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How To Customize Strapi CMS: Adding Plugins And Modifying Configurations

February 21, 2024 by Daria Andrieieva
  • User Experience
strapi CMS

In the ever-evolving Content Management Systems (CMS) landscape, Strapi has emerged as a powerful and flexible option for developers and content creators alike. Strapi is a headless CMS that empowers you to easily create, manage, and deliver digital content. If you're wondering, "What is Strapi CMS?" or are already familiar with it and eager to learn how to customize it, you're in the right place. 

Join Kapsys as we explore the world of Strapi CMS and explore how to customize it by adding plugins and modifying configurations.


Understanding Strapi: A Brief Overview

Before we dive into customization, let's ensure we have a solid understanding of what Strapi CMS is and why it's gaining popularity in web development.

What is Strapi CMS?

what is strapi cms

Strapi is an open-source Node.js-based headless CMS that provides developers with a robust framework for building content-rich websites and applications. Unlike traditional monolithic CMS systems, Strapi CMS  follows a headless architecture, allowing you to separate the backend content management from the frontend presentation layer.

Key features of Strapi CMS: 

  • Custom Content Types: Strapi allows you to define your content types and structures, making it adaptable to various projects.

  • RESTful and GraphQL APIs: You can quickly generate APIs for your content, whether you prefer RESTful or GraphQL endpoints.

  • User Authentication: Strapi CMS comes with built-in user authentication and role-based access control, ensuring the security of your application.

  • Plugin System: Strapi's plugin system enables you to extend its functionality and tailor it to your specific project requirements.

Now that we understand Strapi's fundamentals, let's explore how you can customize it to suit your unique needs.

Before We Begin: Here is What You Need

You must have particular prerequisites to customize Strapi CMS by adding plugins and modifying configurations effectively. Here are the specific requirements for Strapi customization through adding plugins and modifying configurations:

  • Basic Understanding of Strapi: Familiarize yourself with Strapi's core concepts and features through its official documentation.

  • Installed Strapi Project: Have a working Strapi project set up.

  • Node.js and JavaScript: Understand JavaScript and Node.js for Strapi's server-side scripting.

  • Command Line Interface (CLI): Be comfortable using the Strapi CLI for managing your project.

  • Database Knowledge: Know how to set up and configure your chosen database.

  • Authentication and Authorization: Learn to configure user authentication and access control.

  • Git and Version Control: Use Git to track changes in your Strapi project.

  • Testing and Debugging Skills: Be able to test and debug your customizations effectively.

With these core prerequisites, you can start customizing Strapi CMS with plugins and configurations for your specific project needs.

Strapi CMS Customization Through Plugins

One of the most appealing aspects of Strapi is its extensibility through plugins. Plugins are pre-built packages of functionality that can be easily integrated into your Strapi CMS project. Whether you need to add new features, modify existing ones, or integrate with external services, plugins are your go-to solution. Here's how to leverage plugins effectively:

Step 1. Installing plugins

Installing a plugin in Strapi CMS  is a straightforward process. You can use the Strapi Marketplace or install a custom plugin you or the community created. Here's a step-by-step guide to installing a plugin:

Option 1. Using the Strapi Marketplace:

  1. Access your Strapi project's admin panel.

  2. Navigate to the Settings menu and select "Plugins."

  3. Browse the Strapi Marketplace for available plugins.

  4. Click on the plugin you want to install and click the "Install" button.

  5. Once installed, configure the plugin according to your project's needs.

Option 2. Installing Custom Plugins:

  1. Create a new directory named plugins in your Strapi project's root folder.

  2. Place your custom plugin's code in the plugin's directory.

  3. Access your Strapi admin panel and navigate to Settings > Plugins.

  4. Find your custom plugin in the list and click the Install button.

In just a few simple steps, you can effortlessly enhance your Strapi project with the plugins of your choice. Whether you opt for the Strapi Marketplace or create custom plugins, customization is at your fingertips.

Step 2. Configuring Plugins

After installing the plugin to Strapi CMS, you may need to configure it to align with your project's requirements. Plugin configurations can vary widely depending on the plugin's purpose and functionality.

a. Configuration Files: Some plugins provide configuration files you can modify directly. These files are typically located in the ./config directory of your Strapi project.

b. Plugin Settings: In the Strapi admin panel, navigate to Settings > Plugins. Find the installed plugin in the list and click on it to access its settings. Configure the plugin options, including API endpoints, authentication settings, and more.

Step 3. Creating custom plugins

If you have specific requirements not met by existing plugins, you can create custom ones. Strapi CMS provides a development environment for developing and testing custom plugins. Here are the steps to create a custom Strapi plugin:

  • Use the Strapi CLI to generate a new plugin scaffold:

    strapi generate: plugin my-custom-plugin
  • Develop your plugin's functionality within the generated directory.

  • Once your custom plugin is ready, install it in your Strapi project as described earlier.

Modifying Strapi Configurations

Beyond plugins, you can customize Strapi CMS  by modifying its core configurations. These configurations control various aspects of your Strapi application, including database settings, server configurations, and security settings. To modify Strapi configurations effectively, follow these steps:

1. Editing configuration files

Strapi's configuration files are located in the ./config directory of your project. The most commonly modified configuration files include:

  • database.js: Configure your database connections and settings.

  • server.js: Adjust server-related configurations, such as the port and host.

  • middleware.js: Define custom middleware for your Strapi application.

  • security.json: Configure security-related environments, such as CORS and CSRF protection.

2. Environment variables

It's best practice to use environment variables for sensitive or environment-specific configuration settings. Strapi CMS  allows you to load configuration values from environment variables, ensuring a secure and portable setup.

To use environment variables in your Strapi project, define them in a .env file in your root directory. Then, reference these variables in your configuration files using the process.env syntax.

3. Overrides

Strapi CMS  provides an override mechanism that allows you to customize core functionalities without modifying the source code directly. This is particularly useful for extending or changing the behavior of built-in controllers, services, or models.

To create an override, follow these steps:

  • Create a folder structure that mirrors the core Strapi file you want to override within your project's ./api directory.

  • Place your custom file with the same name as the core file in the corresponding folder.

  • Strapi CMS will automatically use your custom file instead of the core file.


Testing and Version Control

Customizing Strapi CMS is a powerful way to tailor it to your project's requirements. However, thoroughly testing your customizations is crucial to ensure they work as expected. Utilize Strapi's development environment and follow best practices for version control to manage your project effectively.

Read: Headless CMS and Strapi SEO Best Practices


Strapi, the powerful and versatile headless CMS, enables developers to craft content-rich applications tailored to specific needs. You can shape Strapi CMS to match any project's requirements by harnessing its plugins and configurations. As you explore its features, you'll discover the potential to create anything from blogs to e-commerce platforms.

Looking for more insights and tips on maximizing Strapi CMS? Stay updated with the Kapsys blog for the latest in web development.