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  1. #1
    SitePoint Addict Philip Toews's Avatar
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    Talking Best php/mysql driven BBS systems?

    Hi,

    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!
    Philip Toews Professional esl Educator and ASP.NET wannabe

    http://www.philiptoews.com
    philip@philiptoews.com

  2. #2
    SitePoint Zealot
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    I just downloaded phpbb 2.

    -It's easy to set-up, but hard to customize the look.
    -It's amazingly fast.
    -Easy to use, but it's all relative.
    -I'm not sure about the Email to a friend thing
    -It's free
    -phpBB 2 has so many features it will make your head pop off
    -

  3. #3
    SitePoint Addict Philip Toews's Avatar
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    PHPbb 2 still in BETA?

    Is PHPbb 2 still in Beta? I looked at it and it seemed pretty good....do you know if there is a migration tool to vBulletin (if the WWW gods smile upon me I want to HAVE TO upgrade to an industrial strength bb).

    p
    Philip Toews Professional esl Educator and ASP.NET wannabe

    http://www.philiptoews.com
    philip@philiptoews.com

  4. #4
    SitePoint Wizard TWTCommish's Avatar
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    Yes, there are several, I believe, phpBB to vB converters...but only one that I can think of that applies to the 2.0 versions of both. Even if there isn't, by the time your board reaches any significant size, and not too long after phpBB 2.0 is finalized, something will be done, or in the works, no doubt.

  5. #5
    SitePoint Addict Philip Toews's Avatar
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    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.

    TIA

    p
    Philip Toews Professional esl Educator and ASP.NET wannabe

    http://www.philiptoews.com
    philip@philiptoews.com

  6. #6
    SitePoint Addict TegSkywalker's Avatar
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    PHPBB: http://www.phpbb.com

    PHPBB Hacks: http://hacks.phpbb.com

    Im looking forward to PHPBB2 as well

  7. #7
    SitePoint Enthusiast Lazarus's Avatar
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    Try WoltLab Burning Board 1.1.1

    http://www.woltlab.de/

    Meets most of your requirements.
    Lazarus (8946037)
    http://www.moviem.com

  8. #8
    SitePoint Enthusiast Fubonis's Avatar
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    A vB to phpBB 2.0 is being worked on, along with many others. But yes, I'd go with phpBB 2.0, very nice.

  9. #9
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    Re: So how about adding send this to a friend?

    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
    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.

    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).

    Frank
    http://www.serverexpert.com/ Discuss servers and the software that makes them work.
    http://www.webmasters-resources.com/ Resources for webmasters.

  10. #10
    SitePoint Addict Philip Toews's Avatar
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    PHPBB release date?

    Any idea when 2.0 will be released?

    It sounds like you are definately the guy to ask questions of! Can I ask just a quick one? How difficult would it be for a PHP newbie to integrate PHPBB into an HTML / PHP template?

    p
    Philip Toews Professional esl Educator and ASP.NET wannabe

    http://www.philiptoews.com
    philip@philiptoews.com

  11. #11
    Ex-SitePointer silver trophy
    iFroggy's Avatar
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    Basically, I feel that vBulletin is the best and then phpBB. For free ones... phpBB is the best.

    Also, for phpBB hacks, don't forget about my site, phpBBHacks.com.

  12. #12
    SitePoint Zealot theFinn's Avatar
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    Re: PHPBB release date?

    Originally posted by Philip Toews
    Any idea when 2.0 will be released?
    It won't be too long, we're out of beta an into the final RC stages now. Just gotta work them naughty bugs out

    It sounds like you are definately the guy to ask questions of!
    You can also ask me too

    Can I ask just a quick one? How difficult would it be for a PHP newbie to integrate PHPBB into an HTML / PHP template?
    p
    All of phpBB 2.0's output is handled by templates so simply edit the phpBB 2.0 templates to fit in with your sites design and you're done. If you have a special PHP controlled header/footer then you'll have to do a bit of extra work and modify the header and footer outputing code... but if its straight HTML it's dead easy


    (if the WWW gods smile upon me I want to HAVE TO upgrade to an industrial strength bb).
    phpBB 2.0 IS an industrial strength BB
    - theFinn
    Creator and Project Manager, phpBB
    http://www.theFinn.net
    http://www.tarotclass.com

  13. #13
    SitePoint Addict Philip Toews's Avatar
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    Industrial strength!

    Yes, uhhh , of course it is err ahh....sorry, didn't mean to imply it wasn't industrial strength!

    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).

    I do have another question. Is your code well documented and commented? Being that I am a newbie to this PHP thing I will need a little hand holding when I install PHPBB. (Just from the docs and comments I hope).

    Another Q. What will be involved in making another language set? I have a client who wants a Thai language BB. I don't read and write Thai so this might be difficult for me to do. I do however have many very good friends who do (I'm married to one!). What I would want initially is the ability for people to post messages in Thai. What do I need to do to make that happen. For that matter, what is involved in using Thai language with PHP/MySQL driven sites. I've never even made an HTML page with Thai on it so I am curious about what is involved.

    Thanks oh great ones!

    p
    Philip Toews Professional esl Educator and ASP.NET wannabe

    http://www.philiptoews.com
    philip@philiptoews.com

  14. #14
    SitePoint Member psoTFX's Avatar
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    I won't comment on the vB question Suffice to say that with vB you get guaranteed support (if you legally own a licence, obviously) and a few extra features beyond phpBB 2.0

    As for language packs, very easy. The entire board is internationalised, including the image buttons. We've already got a full French translation and near complete Dutch, Polish, Bulgarian and Finnish language packs. Other languages being worked on include German, Italian, Spanish, Chinese (Traditional Taiwan and Honk Kong variants), etc. etc. Come over to our test board and take a look at the language/translation topics for more details.
    phpBB Development Team Leader ...
    ... and former style guru to the stars, or maybe not.
    phpBB 3.0 | Security Tracker | Bug Tracker

  15. #15
    The Madness Out of Time Arkham's Avatar
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    Cheap now, expensive later.

