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Growing Competition to Vanilla

I was researching about changes in the BB software industry, the past week. Turns out, unlike 3-4 years in the past, there are a lot of upcoming Community or forum software which are trying to revolutionize online communities.
Discourse, NodeBB are to name a few. I have tried both of them. They are good, but at its infancy. They have a lot of catching up to do to Vanilla and PHPBB when it comes to stability and customization (themes and plugins) availability, but they are reaching that stable state.

It would be really awesome to see Vanilla (Open source Project) releases and updates happening every month. The github page does not seem to mention the expected release date for 2.3 (https://github.com/vanilla/vanilla/milestones)

Anyways, what you guy n' girls think? :open_mouth: tried any of these so called "revolutionary" apps?

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Comments

  • phpBB said that a release date was just around the corner. 7 years later then releases the next version.

    There is reason why they are not setting a release date.

    grep is your friend.

    rahul36R_J
  • Well, to be honest, the reason why all these new forum software like Discourse and all are popping up is because PHPBB got pretty reluctant in updating their platform. They used to dominate the forum market 6 years back, then they dropped it, so others started picking up. Similarly with all these new upcoming bulletin boards which are open source by nature, vanilla will also have to boost up their release cycle, to avoid getting pushed back in the crowd.
    If you check the github of NodeBB, etc etc, you can see they that they push major updates every 36 days and minor releases every 20 days, which really gives a sense of security to their users. @x00

  • R_JR_J Ex-Fanboy Munich Admin

    If I were a beginner in the field of programming, I would go with NodeBB. I find it very appealing to only have one programming language for everything! But that is a general node.js advantage and has nothing to do with NodeBB.

    If I would need the fastest solution possible, I would go with Phosphorum, the forum based on the Phalcon framework. But that has nothing to do with Phosphorum, simply with Phalcon.

    If I want to have all the best features from every forum out there and additionally implement my own genius ideas, I would have to do some work. That's why I would choose the solution that let's me implement my ideas most easily. That's why I'm working with Vanilla.

    If I would have a live installation with many users, I would always want to have the most secure and stable version. That would be my main concern. If there would be a monthly release I would feel stressed: What has changed? Does it play nicely with my plugins/theme? Are there any new features I do not like to have? Are there any new features that replaces one of my plugins? Do I have to install that release or are there any security fixes in there? etc. For me longer release cycles are totally okay, especially because I know that security issues are patched instantly.

  • Actually part of of phpBB success is they had something the was was what it was, not constantly changing that, they could use resources to promote and fix bugs. It is vastly different from Vanilla's concept.

    With Vanilla's team, and strategy they are sensible to it this way for the time being.

    grep is your friend.

  • @R_J Yup, in my case also, I prefer Vanilla for time being, as I am really comfortable with PHP and that lets me tweak anything I want, Node.js is a completely new territory for me. And no, having a monthly release cycle does not mean there should be ground breaking features in all releases. There are lots of small bugs that has to be addressed, so monthly release cycle can pay attention to these minor bugs and help making the forum "perfect". Because stability and minimal bugs always triumphs over flashy themes based on new environments like ember.js and node.js

  • LincLinc Detroit Admin

    It's interesting that the 2 competitors highlighted each represent the two big program language superstars of the past 5 years: Ruby and Javascript.

    When Vanilla was conceived, the co-founders were both .NET developers. They looked at the field and specifically chose PHP as the best platform for an open source project. A decade later, even with diminished prominence, PHP still dominates Ruby & backend Javascript adoption.

    The number one non-PHP platform migration I do is off of old Microsoft servers (ASP or .NET + MSSQL), a platform that no longer holds appeal for much of anyone. As a forum owner looking for a new platform, my first question would be: Which of these will still be in good shape in another 5-10 years so I don't have to do this again?

  • True, but don't you feel that with more competitors in play Vanilla will get a chance to improve more? @Linc‌

  • Competition is generally positive.

    grep is your friend.

    rahul36
  • In fact, there has been a considerable debate in discourse community about Vanilla open source project, https://meta.discourse.org/t/how-does-discourse-compare-and-contrast-with-vanilla-forums/1701

    :wink:

    Competition always fosters the open source and business environment.

