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A UseBB2 Developer's Opinion

BenBen
edited May 2006 in Vanilla 1.0 Help
Vanilla looks like a decent system, but there is not really a good reason for its popularity over many other smaller projects (including ours). From what I have seen Vanilla resembles miniBB or Phorum, but has gotten the “Web 2.0″ plate because it looks different (not only in layout and colours), but is has “discussions� (the same as active topics in many other software) on the front page and a tradtional forum index as “categories�. In most software, you can switch these too by applying some small modifications. It does not have any of the other “Web 2.0″ features, there’s no AJAX, no tagging, etc. In that aspect, I find it sad and unfair to other projects that exist for a longer time that get kicked away, just because of a so called “Web 2.0″ application that isn’t one.

But, the market is open for anyone who dares to be different (like Vanilla), so that’s where our v2 is heading. Although I’m not developing UseBB 2 just to have a “Web 2.0″ application but because of the improvements it will have over v1. I’m also glad to see that UseBB 1, since it’s feature-complete, is slowly getting accepted in the community. However I guess it will never become as popular as Vanilla, it wasn’t coded that well and is waiting is faith of getting put to the basement as soon as UseBB 2 is complete and PHP 4 will vanish.

http://www.pixelcarnage.com/development/next_generation_forum_software#comment_2
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    1. Vanilla does use AJAX, just not a whole lot. 2. Anyone who judges what forum to use based solely on "how Web 2.0 is it?" is an idiot. Web 2.0 is a buzzword built from other buzzwords; it is essentially meaningless. Vanilla *does* generate meaningful semantic HTML, use CSS for presentation, enhance the user experience with tasteful JavaScript, and avoid using images wherever possible. Some people like those qualities, some don't. 3. The change in terminology is far more important than you give it credit for. When you have a forum built out of "boards" and "threads" and "posts", people expect those things to behave exactly like the boards, threads, and posts they're used to. Changing the names goes a long way towards eliminating these unfair expectations. 4. Pretty much everyone agrees that Tags would be frickin' awesome, but it's a lot of work to implement and we're all really busy. 5. Vanilla was never intended to be the perfect forum for everyone. Most of us (including Mark!) send people over to PunBB all the time, when it's clear that Vanilla isn't right for their needs. I've never heard of UseBB before, but it looks pretty cool; maybe we'll pass along that link in the future.
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    MarkMark Vanilla Staff
    I was discussing this with a friend yesterday: I never slag other products to promote my own. It is just bad form.

    Putting out an open-source product is a lot of work. A hell of a lot more work than creating one that never has it's code released to the public. I commend anyone who takes on that task, regardless of the result.
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    Mark: "I never slag other products to promote my own. It is just bad form. " A very worthy stance indeed. Vanilla stands on its own, admirable feet. People choose what they want; what suits their needs.
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    edited May 2006
    After all the lamenting about Vanilla's allegedly undeserved success, beyond that of his own application I love how he casually mentions that his own forum software "wasn’t coded that well".

