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Considering vBulletin as a migration option for an existing community

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  • Considering vBulletin as a migration option for an existing community

    Hey all, I have a current community site that needs a new platform. Currently, it's running on Wordpress+BuddyPress+bbPress. From a feature standpoint, this was a good option for the site. The problem has been that performance isn't great, and we've had a huge amount of trouble keeping spammers out. This was a case of it looking good on paper, but a year later, not being what we'd really hoped (sidenote, we migrated to the existing setup a little over a year ago off of Ning).

    At first glance, vBulletin seems like a good option for us. I've been around the block a few times, so I remember vBulletin from back in the days of yore, but my personal experience with admining forums is mostly limited to phpBB and bbPress. vBulletin was always the 500 lb. gorilla on the block, so I give them a lot of legacy respect. It looks like they're also still more feature-complete than competitors. So, I was hoping some folks might be able to field a few fly balls for me to help in the decision making process.
    1. Migration tools. This is a big thing. If I leave the existing system, and have to dump all the content there, it's going to piss off users. Ideally, I'd be able to migrate over the forum structure, threads, users, and their blog posts. How much pain am I in for? Do bbPress migration options exist?
    2. Shared login. Right now, my existing community shares a user table with another, related Wordpress site (brother and sister sites, if you will). While not a must have, it would be really nice if I could maintain that shared process. Possible, or no? If no, what about Facebook/Twitter/G+/etc oauth type logins?
    3. Theme/design. One of the big things our current site has going for it is that it's nice and responsive. I see that the "mobile bundle" for vBulletin is an upsell. Does that mean the native interface can't be skinned or designed in a way to make it more responsive friendly? How exposed are themes, basically, to a developer?
    4. Security. I'd heard there were some security issues early in the 5.x line. Are you confident that's been addressed?
    5. Quality. This is a minefield of a question. In researching vBulletin, there's a whole lot of stuff out there implying that vB5 is less than amazing. But, most of those are from the perspective of people comparing to vB3/4. I guess what I'm wondering is, would you buy vB5 again at this point? Has it met your expectations and performed as desired? As someone looking to build from the ground up on vB5, I obviously wouldn't have the problems established sites faced, and that's made getting a good baseline opinion of the platform difficult.
    6. What do you wish you'd known before launching on vB5?
    7. What would you do differently if you could do it over?
    Thanks for any help you can offer?

  • #2
    I think you made a wise choice considering purchasing vBulletin. I have used vBulletin since around 2001 when I downloaded vBulletin Lite followed by a Leased License for vBulletin 2 near 2004. Personally I don't find using open-source forum softwares is really safe as the internet can be crawling with PC criminal hackers and spambots.

    I did buy vBulletin 5 Connect Beta near October 2012, and it seems it got a lot of pick up. But bare it mind vB 5 is new and is more complex than its predecessors. If you are not happy installing vB 5 on your site, no problem you can still install vB 3.8.X or vB 4.2.0 if you have 2nd thoughts on vB 5. Also if you need a guide or need to know how to install vB on your site, have a look on the vB manual:-

    Plus supports a wide range of 3rd Party modules that give you the essential details and what vB versions it supports.

    If you want to ask what 3rd Party addons should you use for your vBulletin 3/4 well, my opinion is that Spam-O-Matic and some plugins from DragonByte Tech seems promising. I do understand you are concerned with security issues you may encounter for vB 5, but take some time to think things through. But it would help if you keep an eye for security threats or possible vB 5 bugs that aren't resolved and not reported.


    • #3
      1. We have made our Import Tool open source. There was an importer for bbpress but it is very old - we do not know if it still works. you can see the system list here- and you can learn more about Impex here{

      2. Possible but would require significant custom coding or some sort of 3rd party product which we do not support. Facebook integration is available but no other at this time.

      3. VB5 style is responsive (as you can see by trying this site on a mobile device) the mobile suite is not requited for a nice looking mobile experience. A developer as full access to the templates and style variables that make a VB page. The software also comes with a number of alternative built in themes which you can see by changing the style dropdown on the bottom left of this page.

      4. When we learn of new security exploits we work to patch as soon as possible. In software the size of vBulletin (or Wordpress or any similar software) you can never say for certain no exploits will be found- we hope none exist but the reality is there will likely be exploits found in the future and we will continue to be quick to address them.

      5. At this point (and this is personal opinion) the main issue with VB5 these days is sluggish performance and the smaller the site the less it is noticeable. Also performance is improving with new versions. I suggest you use this site and seek out other VB5 sites to make up your mind.

      I do not have a real VB5 site so 6 and 7 I cannot answer.


      • #4
        Thanks all for some of the feedback so far. At the moment, I'm leaning towards this as the best solution.

        Re: bbPress migration, I'm currently reading this to see if it still works: Has anyone worked with these guys on migration projects before


        • #5
          I am not to sure, when I had to migrate from a different host for my old vB years ago I had to keep and zip the SQLs as a dmp file for the future when my vB Leased Licensed expired. For transfer migration tools for bbPress --> vB it isn't really easy to do as most forum/CMS softwares require regular updates to wipe any vulnerabilities and bugs, that it could mess things up especially if the import tool isn't tested on later Forum/CMS versions - as Joe D said on the import tool. But I am not 100% sure. It maybe not be a problem if your old forum uses MySQL as vBulletin is compatible with MySQL.

          But don't take my word for it just yet. And sorry I cannot help you on to show you how to convert your bbPress databases to be safely imported for vB.

          Personally when I had to manually edit my SQL datatables and maybe wipe out some tables that aren't supported nor required for the later vB version or had excessive logs to erase. I had to edit the .SQL file using NotePad++ that had to be compressed to fit in the phpMyAdmin for importing. Bare in mind if your SQL data is too large to be imported for vBulletin as phpMyAdmin on my side only allows around (16KiB) per upload as sql.bz2 or files. I don't know if your old site contains a huge chunk of data, so you may want to be prepared for that import migration.


          • #6
            would you buy vB5 again at this point??

            Absolutely not. I'd go with a competutor that starts with a X that I'm not allowed to post here.

            I bought vb5 because I wanted the mobile suite. the mobile suite doesn't work.

            The other problem is that the Dev community has largely rejected vb5. It has to be the worst launch in history and the company has not brought back developers. This is for many reasons but a big problem is the lack of a proper php hooks system.

            Why am I still here? Because I'm stuck. My forum launched, grew really quick and now I can't rock the boat.

            People in this thread talk about vb5 being new....its 3 years old. I spend admin time hunting and learning php so I can hack together features that dont work right.

            There are a couple support members trying their hearts out to help the poor saps that bought the software. But the reality is that the devs have a terrible culture where features are rushed and incomplete ( look at the content slider that isnt responsive, even though it comes with a few lines of code that would have made it so)

            Vb4? Go for it. Tons of support and mods. But it also feels like buying into yesteryear. And vb5 is still being developed at a snails pace.
            The reputation bar is hard coded. This is bad design.
            Facebook 2 step registration doesn't work
            Vbulletin android app does not work with VB5 and has no roadmap -- don't buy it! Demand better.


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