I currently admin a vBulletin forum for an online group, and one of the things that gets on my nerves is the massive use of tables for layout in current forum systems. Vanilla is changing that.
On their main page, you’ll find these features highlighted:
- fully extensible
I had heard about the new Vanilla brand of forum, and seeing those features verified on their site, I decided to give it a shot. I read the install, and it was pretty much as simple as they come (maybe only a few more things to fill out than a wordpress install, and that says alot). It’s basic:
- You download the software.
- Unzip and upload to your server.
- CHMOD a few directories.
- Create your database name and user
- Point your browser to the place you put the files
- Follow the little wizard by filling in your basic info.
Now, for me, one of the real tests is whether or not this system really does remain standards compliant after it’s been used for a while. So, I ran the active Vanilla forums through the validator – and color me impressed – it passed XHTML 1.0 Strict.
For a new’ish forum system, the community seems to already be doing well. They have a slew of extensions for the forum system, which I also like quite a lot. Just like WordPress, you can start with a light install and add only what you want/need, rather than take on all the features of a massive forum system because they are just packaged that way.
Now, speaking of WordPress, they have a tutorial on how to connect your Vanilla forum system with your WordPress install so that your WordPress users have a login for your new forum system. Very handy, and a wise thing to put out there considering the popularity of WordPress.
Overall, lots of benefits, and few drawbacks so far. The only ‘drawback’ is the relative youth of this product on a full-fledged open platform for free download, but with the unique features, it won’t be long before they have a booming community — it’s already getting there quite steadily.