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Last post Author Topic: SMF or phpBB... that is the question?  (Read 10647 times)

CodeTRUCKER

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SMF or phpBB... that is the question?
« on: November 06, 2010, 12:29:59 PM »
Issue Resolved
Please keep reading if you like, but this issue has been resolved.  See below or click this shortcut.


A little background...
I have been trying to establish a FHN (Family Heritage Network) for my family and extended family since last September.  We have tried to use some FSNs (Family Social Networks), but either were too expensive or inadequate for our purposes.  

Since forums like SMF and phpBB allows threads, pictures and links I am persuaded establishing our own and having it hosted somewhere for the long-term (read: 50+ years) is our family's best option.

DC uses SMF and I have enjoyed using DC, especially with the great mods, but I have been experimenting with SMF and phpBB "out-of-the-box" and they seem to be in a dead-heat.
Kudos to Cody!
Note: One really can't appreciate all that mouser and his crew have done at DonationCoder until you use a stock SMF installation!  The modifications that have been added and or programmed into the DC forum are a part of what has made DonationCoder such a great forum experience, second only to the people that have given DC a rich identity.  Other admins would do well to follow DC's example. :Thmbsup:

I really can't see much beyond style.  Even the Admin *seems* to be the same, but I haven't dug much beneath the first layer.  I am only test-driving both and I am sure I won't hit any snags until we are actually using our FHN.  I am sure you all know how those nasty little bugs hide until the project goes live, hmmm?   ;)

Our Needs...
  • Record writings to preserve for future generations.
  • Record events for recollection and comment.
  • Ongoing discussions varied topics
  • Attach pictures, create galleries and have the freedom to caption and/or comment.
  • Link to other threads/posts/websites.
  • Have a shoutbox for quick comments and announcements.
  • Anything else that would add to creating a permanent interactive archive for an extended family.

The questions...
 Does anyone have experience with both SMF and phpBB and what are the strengths or weaknesses over the other?

 Can any DC staff comment on why SMF was chosen for "Cody's Home?"

 Are there any other better candidates than SMF or phpBB that have emerged recently?  If so, why do you think the new is better then the established workhorses?

Thanks to all for the help!
CT

<Edit - Added "Our Needs..." section.  Thanks f0dder!>
« Last Edit: November 16, 2010, 03:47:06 PM by CodeTRUCKER »

f0dder

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Re: SMF or phpBB... that is the question?
« Reply #1 on: November 06, 2010, 04:14:40 PM »
Perhaps you should detail your needs a bit more?

I'd be inclined to look at Vanilla, since it's simple and clean - but it's also pretty vanilla out of the box, which (last time I did an install) meant no avatars and such unless you install plugins.
- carpe noctem

CodeTRUCKER

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Re: SMF or phpBB... that is the question?
« Reply #2 on: November 06, 2010, 04:52:08 PM »
Perhaps you should detail your needs a bit more?

Done!  Thanks for the suggestion. :Thmbsup:

Quote
I'd be inclined to look at Vanilla, since it's simple and clean - but it's also pretty vanilla out of the box, which (last time I did an install) meant no avatars and such unless you install plugins.

Why do you think Vanilla would be better than SMF or phpBB?

mahesh2k

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Re: SMF or phpBB... that is the question?
« Reply #3 on: November 06, 2010, 06:16:32 PM »
Phpbb has lot of security issues in comparison to vanila,smf. smf is rarely updating these days, version 2 is taking close to 3 yrs of public release.

vanila requires lot of plugins to operate but its easy to design,simple and clutter free.

Carol Haynes

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Re: SMF or phpBB... that is the question?
« Reply #4 on: November 06, 2010, 06:28:26 PM »
Do you honestly think any of these technologies will still be viable in 10 years time - let alone 50 years?

Think back 50 years - what was computer technology and the internet like in 1960 ?

Change is still accelerating so what is it going to be like in 2060 ?

