Drupal forums showdown: phpBB, vBulletin, UIE

Everyone seems to agree that the forums built-in to Drupal suck, as forum software goes. As I write this in July 2007, there are 3 options for getting better forums integrated with Drupal.

Option 1: The phpBB module for drupal.

Pros: - phpBB is a high quality forum package.
- has lots of mods and themes available to customize the forum.
- widespread use means some users will be familiar with it.

Cons: - Module is complicated to install and maintain.
- Hacking required to make the forum pages look the same as the drupal pages.

Option 2: vbDrupal is a fork of drupal that has ported it on top of a vBulletin base.

Pros: - vBulletin is an excellent forum package.
- has lots of mods available to customize the forum.
- widespread use means some users will be familiar with it.

Cons: - vBulletin license costs $160 US
- License terms require "Copyright ©2000 - 2007, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd." on the bottom of forum pages.
- vbDrupal is a branch away from the main drupal development tree.

Option 3: The UIE forum module for drupal.

Pros: - More integrated with drupal.

Cons: - Not an established forum. Unknown quality and it seems to be just 1 guy working on it.

----

None of these 3 options make it so the search field in drupal pages also search the forums. Google could do this for you if everything's on the same domain, and apparently drupal has some hooks to make this easy.

Looking forward, the DruBB group is planning to improve the default forums in drupal. They've got their work cut out for them.

This research was done for a community/forum website I am helping setup. More info on that in the future.

Posted by dustin on July 23, 2007 with category tags of

5 comments
You might also want to look at SMF (http://www.simplemachines.org/), I've been very impressed with it. It has the same Pros & Cons as phpBB, but I think it has better features.
   comment by Dan on July 23, 2007

One of our requirements is a single sign-in between the forums and a Drupal installation. Looking some more I see that a module for SMF does exist, along with others I missed at first:

SMFforum
FUDforum
Phorum (Drupal 4.7.x only)
Invision/IPBForum (PHP 5.x only)
   comment by dustin (#1) on July 24, 2007

Good points about the forums. Has there been any progress in this area now that it is 10 months later?
   comment by Rich C on April 30, 2008

phpBB Platinum package is a software bundle. It consists of original phpBB 3.0 forum engine, preinstalled language packs, styles and several mods which can be turned on in various combinations with only few mouse clicks.
   comment by fico score on September 8, 2010

There is also #4 option: build forum with drupal modules. It's more work but it will be perfectly integrated with drupal core. I'm split - either use drupal or external software on subdomain.
   comment by Jasom on September 8, 2013

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