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Getting Started With Vanilla Forums, Best Practices, Common Approaches, etc

Hi all, just installed Vanilla and spending some time configuring and getting used to the options, features etc, but am obviously naive to the best practices and common approaches taken when setting up the forum for the first time.

A few things I'm wondering are:

1) Best approach when it comes to themes - apply a theme similar to the existing site and tweak that, or just edit and build off the default theme? Obviously we want the forums to follow the same theme as the existing site, and re-use the CSS where possible, so makes sense to me to start from scratch and edit the default theme, but is there too much involved in that? What is the common approach here?

2) The main Vanilla website mentions the "Gamification & Reputation Engine" - i couldn't see that gamification is installed by default, so have installed the "Yet Another Gamification Application" (YAGA) application, but as that's a 3rd party plugin I'm wondering if there is an official one? Or is that what they are referring to by "Gamification & Reputation Engine"?

3) Plugins - do most people just write their own plugins, or use 3rd party plugins?


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    whu606whu606 I'm not a SuperHero; I just like wearing tights... MVP
    edited March 2015


    Welcome to the community.

    1- That's a 'piece of string' question; it's always going to depend on the individual needs. It is not much more effort to theme the default to your needs than to find an '-ish' theme, imo.

    2 - Vanilla has a paid for hosted option which has addons that are proprietary. YAGA is the open source 'equivalent' of Vanilla gamification.

    3 - I'd guess that most users make use of 3rd party plugins, but there are plenty of people who write their own. It is not 'off-puttingly' difficult, and there is a lot of good support on here for those willing to roll up their sleeves and have a go. In addition, a number of the developers on here will provide paid for custom solutions.

    Have fun with your new forum.

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    Great, thanks @whu606 - ah right, didn't realise there were proprietary addons in the hosted option, that makes sense now.

    I'm happy to roll my sleeves up and get my hands dirty (quite looking forward to it actually), I just don't have masses amounts of time so didn't want to be heading down the wrong route already!

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    whu606whu606 I'm not a SuperHero; I just like wearing tights... MVP

    I don't really know much know almost nothing about coding, but even I managed to slog a couple of bits together for plugins for my site.

    Those who are experienced coders talk very favourably of how user-friendly the framework is.

    Certainly, before you 'roll your own', I'd check on here in case there is already something in the open source addons that either matches exactly, or would be a good jumping off point.

    Custom theming is really straight forward.

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    Thanks all, will start off with the custom theming today, and then tackle the plugins next

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