  • LincLinc Detroit Admin
    edited November 2014

    @rahul36 said:
    True, but don't you feel that with more competitors in play Vanilla will get a chance to improve more? Linc‌

    Our company is growing as fast as we can manage, and our product has a roadmap that's years ahead of where they're at.

    It's far easier to innovate & iterate with abandon and go "gee why aren't they pumping out features" when you don't have hundreds of customers expecting stability and finding every bug your feature explosion created. :)

    @rahul36 said:
    In fact, there has been a considerable debate in discourse community about Vanilla open source project, https://meta.discourse.org/t/how-does-discourse-compare-and-contrast-with-vanilla-forums/1701

    There is a tremendous amount of disinformation about Vanilla in that discussion, just in the first few posts. Calling Vanilla "basic" is like calling an iPhone simple. Try programming for it and maybe you'll have a different respect for it.

    We're not building Sleeker vBulletin Redux For 2015, we're building a platform.

    And, for the record: big-boards.com is a joke, and we can & do host some of the largest forums on the Internet.

  • Wordpress is on PHP. PHP language is not limited in anyway. In their post you can see them pointing out the fact that Vanilla holds back some features for paid customers, the funny thing is that very few people know that wordpress also has some custom plugins exclusive to their VIP customers." Open source" does not mean that the company should go bankrupt. So it is perfectly justified.
    If you ask me, I feel vanilla is going the perfect path. Update cycle is slow, but then again it may be due to the aforementioned fact that vanilla has a lot of users and stability is the main priority. @Linc‌

  • Open Source is only related to distributed content. Non-disrubution doesn't require a licence, OS is irrelevant to SaaS.

    OS projects need to be funded, SaaS is a way to do that.

    grep is your friend.

    rahul36
  • Also @Linc‌ , the reason why most people assume that PHP has limitations is mainly due to the fact that the original PHPBB never improved their codebase, never introduced any new features for the past 6 years or so. Thus some people feel that PHP is redundant, and only js based languages or ruby can cope up with next generation features.

  • LincLinc Detroit Admin
    edited November 2014

    @rahul36 said:
    Update cycle is slow, but then again it may be due to the aforementioned fact that vanilla has a lot of users and stability is the main priority. Linc‌

    To be fair, we got stuck on 2.0.18 due to internal growth during our make-or-break startup phase. We only have 1 data point on the new release cycle so far, which is 2.1's April release. To be perfectly honest, I'm ready to start 2.3 whenever we feel like it, I just don't want to give everyone whiplash after that really big upgrade and with 2.0.18 support dropping in 6 weeks.

    rahul36
  • LincLinc Detroit Admin
    edited November 2014

    @rahul36 said:
    Also Linc‌ , the reason why most people assume that PHP has limitations is mainly due to the fact that the original PHPBB never improved their codebase, never introduced any new features for the past 6 years or so.

    Which is perhaps why I look at phpBB as less a competitor than a partner in crime. :) I want to see them succeed because it reflects well on the entire platform.

  • businessdadbusinessdad Stealth contributor MVP

    @Linc said:
    It's really irritating reading other people assume you're making decisions "because PHP".

    I share the same opinion. I recently screened some contractors to help us with our project. Most of them don't know Vanilla (and that's understandable), but one of them, who I called "the genius", didn't even bother to ask what the framework was. When he heard "PHP", he simply replied that we "would be better off with Ruby or Python, PHP is not fun to work with." Strangely enough, the call didn't last very long after that.

    LincAdrian
  • Python is nice, Ruby is contrived. PHP is more than adequate.

    grep is your friend.

  • @Linc actually I thought 2.3 is going really smooth, I assumed that from the milestone progress indicator in Github. There seems to be some good enhancements and bugs scheduled under 2.3

  • LincLinc Detroit Admin
    edited November 2014

    @rahul36 said:
    Linc actually I thought 2.3 is going really smooth, I assumed that from the milestone progress indicator in Github. There seems to be some good enhancements and bugs scheduled under 2.3

    The most interesting thing is that those milestones only reflect things I identified after we released 2.1, at which point 2.3 had already diverged by over 1000 commits and more than a year - we had 2.1 stuck in beta so long, but the main branch kept chugging at full speed. It's a really nice step up in a ton of ways. It's just that it's the last mile to release that's always the hardest.

    I want 2.3 to be the "let's catch up to master" release before our 2015 roadmap starts hitting on all cylinders.

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