CodeTRUCKER

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Re: SMF or phpBB... that is the question?
« Reply #5 on: November 06, 2010, 06:41:32 PM »
Do you honestly think any of these technologies will still be viable in 10 years time - let alone 50 years?

Think back 50 years - what was computer technology and the internet like in 1960 ?

Change is still accelerating so what is it going to be like in 2060 ?

Yep, Carol, you are astute in your observation, but any technology that won't allow a backward compatibility of keeping valuable data (personal or otherwise) will not be acceptable to the Internet public.  

Think of the progression... consider these recent(?) "permanent record" technologies... we have gone from vinyl, reel-to-reel tape, 8-track tape, cassette tape, CD, flash drives, DVD, etc.  Even the most advanced technology can still hold data from the earliest record, especially once it is rendered in biinary.  Any data that starts in binary (offline or on the Internet) can be propagated by copy, presumably forever.

I have to start somewhere, regardless of what the future holds.  Maybe this isn't a safe bet, but I am counting on being able to "migrate" to whatever would present itself in the future give whatever hosting company I choose will still want to get a monthly payment.  :)

What do you think?
« Last Edit: November 06, 2010, 07:49:03 PM by CodeTRUCKER »

Carol Haynes

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Re: SMF or phpBB... that is the question?
« Reply #6 on: November 07, 2010, 03:55:04 AM »
There are lots of formats of 20 years ago that aren't easily transferable any more - at least not without resorting to programming skills and the hacker skills necessary to decode the old format. As for internet consistency over a long period I think that is highly unlikely. My personal belief (admittedly cynical) is that the internet as we know it won't even exist in 50 years time - there are many governments and multinationals who want to kill off the open nature of the internet and I suspect that despite strong opposition they will probably succeed in shutting down the current system and forcing a locked in proprietary format. We are already seeing this starting with themove to cloud computing - largely free t the moment but also mostly proprietary formats. Once they have a lot of people locked in watch the free services die and the prices ramp up - also the proprietary nature of a lot of what is going on behind secure connections will start to become the backbone of the internet and servers will begin to be optimised for those services not general internet usage.

If you want to use an online system like SMF or phpBB then you will need to be good at SQL coding to extract stuff in the distant future.

I wouldn't rely on import/export functions being readily available - and certainly not for transferring stuff from one platform to another if your chosen project dies.

Personally I suspect that phpBB is likely to be better supported when it comes to exporting to another forum - but that is only on my experience with the lack of integration options available for SMF.

f0dder

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Re: SMF or phpBB... that is the question?
« Reply #7 on: November 07, 2010, 05:04:19 AM »
Why do you think Vanilla would be better than SMF or phpBB?
I was considering that your users are probably going to be a non-technical bunch - so a clean and uncluttered interface (which Vanilla has) would probably be a benefit. OTOH, as I also mentioned earlier, it is pretty Vanilla OOTB, so you'd need a bunch of plugins to add some of your wanted functionality.

Given phpBB's security track record, I'd definitely stay away from it. SMF is better in that regard.

As Carol points out, technologies are going to change - so you definitely want to stick with an open forum/whatever system, so you'll have a chance of migrating your data. Whatever software you choose, this is not going to be a 100% automated process, you'll need some hand-massaging of data.
- carpe noctem

mouser

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Re: SMF or phpBB... that is the question?
« Reply #8 on: November 07, 2010, 09:28:18 AM »
SMF is pretty great right out of the box and has proved very stable, and has a wonderful feature set and organization that just makes sense.

However the one thing I will say, and i think i've said this in another thread, is that SMF is part of the past-generation of web applications, where "add-ons and extensions" are not handled through hooks and signals, but are instead handled by actually *modifying* the code.

What this means is that addons and mods are not easy to maintain, and can be a bit hairy to deal with when applying updates to the core forum.

