Forums :Which and Why?

To most teams, the forums are a great tool for communicating between teachers, engineers, parents, and the rest of the community. But the question lies in user friendliness for guests, registered members, and administrators whether it be the Portal such as the home page of ChiefDelphi, or even the User and Admin Control Panels.

This discussion lies in what you think the best type of boards are and explanations and suggestions on the key features and advantages of the boards and what makes them so great. The three boards I have intensively looked at over the past few weeks are Invision (Power and Free), vBulletin, and phpBB.

What I would like to do is for people to give their input and create a discussion about the boards to hear the pros and cons. Although you may do all the research you can, many times some of the most vital information comes not from websites and web pages, but from people with firsthand experience.

Discuss.

Look into SMF, simple machine forum. It is a free, full featured simple forum and is easily expandable. It is very popular right now and being very actively developed.

http://www.simplemachines.org/

To me it comes down to this:
If you want it free, go SMF
If you want the best, go vB

phpBB and Invision aren’t moving to keep up with the times, vB and SMF can.

I personally enjoy Invision and their line of boards. Whether paid for, or free, these boards are some of the best in their line when it comes to the administration control panel and are very easy to use from a rookie to a veteran and the features are just unbeatable. The picture below is the AdminCP for InvisionFree, but I will see if I can get some IPB AdminCP boards up as well.

Besides the ACP though, the look of Invision is as professional as you need or as lax as you want. With its range of different skins, to different styles, Invision and their users have developed and are developing some of the most unique features when it comes to customization.

{Invision Power}](http://invisionpower.com/)
{Invision Free}](http://invisionfree.com/)
{InvisionFree Skin Zone}](http://ifsz.net) - IF support/fan forum with skin designs and tools to make your own as well as different scripts to put on your very own IF board.

Pavan.

I’d say go MyBB. Its basically a free version of vB.

Nothings wrong with phpBB www.phpbb.com

I use SMF for its database structure. Most people don’t care too much, but I’ve found that easy enough to work with an manipulate to add functions with my own little querks. One prime example is cross-registering users. I know some others can do this, as well, but SMF fairly easy and uses a lot of standard fields.

I’ve been using PunBB it’s a free fast and lightweight PHP-powered discussion board. I’m currently using it on my team’s website, http://www.spartonics.org/forums/

If you have the funds, I would highly recommend vBulletin or Invision.

we wrote our own, mostly because we needed something lightweight and very flexible.

I choose phpBB because the layouts/templates are easy to manipulate into an already existing and running site. I am working on one that will hopefully fully flow with our current layout…

We (Team 2231 - Shoham high-school,Israel) wrote our own forum in asp and its pretty good… its may have some bugs but we really enjoyed building it and we can say that our site is 100% built and designed by us including everything.

you can see our forum and site at : http://www.onyxtronix.com

From an admin standpoint:

  • phpBB/2 are, in my opinion, the most customizable and flexible (www.phpbbhacks.com, anyone? and it’s also easy to implement your own coded customization). As has been said, SMF has a great databasing system, but I’ve never had any experience moderating one so I’m not sure how good the admin functionalities are (they’re pretty though, nice themes from the getgo).

From a user standpoint:

  • SMF and vB are fun to customize and such (phpBB doesn’t by default allow users to come up with a personalized subtitle, for example) and just seem overall fairly user-friendly. This is the only big vB forum I’ve ever been on, but it’s got a lot of awesome features that I haven’t seen on the other types; the user cp is HUGE compared to, say, phpBB.

Invision… I don’t really like, from a user or admin standpoint.

I agree with this sentiment

In the end though, it really comes down to the content. The average users probably couldn’t tell the difference between the different types and will come anyways. The forum that I spend the majority of my time on is a heavily customized phpBB system; just because it’s a certain type doesn’t mean that people aren’t going to use it. I had a beautiful forum set up using the ProBoards system (that I personally love, but I hate how you have to use their site/hosting), but in the end it probably had only 20-25 users just because it didn’t have that… spark that the big ones seem to get.

I’m currently running phpBB2 on my forum, www.dimondrobotics.com/forum I really don’t like it, it’s really buggy. I’m not sure if I messed up the install of it, if it’s something with the server or what. I also find the lack of customization available disappointing.
I would really like to use VBulletin, but it’s expensive.
I’ve also got phpBB3 installed on the server which I haven’t played around too much with, but it appears to be a big improvement over ver. 2. Right now I’ve got it locked down, and once it goes to RC status, I’m going to swap the forum over from 2 to 3.

We’ve been using phpBB for a couple years now, and we’ve finally started taking advantage of the database throughout our site. Being able to modify how pages look and the information on the page through the forum is HUGE! We’ve got our “News” and “Events” sections on our main page tied into the forum, and our entire sponsors page is also tied into the forum.

-Danny