are allowed. This structured approach ensures consistency and organization, making managing and presenting content across different digital platforms and applications easier.

  • Real-time collaboration: A crucial Sanity feature that promotes seamless coordination between content producers and editors is real-time collaboration. Real-time collaboration in Sanity allows developers to work on content with their team members concurrently and synchronized. This means multiple developers can edit and change the content within Sanity simultaneously. These changes are instantly reflected for all team members, ensuring everyone is always up-to-date.

  • History experience: History experience is a feature of Sanity that lets you review previous iterations of your content. Every edit made to your content in Sanity is automatically saved, patched, and versioned, producing a thorough history of modifications. Developers can examine, contrast, and restore older iterations of their content, ensuring accountability and the ability to go back in time if necessary.

  • Asset management: Sanity's primary asset management functionality makes it easier to manage media assets, including photos, videos, and documents. An interface is provided by Sanity for uploading, organizing, and optimizing these assets. Sanity also automatically creates responsive image versions, speeding up media delivery to various devices and screen sizes.

  • Query language (GROQ): Sanity uses GROQ (Graph-Relational Object Queries), a custom query language for fetching data. Using GROQ to retrieve structured content from the Sanity API, developers can create exact queries. Team members can use GROQ to filter, sort, and shape data to suit their needs, making obtaining and presenting content easier. 

Pros of Sanity

Sanity offers several key advantages that we will look at in this section. These advantages include:

Content consistency

One benefit of using Sanity is content consistency. Sanity's structured content models and workflows help enforce this consistency of your content, making it easier for content teams to maintain uniformity and presentation of content across multiple digital platforms,

Enhanced collaboration

Enhanced collaboration in Sanity offers the advantage of improved teamwork and content management. Multiple team members can efficiently work together on content tasks, simultaneously contributing, reviewing, and publishing. This streamlined process minimizes delays and enhances productivity, making it easier for content teams to coordinate efforts effectively and maintain a synchronized workflow.

Structured content model

Sanity offers a structured content model for organized and easily manageable content. This model provides clear hierarchies and relationships between content types, facilitating content creation and retrieval without unnecessary complexity.

Portable text

Another significant advantage of Sanity is portable text, which provides a customizable and standardized approach to managing rich text material. With portable text, you can consistently generate, edit, and display text content on various platforms and devices. It's the perfect answer for dealing with intricate content structures, such as headings, lists, links, and more, making it simple to maintain content consistency and formatting and maintaining a consistent user experience throughout online and mobile applications.

Looking for a Sanity alternative? See how ButterCMS stacks up.
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Cons of Sanity

Sanity has some drawbacks to consider. Understanding these limitations is crucial for making an informed decision when choosing a content management system.

Hosting and maintenance

Hosting and maintenance can be a drawback of Sanity because while it gives users the freedom to select hosting companies and configurations, it also requires them to be in charge of server setup, security, upgrades, and backups. This can be difficult for those without technical knowledge or for small teams with few resources, which could result in higher costs and more difficult infrastructure management compared to fully hosted CMS solutions.

API limits

One potential drawback of Strapi is its API request limit, which is imposed based on your hosting and infrastructure. These limits can constrain high-traffic applications or APIs that require many requests, potentially leading to additional costs or performance limitations.

Speed to launch

Speed to launch can be a drawback to developers due to the platform's initial setup complexity and the time required to configure content models and schemas. This complexity can slow the development process, making it less suitable for projects with tight timelines or requiring quick deployment. Developers may need more time to become proficient with the platform, which could impact the speed at which a project can be launched.

Limited built-in SEO features

Sanity's limited built-in SEO features can be attributed to the platform's primary focus on structured content management rather than SEO optimization. While it provides a strong foundation for content creation and organization, it lacks some dedicated SEO tools and features found in platforms specifically designed for search engine optimization. Developers and content managers may need to implement SEO practices manually or through third-party plugins when using Sanity, making it less tailored for projects with a heavy emphasis on SEO.

Ease of use

Ease of use is a potential drawback of Sanity for less technically inclined users. This can lead to potential inefficiencies and difficulty in handling content-related tasks without extensive technical support or training.

Sanity vs. Strapi feature comparison chart

A feature comparison chart between Sanity and Strapi provides a clear overview of the strengths and capabilities of these two content management systems. This chart will help you make informed decisions based on their specific project requirements and preferences, highlighting each platform's unique features and advantages.

