I've been using phpBB since 2001 and really like the price tag - $0. They had their share of problems back in the day but it's a very robust stable package now, can't go wrong.
If you want to pay, pay, and pay, then go for vbulletin, it's popular but overrated IMHO. I bought it and used it for a while but didn't care for it.
I use vB on all my forums - nothing comes close.
If you did a search of all the webmaster forums where this question has been asked and had a poll attached to it - you will generally find that 60% of the votes are for vB and the other 40% is shared amoung the rest.
cbpayne, have you ever tried phpBB? I've used both and phpBB has nearly all options that vB has. There's mods for what it's "missing" (if you want to call it that).
If you use phpBB after working with vBulletin, it takes some getting used to. I have implemented both, and generally like VB a little better, but recent licensing changes [webmasterworld.com] worry me.
There's IPB to look at too :)
All of the forum solutions can be installed in a directory. Mine is called /forum/ and is only a part of my site. That allows me to do what I like with homepages and other content.
It was having to do the mods that put me off phpBB. Seem to be a very enthusiastic bunch over there who update their software very regularly. Fantastic until you need to integrate all your mods into a new version every month. I moved away years ago for this reason - is there a plugin system these days?
You can probably figure out which solution I use from rocknbil's link. But VBs direction seems to be diverging from mine, and their last major upgrade doubled my CPU usage so I'm waiting for reports about their current really big update before handing over money.
PS - I wouldn't build your own. I've spent the last 6 months building my own shop software (everything else seemed useless) but forum software is even more complex and all the ones mentioned above work fairly well.
|I moved away years ago for this reason - is there a plugin system these days? |
I guess you can call it the first plug-in and will be included with phpBB 3.0.6. It will be for the captcha system that will allow you to plugin new captchas which I'm sure is going to make bot spammers happy. :)
As far as updating phpBB3 it has a auto updater specifically for people with heavily modded forums. Haven't used it myself but I do know many people have used it with much success. It will go through the updates and when it runs into a file that has been modified where the update may interfere with mod it will notify you and give you a few options including skipping the file to manually update it.
Personally I just use Winmerge and it usually takes a 5 to 10 minutes.
I believe the reason most phpBB mods have stuck with modifying the phpBB files is for performance. There is hooks system but it hasn't been utilized much. There is also a module system for the ACP, MCP and UCP which is basically plug in.
Yeah, phpBB has come a long way in the last few years. I used to have mods (more like hacks) on phpBB2, now that I'm all on v3 I haven't installed a single mod. I had a bad experience trying to upgrade the forum in the olden days.
Now I use the auto update process, holy man does it ever save you time and hassle. Easy stuff to upgrade now no matter how many mods you have.
So really to me the only downside to phpBB is it's "reputation" of days gone by. Updates are less frequent now, it has plenty of features, updating is easy, etc.
I got an e-mail from Internet Brands a little while ago about vb4 because I have a vb3 license. I went to check it out and at the time there was no demo or screenshots, just a "better buy it now before the price goes up". Not a good way to do business IMHO. I just kept the cash in my pocket. I agree vb is good but I don't think it's worth the price difference at this point. phpBB is so close to vb it's just not worth shelling out renewal fees, vbseo scripts, etc.
If you haven't applied any mods to your forum you can simply download the changed files package, upload the the install folder and new files overwriting the old ones. Run the database upgrade script in the install folder, delete the install folder... Done.
Depending on your particular setup you may have to purge the cache from the ACP which is usually a good idea after making any changes anyway.
Not many folks seem to use it, but Wordpress offers a forum solution called bbPress. I use it on a few sites. It is free and has a number of plugins developed for adding just about any functionality you might need.
vBulletin had a strong presence at the recent Pubcon. I've been using it for 5 years or so and have found it to be highly scalable. I've delivered over 2 million pageviews in a day without killing it.
You do need to have the hardware to support high volumes, but vB is definitely capable of carrying just about any load you can throw at it.
My vote goes to the latest IPB version (version 3)... Out of the box, it's very well optimised from an SEO perspective. There's still a little tweaking to do but it has it's own FURL system, correct 301 header functionality, a basic robots.txt for you to build on... and crucially, there's a strong customer community of SEO experts on that software. With the latest version of the software, there really is no need for third party addons, and this is a major selling point IMO.
I'm lucky because I purchased my IPB license ages ago and can use the software forever. Nowadays, I believe it's a bi-annual fee. You do get rock solid security however, and this is crucial in forum software. They are also doing some interesting stuff with spam mitigation.
I'm loving MyBB - give it a spin, the admin is very easy and it's working quite well in the organics so far. I will never ever go back to VB.
phpBB experience is quite different under phpBB2 and phpBB3.
Also if you want templates that are clean (no tables abused e.g.) phpBB3 is the tool of choice (although the default CSS is still way too large).
I'm doing fairly well with vBulletin (new site up for 3 months) - and I have no database or php experience. I have not done a comparison between the software - but I do know that vB admins are a loyal bunch.
I've been very satisfied with E-Blah (perl) for many years. Might take a look. I have it embedded in the site quite nicely.
Personal use: IPS
Paid: Invision Power Board
vB 3.x is fine, but if you bought or plan to upgrade to 4.0, I feel sorry that you wasted your money.