Author Topic: Forum software, and the future  (Read 871 times)

August 24, 2012, 10:59:53 AM
So, given the issues of the last few days, and the amount of time I've been putting in recoding etc, I decided to go window shopping yesterday, for forum software. Vbulletin software was an option, but to be honest, I'm not that keen on it. Plus the £120 cost isn't justified, when other software actually does the same, or a better job. So I read 100's of reviews, and in 80% of the cases, SMF (simple machines) forum software came top of the list. Not only from member/user reviews, but also from webmster/admins. To put it simply, what currently takes me 30 mins to do with our current PHPBB software, takes seconds in SMF. The feature list as standard is far better, and the maintenance and ongoing updates etc take a fraction of the current time I'm putting in.
Now those guys who have been with the forums a while, will remember we used SMF software back in the early days (2006-2008). At that time, it was quite an early development, and new software, that had a number of issues. On testing the latest version, it seems it has moved on massively from the early days, and is rated as well as the premium packages (like Vb and IPB etc). The only thing I need to test fully, is the forum converter. Because if that doesn't import everything correctly, then I can scrap the idea all together.

So by tomorrow, I'm hoping to have decided weather to stick with what we know (PHPBB), or make the change to SMF forum software. The decision will be based on how much more the forum software can give us from a user/member side, as well as making things a little easier for me time wise ;)

August 24, 2012, 11:22:31 AM
Reply #1
  • The Dalai Farmer.
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A bit like my decision to move all my websites to WordPress.
I can do most of the work to them online from anywhere with internet access rather then having software to hand when something goes wrong.
Not to mention all the add ins you can download saves a shed load of scripting and faffing around.

August 24, 2012, 11:33:00 AM
Reply #2
Indeed. Because the automod version with phpbb is so bloody badly designed, it pulls code out of the database, that you had removed ages ago. It also wipes out changes you make manually, if you install another mod. Where as SMF works on a package/plugin basis, meaning 2-3 clicks of the mouse, and new features, updates and so on are installed instantly. Don't get me wrong, phpbb is good. But it takes a lot of time and effort to make it good, and time is something I run short of quite a bit lately. 6 hours the other day, just to discover that an old exif data mod was being injected in to the coding, from the automod files of phpbb :-(.

August 24, 2012, 12:51:17 PM
Reply #3
Well, from a user friendly point of view, I can safely say that SMF is blowing phpbb out of the water, on all levels. It's faster loading, easier to navigate, better posting editor as standard, and generally makes good all the problems I had to code out of phpbb :-) It's defo looking like a software change is coming our way.

August 24, 2012, 01:13:23 PM
Reply #4
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Yeah phpBB has slipped a bit in the last couple of years. The next big update to 3.1x is going to have 'hooks' which means MODs will take seconds to add as it'll just mean uploading a folder but they're taking a long time sorting it out and I don't think it'll come through any time soon. At the time it came out, the principle of a basic starting package was fine, you were then free to add whatever you wanted, but the more things you added the more complicated it all became and updates were a bit of a mare. Although, one issue you might be having with autoMOD is that you're not using phpBB per se. You're using phpBB-SEO, which is a fork of the original code and changes a massive amount of it, so much so that it has a completely separate support site. AutoMOD is designed to run on phpBB, not the SEO version (unless that site has written their own patch for it). The merits of human-friendly URLs are also very dubious.

SMF simplified the whole modding process a lot. I post on a couple of other SMF based sites and they seem to run just fine and there are some nice styles out there too. If it all means less work for you and the mods, go for it.
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August 24, 2012, 02:00:31 PM
Reply #5
This install was a raw PHPBB 3.0.10, I then coded automod in, and installed the SEO etc. Automod has one big downfall, and that is that it stores a snap shot of the code to restore, rather than simply rewriting the files with the mods coding removed/replaced. So anything done between snapshots, will be lost. I looked at feature list of 3.1.x, but even with hooks, it is still way behind the current SMF. Even in the early days SMF was good. It just didn't quite have the mods community base, to make it something special. But now, it has much better backing, and a better support system. My community login still worked on SMF too, 6 years down the line LOL. The main bug will be the conversion, as I know that phpbb modded forums tend to mess up the supplied converters. So I may have to customise the SQL a bit, in order to pull everything over.
Proof of SMF's simplicity came when I modded a test install to way above what we have here now, in about 20 mins LOL As for PHPBB updates, I ended up doing them all by hand, because it seriously messed with the DIY code changes I'd made. A PITA is just a slight understatement  really LMAO

August 24, 2012, 02:37:45 PM
Reply #6
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One of the reasons I don't use autoMOD. In some ways it's quicker to MOD by hand. But then I also keep my boards a lot simpler as a result. But, as I say, the SEO MOD makes so many core changes that it can easily interfere with subsequent ones.

SMF seems to have had a good development programme with some well thought out features though. phpBB has lost its way a bit among the development team and I think when 3.1 comes out it'll already be out of date. They should really press ahead with 4.0 if they want to catch up but I don't think that'll happen.
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August 24, 2012, 06:39:35 PM
Reply #7
Well I'm going to give the converter a test run tonight (some time after 11PM). If it goes extremely well, you may find we are on SMF by tomorrow. But because of the database and coding mods I've done on the PHPBB, I'm expecting a few glitches to work round, to get a full conversion working ;-)