Features

Strapi

Sanity

CMS Type

API

API

Dashboard Internationalization

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Multi-language Content

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Scheduling & Releases

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Requires a plugin

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Content Versioning

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Preview Content

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Requires a plugin

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Workflow

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Customizable UI

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User Roles

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Organization Management

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GraphQL API

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Images API

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Via UI (editor)

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Field Types

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Custom Field Types

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Webhooks

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CLI

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SDK

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Localization

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Requires a plugin

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Projects

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Extensions

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ButterCMS as a welcome alternative  

ButterCMS is a user-friendly and developer-focused headless content management system (CMS). ButterCMS, created with simplicity in mind, offers a simple and user-friendly platform for producing, managing, and distributing content for websites and applications. ButterCMS stands out as a usable and effective solution for various content management needs, focusing on easy integration.

How ButterCMS stands out

ButterCMS stands out from its competitors by offering a developer-centric, API-driven content management system for seamless integration with modern applications. Its focus on simplicity, speed, and flexibility empowers developers to create and deliver content to various platforms efficiently, making it a top choice for those prioritizing ease of use and robust integration capabilities. Let's see how ButterCMS stands out in this section.

Ease of use

ButterCMS stands out for developers with its ease of use through a straightforward API and an intuitive interface. This simplifies content management and integration, reducing potential complexities and streamlining content-related tasks. This ease of use makes ButterCMS an accessible and efficient choice for developers, regardless of their experience level.

Pre-built CMS components

ButterCMS offers pre-built CMS components that are ready-made, customizable building blocks for common content management needs. This feature makes creating and maintaining content easier for content creators without technical expertise. ButterCMS is a good option for projects that require effective content management without sacrificing modification capabilities because of the pre-built components' balance between versatility and usability.

Seamless integration with existing tech stack

ButterCMS offers seamless integration with any existing tech stack. It has a well-detailed docs page that makes it very easy to integrate with your existing tech stack.ButterCMS supports many languages, frameworks, and libraries, including but not limited to Python, Javascript, Ruby on Rails, Swift, Spring, React, Node.js, etc. The sheer number of languages supported by ButterCMS means that you can get started and integrate with your tech stack easily and without any hassle, making it an attractive choice for those seeking a smooth transition to a headless CMS.

Speed to launch

ButterCMS stands out from Sanity and Strapi with speed to launch by offering pre-built content models, an easy-to-use interface, and a Global Content API. According to companies like Ocean Finance and PickFu, these features make it easy to get started quickly and launch their website or app quickly. ButterCMS is a secure and scalable service that can handle even the most demanding websites and apps.

Dedicated support and developer resources

ButterCMS offers individualized assistance and relevant resources, including starters, tutorials, guides, SDKs, and documentation. For individuals looking for a robust support system to tackle the difficulties of content management, this committed approach ensures that users receive timely assistance and have access to a thorough knowledge base.

ButterCMS vs. Strapi vs. Sanity user comparison chart 

Here, we will look at and compare the attributes of each platform. We will be using the G2 ratings based on user feedback.

Rating

ButterCMS

Strapi

Sanity

Meets Requirements

9.1 

8.7 

9.1 

Ease of Use

9.3

9.1

8.7 

Ease of Setup

9.2 

8.8 

8.8 

Ease of Admin

9.2 

8.8 

9.1 

Quality of Support

9.7 

8.5 

9.0 

Has the product been a good partner

9.7 

9.1 

9.3 

Product Direction
(% positive)

9.0 

9.1 

9.2 


As evidenced in the chart above, ButterCMS comes out on top across a majority of the rating criteria. 

Final thoughts

In the quest for a suitable headless CMS, the choice between Sanity and Strapi underscores the challenges in finding the right solution. It's crucial to keep developers in mind as they play a pivotal role in harnessing the full potential of these platforms, making the selection process all the more vital.

ButterCMS is an excellent option and is a valuable alternative to both Strapi and Sanity for content creators looking for a hassle-free content management experience because of its exceptional user-friendliness, ease of use, and commitment to customer service. For content creators and developers seeking an accessible yet powerful CMS, ButterCMS is a compelling option to consider.

If 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.
    
 
Isaac Okoro

Isaac is a software engineer and technical writer based in Nigeria. He is an avid reader and football lover with a passion for community and self-improvement.

ButterCMS is the #1 rated Headless CMS

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