I’m currently designing a forum for IT guys such as myself to exchange knowledge and discuss some of my blog posts. The two forum platforms I decided to look at are Vanilla and phpBB. Both of these plat forms are free to use and with GoDaddy hosting EXTREMELY simple to instal. Godaddy offers both of these Platforms as an easy one click installation.
First I installed Vanilla Forum version 1.1.10 which can be found here: http://vanillaforums.org/download/. After install I was instantly able to register my first user and check out my new Forum. The default installation is UGLY and simple. Nothing here that I was satisfied with. The look and feel of this seemed very thin and weak from a design standpoint. The default Vanilla theme doesn’t really have the appearance of a regular forum at all. I then looked at other Themes and they were all the same. Simple, light weight and, in my opinion, visually not holding Web 2.0 standards for Forum design. I decided to uninstall and do more research to find something better.
What is the outcome ?
After researching I found another open source forum platform called phpBB. Information on phpBB 3.0.3 can be found here: http://www.phpbb.com/. Installation on GoDaddy was very easy as well. Probably took a total of 5 minutes to get the Default installation up and running on the web. First impression, 10 TIMES BETTER THAN VANILLA. The default theme appears very robust and has the look of a full fledged forum. This was exactly what I was looking for. Their wide variety of themes are easy to preview and all look amazing. I have also found a few that I can manipulate to the style of my blog very easy. I highly recommend phpBB.
So far first impressions of these open source forum platforms are they are very easy to install. As far as the look and feel of them goes, phpBB is the way to go. I will continue to blog my progress on customizing phpBB to further expand the open source forum community.