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Advice: vanilla vs. punbb

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  • @Stash
    That's like the drugdealer++ approach... we give you something, then take it away (but replace it with something better!)
    But WWMTOR? (What would mark think or do?) Mark?

    @'Babyninja' (I cannot type your name)
    I think you hit the nail on the head here... there is just too much that's new, and some that is plain counterintuitive.
    More attention to explaining things would go a long way, as well as making sure that we're in tune with the 'standard'
    language on other BB's (see discussions I started when I'd just discovered Vanilla and was surprised by some of the
    counter-intuitive language)

    My quick shortlist:
    - a TAB that lists discussion (like discussion overview, just more resource efficient, ie. with caching)
    - the standard discussion view (avatar left etc.)
    - a private messages tab (could be aggregated whispers)
    - members list (we have)
    - profile
    - who's online
    - newest post
    - easy integration with CMSs
  • Tom, sounds good - all these either already exist as extensions/styles, or nearly do. Perhaps we should just pick them and start bringing them up to scratch (if they're not) and ensuring they work with each other before bundling them together. IIRC Mark has said he's not against the idea of people putting together a "Vanilla with sprinkles" kinda thing (if I'm wrong, sorry).

    On a personal note, I absolutely hate the standard "Avatar and user/post info on the left" thing - that's one of my favourite things about Vanilla.
  • More attention to explaining things would go a long way, as well as making sure that we're in tune with the 'standard' language on other BB's

    Yep, users may get confused at first, that's why I keep using terms like "comment" and "discussion" each time I can instead of "post", or "whispers" instead of "private message", in order for them to get used to it. I've also written a short manual with these terms and stickied it.

    But because users rarely read stickies, I'm thinking about writing a kind of manual/FAQ embed into the side panel. A very simple "help" menu with a few links explaining Vanilla's basics and vocabulary, and maybe a checkbox in the users' preferences to hide it once they don't need it anymore. I noticed most users hate reading pages of technical stuff, so I believe a few lines on each main concept with an easy navigation system would be more friendly.
  • IMO, the best kind of help is a small tooltip or a stylised "?" with a linked "more..." if need be. Ideally this would also be multilingual and detect which language Vanilla is currently using.
  • I hate that junk profile information next to the poster too. I can't tell you how many times I have looked to see when a comment was posted, and got the member's join date instead.

    "Well, this is interesting... when was it posted? .. OK "

    ::reads further down::

    "Wait-- This post is older than that other one, what is going on?... FREAKIN' JOIN DATE! I DON'T FREAKN' CARE WHAT DAY THEY JOINED THE FORUM!"
  • I think it will be okay for a beginner user to get used to vanilla.

    It just takes time for the forum maniac to adjust themself with vanilla layout.

    In my personal opinion, vanilla has advantage in starting a board.
    We won't have any problem with "empty" forums, because in the first page, all posts from diffrerent forums combined in one page.
  • I would say, simply, that Vanilla isn't "for" users. It's for admins.

    More features is almost always a good thing for users. Assuming the interface design is even halfway competent, most users will quickly learn to tune out the features they don't need. And some users will get very emotionally attached to features that others regard as the most meaningless crap (like having little stars next to their usernames).

    For admins more features is a bad thing. More features means more bugs, more security holes, more upgrade problems, and more development time between releases. If the only purpose of the forum is discussion (as is the case with most forums) then most features are just sugar anyway. The only possible benefit of more features is to lure users away from competing forums.

    Of course, most admins on a forum are also users on the same forum, so feelings will vary based on the strength of the admins' own "user wants".

    I've only had one experience running a forum of a few hundred users, but I hated the admin work. I was running phpBB 2 with some slight modifications and upgrading to new versions was a waking nightmare. It got to the point where I was putting off patches because I just didn't have the time I needed to patch everything by hand, and eventually this bit me when my board got knocked offline by a worm. Recovering from it wasn't hard, but it was a huge pain in the ass.

    My forum long since died a natural death, but if I was starting over today I would install Vanilla and to hell with what my users think. Patching and modding phpBB was fine on days when I had lots of spare time to waste, but when security patches come down the mountain they have to be installed NOW, whether you have the time or not. When it comes to admin tasks, Vanilla wins over phpBB by knockout in the first round.

    I'll tell you what I would like to see: A Vanilla "distribution" that collects a few of the most popular add-ons. Give me one package with all the "good stuff" and keep it actively maintained so that I'm not constantly checking for updates on twelve different add-ons. For me that would be the best balance between "user love" and "admin love".
  • Can we plz add a couple of extensions to facilitate down & dirty monkey love too? (grin)
  • Wow, this thread has gotten really out of topic. I was planning on making my own discussion asking the same thing, but I'll just post in this thread. My question is the same as the OP's: PunBB or Vanilla? And why?
  • Surely you are the best one to answer this for your needs?
    Make a list of the functionality you require.
    See which solution meets your needs the best.
    I'd make a pretty good guess that most people here use Vanilla.

    Posted: Friday, 2 March 2007 at 8:10AM (AEDT)

  • Yeah, that's true. Which one is faster, though?
  • The only other forum software I've used as an admin is phpBB.

    Speed wise, no real perceptible difference really, Vanilla should be faster because of its inherent simplicity. However there are extensions and combinations of extensions that can put the brakes on fairly noticeably.

    Too many factors to take into account concerning speed, certainly there is nothing that would contribute to me NOT voting for Vanilla as my preference.

    Posted: Friday, 2 March 2007 at 8:45AM (AEDT)

  • I see...I like Vanilla a lot because of its simplicity and ability to customize fairly well. However, the new version of punBB that is being worked on looks very promising and it says it's going to have an extension concept the same as vanilla's (without touching a line of PHP code). So when the new version comes out, I think I'll have a hard time deciding.
  • Actually punBB is one of the few forums out there which Mark actually rates higher than vanilla in terms of speed (iirc it's not object orientated code which means it's quicker - but i could be wrong there) As wanderer says though, there's really not gonna be much noticable difference..
  • When I ran my own test before choosing Vanilla, PunBB was faster.
    But speed is not the only factor, far from that. One point I dumped punbb for, is poor utf-8 ability. And working on Vanilla code is more appealing…
  • Hm...I see...but it's still a hard choice now. :( I personally can't decide...
  • If you don't need to strip out feature or to add a lot to the core, go for punbb.
  • Although punBB is faster and has a few more features, what makes Vanilla shine through?
  • It has a few less features. Or personal preference. I've not looked at punBB much but its rated by Mark as a very good contender so I guess it depends what you want to use.
This discussion has been closed.