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Reasons to move to Vanilla forums?

We put together a phpbb based forum to support our members with a service that we offer.

While phpbb seems to do everything we want there are three main reasons we are starting to look at alternatives before our forums grow too much.

The first is the argument about permalinks or 'friendly' URL I think they are called. This is a never ending argument with them about the need for such things. Sure, search engines can still find the posts and grab the keywords but posting such ugly links makes people shy away from clicking on them because people have been told not to click on weird looking links. I've no idea why they don't care to understand this part. Sometimes, it's not just the technicality of something but the user experience that is way more important.

Second would be the update process, having to manually edit php pages every single time there is an update. Worse, most of those edits are things that most phpbb users are making to their sites so really, should be built into the admin/control panel.

Third, we love that they have official extensions because we shy away from third party extensions that could at some point, no longer be updated by their authors just as members have come to love the feature/function. We prefer to use only official, constantly updated/supported extensions.

Having said all of the reasons why we would be looking to move and really, it's a short but very important list, what other reasons might someone move away from phpbb and to vanilla?

I would appreciate your thoughts because I assume many of you here moved away from phpbb.

BTW, why does an open source project make it hard to use TOR? I use TOR as my default browser because we share PC's here but your site would not let me get past the captcha. Surely, everyone believes in Internet privacy in the open source arena these days and would support anyone wanting to try at least on some small level to keep their privacy. Just curious :).

Thank you.


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    Is no one monitoring these forums?

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    I think you could probably say that the paid for version gets more support and development than the open source version nowadays.


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    No kidding? I guess there is no point at looking at this then. How many would buy without getting to know the product first. We all have so many subscriptions to countless things. I'm not adding yet another one if I cannot even get help to try this out.

    Thanks for your input.

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    Well there is support here but it's mostly from the community rather than developers nowadays and it is still good software that is worth considering.

    I don't think the other free software like phpbb are getting developed as much as they used to either, don't know if it's a money thing or just a general move to social media?

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    Don't forget, that 2020 has been a rough ride for all, including developers.


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    Sure, I understand that but we're in a similar business and still value our customers.

    I fully understand community support but I would not want to start using a product where the developers could care less to answer questions for new users. Those new users, after getting a taste would upgrade if they find this to solve their problems.

    there is no good reason for not at least acknowledging posts from anyone, especially new users that are taking the time to look into the product.

    I appreciate the input but it seems I should keep looking.

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    LincLinc Detroit Admin

    I would not want to start using a product where the developers could care less to answer questions for new users

    When you pay for software, no one asks how the developers choose to spend their free time. That expectation is a strange phenomenon of open source.

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    Are you saying expectations in terms of replies to questions in forums?

    Sure there is that expectation. Without even basic replies, how will you know decide to spend more time looking into this software or not? No replies makes it feel like there is no point, it's not well supported, either by the community or worse, by its developers.

    No one that understands open source expects to be helped, everyone knows open source help is a volunteer kind of thing. No one is forcing anyone to reply to anything.

    I'm sorry, I really do not know what your point is.

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    Expectations in term of how developers use their FREE time.

    In a kind of Shakespearean twist in irony this thread is becoming rather lively.

    May be all future titles should be prefixed thusly, for example :

    I hate Vanilla change my mind! BTW how do I edit my CSS?

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    R_JR_J Ex-Fanboy Munich Admin

    First of all: answers! Nobody answered your question, yet...

    1. Pretty/friendly urls are a requirement in the current Vanilla version. But I agree with you, they are just a nice to have (but not having them give your urls a vintage look)
    2. Update is easy! Just copy the new version into the folder, run one or two scripts and that's it. From time to time you also need to delete a file or two, but that's really easy. But in order to have such a smooth experience, you have to extend Vanilla "the right way", which means that all your customizations must be done by adding files (adding a custom theme, adding a custom plugin)
    3. Well... that's not easy to answer. Yes, there are official plugins. Is it easy to use them? Yes and no. There is a repo on GitHub where you can download them. The plugins you can find here on this site are a) outdated versions and b) incomplete. So you should better use the GitHub repo. But it's tough to find out which branch to choose. The current master branch is way ahead of the OS release 3.3. And you have to assume that's the same for the plugins. The releases from the addons are named "release/yyyy/xxx" where yyyy is the year and xxx is some running number. Even if you find a version which is working with your installation, you cannot be sure that another plugin might require another branch because some error has been fixed. It's try and error. At least you wouldn't have to do that very often. A new version of vanilla is released once a year (although that's not good news if you ask me)

    Hope that answers the first part of your question. I cannot really say anything about advantages in comparison to phpbb since I never had a closer look at it. What I like about Vanilla is that it makes it easy to customize things. Writing plugins is quite easy. But you need to write plugins, not hacking the source code.

    @ all others: it doesn't need a specialist to answer that questions, nor? That guy asked for thoughts about moving from phpbb to Vanilla, something every Vanilla forum user/admin could have commented on, he hadn't asked for professional support... 🙄

    I share the expectation that in the support forum for some open source software a) support is given and b) developers participate. That has nothing to do with expecting developers to work for free or hating (really?) Vanilla.

    @LarrySage That said: if you are not willing/able to handle PHP code, work with GitHub, I would strongly advice against Vanilla. Annual release cycle means that known errors/glitches exist for a full year which is very annoying. Vanilla development is not targeted at creating the best OS forum solution but at creating the best SaaS forum solution which leaves the OS community behind in some aspects. If that's okay for you and you were only "surprised" about the lack of support here: don't be scared, that changes constantly 😉

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