So SMF is a great forum system for someone who wants a powerful and easy to maintain forum system, but who isn't planning on installing lots of addons.   Although there are some great addons for SMF, if you are the kind of person who will want to install lots of addons and modifications for your forum, you should look elsewhere, in my humble opinion, because of the difficulty in maintaining and upgrading in the presence of addons.
« Last Edit: November 16, 2010, 08:46:56 PM by mouser »

CodeTRUCKER

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Re: SMF or phpBB... that is the question?
« Reply #9 on: November 07, 2010, 10:48:32 AM »
Wow!  Three different opinions, but not just opinions.  You folks are no novices when it comes to technical savvy.  No easy answer, especially if one wants to establish anything of a permanent archive.  Even if I was to become a master of SQL there is no way to ensure 20, let alone 50 (100?) years from now anyone will take up the mantle.  How tragic it would be to generate TBs of rich familial heritage (data) only to have it scattered to the Van Allen Belt decades (or less) from now.

Hmmm... food for thought, indeed. 

You know I once calculated how many pages 2GB of *.txt data would be.  I came up with the equivalent of 26 sets of an exhaustive encyclopedia. 

It may be that some hybrid form of forum, email and and a *.txt file that copies can be kept on individual's hard drives (and print) might be the best path.  At least in the event of an Internet takeover (I'm in sync with Carol on this one) each branch of the family would have a viable copy which should ensure the best possible chance of perennial retention.  I don't want to ignore the benefits of the status quo as far as Internet technology goes, but I need to find a way to dovetail the present exertions with the needs of my future heritage. 

I have often wondered what life on this Earth would be today, if a thousand years ago every father carried a burden for their future progeny for the next millennium like I do?  I am persuaded the only reason bad men have succeeded is not because good men have done nothing, but that good men did not do enough.  I will have to cogitate much on an appropriate architecture and plan to move my vision forward.         

Thank you, gentle folk.  You have enlightened my pathway.  :)

40hz

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Re: SMF or phpBB... that is the question?
« Reply #10 on: November 07, 2010, 10:57:33 AM »
Rather than a specific FSN, you might consider setting up a more general purpose social network site and use that in conjunction with your choice of forum/discussion software. Elgg is one possibility. Last I looked they had (or at least had planned) plugin support for the previously mentioned Vanilla and phpBB. Elgg has other plugins as well.

I'm not super wild about social networks in general. But I've come to begrudgingly respect them since they seem to meet the needs of so many people on both ends of the technical spectrum.

Figure it this way: all the "young uns" grew up with sites like Facebook and Twitter. So the closer you can get your site to look and feel like what they're used to, the better chance you have of encouraging their regular participation.

And if you're looking 50+ years down the road, those are the people in your family circle that you'll want to cater to.

Just thinking out loud.  :)

----------

Addendum:

You also might want to consider doing hardcopy "yearbooks" from the info collected at your site to circulate and/or archive. A high quality paper copy may not last forever. But it is an inexpensive, non-volatile, hack-proof storage system that's platform independent and does not require a power source.

Good thing to have around should a cyberwar ever break out.  :tellme:

 8)




mahesh2k

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Re: SMF or phpBB... that is the question?
« Reply #11 on: November 07, 2010, 11:13:14 AM »
Few more suggestions if you're interested -

1. FluxxBB
2. PunBB
3. Advanced Electron Forum

These three can replace phpbb in my opinion. I'm more biased towards first two.

CodeTRUCKER

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Re: SMF or phpBB... that is the question?
« Reply #12 on: November 07, 2010, 11:22:49 AM »
Few more suggestions if you're interested -

1. FluxxBB
2. PunBB
3. Advanced Electron Forum

These three can replace phpbb in my opinion. I'm more biased towards first two.

