Git-based Headless CMS vs API-first Headless CMS

Dive into the key differences between Git-based and API-first headless CMS options as we explore what makes them unique and how they can impact your content management strategy.

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Diego Salinas GardonFeb 2, 2024
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Headless content management systems separate the frontend presentation layer from the backend content repository. By going headless, developers gain more control over the type of frontend experience customers see and the technologies they need to use when building those experiences.

When selecting a new headless CMS, companies typically have to choose between two options: Git-based or API-first. Each of these CMSs has different pros and cons that businesses must consider to find the right solution for them.

In this article, we’ll define each type of headless CMS and explain what they can offer.

What Is a Git-based CMS?

A Git-based CMS is a content management system built on the Git version control system. Before diving into how it works, we need to review the meaning of Git.

Git is an open-source distributed version control system used for source code management. It enables multiple developers to collaborate on various projects while tracking and recording any changes made to the code. Developers can create branches of the project they’re working on, clone or duplicate branches, merge changes, and more.

In a Git-based CMS, content is stored as files in Git, which keeps track of any changes or updates made to content within the repository. Once a change has been made in the CMS editor, it gets sent to the Git repository first, then to the frontend, where those changes can be seen on the website or app.

What Is an API-first CMS?

An API-first or API-driven CMS is a content management system that serves or delivers content to any frontend using an API. An API-first CMS decouples the frontend of the CMS from the backend, which allows content to be published where companies want it to go.

Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) are a set of protocols that allow different software tools to communicate with each other. For example, when a company wants to publish content to a mobile app, an API request is made to the backend where content is stored so that the content can be sent to the mobile device.

API-driven CMSs enable businesses to easily publish content to multiple frontends and create an omnichannel experience for their customers. They also use APIs to connect or integrate with other tools in the tech stack, like eCommerce platforms, CRMs, and so on.

Pros of Git-based CMS

Companies considering a Git-based can benefit from the following features and characteristics:

Version Control

Track and manage changes made to code and content. When errors are made, such as publishing the wrong version of content, users of a Git-based CMS can not only revert back using version control but also audit the content to see all of the changes made and who made them.


Git, by default, enables multiple users to work on the same file simultaneously. So, developers working on projects within the CMS can easily collaborate without being siloed. The same applies to content authors using a Git-based CMS, as they can collaborate on content, merge changes, and resolve conflict issues using Git.

No Vendor Lock-in

While proprietary CMSs can lock companies into using that platform for a long time, Git is open source, and a Git-based CMS doesn’t force businesses to remain on the CMS forever. They can easily migrate content assets to another CMS if and when required.

Easy Set Up

Git-based CMSs are easy to implement, allowing teams to get started building websites and other content-based applications quickly. Since Git is the most popular version control system worldwide, many developers are already familiar with how it works, so the CMS can be ready to go quickly.

Cons of Git-based CMS

However, while a Git-based CMS offers several advantages, some drawbacks need to be considered.


Most Git-based CMSs can’t scale to meet the demands of large-scale projects. Companies that need omnichannel digital experiences with multiple frontends will find it challenging to use a Git-based CMS.

Dynamic Content

Sites with frequently updated and customized content, such as social media platforms or websites that offer in-depth personalization, won’t be suitable for a Git-based CMS to render.

Limited Queries

A limited number of queries or requests can be made with a Git-based CMS, particularly if you need to make complex queries with multiple variables.

Pros of API-first CMS

There are many benefits for those who want to use an API-driven CMS.

Omnichannel Experiences

An API-first CMS allows businesses to deliver content to any channel where their customers are located. If that means they need to build 5 or 10 different frontend experiences to make that happen, any API-driven CMS offers the best way to accomplish this.

Dynamic Content-ready

Dynamic content is where an API-first CMS thrives, as it can handle large volumes of data and work with frequently updated websites. So, personalization and other dynamic features are easier to introduce.


API-first CMSs are highly customizable. Since content is served via API and developers have to build the frontend from scratch, they can use the tools and technologies they prefer and set up the CMS as they see fit.

Cons of API-first CMS

However, there are some cons to using an API-first CMS.

Developer Dependency

For an API-first CMS to work to its full potential, you need to have a large team of developers available to create the different frontends and perform other tasks.

Resource Limitations

Resources with an API-first CMS are often limited. This includes storage and the number of API calls that can be made monthly.

Collaboration & Versioning

Some API-first CMSs don’t make collaboration easy for teams. Also, given the lack of Git, version control isn’t necessarily available, so content and data can be lost if not backed up correctly.

Contentrain: The Best Git-based CMS

The Git-based vs. API-first debate will continue to wage on. Ultimately, the choice will depend on what the business needs and the availability of resources. However, businesses that opt for a Git-based CMS should look no further than Contentrain.

Contentrain offers a Git-based headless CMS that provides scalability and an enjoyable experience for developers and marketers alike. Some of the key features of Contentrain include:

Git-based: Contentrain’s Git-based architecture provides the version control and collaboration benefits of Git, enabling teams to track and audit historical changes.

Content Creator Tools: Content editors and marketers have a simple, user-friendly interface to work in and can create and make changes to content using Markdown.

Multiple Frontend Frameworks: Contentrain supports all SSG(static site generator) frameworks you can think about, which include Nuxt, Next, Vue, React, Hugo, Jekyll, and others.

Multiple Languages: Contentrain offers internationalization (i18n), allowing you to easily build websites that serve customers across the globe in their local languages.

Data Ownership: Contentrain offers Serverless Collections, which gives complete control over data to the companies using the CMS. There is zero vendor lock-in, all data is stored in your own Git repo, and it’s possible to move that data to another CMS if needed.

And so much more. All you need is a Git account to try Contentrain 🤩

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Diego Salinas GardonTechnical Content Writer

Diego crafts detailed content that aligns about the Headless CMS ecosystem and complex technical articles.