dotCMS Alternatives: Why Enterprises Choose CrafterCMS

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Sara Williams

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Technological advances and the increase in digital channels have given rise to the need for more immersive, consistent, and personalized experiences. These days, just having a website won't do. Today, enterprises have to create applications and content to serve all digital touchpoints web, mobile, e-commerce, OTT video, AR/VR, IOT devices and more.

With this in mind, finding an agile DXP platform that can serve these growing numbers of touchpoints is an absolute necessity. As Gartner's research notes, “to future-proof the stack, a composable DXP must be used to deliver composable user experiences.”

As one of the more popular platforms in this category, dotCMS offers several unique features that include multilingual language support, personalization, customized template workflows, and automated publishing. However, meeting current demands and future-proofing your site may require more advanced workflows and functionalities that dotCMS doesn’t offer.

In this article, we’ll explore dotCMS and make the case for CrafterCMS as the best alternative to overcome those shortcomings.

dotCMS: A Hybrid CMS

dotCMS is a hybrid CMS that offers the capabilities of both a traditional CMS and headless CMS. It is an open-source cloud-based, head-optional CMS with a backend written on Java. In essence, it’s a platform for building single-page applications, websites, and other headless content use cases. Furthermore, the platform offers a flexible API-first infrastructure that makes it easier to build, manage, and deliver consistent and seamless digital experiences.

In addition, dotCMS offers a structured content interface, extensive APIs to retrieve and create content, and native GraphQL support. It also provides WYSIWYG and drag-and-drop layout design support to streamline workflows, multilingual support, and "Edit Mode Anywhere" functionality to enhance API-driven web applications.

In this way, programmers and marketers can create and reuse content to build engaging, personalized, and connected products. IT teams do not have to handle all these activities. Instead, marketers can configure publishing and authoring environments anywhere to create a global distribution network.

With a hybrid CMS like dotCMS, you can build a variety of frontend applications using any framework or language you desire. And not only that, but you can also develop websites, SPAs, and omni-channel digital experiences with dotCMS.

However, dotCMS has a set of inherent limitations.

Problems with dotCMS

Database Architecture

Like most legacy CMSs, and even newer headless CMSs, dotCMS is built around a database-centric architecture. Databases are ideal for structured data, but are not designed for either structured or unstructured content. Database-oriented CMSs like dotCMS suffer from operational, maintainability, security, scalability, both developer and and content authoring bottlenecks. Moving content and code among environments (a key part of DevContentOps processes) is cumbersome and slow, causing developer bottlenecks and also resulting in content publishing freezes from time to time. Scaling database architectures is another major issue that dotCMS users must deal with.

Content Modeling Complexity

Despite the capabilities of dotCMS, it can become very overwhelming quite fast especially for casual or first-time users. To maximize the full customization potential requires overcoming several challenges and complexity.

Software Instability

The process of publishing content on dotCMS can be very unreliable. There have been numerous reports of instability, especially the occasional software crash. As one G2 reviewer reports, “everything breaks down the minute you want to publish something.” Sometimes, the resolution of certain bugs within the system takes a long time. Although the dotCMS support usually provides patches quickly on the enterprise version.

Steep Learning Curve

dotCMS relies on the bulky and complex OSGI framework for module development and backend services. Additionally, the administration system interface isn't the most intuitive sometimes. It can be tricky to learn at first, and you have to make several decisions depending on your project. Even with its extensive documentation, it’s still quite confusing and needs significant improvement. Several examples in the documentation are unclear. That means if you encounter any issues, it can be very frustrating to figure out the right way to resolve them.

CrafterCMS: A Modern Enterprise CMS Alternative to dotCMS

For enterprises, certain unique benefits help to improve customer experiences. Choosing an enterprise-ready CMS that can meet modern demands for future-proofing your content is crucial for any business. 

CrafterCMS is a Git-based, headless+ CMS that can be used to build and deliver content-rich applications across several digital touchpoints. Beyond being a modern  headless CMS platform, it offers many unique advantages as an alternative to dotCMS.

Best-in-Class Content Authoring Experience

Marketers and content authors need the powerful and easy-to-use content and experience creation tools they’re accustomed to from working with traditional CMS platforms, but even better. This includes WYSIWYG content authoring, drag and drop page building, in-context preview for any digital channel, creating and testing personalized experiences, and more. CrafterCMS provides a powerful and easy to use content authoring toolset, called Crafter Studio, the meets these needs of today’s content teams. Moreover, Crafter Studio is an extensible platform, so that enterprise-specific and more advanced requirements can be met through easy customization using modern development tools.

