Want to subscribe to topics you're interested in?
Become a Member

Traditional Forums Software: XF or IPB?

Discussion in 'Forum software usage' started by diy, Sep 24, 2019.

  1. diy

    diy Premium Member Premium Member

    24
    11
    3
    Jan 14, 2019
    USA
    Ratings:
    +18
    Local Time:
    10:19 AM
    1.15.8
    10.3.12
    Hi folks,

    I am hoping that you may assist our small group of planners in deciding on which forum package may best suit our needs? This will be an entirely new and fresh forum. It will be community managed, led by volunteers from our tight-knit group of friends. No advertizing or monetization schemes are planned. We intend to remain self-sufficient while we grow and expand. We are self-hosting on a Hi-perf KVM VPS with 4 pinned CPU cores, 32 GB RAM, NVMe SSD etc, running Centmin Mod LEMP stack behind Cloudflare, of course. :)

    We are a group of older people accustomed to older style traditional forums. Our group have aged... we are a bit stuck in our old ways and have become resistant to many of the glitzy, modern features that seem to define most of the major forum packages available nowadays. Many of us grew old using vBulletin, back in its' hey-days while it was one of the most popular.

    Xenforo and Invision appear to be among the best in their class nowadays, am I correct?

    Can we configure either (or both?) of those packages to look and feel and behave like an old-school board?

    Which one might be easiest for older folks (retired techs from decades past) to use and manage?

    Do you have any recommendations for others that we may have overlooked?

    Thank you for your assistance!
     
  2. Revenge

    Revenge Active Member

    443
    92
    28
    Feb 21, 2016
    Portugal
    Ratings:
    +333
    Local Time:
    3:19 PM
    1.9.x
    10.1.x
    IPS is very easy to use and the Admin Panel is also probably the easiest one out there.

    As for the best board, well, that depends. They are both good, one might prefer Xenforo, another might prefer IPS. You need to use both and choose the one that fits best your needs.
     
  3. diy

    diy Premium Member Premium Member

    24
    11
    3
    Jan 14, 2019
    USA
    Ratings:
    +18
    Local Time:
    10:19 AM
    1.15.8
    10.3.12
    Ya, I should have reworded to exclude "best" from my post. We really aren't concerned about which might be the best, we are looking for easy to reconfigure from defaults, easiest to manage with the least complicated/shortest learning curve.

    Complexities add no value... Simple and functional does provide added value, in our opinion.

    One person who was a professional web designer and programmer once upon a time is tasked with making our forum software decisions for us. In the beginning we wanted Xenforo... but it turned out to be quite complicated to reconfigure the default template. For instance, the social "share this page" pane containing several different ways to share is hard to get rid of. We can't figure out how to delete or move a right side text box. There are a gazillion different ways to "Find Threads"... or find media resources... or find whatever.... while only one or two ways will ever be necessary. The default Xenforo template seems to be overly complicated with bloat. 3rd party templates that we looked at seem to contain the same complicated bloat. So we are about to give up on our Xenforo hopes after spending three days inside the demo.

    Which leaves us undecided on what we should be looking at next? We are reluctant to go with any of the free packages due to stubborn long-term thinking/planning.

    Your positive comment about of the Invision Admin CP being one of the easiest to use is exactly the kind of information that I was fishing for.

    Thanks, and keep them coming if ya got 'em! :)
     
  4. Jimmy

    Jimmy Well-Known Member

    1,614
    343
    83
    Oct 24, 2015
    East Coast USA
    Ratings:
    +862
    Local Time:
    10:19 AM
    1.15.x
    MariaDB 10.3.x
    Have you considered discourse? It's free and super easy to use. Has nice moderation tools and it great on mobile. It's simple so you don't have to worry about some box on the sidebar, etc. Just add your logo and start to content and have discussions.

    You can get cheap digital ocean hosting and one-click install. A ton of people use the software - I see it everywhere.

    They have a huge responsive community to help with issues.

    Discourse - Civilized Discussion

    Discourse Meta

    Xenforo and IPB are great. I own several IPB licenses and 1 Xenforo license. If you don't think Xenforo and IPB are getting complex... they are. Plus you have to start buying plugins for stuff which works sometimes and doesn't others.

