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Author Topic: Vanilla: a nice, strange forum  (Read 5275 times)

urlwolf

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Vanilla: a nice, strange forum
« on: October 25, 2007, 11:09:32 AM »
It kind of looks like a blog, but very flexible at the same time: vanilla.

Since many plugin developers for SMF hung out here... what do you think of vanilla? I have zero experience with forum scripts...

tinjaw

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Re: Vanilla: a nice, strange forum
« Reply #1 on: October 25, 2007, 11:22:39 AM »
This is the first I have heard of Vanilla, but that isn't going to stop me from critiquing it. ;)

First of all, Vanilla may have been around for a long time, I don't know, but even that doesn't mean it has been properly vetted. The community needs to put it through its paces.

There are many many forum applications already. What does Vanilla bring to the table that others haven't already? I can't tell from their home page, which, IMNSHO, means that even they don't know. Anybody with at least a minuscule amount of marketing knowhow knows that you need to tell visitors immediately what your differentiator is. They talk about being simple to use, but a) that is relative to each individual's technical savvy and b) not a big deal as even mom & pop hosting services now have push-button installs of forum software on demand.

They claim add-ins/plugins/mods are easy to do. Yeah, until you need to worry about deconflicting two different community-built ones. The first mod is always easy.

Vanilla may turn out to be wonderful. I don't know yet. And that is why you posted - looking for others that have used it and can comment on it. However, I just thought it would be a good time to point out some generic things that may be useful when looking at any software of this nature.

And one last comment. From their home page,
Quote
Vanilla is all about add-ons. We've spent many, many months developing a new system whereby developers can create add-ons for Vanilla that allow you to do just about anything with your forum. Want to turn your Vanilla into a bug tracking system? Want to tag discussions instead of categorizing them? Maybe you just want a fancy highlighting effect when new messages are posted. Your imagination is the limit.

Unless you are building a framework, anything that tries to be everything to everybody tends to not doing anything well.

mouser

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Re: Vanilla: a nice, strange forum
« Reply #2 on: October 25, 2007, 11:27:28 AM »
This was posted about in february here: http://www.donationc...dex.php?topic=7478.0

It looks interesting -- it's like a fresh look at forum software, and the developers have really gone for a streamlined web2.0 slick-looking interface.  The vanilla web page itself is filled with demo videos, etc.  It certainly looks to me like they put a lot of effort into polishing their website.

Having said that, I'm not sure I actually like the design decisions they've made in terms of the actual forum software and they way it presents stuff to the user.  I'm not sure about it's suitability in terms of navigating around a large forum.  It seems quite bare bones. For a small forum though it might be acceptable.

Here's their sample forum: http://lussumo.com/c...mmunity/discussions/

I really do get a kind of feeling that this site is almost like an aesthetic demonstration of how to make a minimalist forum system.  I'm unconvinced that they are all that concerned with providing strong functionality and may be more interested in it looking good.

mouser

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Re: Vanilla: a nice, strange forum
« Reply #3 on: October 25, 2007, 11:32:40 AM »
A comment on Tinjaw's comments.

They say:
Quote
Vanilla is all about add-ons. We've spent many, many months developing a new system whereby developers can create add-ons for Vanilla that allow you to do just about anything with your forum. Want to turn your Vanilla into a bug tracking system? Want to tag discussions instead of categorizing them? Maybe you just want a fancy highlighting effect when new messages are posted. Your imagination is the limit.

I haven't looked at how they do addons, BUT I can say this: One of the big weaknesses of SMF (the forum software we use here) is that extensions to the system are basically done by modifying forum code.  There isn't an official API so much as you basically just write search+replace code to modify the actual forum code.  This makes it quite painfull to maintain modifications as new updates of the forum software are released, and makes conflicts between mods common.  This is a very big flag in the system. In all fairness though, it's pretty hard to design a forum system that can be easily extended in a flexible and way using an API.

