This is a refresh of the original thread A list of forums software (PHP/ASP/Perl/Remotely-Hosted). We've gone through and culled off any invalid links and added new ones in where we knew they existed.
Please be aware that there's no ratings/recommendations intended here. This is simply a resource list for you to start from. After this, you'll need to research each package to see which one is right for you.
As for which should you choose - the same commentary as in the CMS thread applies here...
What language should the package run in?
A lot of this depends on your development team and/or server configuration. If you've got a heavy php experienced team, go with one of the php options. If you've got a heavily C# experienced teams, then one of the .net versions would probably be right for you.
The same goes for your server configuration. If you've got linux/apache running, then php is probably the way to go. If you've got windows servers, then one of the .net options may suit you best. (Yes, I know there are option which allow php to run on windows servers, and options to run .net on linux servers, but in terms of native performance, sticking with what your servers perform best will get the best results.)
If neither of these are factors for you (you've got no staff and no servers), then look at features for each product and see what best suits you. And also look at the communities supporting the products - the better the community, the better the chance you have of getting the help you need to get off the ground.
Free or paid?
Some of the packages available today come complete with an amazing array of features out of the box and are completely free, so you may be asking yourself why you would ever consider paying for a package. I have a couple reasons for you:
- Legality - a number of the packages are free for personal use but require a fee for corporate use. Yes, you can probably get away with it, but it doesn't make it right/legal
- Support - A number of the packages available use paid support as a method of earning something out of their labor of love. These support packages will often mean you get email and/or telephone support, or first response to problems. Nothing you can't live without but something to consider if you find you need a lot of help.
- Features - some packages are limited in the free edition. This could mean a limited number of users, forced links back to the owner, watermarks, etc. Or it could be a feature you'd like to use (a calendar, task management, etc).
- It's the right thing to do - those that build these packages can spend hundreds to thousands of hours getting these off the ground and if they make it free, they're getting nothing out of it other than some possible grief from spouses/kids about spending so much time on what they're working on. It's a labor of love so they continure to do it, but showing them some love with a small donation is often appreciated, and allows them to buy some goodwill from their loved ones for spending so much time in their own little world
Note: This thread will stay open for exactly one week for comments/suggestions/additions. At that point, it will be closed, the suggestions (if appropriate) will be merged into the main posts, and all subsequent posts will be cleared out so there is one final thread.