I am trying to architect a very specific CMS solution and so far I've come up short when it comes to the more popular options.

Notably I need a CMS that

  • is open-source,
  • is extensible (plugins/themes),
  • is hopefully available as a SAAS solution,
  • has a native API or can be configured to have an API via plugin/whatever,
  • can be configured to offer an arbitrarily modular experience when authoring content (arbitrary text/image/embed/etc. blocks that can be positioned arbitrarily relative to one another),
  • and have some kind of mechanism (plugin or natively) for syncing specific content between CMS installs (this is the condition that's causing me the most trouble).

I feel like I've explored most options, but I'm not terribly confident I've explored them all, any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

(There are notable solutions for these conditions in Drupal 7, but if it's not Drupal 8 it's not an option. Waiting for these features/modules to be feature complete in Drupal 8 is not an option either.)

  • Did you try cmsmatrix.org ? That's always my go to place for CMS
    – Mawg
    Commented Aug 4, 2016 at 11:53
  • drupal is never an option! Commented Aug 6, 2017 at 17:01
  • Please do detail what you have tried to prevent wasting everyone's time Commented Aug 6, 2017 at 17:01

5 Answers 5


I realize someone has already posted this suggestion but you've literally just described Liferay. Why is Java off the table? While Liferay's core codebase is in Java an amazing amount of configuration and customization can be done without writing any code.

Additionally custom plugins can be written in dozens of different languages because of the JSON HTTP API, although most of the documentation is written for Java.

Considering your initial requirements you are going to have a very hard time if you don't want to work with Java. Javas open source ecosystem is large and mature. Additionally the language is been around the CMS space forever and if you truly do need extensive configurability it might be your only real option. Also be aware that Liferay and a few of it's rivals are enormous and the knowledge required to build complex systems is daunting. While you can become proficient in maybe a year or two it literally can take a decade to build expertise


If you are open to a J2EE option, there is Liferay Portal. There is a FOSS version that handles can be configured with arbitrary layouts, as you describe, and importantly staging and import/export between installs.

  • Java's probably off the table, but it's still worth a look I think. Thanks
    – jshwlkr
    Commented Aug 4, 2016 at 14:23

Cloud-based ones are the best in my opinion. I think they are the most simple to use and navigate, especially since so many people use cloud-based things nowadays. Tractfile is one great example. I know some companies that use it, they love it.


If I'm understanding you correctly, this is very similar to what we are doing right now on our site and we are using Drupal 8. I'm not sure what limitations you believe D8 has for your end goal?

As far as content goes, we are using Domain Source and Domain Access to make content usable on all or some domains. We don't have a main site and instead have configured all sites to be add-on domains.

I'm mentioning this because I'm wondering if you have experience with Drupal, it might be easier to work with what you know rather than trying to invent the wheel all over again

  • Drupal is inredibly slow, for a start? Commented Aug 6, 2017 at 17:02
  • @user3791372: Drupal is used in the real world to power fast websites, so you will need to develop your argument, or delete it if it is not relevant to the question. Thanks!
    – Nicolas Raoul
    Commented Aug 9, 2017 at 3:39
  • i believe your half statement: "drupal is used in the real world to power fast websites" but it continues "... and makes them slow". I have "real world experience". If you believe it's fast than good for you. I would advise no one to use it. The infrastructure is a joke, the community is pretentious, the code is unbelievably bad and performance is worse than all three squared but of course, all things have their fanboi's Commented Aug 9, 2017 at 10:01

Drupal 8 was the contender to beat, largely because it has most of what I was looking for via modules. (Craft CMS was also a very real possibility.) However, because most of these Drupal modules were at the time still being ported from Drupal 7 and because restrictions concerning timelines etc were being placed on me I eventually had to settle on a WordPress-based solution.

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