I’m often asked the question, why do you use VBulletin?
When WPTavern was under construction, I had the chance to try out a few different pieces of forum software. During my experiments, I used phpBB3, SimplePress, and I think I gave bbPress a look through as well. At the time, phpBB3 didn’t have syndication built-in which was a deal breaker for me so I didn’t use it. SimplePress was nice but it was a real pain to style so it matched the design of the website. Previous to WPTavern, I’ve had the pleasure to use VBulletin in the past for various projects. I figured that if I was going to start a community forum from the ground up, I better use software that I most likely won’t need to migrate from due to lack of features or some other reason. Also, I’ve been looking for any reason to finally purchase a VBulletin owned license since I enjoy using the software so much. In no particular order, here are some of the reasons that I went with paid non GPL software to power the forums.
Inline Administration – I can do most administrative tasks without logging into the administration section of the forum. The best part about some of these inline administration tools is that they use AJAX meaning there is no need for a page refresh. For example, I can double-click a forum thread title and edit it inline and save the edit without reloading the page. Last but not least, most of the tools I need to administer the forum are a drop down box away.
Most Of What I Need – When comparing my options, it was easy for me to see that VBulletin provided the most of what I needed from forum software straight out of the box. This includes multiple options for content syndication, email notifications, easy user group management, easy to use permission system, etc. To date, I only have four plugins added to the forum.
It’s my opinion that VBulletin is the best forum software available whether it be paid or free. If my knowledge on other forum solutions is not accurate, it’s because VBulletin has yet to give me a reason to look into other options. Don’t get me wrong, I love open-source solutions but just because something is open-source doesn’t make it the best option available.
So what would make me switch to something like bbPress? Tough question considering I just recently purchased the owned license for VBulletin 4.0 but if I were to be swayed, bbPress would need to provide easy integration between the blog and the forum. I would also like to have the option to replace the commenting system in WordPress with the forum system in bbPress. Each post I publish on the blog side of things becomes a new thread in the forum with the comments acting as thread replies. This provides the flexibility of steering the conversation on the blog side of things while the community still has the ability to start conversations of their own. A killer feature for bbPress which the VBulletin publishing suite recently added is widgets. Seems like a no-brainer to me that bbPress themes should be able to support widgets just as WordPress themes do.
Overall, I’d like to get the same user experience out of bbPress that I get out of WordPress. With WordPress I can install themes, plugins, perform auto upgrades all from the backend. I want to do that in bbPress as well. Also, I’d like to see bbPress become more of an end users forum software rather than a developers toy box. WordPress appears to do both quite well.
Those are just a few ideas that might get me to think about switching from VBulletin to bbPress. Of course, the last thing I would need for it to ever happen is a migration tool that works.