Frameworks and their forums
I often browse software directories for inspiration and also for distraction. Most of the time I look at forum software, PHP frameworks and content management systems/frameworks. I like to look at forum software to get inspirations for plugins, exceptional layouts, clever navigation structures and all that kind of stuff.
And when I look at frameworks, I always look on how they implemented a forum software. Some are using dedicated forum software, some are using a forum script based on their own framework. Some of them do not provide any framework at all.
As a human being that I am, I have prejudices. Here they are...
When I see a framework with no community, I think to myself that the development team behind that is too small to maintain support or the project is too young and the focus lies on getting a stable version or more features.
Frameworks with their own solution have my full respect, even if what they have implemented is a bare bone comment system. they obviously were so convinced of their framework that implementing their own solution either seemed easier to them than understanding and integrating a full blown forum script. Maybe they only think it was a question of honor to show what their framework is capable of.
And there are those that simply rely on existing forum software. That is pragmatic. The software exists and can be set up reasonably fast, someone else takes care for that piece of software and they can focus on their own project.
What I've done
I have been looking through some frameworks the last couple of days and this time, I thought I have found some similarities between "the character" of a framework and their forum solutions. So let me share this (but not without telling you that I have been sick for the last few days, a little bit febrile and my head full of snot, so the results of my interrogations might not always be reproducible - even for me if you will ask me tomorrow). I will separate the frameworks in 4 categories:
- "Fat" frameworks
Being on the market for quite some time and striving for more features and more features and more features.
- "Slim" frameworks
Striving for speed and simplicity, sacrificing features.
- "Polished" frameworks
Some of them still being quite "slim", others growing "fat", but they all have the reputation to be fresh and innovative.
- "Exotic" frameworks
Well, they have their reason. Not everybody understands that but there are fans nevertheless (and maybe you have never even heard of them before).
I'm no expert when it comes to frameworks but I wanted to share my perception of relations between that category and their forum solutions, if you remember that please before telling me that my list is nonsense.
Before I show you the table, I have to say that to me, Vanilla is like Linux while other big and established forum software scripts are like Mac OS. Both are operating systems and you can run your computer with them easily. You'll find more beautiful and easier to install solutions to your problems for Mac OS, but if you have specific needs or simply like to control what is happening, you'll end up diving into the configuration hell. And if you put some effort into your work, you can achieve things that Mac OS users will never see on their computer. That is why I like Vanilla.
My prejudices are:
Fat framework - rely on established and bloated forum script
Slim framework - striving for optimized solution
Polished framework - create own solution
Exotic framework - no clue...
Now, let's take a look at what the reality is!
|Fat-Free Framework||Google Groups||Slim|
So most of the fat frameworks seem to concentrate on their framework. Two use the standard installation of standard forum scripts. CakePHP relies on externally provided service and Zend has a nice slogan on their "/participate" page: "Zend Framework is a lot more than code. It's a community.", but they do not have a forum. I must say, I was surprised.
Only SilverStripe has its own forum solution up and running but they seem be more application focused: they praise their own CMS as much as their framework.
So the feature boasting tend to use forum solutions that they don't like to think about much.
One slim framework simply uses Google Groups, so they don't put any love in their forum solution at all. At least they offer one to get user feedback - unlike Zend
The other two slim frameworks, are using a well integrated issue tracker and a customized Vanilla installation.
I'd character a slim framework as a framework that tries to solve one special need best. Using an issue tracker is a great example of carrying that spirit forward to the software such a developer team uses. And that the only dedicated forum software in this category is Vanilla, is a natural fit.
I would have expected more individual solutions in the polished category, but the result is disappointing: two simple default installations of standard software and the solution from Laravel is a community effort - they have been using FluxBB before. Only Phalcons Phosphorum is really impressive.
Maybe those geeks able to create some great framework are to focused on their work to be interested in their forums...
Two Vanilla forums in the exotic category and the other is a customized PunBB, a very barebone forum script. So there seems to be no interest in bloated forum scripts in this category at all.
So yes, I'd say I was right. At least to some extend