vbulletin alternatives? stuck in a designer's nightmare

Discussion in 'Web Design and Development' started by jng, Jul 25, 2007.

  1. jng macrumors 65816


    Apr 6, 2007
    I know we all use vBulletin bulletin. MR is powered by it and from a user standpoint, it's great.

    But then again, the folks at MR haven't really customized it too much design wise and basically left all the features in tact. Before I start blasting vBulletin, I have to admit that for forums with heavy traffic, like MR, vBulletin is the way to go. From what I hear, phpBB and InvisionBoard just cannot handle the traffic.

    Some believe that a great strength of vBulletin is its many features. But does one really need Buddy Lists, thread ratings and many other things I don't need.

    I'm doing a design overhaul for work right now and I'm drained daily trying to tackle vBulletin. I've given up on trying to make it validate. But trying to navigate through its nested tables makes me want to just quit. No wonder so many people essentially use the default vBulletin template. I tried to go to vBulletin.org to get a sense of other boards and how they do it. Yeah, all just as ugly. And worse still, one of the moderator there releases these horrible "admin" styles, which s/he thinks are wonderful.

    vBulletin is a designers nightmare. A giant mess. We bought a license back in 2000, when it was still in version 1. Now it's at version 3 and ridiculous. I'm thinking of getting rid of it.

    But what other choices do I have? We don't have a traffic heavy board. It's used for a school and the reason we picked vBulletin is for the user administrative features. We basically deny all accounts except for our the students.

    Has anyone setup vBulletin before? Is it just me or is it a nightmare? Anyone have a positive experience with another board?
  2. Mac In School macrumors 65816

    Jun 21, 2007
    I have 3 forums, all using different products:

    @ResearchInfo.com (vBulletin)

    Drumheads.org (IPB)

    NASCARdiac.com (Simple Machines... Free)

    IPB and VB are the most feature-rich, no question about it. But Simple Machines is actually my favorite of the 3. I like it best because it is a balance between feature-heavy, and simple to administer. IPB and VB have every feature imaginable, but I find it very difficult to manage. It's just so hard to find things in the admin CP. SM also seems lighter and faster.

    My next choice would be IPB, simply for the Gallery and Blog add-ons. IPB also offers free installation, which may be beneficial to you.

    VB is great too. I just prefer the others.

    But... I've never had a problem installing any of them. Customizing, yes... Installing working copies, no.
  3. jng thread starter macrumors 65816


    Apr 6, 2007
    Right, sorry. Setup is fine. I meant set it up to match your site.

    I just find vBulletin to be totally hideous. The admin is a nightmare to navigate and their pretension that they actually use CSS effectively drives me up a wall.

    I've actually never heard of Simple Machines before. And looking at it, it doesn't actually look that simple...

    I hate the fact that all boards look alike: nested tables and borders galore. And icons galore to tell me stuff I already know (new, old, post, can't post, bbcode allowed, not allowed).

    That's really my problem, is taking down all the stuff I don't need.

    How is the template system in Invision board? The vbulletin one is insane. Everything is split up into a hundred template files and accomplishing something simple isn't that simple.
  4. Cabbit macrumors 68020


    Jan 30, 2006
    i built my own forum because i wanted it to intergrate with the rest of my site witch is a big forum anyway and i didn't need anything to complex and if a feature is requested i can add it in without to many problems. Its small compact and fast.
  5. Mac In School macrumors 65816

    Jun 21, 2007
    Honestly, I don't know. I don't give that site much attention anymore. Because it's so confusing to edit multiple boards (all different software), I tend to download existing styles that others have created.

    You can get a free (hosted) demo of IPB:


    You only get 12 hours, so set aside a block of time before you sign up.
  6. tyranna macrumors regular


    Jan 13, 2007
    great american sw
    sadly, my vBulletin experience is limited to general administrative type duties since i haven't had any real 'design' experience with it, but i HAVE worked with IPB before and found it easy to design via css.

    ... best of luck to you! :)

    hmmm... i've never heard of simple machines before, but it sounds interesting enough to take a look at.

    thanks for the tip, Heavy Doody! (;) cool name.. btw!)
  7. tominated macrumors 68000


    Jul 7, 2006
    Queensland, Australia
    vanilla and bbpress are very good forum packages. Both are really lightweight, free and easily skinnable (as far as I have heard)
  8. Mr.nix macrumors member

    Jan 30, 2007
    I would also recommend vanilla is you just need a simple forum.

    As far as comparing the others vbulletin wins hands down IMO. I have experience with all of them and Vbulletin is a developers dream. With the plugin/hook system it allows you to create add-ons without modifying the core php files.

    Design wise the default style for vb is very bland. I’m not a fan of the tables either but one of the first things I do when creating a style for it is to rip the header and footer and create them with xhtml. I will also wrap the forum in a div so I can easily add a side column if the site requires it.

    Once you get the hang of vb you’ll never want to go back to the others from an Admin and developer point of view.

    Vb also has a gallery and a blog system is in beta right now.
  9. Nicolasdec macrumors 65816


    Dec 7, 2006
    São Paulo
    is bbpress made by the people who made wordpress??

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