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Which Is The Best Forum Software?

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The Simpleton

Today there are lots of forums on the internet, as well as lots of forum software that are behind these forums. A majority of the forums today use these software, though there are a select few which use their own software. But that is not the discussion here. It is about those forum software which power the 'majority' of the forums. There are a lot of choices available such as IPB, vBulletin,phpBB,SMF,myBB and so on. While some of them are paid software (like IPB and vBulletin), most are open-source and free software. So which of these is ideal for forum use?

 

Normally, open-source software may seem to be better suited because it is easily modifiable. But it seems that many people prefer paid software in the case of forums, because they already have a large range of options, on top of being modified! I just wanted to find out what you guys think over here, since a lot of you have your own forums :(

 

Xisto uses IPB and it really appears great with a large range of options. But is there any open-sourced software which can match this? Also, since open-source software can be modified, can't we put all the functions of IPB in say, phpBB? :angel:

 

I'm eagarly awaiting your responses, as it will help me develop my forums as well (there had to be a selfish motive for starting this thread! :excl: )


rvalkass

Also, since open-source software can be modified, can't we put all the functions of IPB in say, phpBB? :(

That's the idea, but people always have the following two reactions:
Paid software with lots of features: "Ooh, that's good value!"
Free software with lots of features: "It's really bloated."

Better to get stuff you don't need for free, than get stuff you don't need and pay for it!

Your choice of forum software depends mainly on the features you want and the community. Download all the ones that have the features you want (they're free after all!) and install them on your own PC to try them out. See which ones you like, which you don't. Have a look online for themes and modifications. How easy are they to install and manage? Do they require complex code changes or can they just be added with a click of a button? Have a look at how often the software is updated too - don't go with a package that leaves security holes open for ages before releasing an updated version.

webishqiptar

I own some kind of book forum and I used phpbb. I am using because it is simpler and easier to understand and use by simple people and because of good rounded like appearance. That is why I chose that kind of forum. There were lots of others, open source or not but didn't like any of them. Even vbulletin which is a paid forum software and needs licensing, I found it difficult to learn it at first. So I mean there are a lots of things seek in a forum depending in what you want.


kobra500

I don't like any of the forums, the bad ones like PHPBB has all the users and the content, where all the better made wikis such as AEF and such have barely any. as far as paid go, this is the best paid and the other major player thats names escaped me is the ugliest forum software I have ever seen. But it really depend what your forum does. it always helps to have php knowledge to customise your forums. But this one is my personal favourite.


rpgsearcherz

I prefer PHPBB for free or VBulletin for paid.For both of these the customizations available are outstanding. And with VBulleting it is "safe" to use.The biggest issue I have seen lately is PHPBB's claimed security leaks, although I'm not quite sure how reliable that information is.Either way, I claim both of those as my favorites, :(.


harrison858

I prefer PHPBB for free or VBulletin for paid.
For both of these the customizations available are outstanding. And with VBulleting it is "safe" to use.

The biggest issue I have seen lately is PHPBB's claimed security leaks, although I'm not quite sure how reliable that information is.


Either way, I claim both of those as my favorites, :angel: .


Same here.

PHPBB to me is the best free forum software. Its overall appearence is not bad, format is not bad.
I tried SMF also. SMF is not a bad forum software except for that its admin CP to me looks a bit unorganized, and the navigation at the top can get a little bit messy as you add the pages.

SMF allows the insert of HTML while phpBB allows little HTML.
In SMF it is easy to install modifications and themes, however sometimes it can give you errors.

For paid software, IPB and vBulletin. They are both good to use, each has their own advantages, however I use vBulletin :(

It all depends on what you use your forum for, however. I agree that you have to see what the features are, browse the modifications and themes and see if it meets your needs. Take a look at the support community and see how fast they can give you a reply.

rpgsearcherz

Same here.
PHPBB to me is the best free forum software. Its overall appearence is not bad, format is not bad.
I tried SMF also. SMF is not a bad forum software except for that its admin CP to me looks a bit unorganized, and the navigation at the top can get a little bit messy as you add the pages.

SMF allows the insert of HTML while phpBB allows little HTML.
In SMF it is easy to install modifications and themes, however sometimes it can give you errors.

For paid software, IPB and vBulletin. They are both good to use, each has their own advantages, however I use vBulletin :angel:

It all depends on what you use your forum for, however. I agree that you have to see what the features are, browse the modifications and themes and see if it meets your needs. Take a look at the support community and see how fast they can give you a reply.



I used SMF a little but didn't really see it as being as feature-intensive as phpBB.

Really, what I want more than anything, is a good forum base with SEO-optimized handling. phpBB does have some SEO things that are... Decent... But they all require being customized of which I'm not sure how to do, :(.

Trap has a very SEO-efficient design. I would love to be able to just copy that,lol.

The Simpleton

Thank you for your valuable opinion guys. Before even starting this topic, I had temporarily picked myBB, because I was having some problems with my initial choice, phpBB, and also with SMF. I don't have the budget for paid software. So I stumbled onto myBB through Fantastico in my cPanel. Does anyone else here use it? So far it's been just satisfactory, but it could sure do with some more additional features. This brings up my next question - in case I want to change my forum package, can I do it without losing all my posting data? I'm guessing I have to backup the database or something like that, but don't know the exact procedure. Could someone tell it to me in a brief way please?


mahesh2k

It depends on the type of community you're building. and how much money you're willing to pay for it. Cause if you're on short of money and as you're aware of the point that it is hard to earn from forum advertising. it is best option to stick with free forum software.

 

 

PhpBB is pretty famous and easy to setup. Themes and mods are sufficient enough for building community around. Support on their official forum is also good.