Thank you, mahesh2k, for your input.  If you get a chance would you mind offering your views on the strengths/weaknesses and likes/dislikes of your suggestions?

mahesh2k

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Re: SMF or phpBB... that is the question?
« Reply #13 on: November 07, 2010, 12:02:59 PM »
PunBB is used by many content sites like squidoo, hubpages etc because of its simplicity. It's fast, easy to use and clutter-free like vanilla. There isn't any ajax based thread posting or member update like in vanilla so you have to add these using extensions if you want.

FluxBB is easy to configure, lots of themes available or you can create from scratch(which is much better). FluxBB and PunBB have a lot of features installed by default in comparison to vanilla. Advanced electron forum is very easy to install but has less features than fluxxbb, punbb and vanilla. AEF is yet to catch other forum softwares in terms of features. I have very limited experience with these three when it comes to security- so not sure about their security side.

Edit: This is link to forum software reviews, much better take on security.


http://www.forum-sof...re.org/forum-reviews
« Last Edit: November 07, 2010, 12:08:07 PM by mahesh2k »

CodeTRUCKER

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Re: SMF or phpBB... that is the question?
« Reply #14 on: November 07, 2010, 12:16:37 PM »
...
Just thinking out loud.  :)

----------

Addendum:

You also might want to consider doing hardcopy "yearbooks" from the info collected at your site to circulate and/or archive. A high quality paper copy may not last forever. But it is an inexpensive, non-volatile, hack-proof storage system that's platform independent and does not require a power source.

Good thing to have around should a cyberwar ever break out.  :tellme:

 8)


Hi 40hz,
Somehow I missed your post earlier, but Those are good thoughts and we are in sync with the "yearbook" idea.  Frankly, it looks like that or something like it will probably emerge victorious.  What would be great would be a forum that would allow an annual export which could be intelligently printed as a "yearbook" complete with cross-referencing where needed.

CodeTRUCKER

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Re: SMF or phpBB... that is the question?
« Reply #15 on: November 07, 2010, 12:18:56 PM »
...
http://www.forum-sof...re.org/forum-reviews

Thanks, mahesh2k, for expounding and the link.  I'll give it a read and post back if I find anything particularly noteworthy.

Eóin

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Re: SMF or phpBB... that is the question?
« Reply #16 on: November 07, 2010, 01:47:24 PM »
There is also bbpress from the Wordpress guys. Was going to setup a forum based on it myself.

kyrathaba

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Re: SMF or phpBB... that is the question?
« Reply #17 on: November 07, 2010, 03:37:33 PM »
Another thing you have to consider is how interested anyone in future generations will be in carrying this multi-generational project forward.  In my experience, most family members just aren't that interested in the details of previous generation members' lives, thoughts, etc.  However, a positive in this is that -- given our currently technology, we have the capability of more easily producing longer-lasting, more interactive, richer content.  I've also noted that people's interest in this sort of thing generally increases with advancing years.  My father was in his later years before he really got interested in our family-tree going back 8+ generations.

Towards addressing the concern of electronic data format obsolescence, you may be interested in the work of the Task Force on Digital Archiving.  The foregoing hyperlink connects to an interesting PDF report on their findings and suggestions.  Of special interest to them and, I think to you (judging by what it sounds like you're attempting to achieve), are the concepts of Content, Fixity, Reference, Provenance and Context.

Really what you need is some widely-used standard data structure that you can count on being in use down the road a few decades -- and this is the weak spot.  As Carol said, things are becoming proprietary.  Everyone wants their piece of the pie, so to speak.  If we had a guaranteed data structure standard, you could then confidently count on your heritage data being retrievable and writable, no matter what particular format succeeding generations decide to mark-it-up in (HTML, holographically, etc.)  British librarian Adam Farquhar summed the problem up this way:
Quote
"Einstein's notebooks you can take down off the shelf and read them today. Roll forward 50 years and most of Stephen Hawking's notes will likely only be stored digitally and we might not be able to access them all."