Developer-Friendly Platform

CrafterCMS takes the concept of headless a step further, toward what we call headless “plus”. Headless+ is a true developer platform, allowing backend development, integration, and extensibility in addition to providing rich content APIs. It provides extensible APIs that allow teams to customize backend functionality and integrate third-party systems as necessary. CrafterCMS allows developers to easily extend the system with Groovy, Java, or Node.js. Moreover, CrafterCMS allows you to build custom APIs to meet application-specific requirements and to integrate easily with third-party systems and other repositories. By focusing on an API-first architecture, lightweight built-in scripting support and modular packaging (and not the bulky and complex requirements of OSGI), CrafterCMS supports rapid development of innovative digital experiences.

Distributed, Git-based Repository

Most developers are familiar with Git as the most popular version control system for application source code. CrafterCMS goes a step further than traditional headless or decoupled CMS by leveraging Git to house content and code in a single source of truth repository. It is a Git-based CMS with comprehensive features and workflows for modeling all types of content-driven digital experiences.

Besides helping content writers and marketers produce engaging content, enterprise CMS platforms should also provide sophisticated version control, security, auditing, and historical access to content. Also, they must support CI/CD/CP workflows, which include continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD/CP).


DevOps facilitates the swift delivery of software applications, enabling companies to build and operate software products rapidly. When DevOps is working as it should, new features and functionality can be introduced without interrupting other activities, while improving customer experience, stability, and reliability.

CrafterCMS extends the benefits of DevOps to content-driven software applications, products, and digital experiences. With our unique support for DevContentOps processes, software development teams work collaboratively with content teams to continuously release new software features, publish new content updates, and deliver digital customer experiences faster than ever before.

For example, code may be moved forward from development environments to production, and content may be moved back from production environments with simple push and pull operations. Teams can work in small batch sizes, and can automate their processes with integrations to CI/CD pipelines and tooling. DevContentOps enables a high rate of innovation needed in today’s digital landscape.

Serverless Content Delivery Architecture

Managing servers at scale can be a burdensome process for any IT team. With serverless architecture, you don’t have to manually manage your servers. That means you’re free from the burden of managing server availability, uptime, redundancy, orchestration, scalability, and many other aspects of modern web applications.

Crafter Engine is stateless, requires  no database, and natively offers built-in support for Docker and Kubernetes to leverage containers and container orchestration. As a result, CrafterCMS delivers large volumes of content at scale in a serverless way. By leveraging a serverless architecture, you can elasticity scale your application up or down to suit your needs, and deliver blazing fast personalized, dynamic end user experiences.

AWS-friendly CMS

With CrafterCMS, you can deliver omnichannel experiences globally and use DevOps capabilities to develop and deploy modern content-driven applications. It is the ideal CMS fully capable of leveraging AWS and all its features in the cloud. CrafterCMS integrates many of AWS's features to provide all the functionality you need from a cloud-native CMS.  Additionally, CrafterCMS enables stateless and serverless content delivery system with elastic scalability.

AR/VR Capabilities

The beauty of omnichannel experiences is that you can deliver content across several interfaces, screens, and devices. That goes for augmented reality and virtual reality as well. As with most modern applications, VR and AR solutions include many content types, such as videos, images, and 3D models.

CrafterCMS helps to manage and deliver content for AR/VR experiences. Developers can leverage extensible content APIs on Crafter and popular frontend technologies such as A-Frame, WebXR, and AR.js. In light of that, CrafterCMS makes it easy for content authors and developers to collaborate to deliver exceptional AR/VR experiences. In addition to AR/VR, many other headless use cases are readily supported with CrafterCMS plugins and blueprints on its marketplace, including OTT video experiences, Alexa digital assistants, and more.

Experience the World of a Git-based Headless CMS for the Enterprise

Building immersive omnichannel digital experiences is a central goal of many enterprises. However, choosing the platform to help deliver these top-notch experiences isn't always straightforward. Many options are available to enterprises: a simple headless solution, a hybrid solution, or a traditional CMS?

Crafter is a headless+ CMS with rich capabilities for building and delivering an engaging digital presence for enterprises. It is the ideal enterprise CMS alternative to dotCMS with its best-in-class content authoring system, sophisticated Git-based content repository, DevContentOps support, AWS integrations, developer-friendly features, a marketplace of blueprints and plugins for AR/VR and other digital experiences, and much more.

Find out why CrafterCMS is the ideal enterprise-grade alternative to dotCMS in this white paper: Seven Reasons Why Crafter Should Be On Your Web CMS Shortlist.

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