Best php/mysql driven BBS systems?
I'd like to get people's opinions on the best options for a PHP driven BBS for start-up web sites. Start-up is the key word here. I'd prefer to start a site with low-no cost solutions at first. If the site is successful then an upgrade to a significantly more powerful commercial system would make sense.
I know that this discussion has been "done" before,. but there are so many upgraded and new offerings of BBS's out there that I'd like to get a "healthy" discussion going on here! :)
What is out there that you folks like / hate? There are lots of options out there and the choices are a little bewildering to a newbie like me. ;)
I'm looking for a few features...based on the advice I've seen elsewhere on sitepoint.
a) The ability to e-mail this page to a friend. Is that something I should code in myself if it is not included in the system? See point "h" below.
b) Ease-of-setup. I'm a complete PHP newbie so it needs to be relatively easy and perhaps have a decent support community.
c) Ease of use. My target audience are complete (and I mean COMPLETE) newbies who will need the most intuitive experience possible. I love all the features of systems like IkonBoard 3 and vBulletin, but I think the feature set might overwhelm really neophyte users. The best of all worlds would be a system that has simple and advanced modes of use.....
d) Cost. Like I said above...payware is great once a site is running successfully, but it is a risk factor for "venture" sites.
e) Upgrade path....can it be ported over to a more robust solution if need be.
f) Speed. A decent speed on searches would be really nice.
g) Features. What features do you folks see being the most popular on your sites? Do people like chat? What about avatars and all the other fancy pants features. What is worth bothering with feature wise and what is "a little too much"....as in, it turns off average users who are not particularly computer literate?
h) Ease-of customization. As I pick up more and more PHP / MySQL experience I'd like to be able to get in and make mods. Are some systems better suited to this? In particular, what systems are the easiest to cut into HTML template pages. I figure if I bother making really attractive interface designs I'd like to be able to incorporate the BBS "into" the interaface instead of popping out to a page that doesn't share the same look and feel.
i) This is perpaps the most important. BBS's that help grow community. The whole point of setting up discussion boards is to grow community which grows traffic, and so on. What systems help do this through the provision of things like e-mail this topic to a friend, invite a friend, personal profiles (that are easy enough to use as to not turn off newbies). Related to this is the question of how easy it is to tie-into other personalization features that are set up on the site. If I'm profiling site members then that info should be passed to the BBS.
OK..there you have it...hope this gets a good discussion churn going! :D
So how about adding send this to a friend?
I like what I hear about phpbb. The 2.0 version looks really nice too. Does anyone know how hard it would be to get in and hack the scripts a bit to display a "e-mail this discussion / post to a friend?" function. I'm pretty sure I can figure out the mail component in PHP itself, I'm just wondering how convoluted and / or difficult it would be to get that coding into PHPBB.
Also, any decent hack communities related to PHPBB. I saw one link, but the site was down.
Re: So how about adding send this to a friend?
I'm the author of (at least one of) the e-mail this thread to a friend hacks for phpBB 1.x. I'm currently working on a mod (new name for hacks) for the 2.x codeline. The mod will be ready to be released when 2.0 is released.
Originally posted by Philip Toews
Does anyone know how hard it would be to get in and hack the scripts a bit to display a "e-mail this discussion / post to a friend?" function
Here are my phpBB 1.x hacks. I'll be re-writing them all for 2.0 (at least the ones that are not already in 2.0).
Cheap now, expensive later.
Why do people expect everything for free? I know you meant "compared to free" but 80-160$ for forum software of vB's calibur is not expensive. Expensive is in the higher hundreds and thousands. If PHPBB and the others were more robust, I'd gladly pay 200 for those too.
Originally posted by Philip Toews
I'm curious though. Why do some people consider vBulletin to be worth paying money for? I realize that PHPBB is not fully released yet, but vBulletin is pretty expensive (when compared to free).
Yes, vB costs some bucks, but it's justified. I could have gone with a free or low-cost solution last year, but I've been waiting until I can afford the extra cash for vB's massive features, power, speed, configurability, and support community.
Sure, for people who just want a forum as an add-on, value-added feature, there are tonnes of amazing options: the ex-WWWThreads (which I love); the other phpBBS solutions (I like PHPBB a LOT), and a dozen more look-and-feel-alikes. I examined them all carefully over many months, but since the forum for me is going to be a major part of the site, I want the best and am willing to wait until I can afford it. I'm not going to cheap out and get a junior package that I can't configure and co-brand as much as vB. Plus I want the portal interface with vBPortal. Plus, plus, plus.....
People are too cheap these days. Hell, I paid $100-150 each for the two commercial BBS packages I used on my Amiga back in the mid/late 80s -- as a h.s. student. It's all a matter of priority -- and patience ;). Most people have to pay for their hobbies, and cheap now often means expensive later, and not just in monetary terms.