    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).
    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.

    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.

  16. #16
    The Madness Out of Time Arkham's Avatar
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    psoTFX:

    Your PHPBB forum looks amazing, Paul. Wicked design. Good ad for PHPBB!!

    When does that version go out?

  17. #17
    Ex-SitePointer silver trophy
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    Now, just hold on.

    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.
    I have worked with vB... as an admin before as well as that I know the software... and these "massive" features... aren't really anymore massive than phpBB's. Power, speed, configurability is all arguable. Support I may concede to you, but at my site I think we do a very good job of providing top notch support.

    In your message, you go on to imply that people who just want the forum as an add on, and that aren't really serious about creating a viable website, can use WWWThreads or phpBB or something like that. I cannot help but to say that this is wrong. If you use vBulletin or phpBB2, regardless of which one, your forum will be just as successful either way. Its the owner/admin who makes the site successful, not the forum softwares when they are comparable.

  18. #18
    chown linux:users\ /world Hartmann's Avatar
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  19. #19
    The Madness Out of Time Arkham's Avatar
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    Whoaaah... hold on.

    Originally posted by iFroggy
    I have worked with vB... as an admin before as well as that I know the software... and these "massive" features... aren't really anymore massive than phpBB's. Power, speed, configurability is all arguable. Support I may concede to you, but at my site I think we do a very good job of providing top notch support.
    Relax, I was not saying PHPBB wasn't comparable, I said I was "saving up for vB's massive features, etc." That's not putting PHPBB down, that's saying I've already decided on vB. PHPBB is my alternate favourite, along with wwwthreads.

    In your message, you go on to imply that people who just want the forum as an add on, and that aren't really serious about creating a viable website, can use WWWThreads or phpBB or something like that. I cannot help but to say that this is wrong.
    You certainly took that the wrong way. Read what I was saying, not what you thought I was implying. I said for people who just want a forum as an add-on, value-added feature, and there are a lot of forums out there which are not a major focus of their respective sites. For a lot of those, even the PHPBB could be overkill. I'm sorry if you misinterpreted that, but it was more the DECISION to go with a less complicated and free BBS that I was addressing, not any specific forum script.

    If you use vBulletin or phpBB2, regardless of which one, your forum will be just as successful either way. Its the owner/admin who makes the site successful, not the forum softwares when they are comparable.
    Exactly. But in this case, it wouldn't be as successful if I used another script because there are several very specific things I can do with the vB member features and profiles, forum templates and branding features that I can't do with the other programs. I'm not saying vB is the best choice for everyone--it's probabably overkill for a lot of the sites out there that already use it, esp. if you consider the price.--it just has more of what I need. It has a more powerful and customizable templating system compared to the others, and that's a major reason I decided on it.

    PHPBB and WWWThreads were my original options, but I can just do more with vB, vBPortal, and the hacks community. This isn't a feature war, it's a feature-for-me battle that's long been over.

  20. #20
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    iFroggy's Avatar
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    Ok... I took it as you said it. Also, please do not say "relax." Has no place in this dicussion. Thanks.

  21. #21
    I'm NOT an Addict ! TheRock's Avatar
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    In my opinion, there are a *lot* of good low-cost/free PHP/mySQL solutions that meet the requirements.

    My favourites:

    www.phpbb.com (combine this with www.phpbbhacks.com )

    www.woltlab.de (combine this with www.wbbhacks.com - you'll love it)

    www.openbb.net (the interface is very good for new users; they don't have much user management/admin features in the main forum yet...but look at their support community, and you'll find all major hacks including user management ones)
    -*-
    B-School Forums - GMAT / MBA / Admissions discussions
    -*-

  22. #22
    The Madness Out of Time Arkham's Avatar
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    Originally posted by iFroggy
    Ok... I took it as you said it.
    No offense meant, quite the opposite really.

    [i]Also, please do not say "relax." Has no place in this dicussion. Thanks. [/B]
    Well, you appeared all worked up over the misinterpretation, I was just trying to calm you. It's all good. (After your reply I spent some time on the PHPBB support forums. I like their setup... It's changed a lot since I last examined PHPBB. 2.0 looks gorgeous, too.)

    Isn't PHPBB integratable with that PHP<content management system>?? Sorry, I can't remember the name, but it was one I was seriously considering... Argh, it's on the tip of my tongue.

    Altogether, I like the low-cost, high-power ratio of the PHPBB scripts (and hacks, and portal). Best alternative to vB/vBPortal.

  23. #23
    I'm NOT an Addict ! TheRock's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Arkham

    Isn't PHPBB integratable with that PHP<content management system>?? Sorry, I can't remember the name, but it was one I was seriously considering... Argh, it's on the tip of my tongue.
    Nuke ?
    -*-
    B-School Forums - GMAT / MBA / Admissions discussions
    -*-

  24. #24
    SitePoint Guru
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    I would recommend vB. Not only is it easy to use, but it has a large support community at http://www.vbulletin.org

  25. #25
    SitePoint Member
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    I dislike phpBB strongly. Their layout looks quite messy, and they overload their board with useless features. YaBB, Burning Board, and OpenBB are absolutely pathetic; they have almost as little value as a WWW-board. PhpBB, MercuryBoard, and Ikonboard are better, but they still would be considered mediocre by my standards. All of them clearly copied UBB, and while I dislike UBB also, I don't like rip-offs either.
    WebsiteForums - Best webmaster discussion on the net!


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