CMS vs. CMF Comparison: What is the difference?

The web was originally a platform for publishing content that is linked to other content. This core idea lives on today. Content Management what most of the people on the web still do. Many use publishing tools to publish their content online, where as the large mass of people working in the web development industry - develop things that revolve around content.

There are a number of technical terms in this area that seem alien to people not aware of these things. One is the difference between a Content Management System (CMS) and a Content Management Framework (CMF). Like so many often with technical terms, there is a thin red line between what is considered what.

Essentially most people relate a CMS to be a tool that allows them to publish content and manage the site's navigation structure. Many times these kind of tools are strong brands like WordPress and Craft CMS. These are tools that provide a strict admin interface and experience for site editors.

By definition a Content Management Framework like the  are more of a toolkit that provides technical tools for working with concepts and techniques of content management. They can range from CMS like products like Drupal 8 and eZ Platform to pure toolkits like Symfony CMF.

A CMS is easy but limited, a CMF is a powertool easy to abuse by amateurs

With the rush to the lucrative enterprise market, many CMS tools are nowadays calling them CMFs. They aspire to provide complete web application frameworks for developers to work with. This can lead to serious fragmentation of the user experience as the user experience for content creators is easily lacks.

In essence there is to technical definition that could be used to define a CMS or a CMF, but it's a gray area. In general a CMS product will provide a better user experience at the expense of technical flexibility. A CMF on the other hand provides more technical flexibility, but can lead to a poor content editing experience.

For small business sites and other places where publishing content and relaying information to the world is the key - a CMS is the better choice. For larger projects where you have a number of requirements and complexity, then the flexibility of a CMF is worth the extra investment.

In any case for a modern CMS or CMF you'll want to make sure they're built to support clustering technologies natively, so you can deploy your content repository to the cloud with Docker.