Tina Cloud - a headless CMS backed by Git
A common problem when trying to convince someone to use Jamstack tools is the learning curve and that’s understandable, not everyone wants to spend time on learning and more importantly not everyone needs to. After all, it's a bit unfair to expect a blogger, content creator or someone who just isn't that much on the dev side of things to jump at the idea of sitting through courses and tutorials and learning to code. Well thankfully there’s a little something that can help with that and it's called Tina.
What is Tina? Well first let’s look at TinaCMS released by Forestry in late 2019. Despite its name it’s actually not a Content Management System. A typical CMS has an attached frontend and looks something like WordPress, where everything you create has to fit its templates. This is great when you’re starting out, but can be a major hindrance as you’re limited in terms of design which makes it hard to stand out. TinaCMS is a Headless CMS, it operates purely on the backend and reaches the frontend through an API which means you’re free to design your website and display your content any way you like. But that’s just the inner workings, the actual features are much more enticing
- Real-time visual editor: This is where TinaCMS really shines, it's basically an open source real-time website editor. This approach is perfect for content creators who can simply add or edit content on the fly and see how it looks on the website in real time. Want to add a post on your site or maybe just fix a couple typos in an existing one? It's as simple as logging in, using the editor to do it and clicking save. No coding needed.
- Storage agnostic: It's entirely up to you how you want to store content Google Sheets, Airtable, Github or even another Headless CMS
Into the cloud
TinaCMS started out as a simple React library on GitHub, if you wanted to do something with it you had to have an account there as it handled authentication. That’s not ideal when your focus is reaching content creators and not developers. On the other hand while the website editor was great for content creators it was somewhat lacking for admins who prefer working with a more traditional admin panel. Another problem was storing data as TinaCMS while agnostic didn't have any dedicated solution for that. So Forestry came up with a new tool: Tina Cloud. It combines the TinaCMS content editor with the power of GraphQL. It's still in alpha but you can already see its key features.
- Easier access: GitHub account no longer needed, now accessible to everyone
- Database-like: as mentioned before TinaCMS lets you use another Headless CMS for storage and that’s exactly where Tina Cloud comes in. It provides you with a GraphQL interface for interacting with your content stored in open formats like Markdown and JSON. This basically makes it work like a database that you can query with GraphQL
- Admin dashboard: TinaCloud uses the TinaCMS editor but it also provides admins with a dashboard letting them manage different sites and collaborators.
As you can see TinaCMS is already a great tool for those working with someone who isn't into coding or if you’re just looking for something that will help you manage your own site or blog. Now with Tina Cloud it's even more functional and useful for diverse teams with admins and content creators and all that despite it all being less than 2 years old. It's definitely something worth keeping an eye on as it's still in development and will definitely get more features down the road.