How to correctly count Webflow CMS Collection Items

Have you ever wondered how Webflow CMS Collection items are being counted? It recently happened to me, and I noticed that I didn't have a clear idea of how Webflow calculates those items. It's an important math to do, especially if you want to know when you can expect CMS limits in a project.
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Webflow CMS is awesome. It lets you set up and create dynamic webpages through an elegant UI and it gives clients an easy-to-use interface to update entries easily as well. CMS Collections can be set up very flexible and to your clients desire with various custom fields, like Plain text, Rich text, Image, Link, References etc.

But the CMS has its limits. This article is about the Collection items limit (count) that comes with Webflow Hosting. The threshold lies either at the 2,000 mark or at the 10,000 mark. Rumors are that the limits might go away one day but we can't say that for sure.

2,000 items or 10,000 might sound much but really you can't tell if you don't know how it is calculated, right? And this leads to the main question of this article: how are Webflow CMS items counted? Because I had quite some difficulties figuring this out.

In every project, in the first "General" tab there is the section "Overview". It holds some figures regarding the project, like the Total Asset Size or when the project was Last Published (don't look at the Active Design Time, it's been broken woefully inaccurate for many years) and also Collection Items.

After investigating the number in a project from us, I noticed that I didn't know how to add up the numbers. I was missing the correct methodology. I searched for an answer in the Webflow University and the forums, but ultimately I had to resort to support. Wadood jumped on the case and was really a big help. Thanks again!

Turns out he actually had to ask a technical team member himself to get it exactly right. Here is the short run-down:

  • 1 CMS item, regardless of the number of collection settings (fields) - counts as 1
  • 1 Product with 0 variants has a "hidden" SKU with the data - counts as 2
  • 1 Product with 1 variant overrides the hidden SKU with the actual variant data - counts as 2
  • 1 Product with N variants is just 1 product then all of the variants - i.e., 1 product + 5 variants = 6

I also asked him for some other detail specifications, just to be ultra sure. In summary:

  • Products and categories count towards the item limit
  • Discounts and Orders do not
  • Collections themselves do not count against the limit
  • Item limits from Standard site plans are not inherited by Ecommerce site plans

With this methodology I was now able to verify it against the numbers in my reference project and after doing some quick math I got to the exact same number like listed in the Overview Section.

Why is this important?

In general, I believe that is it always a very good thing to really understand a system that you work with every day. Also, it not just gives confidence and the certainty that you know what you are doing, but it can also become a very crucial part when thinking about setting up a new project. If you already have an existing project and you want to get it over into Webflow Hosting to benefit from the Designer, the CMS and the hosting itself, you should be able to calculate the figures to know where you are standing.

Why are there limits at all?

Honestly I don't know, and the limits are frequently a big critique point and there is a high rated Wishlist item to increase the CMS Item limit.

The limits are annoying and they really are limits. It's not just a technical term to protect the company from some sort of misuse where databases are being flooded or this type of scenario and that you can basically neglect because chances are that you would probably never hit it. The limits are actually very low and a mid-size project can bump on the drawn lines quite fast.

This being said I believe it's even more important to understand how the limits are being calculated to make an educated decision for new projects, and now you can do just that.