    I came from another open source software group, and had nigh 7000 posts on their support forum. I changed to Vanilla because it was not only coded better, but from the ground-up it was a LOT smarter. I love the way Vanilla cuts through the junk that other forums stand on, and gets to what forums are about: discussion.
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    edited May 2006
    Hello, I'm the developer of UseBB. I have to say I agree on most comments posted here. > Anyone who judges what forum to use based solely on "how Web 2.0 is it?" is an idiot. I agree with this and that was my point in the original comment on that weblog post. Because of the hype it has created, it makes people think non-Web 2.0 applications are bad and should not be used. It's especially sad for us because years of work was put in our let's say "Web 1" project, and just recently the Web 2.0 hype has started. But as I said, Vanilla does not feel like a Web 2.0 application to me, because it's a variant of Phorum and does not seem to have any AJAX (one of the new thinhs that power the Web 2 hype). Maybe this has changed now, but when I tested it myself (as I test other packages too) I couldn't find anything "Web 2"-alike apart from the earlier discussed change in listing and displaying content. But this is a personal meaning, and as I said "Vanilla is a decent package". > I never slag other products to promote my own. It is just bad form. People who now me know that I'm a regular visitor on forums like The Admin Zone, OneCommune etc. On TAZ I often recommend SMF, Phorum, PunBB, etc. On OneCommune discussions are being held with other forum developers. If I would want to slag them I wouldn't join forums to promote other packages or to help other developers. In fact, it would be interesting to see Mark join forums like OneCommune and to share his ideas. Unfortunately, such reactions make me doubt whether I should still discuss other packages in public. :( > I love how he casually mentions that his own forum software "wasn’t coded that well". I'm not ashamed to admit that in public, UseBB is a personal hobby project and I learnt a lot about PHP development while working at it. That's one of the reasons a new major version is being planned and to make the many new features (such as tags, also requested by the BoardTracker project) possible. Regards, -- Dietrich
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    wait... who is promoting vanilla as a "web 2.0 application?" not mark.

    it does have ajax in the right places... maybe you need to look into it a little more deeply, rather than spreading misinformation.
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    > wait... who is promoting vanilla as a "web 2.0 application?" not mark. That's what I mean, people see something different about an application, a different look, etc and that drives them away from other projects. > it does have ajax in the right places... maybe you need to look into it a little more deeply, rather than spreading misinformation. I'm sorry but when I tested it more than a half year ago I couldn't see any Ajax. I just want to emphasize once more, it is *not* my intention to put Vanilla in a bad daylight. If I was wrong, so be it and I'm sorry about it then. But I'm not here to make a fight. ;)
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    ithcyithcy New
    edited May 2006
    *takes off Rocky III robe
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    lechlech Chicagoland
    Am I the only person here who feels the need to physically injur people who believe "web 2.0" is some kind of movement or reality?
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    adrian.adrian.
    edited May 2006
    Dietrich: "That's what I mean, people see something different about an application, a different look, etc and that drives them away from other projects."

    I don't get why you're sore that a totally different product in the same LARGE market segment is getting more attention than your standard, seen it a hundred times before forum software.
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    edited May 2006
    lech: god, just wait until Bitey gets here...
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    > *takes off Rocky III robe
    heehee!

    Web 1.0 or 2.0, most non-geeks don't care (and even among geeks the blog-o-sphere have poked their fun at it too, zeldman for example) - I don't even think it's worth asserting a division. The hype concentrates too strongly on a label/look thing rather than a quality-of-use thing – the average user is more interested in how easy it is to use, the web developer and designer how easy it is to install and harness / adapt / expand / skin / translate to their needs and that of their users.

    I'd also say that the discussion-centred approach suit different needs and tastes as well as prior forum experience:
    • The chat-focussed user will like it immediately - discussions are brought right to the front. Also I think it is inherently usable for those with little experience of forums - there's no system or jargon to learn, just get down to talking.
    • On the other hand, those very familiar with forums, as well as those whose forums work together with a larger CMS/php-environment may find it difficult to get away from the traditional forum pattern - there was another thread here recently, where someone said that their users could not get used to it, and that they were used to the other site integration features, which vanilla does not (yet) offer.
    • Also those who run big and busy forums with lots and lots of disparate categories (the kind that span from web-design to films to music to shopping to self-help all in one forum) will probably find the discussion-centred approach results in too much of a jumble of topics, and will run vanilla only in category mode, or simply opt for another forum.
    > I couldn't see any Ajax
    Perhaps it's because vanilla doesn't use it in an overtly visible way. The ajax is mostly unobtrusively in the back end and in some of the controls - things like changing settings, bookmarking/unbookmarking discussions etc. without having to reload the page, and probably most visibly in re-ordering category orders. In all these cases I feel it supports a task.
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    Have to agree... most people care about how easy it is to use, to manage, to alter, etc. On that part, I admit Vanilla is better because of its plugin system. It has a decent OO back-end. Still, many people use something just because others say it's Web 2. If you visit Digg often you probably understand what I mean. Because of that hype I have wasted 2 years of work on my own software, some time ago I even wondered whether I should still continue to work on the old version. Since a half year the number of active members has decreased quite fast. I must admit that angers me sometimes.
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    I guess I'm just wondering why you thought that spending two years writing yet another phpBB clone was a good idea.

