After working with the two systems, I’ve come to a conclusion as to which system is better and for what. So let’s explore the two flat-file Content Management Systems and see if Kirby is worth the $39 and if Stacey’s lack of funding has made an impact.

I have made a Kirby Theme based on Zurb Foundation in the past, and have recently released a Stacey minimalist template for anyone to use. I feel like the coding for both is a better starting point than the current implementations.

From User Point Of View

There really is no difference between a site built in either system. You’ll basically see the same load speed, no distinguishing features, and have the exact same experience in both. This is great news because, in the end, it doesn’t matter which one you go with.

Now, being a developer, you may encounter some unforeseen obstacles.

winner Both look the same and neither has a “characteristic” view. I’d say Stacey is more minimalist while Kirby likes to be full-featured.

As A Developer

Working with both system will show you some stark differences. While Kirby CMS is a true PHP CMS where:

  • templates are PHP-based
  • there is a PHP framework in place with a plethora of abilities
  • you’ll be dealing with loops, if/else statements, and so on

Stacey stays away from that using its own language for templating. Your template files, thus, will be .html based and parsed by Stacey. There is no PHP framework for Stacey meaning that you’ll encounter less places to extend. But building a template with Stacey is super simple.

Both CMS have a “snippets” section (“partials” in Stacey) that can be called for just about anywhere, and both allow having common header files and footer files, making your work much easier and taking advantage of the dynamic part in these simple CMS.

Kirby has a beautiful framework behind it, called Kirby Toolkit, that will allow you to create plugins, and special custom PHP stuff that Stacey will lack. Extending Stacey can be a pain and will mean you have to dig into Stacey’s core.

winner I’d say Kirby is a winner with its ease of development and ability to tap into the power of PHP. Stacey uses its own templating language which brings its own issues

Ease of Templating

So while Kirby is a full-featured toolkit, Stacey’s ease of templating is much better. Stacey’s templating language is the “markdown” of templating, cutting down on the need to use PHP tags or Kirby’s templating tags, cutting down on much clutter. If there is a variable, you can easily echo it with a simple @variable. I feel like I’m working with HTML without the “obstruction” of writing opening tags, question marks, and other programming stuff.

I found myself templating with Stacey much faster and easier, focusing mainly on the end-result rather than programming. It was refreshing.

Index page in my Stacey theme


<div id="main-content">
<div id="post-content">
      <div id="content">

Index page in my Kirby theme

<?php snippet('header'); ?>

<div class="row" id="main-content">
<section class="eight columns" id="content-area">
<h2><?= $page->title() ?></h2>
    <?= kirbytext($page->text()) ?>
<aside class="four columns" id="sidebar">
<?= snippet('sidebar'); ?>

<?php snippet('footer'); ?>

winner Stacey definitely has won me over with its friendly templating language.


Stacey is an open source project while Kirby CMS is a “commercial open source” where the code is available to view and test but the CMS itself requires a license for production.

Given this, you can imagine the difference. Here’s what Kirby has as an advantage:

  • more templates
  • more code templates
  • better documentation
  • tutorials and weekly blog updates

On top of that, Kirby has a Panel that adds a simple back-end to your CMS.

Note: I just realized that Stacey’s home page does not, in any way even reflect the state of Stacey right now. It has its own repo with a current version of Stacey 3.0.0 while the website discusses Stacey 2.3.0, last updated two years ago. The repo itself refers to the staceyapp website as a place to find more info.

winner Winner is clearly Kirby with its vision, and its strong support system and updates. Stacey’s site has not been updated in years, and even neglected to document the new Twig templating system it employs (smh)

Final Words

For creating a quick minimalist blog or a simple site with CMS capabilities, I’d go with Stacey. Using its 2.3 version, you can easily create a site with little to no time extra spent over creating an html version. On top of that, you get little overhead, simple templating language. And you know what? It’s free.

Kirby on the other hand is a more robust and growing solution that can be as small and as large as you’d like it. The owner is very vigilant and keeps the users updated at all times. Kirby has support, extensions, usage of pure PHP, a framework, and a back-end. At $39 a pop, it’s really well worth it.

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