    Discourse from what I've seen really provides what a community needs.

    I don't run discourse because it's not advert focused, which is good for you because you don't want that.

    Downside, you can't convert discourse to IPS or Xenforo currently if you change your mind in the future.

    Good luck!
     
  5. diy

    diy Premium Member Premium Member

    24
    11
    3
    Jan 14, 2019
    USA
    Ratings:
    +18
    Local Time:
    10:19 AM
    1.15.8
    10.3.12
    Thanks Jimmy!

    Thats great that you own and use IPB already!

    We are used to a clunky, blocky looking, conventional forum separated into categories. It was an old version of vB that the members became accustomed to, that barely worked, actually. There are about 30 people in our group and they are all dead set on having a classic interface. They'll insist on keeping their square profile images/avatars, not those newfangled round ones that only show the center of the image. They laugh and scoff at the concept of "Trophies". They want their PMs back, not "Conversations". They miss their "Like" button terribly...

    You get the picture. Pleasing them is probably going to become our greatest challenge.

    We aren't against using modern features... they just don't want to learn a modern interface. I think if we can find something that we can convert into a blocky looking antique with square Profile images, a PM message system, a Like button and offers easy image uploads, is easy to alter... they'll be tickled with it! :)
    In your experience with IPB, do you think those alterations might be possible?

    Thanks gain for your assistance folks!
     
  6. rdan

    rdan Well-Known Member

    4,671
    1,121
    113
    May 25, 2014
    Ratings:
    +1,663
    Local Time:
    10:19 PM
    Mainline
    10.2
    Try Discourse or Flarum.

    I have small forums on Discourse, super easy and full pack with features.
    Flarum is lightweight, features are basic and can be hosted on CMM.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  7. diy

    diy Premium Member Premium Member

    24
    11
    3
    Jan 14, 2019
    USA
    Ratings:
    +18
    Local Time:
    10:19 AM
    1.15.8
    10.3.12
    Thanks rdan, I imagine we'll make our decision soon.

    Fortunately, Xenforo is still on the table tonight. :)
     
  8. eva2000

    eva2000 Administrator Staff Member

    41,723
    9,395
    113
    May 24, 2014
    Brisbane, Australia
    Ratings:
    +14,431
    Local Time:
    12:19 AM
    Nginx 1.17.x
    MariaDB 5.5/10.x
    Xenforo FTW - only forum software I'll be using for a serious long term forum software solution :D
     
    • Like Like x 1
    • Agree Agree x 1
    • Winner Winner x 1
    • Optimistic Optimistic x 1
  9. Jimmy

    Jimmy Well-Known Member

    1,614
    343
    83
    Oct 24, 2015
    East Coast USA
    Ratings:
    +862
    Local Time:
    10:19 AM
    1.15.x
    MariaDB 10.3.x
    The way Discord, Telegram, and the likes are popping up, becoming popular and successful... means you'll be using Xenforo for about 3 more years. ;)
     
    • Funny Funny x 1
  10. Jimmy

    Jimmy Well-Known Member

    1,614
    343
    83
    Oct 24, 2015
    East Coast USA
    Ratings:
    +862
    Local Time:
    10:19 AM
    1.15.x
    MariaDB 10.3.x
    • Funny Funny x 4
  11. diy

    diy Premium Member Premium Member

    24
    11
    3
    Jan 14, 2019
    USA
    Ratings:
    +18
    Local Time:
    10:19 AM
    1.15.8
    10.3.12
    Our decision is still not official, but its all but certain that we will buy... Xenforo! Plus select plugins.

    I am quite tickled to say the least. :)

    I'm off to learn about optimizing XF on a Xeon Gold 6128 Skylake @3.4 ghz Centmin Mod LEMP server!

    Thanks guys!
     
    • Like Like x 2
  12. deltahf

    deltahf Premium Member Premium Member

    336
    152
    43
    Jun 8, 2014
    Ratings:
    +240
    Local Time:
    10:19 AM
    I think you've made a good decision. As the spiritual successor to vBulletin, I think you'll find it the most agreeable for your needs in the long run.

