Both Strapi and Contentful are headless CMS. The main difference between them is that Strapi is an open-source product, while Contentful is a proprietary SaaS (software-as-a-service). This influences a lot of important things like hosting, security, performance, cost, and customization of the CMS.
With an open-source solution like Strapi, you are free to choose where you want to keep your data. It means that you have complete control of the security, performance, and cost of your project. Choosing a hosting by yourself adds one more step to the application setup but it can be done quite quickly using official Strapi integrations with hosting providers. SaaS solutions like Contentful, provide you a CMS that is already hosted, which means that you can't choose where your data is kept and you risk having a vendor-lock-in.
Strapi is open-source, which means that you can install it on your own server and customize both the backend and admin panel as you wish. You can customize anything through the API or by editing the automatically generated code files.
Strapi comes with a React-based admin panel for content editors which can be fully customized as well since all the code is available on Github.
As an open-source product, Strapi has more than 600 contributors and an active community of over 15 000 users. If you are looking for a custom solution, chances are high that someone in the community has already done it.
Have a look at the numerous tutorials and integrations created by the Strapi team and users. Thanks to the community, our product can evolve so quickly and there's always free support from other users.
Both CMS offer a free Community version. However, Contentful Community Edition has a number of limitations: you can only have 48 content types, 25k records, 2 locales, 3 environments, 2 admin panel roles, and 5 users. To remove these limitations, Contentful offers paid plans which start at $489 / month.
Strapi free plan has no limitations of content types, locales, API calls, entries, environments, or admin panel users. Strapi paid plans (starting at $29/month) unlock access to more custom roles and advanced support offers, which are mostly requested by large enterprises.
We believe in the power of open-source communities, that's why Strapi is community-first, free, and will stay that way forever.
Use contentful but after watching @traversymedia crash course on Strapi, Strapi became my crush 😍😍 headless cms.— Thomas Ejembi (@Newt_Dev) March 24, 2021
Used to love contentful, but really, their docs is not the easiest one to grasp, and lacks of examples. Been trying Strapi and everything is pretty awesome!— Riva Yudha (@rvywr) December 18, 2020
Thanks for the info Scott. While Contentful comes with many great features, some people have complained about their pricing. Have been looking at open source alternatives and strapi.js seems like a great option!— John Smilga (@john_smilga) May 17, 2019
@strapijs is very nice, but self hosted (not necessarily a bad thing)@prismicio is an alright hosted service with decent pricing. Although their UI needs to be worked on.— Kim H (@iAmKimpo) October 5, 2020
I have heard good things about @contentful but their pricing model looks absolutely insane.
Strapi is selfhosted, meaning that you can directly connect to the database in your container if you want too.— Igor Silveira (@igorasilveira) January 14, 2021
Contentful doesn’t let you do that, as they are a cloud platform.
It depends on the amount of hands-on that you want.
CMS’s try to abstract all that for you
Popular Open Source CMS "Strapi CMS" First to Release Content Internationalization Free and Without Limitations in Community Edition— Harry Manchanda 👨💻🇮🇳🚀 (@HarmanManchanda) April 22, 2021
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