    If it was to learn things and gain useful experience, then I think you've succeeded.

    If it was to become the dominant forums software around, and change the way forums are run, then you probably went about it the wrong way in the first place.
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    me: > I love how he casually mentions that his own forum software "wasn’t coded that well".

    Dietrich: > > I'm not ashamed to admit that in public, UseBB is a personal hobby project and I learnt a lot about PHP development while working at it. That's one of the reasons a new major version is being planned and to make the many new features (such as tags, also requested by the BoardTracker project) possible."

    Please don't hate me, I am fascinated by irony.
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    Dietrich, I suppose it depends what your aims are. If you were hoping to achieve a significant market share in the forum world, then there are lots of factors which affect that, not least user base. Vanilla is in the same position, all the other popular boards have a larger user base.

    I also think the significance of digg etc. cuts only with certain people and its notoriously short-lived - only today I read over at open brackets the french phrase "the dogs bark, the caravan passes", which I quite liked. You set up a forum and write forum software for other reasons. And in terms of learning and personal gain, as you stated earlier, I'm sure you've not been wasting your time at all.
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    edited May 2006
    > I guess I'm just wondering why you thought that spending two years writing yet another phpBB clone was a good idea. This has been discussed a lot. I did not just start UseBB from one day to another. I wrote a small forum script in 2002 but only made a project on SF.net in 2003 and rewrote everything, because my PHP knowledge got better. I make UseBB because I love forum software, and of course it's nice to see people using it and contributing, but not when the project is dying. Oh, and UseBB is *not* a phpBB clone. I suggest you take a closer look rather than just saying it's a "phpBB clone". That's in fact what I mean with how people react when they see a classic forum system. Unfortunatly there are more people like this every day. > Dietrich, I suppose it depends what your aims are. [...] Getting a big market share is not the goal of the project. ;) And in the aspect of learning it wasn't a waste of time, but on the other hand it wasn't completed and less people actually used it. Oh well, as said in the blog's comment, I've started planning and collecting ideas for a next version which I hope to start developing this summer. Tags is one new feature of it and is an idea brought up by Zef Hemel (creator of YaBB) a long time ago. In fact when I first saw Vanilla I really thought it had tag support, but I was wrong. I wonder why it hasn't yet. :)
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    Dietrich: > "Oh, and UseBB is *not* a phpBB clone. I suggest you take a closer look rather than just saying it's a "phpBB clone". That's in fact what I mean with how people react when they see a classic forum system. Unfortunatly there are more people like this every day."

    Append 'bb' to your name, and it is assumed. 'bb' is a serious handicap if you are trying to be perceived as 'Web 2.0' (whatever that means). Perhaps reposition yourself with a more adagious name would help your image. I mean very few 'Web 2.0' applications havve technical names : Vanilla, Basecamp, Campfire, TaDa List, Flickr, Scuttle, Pligg.

    Perhaps consider completely repositioning your image with v.2.
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    Yeah well it isn't meant to be Web 2.0. ;) When I invented that name Web 2.0 didn't exist yet so... But I have been thinking about the idea of a new name. The problems are it takes some time to alter all the public information (like listings on script resources), the SF.net project (which cannot be renamed), etc. The possibility exists but I don't know whether it will happen any time soon.
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    "I suggest you take a closer look rather than just saying it's a "phpBB clone"."

    I guess the same could be said to you about Vanilla being a Phorum clone and not having AJAX in it eh?
This discussion has been closed.