I need a forum for an upcoming project, and I need to decide which one. I should’ve done this a long time ago, or at least a last week, but I’m having a hard time making up my mind.
I came to the conclusion that it would be one of these two forums after contemplating these criterias:
- It has to be opensource and free. Lots of good commercial solutions are out, like vBulletin. Not a money issue, more like a principle…
- I want a PHP forum running MySQL (or similar). This is because this is something I know something about, and most hosts provide decent service.
- I want the forum to be pretty lightweight. Basically, I’d rather add plugins for special features, than have everything crammed in there at once.
- The forum needs to be pretty easily customized. So phpBB is out, and so is PunBB. Not that these are necessarily bad forums but phpBB is pretty clunky, and PunBB won’t commit to CSS full-time until the next version.
After much consideration, I went with Vanilla or bbPress. Both are opensource, lightweight, and cool new players. Also, I like the tag support.
So which one?
Pros & Cons: Vanilla
Let’s start with the good:
- Seems to have decent support and a fair amount of extensions.
- Easily integrated with X, including WordPress, which I’ll be doing for a client soon enough.
- Nice “new” forum layout to build from, always a good thing.
- Good reputation online.
Then the bad:
- Nobody I know have styled nor run it, so I only have second-hand opinions.
- Documentation could perhaps be better?
- The nice “new” forum layout could mean that I have to reshape everything whenever I want a more customary approach.
- Not sure about the theming…
Pros & Cons: bbPress
Starting with the good things again:
- Automattic, makers of WordPress, is backing bbPress, which feels safe.
- I have run several bbPress forums for editorial groups and such. Small, but they’re working OK.
- Very fast and lightweight!
- Akismet spam protection, thank you very much!
- Theming to be close to WordPress, which is familiar to me.
And the bad things:
- It’s not in 1.0 yet. Who knows what will happen? Is it really ready for a public site? (Probably.)
- Maybe too lightweight? Everything besides writing forum posts is a plugin, not even support for private forums. That’s not good.
- I’ve had issues with upgrades when using the Swedish language. This is a problem that should be fixed, but it could theoretically be an issue until 1.0.
- The admin interface is poor at best.
Help Me Pick: Vanilla or bbPress?
I’d like to hear what you guys think, since I’ll be spending some time playing with whichever it’ll be, and that means possible tutorials and more for Devlounge. Might even release a theme or two, we’ll see…
Which one and why? And remember, it’s either Vanilla or bbPress, nothing else I’m afraid.