HOWEVER, if vanilla (or any other forum software) manages to figure our how to support addons in a very clean and robust way, that would be a *HUGE* plus and a major step in the right direction.  Though I must repeat I haven't looked at their extension system so i can't comment on it yet.

Deozaan

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Re: Vanilla: a nice, strange forum
« Reply #4 on: October 25, 2007, 11:36:21 AM »
I've used Vanilla on a private forum since it was mentioned on this site (linked by mouser).

It's very minimalistic and provides the basic functionality I need for just a few people. It has some ajax stuff which is kind of nice. I definitely wouldn't say it has the greatest features or is the best forum software, but it sure beats rolling your own, so to speak.

That and I haven't upgraded the version since I installed it (if there is a new version) about a year ago so I'm not sure what the latest developments on Vanilla are.


tinjaw

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Re: Vanilla: a nice, strange forum
« Reply #5 on: October 25, 2007, 11:39:20 AM »
To the comments about its minimalistic appearance: I too immediately thought to myself that it looked like some SMF developers had read Getting Real and were fans of 37signals.

tinjaw

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Re: Vanilla: a nice, strange forum
« Reply #6 on: October 25, 2007, 11:42:05 AM »
HOWEVER, if vanilla (or any other forum software) manages to figure our how to support addons in a very clean and robust way, that would be a *HUGE* plus and a major step in the right direction.
From what I have personal experience with, WordPress is a good example to follow. Plugins for WP are pretty easy to add.

In general, any software that wants to use plugins will need to be designed with an API in mind from the beginning. I am sure you, mouser, can attest to that after adding plugins to your software.

iphigenie

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Re: Vanilla: a nice, strange forum
« Reply #7 on: October 25, 2007, 11:43:31 AM »
Well I need to choose and recommend a forum software for the company websites. Some of these are business community websites so they might get quite busy.

Anyway I use SMF on some of my private websites but some of my experiences in the past year (1 installation got hacked in jul 06, for example, via SMF, and that turned out expensive!) make me wary of recommending it for use. It is the one I know best though...

My experiences with some of the commercial ones are not any better, i dont want one that is spammable too much.

SO I had found vanilla as an option, their design would be simple to integrate with a content/news site... but I have the fear that it has not been tested and could have the same kind of security holes - and trust me i dont want our sites hacked into....

What is a good stable forum software which doesnt suffer too much from constant spam abuse, has simple things like tracking, avatars but not necessary bells and whistles?

tinjaw

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Re: Vanilla: a nice, strange forum
« Reply #8 on: October 25, 2007, 11:56:36 AM »
What is a good stable forum software which doesnt suffer too much from constant spam abuse, has simple things like tracking, avatars but not necessary bells and whistles?
I'm not sure you will be able to find a comprehensive (let alone competent) review of forum software with a focus on security. (But Google might prove me wrong.)

However, much of the spam can be overcome these days, it is just a matter of making an acceptable tradeoff. You can make a forum virtually spam free by:

1) Making the registration process require human intervention. The tradeoffs are a) that it is more difficult for humans to register, in terms of time and/or aggravation, which may keep some from joining b) a human is needed on the inside to approve registrations and then monitor those newly registered members' first few posts c) Automated means often make it more difficult for people with accessibility issues to register.

2) Require the first five or so postings by new members to be moderator approved.

3) Limit registration to people who you already "know" are customers/clients/prospects/etc via some other means. (Registration number, serial number, order number, etc.)

f0dder

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Re: Vanilla: a nice, strange forum
« Reply #9 on: October 25, 2007, 06:30:59 PM »
I think Vanilla could be a decent choice for a small amount of users, especially if you're dealing with not so tech-savvy ones that don't have a lot of requirements... but as I said the last time this was brought up, it's a bit too vanilla in it's vanilla configuration :)
- carpe noctem

dlagesse1992

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Re: Vanilla: a nice, strange forum
« Reply #10 on: November 28, 2007, 03:27:03 PM »
I like the minimalist design. Especially for a small forum...
I'll look into it sometime...