    I've been running it for six years now (after having been on vB for 12 years) on my large forum and while it's not perfect and doesn't do everything I want, I have been very happy with it.
     
    • Like Like x 2
  13. Jimmy

    Jimmy Well-Known Member

    1,614
    343
    83
    Oct 24, 2015
    East Coast USA
    Ratings:
    +862
    Local Time:
    10:19 AM
    1.15.x
    MariaDB 10.3.x
    Final thoughts...

    From what I see, IPB focuses development on its larger customers leaving some obvious fixes that smaller customers request ignored vs. Xenforo who just tries to improve the product overall with focus on all customers large and small.

    IPB is more modular. Meaning, I don't even have to purchase the forum app if I don't want too. When you purchase IPB you must purchase CORE and 1 app. If you would decide to purchase CORE and COMMERCE, you can. I have several licenses which don't include the forum app. I use another larger app that a developer created. So, if I wanted let's say just a links directory, I could purchase CORE and COMMERCE from IPS and the Links Directory from a developer in the marketplace. Or if I just wanted to run a blog, I could purchase CORE and BLOG and nothing else. More options to choose from with a fully modular layout.

    More scripts are moving to being modular. Not to say that this is something you want for your use case, but I believe it's more advanced in thinking of the script overall. I don't believe you can buy Xenforo without the forum.

    Xenforo is a great script with plenty of people who recommend it. If a forum is all you want, it'll serve you well.
     
    • Like Like x 1
    • Agree Agree x 1
  14. eva2000

    eva2000 Administrator Staff Member

    41,723
    9,395
    113
    May 24, 2014
    Brisbane, Australia
    Ratings:
    +14,431
    Local Time:
    12:19 AM
    Nginx 1.17.x
    MariaDB 5.5/10.x
    True. Really if you are looking at a long term investment, then only real way is to try them all. I have used vBulletin, Xenforo and Invision Board (let the support renewal lapse though) for my work requirements = for past 18+ yrs, clients have hired me to optimise and scale their forums/servers for speed and performance :D It's where I get the experience to build Centmin Mod LEMP stack the way it has been ;)

    FYI, Centmin Mod powers ~10% of the largest Xenforo forums online Xenforo - Centmin Mod LEMP powers ~10% of Xenforo's largest forums ! and probably some vBulletin and Invision Boards too I guess :)
     
    • Like Like x 3
  15. Colin

    Colin Active Member

    144
    43
    28
    Oct 7, 2015
    Sheffield UK
    Ratings:
    +109
    Local Time:
    3:19 PM
    1.13.#
    MariaDB 10.1.#
    Too add my 2p, I use IPB for a <small-ish> 5m+ post site. I looked very hard at converting to XF a while back 24+months.

    Mostly for the support and approach to it, also the approach to the software, i.e. XF didn't write files to disk... IPB I feel I have to have a tussle each time I ask for help, so I don't that often...

    I also tend to run mod free after a bad day with VB-seo many years back. XF would of meant a few mods, possibly... IPB has a lot of features and a lot of IPB-isms.

    For example I have to update the store template every time to change the postal address from the right to the left. The little things. In context it is a very little thing ;)

    As mentioned above a few things they are just not interested in sorting. S3 storage is on a public bucket, making it private behind cloudfront only is bugged, I sent them a fix and they binned it.

    This is also a handy resource, impartial-ish as members are from many sites of different brands and scales: The Admin Zone.

    I also looked long and hard at Woltlab. There isn't a huge amount of 'english' support/topics but the actual software looked dam solid and 'traditional' in appearance if not underneath. Probably the most performant to be honest.

    I discounted discourse. I am a ruby developer and use ember, i.e. what discourse is built from. There wasn't a tool to migrate, there is now. Arguably I could of done that too, but it's too radical for my members, 17 to 90years.

    If it helps IPB are about to release a mobile app. No idea if XF are. Tapatalk - avoid it imho. Devices web rendering is good enough now and it sounds like you have a designer on board who cares for the details too.