 

Simple machine forums, is the one i've chosen for my forum. because it has all the features and professional looking themes are available. i was member of one forum which was running smf. so mods of those forums helped me smooth out the learning curve. if you have choice between phpbb and smf then i suggest you to go with smf cause you'll find it easier than phpbb.

 

 

Mybb, this one is also easy to install and use but lacks some of the features i wanted in forum. themes are also good.

 

PunBB, it is no-nonsense, easy to install, fast and simple looking forum. if i have to choose any other than smf i'll go for punbb for it's simplicity and ease of use.

 

electronboard, i only heard about it but never used it for testing. if anyone tried this post about it. i want to know if this forum have professional themes and theme clubs available or not.


TheDisturbedOne

rpgsearcherz, what makes you say that Simple Machines Forum doesn't have a lot of features? The 2.0 version of SMF has many features that aren't default in any other software. Such as Karma and Paid Subscriptions. SMF has a great modification manager, which most of the time makes it so that when installing MODs, you don't have to touch the code, even when you have custom themes. PhpBB makes you manually edit EVERYTHING, which can take a lot of time, especially with more advanced MODs.SMF has some pretty crappy themes, and a ton of them are just minor changes to the default theme. However themes from tinyportal and DzinerStudio are really good, and I use them. DzinerStudio has a theme club, which allows you access to all the paid themes, and support for them.The only thing that doesn't come default with SMF that should is SEO URLs. The URLs end with either index.php?topic=x or /topic,x.html, which isn't that good for SEO. There is a package that you can run that changes the URLs to /general-discussion/random-topic/, though there are a few bugs in it.phpBB, I would stay far away from, as there are major holes in it that never get patched. vB I would give a try, but it is paid, and it doesn't seem very user friendly to me. Many MODs and Themes for vB are paid, so expect to be paying $250+ for the license, MODs and custom theme. I must say that the (default) layout of vBulletin is by far the best out there, but the default theme is terrible. I use a ported vB skin for my SMF, and the layout looks perfect (at least to me).MyBB, I have only been a user on, never an admin. But still it seems very basic to me, and all MyBBs look the same to me, as there aren't that many themes that I have seen that are "advanced".


aloKNsh

i think i will go with mybbcoz its having all the latest features and also its customizablewhat you all think


TheDisturbedOne

What exactly do you mean "all the latest features"? SMF has "all the latest features" as well, support for multiple types of databases, WYSIWIG, RSS, Paid Subscriptions, etc.All forum softwares (at least all the big ones) are "customizable". It really just matters the extent of which it can be customized, and how easy it is to do so.I think you might want to look at all the options, and test some out before you decide which to use.


Yiah

I think phpbb is the best bet if you are not demanding feature packed.
Lots of hacks and help can be found in their forum as well.

Anyway, their next version is looking good so it might be possible to switch later and won't have much hassle.
Demo : free forums


mahesh2k

Let me share my experience with forums again.

 

PhpBB:- For newbie in forum software will definitely find phpbb with "steep" learning curve. Why ? take a look at how forum categories are created in phpbb in comparison to other softwares. Mod installation is also not easy to understand for new user. (before you hit me with arguments, give phpbb forum controls to newbie to forum world and see the results).

 

MyBB and PunBB:- Ease of use in comparison to phpbb.

 

SMF & AEF:-If i sound biased towards SMF & AEF, then don't bash me. but i find these two packages easy to use and perfect option for newbies.

 

 

What are Latest features ? This is sort of sales pitch thing, but what are latest features as claimed by most newbies? if you use forummatrix to compare forum softwares, then you'll see most of the forums are having almost every feature and you won't find major feature excluded. difference between forum software could be support to flat/database files, RSS or other minor features. which sometimes covered with help of Mod's. So at the end, i find this latest feature argument a bit naive.


TheDisturbedOne

Anything is easier to use than phpBB. I don't see how it is so popular. Most of the themes are ugly, and the file system makes little to no sense to me. I should look at AEF sometime just for looking purposes, since there seems to be a big fanbase on here for AEF.

xmthb

I'm eagarly awaiting your responses


TheDisturbedOne

Awaiting our responses? There are tons of posts that explain which forum software the members here like. What exaclty more are you looking for? Additionally there is an article on wikipedia comparing the different software somewhere.


mahesh2k

AEF is getting popular, even i'm hearing a lot about it everyday. I'm just curious about it's themes and Mods. if professional forum themes are there then i guess plenty of IPB/VB people might get attracted to it. I mean VB/IPB is aid and people can't afford more skinning to it, so if any free forum software is available with professional themes then i guess many people might switch to either AEF/SMF.

I heard that SMF 2.0 RC2 is much improved and themes are easy to create than earlier versions. i want to know more from theme makers about how easy is to create on SMF2.

Meanwhile if anyone wants to check the comparison on forum software then ForumMatrix is the best place to do so. Wikipedia also has the comparison article but i prefer forummatrix comparison chart.


TheDisturbedOne

I looked at the demo, and I really like it. The theme is much better than SMF's default (though I may retract that comment when Curve comes out).I personally like the way that themes were coded in SMF 1.1. There were only a few necessary files, and all the css was in one file. There are many more css files in 2.0, which make it a lot more confusing. There are some good themes out, but there are lack of themes in general.One thing I didn't like was that all MODs had to be manually coded, instead of in SMF where you can just upload a package. The community seems to be good with creating MODs, but as with themes, there seems to be a lack in MODs.I may look into coding with them, or themeing. There seems to be a small community there, and anything I can do to help them out would be beneficial, especially since there aren't that many people using it.


100janovski

If you ask me i would say vBulletin without thinking. The best, easiest, compactest and many many other features.



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