« Last Edit: November 07, 2010, 04:21:24 PM by kyrathaba »

Renegade

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Re: SMF or phpBB... that is the question?
« Reply #18 on: November 07, 2010, 09:10:24 PM »
I'm somewhat shocked that nobody has recommended vBulletin. It's reasonably priced ($185 or $285), and by far the best thing out there on the LAMP stack. It's one mean monster. You can find vBulletin forums out there with millions of posts inside of a single forum and single threads that would blow your mind.

If I ever run a LAMP stack forum, I will most certainly run vBulletin. My ONLY concern is integrating it into an existing CMS, but there's still lots of info out there to do that.
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mahesh2k

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Re: SMF or phpBB... that is the question?
« Reply #19 on: November 08, 2010, 01:29:58 AM »
VB and IPB are too much cluttered with social media buttons and other features. Vb and ipb are paid forums,but you get what you paid for.

CodeTRUCKER

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Re: SMF or phpBB... that is the question?
« Reply #20 on: November 16, 2010, 03:40:18 PM »
To: Everyone who assisted...


After exploring the different options and given I have been working with the DonationCoder SMF forum for over four years, it seemed best to stay with what I know - Simple Machines Forum.

Gratefully.
CT

40hz

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Re: SMF or phpBB... that is the question?
« Reply #21 on: November 16, 2010, 09:49:14 PM »
Sounds like a really interesting project you're embarking on.  8)

Any chance of getting you to 'blog' a bit on this while you're doing it? Or maybe write up a project report when you're up and running?

 :Thmbsup:


ecaradec

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Re: SMF or phpBB... that is the question?
« Reply #22 on: November 17, 2010, 11:27:18 AM »
I wouldn't recommend fluxbb from an administrator point of view : it is missing lot of useful features for managing threads (like moving posts, threads, renaming them )... and it lacks plugins desperatly : you have to basically code all antispam, captcha on your own before getting a relatively correct experience. I've been using it for 3+ years and I still don't like it.
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Gothi[c]

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Re: SMF or phpBB... that is the question?
« Reply #23 on: November 17, 2010, 12:12:21 PM »
SMF is pretty great right out of the box and has proved very stable, and has a wonderful feature set and organization that just makes sense.

However the one thing I will say, and i think i've said this in another thread, is that SMF is part of the past-generation of web applications, where "add-ons and extensions" are not handled through hooks and signals, but are instead handled by actually *modifying* the code.

What this means is that addons and mods are not easy to maintain, and can be a bit hairy to deal with when applying updates to the core forum.

So SMF is a great forum system for someone who wants a powerful and easy to maintain forum system, but who isn't planning on installing lots of addons.   Although there are some great addons for SMF, if you are the kind of person who will want to install lots of addons and modifications for your forum, you should look elsewhere, in my humble opinion, because of the difficulty in maintaining and upgrading in the presence of addons.

That's an important point, and I'd like to add to it from a ServerAdmin point of view.
Keeping up to date is one of the single most important things you can do to keep a server secure.
With the design of smf making this HARDER when you have modifications, you REALLY have to stay on top of things.
This means, watching all the regular sites for posted smf exploits (fulldisclosure etc) and patching & testing them MANUALLY when they occur.  (thus you must be skilled in php to even consider running smf with custom mods if you're planning to maintain the site a long time)
In the past Mouser and I have had to do this a few times, but luckly not too much, which brings me to the second point:
I see a lot more vulnerabilities posted for phpbb than smf.
Now that doesn't mean that it's more secure, it could just be that it's more popular/targeted
Honestly I think we (especially mouser ;) ) dread the day we have to finally go for a major version upgrade of smf :D


CodeTRUCKER

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Re: SMF or phpBB... that is the question?
« Reply #24 on: November 18, 2010, 11:22:47 AM »
Sounds like a really interesting project you're embarking on.  8)

Any chance of getting you to 'blog' a bit on this while you're doing it? Or maybe write up a project report when you're up and running?

 :Thmbsup:


Where would you suggest?  The fact is... I really don't know much about blogging, although the concept intrigues me.