    The convertors are great, if you stick to the core, i.e you can't migrate paid subscriptions.

    I was spinning XF up on docker last week, maybe I'm thinking about it again ;)
     
    • Like Like x 1
    • Informative Informative x 1
  16. diy

    diy Premium Member Premium Member

    24
    11
    3
    Jan 14, 2019
    USA
    Ratings:
    +18
    Local Time:
    10:19 AM
    1.15.8
    10.3.12
    Thanks @Colin, I really appreciate your detailed 2p. Its worth far more to me than a few pence though! :)

    We are bailing out of Xenforo after all, despite XF being our most desired all along. Its just too difficult to alter many things from the way the XF developers intend it to be. XF = XF Strict, take it or leave it. :-(

    So our search is back on for a more "traditional look & feel" package. I'm gonna be kicking and screaming obscenities if we cannot find one that allows us to take advantage of modern caching methods, like XF does.

    I'll post again once I've cooled down a bit and found something that we might like. I'm off to look at all of the alternatives that you folks have offered. Thanks again! :)
     
  17. Itworx4me

    Itworx4me Premium Member Premium Member

    194
    20
    18
    Mar 14, 2017
    Ratings:
    +33
    Local Time:
    7:19 AM
    Nginx 1.17.X
    MariaDB 10.3.X
    I have to say there hasn’t been anything that I couldn’t hire a coder to change about XF. The developers have made it very easy for coders to code addons. What about XF couldn’t be changed??
     
  18. diy

    diy Premium Member Premium Member

    24
    11
    3
    Jan 14, 2019
    USA
    Ratings:
    +18
    Local Time:
    10:19 AM
    1.15.8
    10.3.12
    I agree XF can be tailored to suit by someone ambitious and knowledgeable. But we are neither... we're retirees. I honestly don't know what to do since my background was backoffice stuff, not software scripts. I am learning fast that we won't be able to please everyone in our group, so we may as well just throw a dart...? LOL

    Perhaps I was more serious than I intended when I said that...?! Please don't tell on me, ehh? :)

    I've been looking at Woltlab just now. It looks pretty good. There is no such thing as an Admin manual or written documentation though. I'm gonna scream again, excuse me....
     
  19. eva2000

    eva2000 Administrator Staff Member

    41,723
    9,395
    113
    May 24, 2014
    Brisbane, Australia
    Ratings:
    +14,431
    Local Time:
    12:19 AM
    Nginx 1.17.x
    MariaDB 5.5/10.x
    in that case go with whichever forum software has the best and most helpful community/forums for technical support as you'd be relying on them more for everything :)
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
  20. Colin

    Colin Active Member

    144
    43
    28
    Oct 7, 2015
    Sheffield UK
    Ratings:
    +109
    Local Time:
    3:19 PM
    1.13.#
    MariaDB 10.1.#
    I'd also add, start of easy. I go through phases, the more mods/changes you make, the more hassle it is to upgrade.

    A sec patch might be held back due to a mod not supporting it.. I mean I'd uninstall the mod first, than hold the sec patch back.

    I think I'd roll with XF now, if I had a blank canvas. Anything you don't know today, you'll have it figured out by tomorrow.

    If the community is with you, they will tolerate a change.

    I also basically have a put up or shut up, I do phrase it better, constructive criticism welcomed, the rest ignored.

    I've swapped three times over 16years, each time is a large outcry then it finds it's feet and the 'better' for it mood emerges.

    No one likes change, but change is the only constant in this world.

    I'd echo @eva2000, finding the right community to support you in your admin/how do I helps. I found that adminzone most helpful while I was swinging the bat between XF and Wolt etc. I still in part wish I'd had the courage to Just Do it.

    Throw the dart, not everyone will like it, they will either come around or do something else. Get the community on board, get your leaders or key participants on board in the test env. I actually have a public lic for my test site so I can show users significant changes, dump and restore the db, they can login and experiment on there own familiar content/ experience. If only a handful do, there feedback will forewarn you of the larger impact.

    HTH.
     
    • Informative Informative x 1