Testing Forestry CMS with Eleventy

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One of the things on my to do list has been to take a closer look at CMS options for Eleventy. Aside from being curious about how easy it would be to set up, I might have a couple of projects coming up where the content would be created and maintained by someone who wouldn’t want to use an editor to GitHub flow.

I started by creating a simple little site locally that included…

  • A Homepage
  • Posts and a post listing page
  • Tags and a post listing page by tag
  • Pagination
  • A static page

I wanted to test any prospective CMS using a site I created rather than a starter. Integrating something I built rather than poking at something someone else built felt like a better opportunity to learn, or at least maybe a more efficient one!

I started with Forestry. I wanted to ease in with a Git-based CMS and Forestry provided an “import your site” option, making it easy to get up and running with my own site. Both Forestry and Netlify provide a “use a starter project” path as well.



Overall it went pretty smoothly and ended up being a fun little project. I learned what I set out to learn and feel Forestry would be a good pick for the projects I have I mind.

After getting the site set up in Forestry I deployed it to Netlify. It’s worth noting that Forestry provides a way to set up previews, so you can do a lot before you ever deploy to a host.

The test site, cleverly named CMS Test, has a post about each of the elements I included, plus a kick off post and wrap-up to discuss likes and dislikes. Rather than writing it up here you can read more at the test site.

Here’s what’s covered…

  • Kick off - Overview of the project, not that dissimilar from this post but more succinct
  • Images - Within a template and within a body of the post
  • Snippets - Creating reusable text or code
  • Date field - Options for handling dates
  • Drafts - Setting up drafts
  • Wrap up - Pros and cons

There are plenty of things Forestry has to offer that I didn’t try out, but I feel like I have a solid starting point when I need it. It’s also nice to have the site as a reference.

Next steps


At some point I might clean up the test site, add a few things like a 404 and RSS, and make it a proper Eleventy starter. Even if I don’t go that route I’ll use the structure and same approach if and when I test any other CMS. I might also try out an API-based CMS like Sanity as well as Netlify, which is also Git-based.

If you’d like to read more about what I learned, head over to CMS Test and check out the posts. You can also view the repository.

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