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From vBulletin to XenForo

Discussion in 'XenForo Pre-Sales Questions' started by NortheBridge, Aug 21, 2016.

  1. NortheBridge

    NortheBridge New Member

    After many, many, many years with vBulletin (as in from the days of 3.2) it seems to have come time to move to new commercial forum software. I've read too many stories about vBulletin 5 Connect being a death sentence on communities and the code quality has dropped substantially since vBulletin 3 days. Rather than remove depreciated PHP methods and cleanup the code, vBulletin opts to hardcode in the disabling of the warnings for the depreciated methods and it runs like a train wreck on PHP 7. I have spoken to a number of administrators from both small and large communities and most have been looking towards XenForo (others to IP.Board or MyBB) but it seems like XenForo is the "spiritual successor" to vBulletin 3.

    I only have a few questions as I have been reading up on XenForo for quite a while now.

    • People seem to describe the "engagement" going up after moving to XenForo. I can understand this due to its ease of use but this could also be simply that people want to use the "shiny" new thing - have people witnessed continued higher engagement rates within their own community over the long term?
    • How's SEO with XenForo?
    • One of the problems with vBulletin over the many licenses we have is that it's not very good when it comes to SSL (i.e. strange bugs pop up only effecting vBulletin such as making "www." a completely unusable experience). How's XenForo with SSL?
    • Does XenForo natively use MariaDB engine tables such as Aria or must the tables be converted from the more standard MySQL tables?
    • Back to MySQL, does XenForo work with MariaDB 10.1?
    • How are loads with XenForo? While we have systems with 48+ threads to back up a forum, getting a little performance benefit wouldn't hurt either.
    • Adding to XenForo loads, does it integrate well with CDNs? We use the Verizon Enterprise Anycast Edge Network for serving a lot of the static content and that's the basic first layer of caching.
    • How's PHP 7 support?
    • Does XenForo expose feeds similar to vBulletin so that we can take the conversations on forums and have them displayed on totally different software?
    • Does XenForo have an API that can be used to call up a non-XenForo account system? I'm assuming "yes" because three OAuth account types are available to sign in with on this forum.
    • Anyone with experience working with the makers of the UI.X skin? It seems they are the best firm to partner with for a design project and adapting UI.X would be fairly simple.
    I'm sure I will think of something else but for now: that's it.
  2. Chris D

    Chris D XenForo Developer Staff Member

    Anecdotally, people suggest the positive changes stick around, though I would guess that this isn't always the case. It's always going to be a very individual thing. Some forums may be struggling for other reasons that can't be solved by changing the software.

    Very much so built with it in mind. Most people run XF as it is, maybe just enabling friendly URLs (which removes the index.php from the URL), and this is often sufficient.

    We use it here. It's of course recommended to just make your entire site SSL rather than just some pages. For the most part it should be just the case of configuring SSL and forwarding all requests to the SSL version of our URL. There's a known issue with older versions of nginx, but this is very easily solved (It's unlikely you'll hit this).

    We use mostly InnoDB, with a few MyISAM tables and MEMORY tables for specific use cases. IIRC MariaDB will use its version of the InnoDB engine automatically without changing anything.

    Should work perfectly without doing anything :)

    I think the general consensus is this is improved with XF.

    Not familiar with that directly, but people do use other CDNs quite happily. It's possible to change the URL which static files are served from.

    The current version of XF is compatible with PHP 7.0 and 7.1.

    Yes, each forum can have an RSS feed, or there is a global RSS feed.

    Correct, this is a framework that should allow you to add other providers, but of course it does require some level of custom development.
  3. NortheBridge

    NortheBridge New Member

    Indeed. I was just quite curious in regards to the ease of interactions. vBulletin has become rather convoluted when it comes to interacting such as posting. Even the "quick reply" isn't very quick whereas here and in the demo of XenForo everything is far more responsive and that is one of the key goal we have: to maintain a responsive site and unfortunately vBulletin just can't do that anymore. Many users complain about "editor jump" where modern browsers will jump to a totally different line in vBulletin while writing a post (or PM, etc.). QA wise, it's the worst part of our site and our site is still in development which speaks volumes in of itself.

    Enabling friendly URLs seems fitting. I imagine it's similar to here and in the demo when we did it: no index.php as you described appears in the URL. That falls in line with the rest of our URL structure and it seems to be logical based on the demo. One of the concerns had been SEO and ensuring that all the pages get indexed properly through our submissions, Trusted Site/McAfee Secure submissions, and Norton Secure submissions for both Google and Bing. We monitor Alexa too but naturally, people don't search with Alexa - it's just a good way to see where you stand traffic-wise.

    Yes, we use SSL globally and are in fact on the global HSTS preload list for virtually every major browser (Edge, Chrome, Firefox, etc.) so our site defaults to SSL with no redirects required and the browsers won't load it if SSL isn't used as it states our site only transmits data via encrypted methods (FIPS cryptography more precisely but the browsers don't say that).

    We actually use Apache with Litespeed and nginx serves as a proxy to global edge locations. Litespeed plays fairly well with virtually everything because it accepts Apache style directives but XenForo doesn't have issues with Litespeed does it? For that matter, does it have any issues with Squid Reverse Proxy either? As you can tell, this is a pretty complex deployment which is to be expected given that our L3 network per a continent transmits about 30-40TB in a day without adding the R1Soft Enterprise backups into the mix (we use dual GbE or 10G connections for all our servers times two - two private and two public links).

    This is excellent to hear. vBulletin's support for MariaDB is lackluster at best - even on vBulletin 5 Connect.

    By any chance, do you know how it handles database replication across server [clusters] to ensure HA?

    This is also good to hear. Load-wise, vBulletin is starting to eat up a lot of resources on diminished returns and users complaining of slow loading only on the forums whereas everywhere else loads quickly and responsively. Naturally, just throwing more CPU, SSDs, and RAM at it wasn't going to fix the problem - it was becoming inherent that it was software related versus hardware.

    That's alright - if it works on other CDNs it'll work on the Verizon Enterprise Anycast Edge CDN. Technically, this is what a lot of those CDN companies use (Amazon and SoftLayer both technically use Verizon's Anycast Edge CDN). The only difference here is we have direct contracts with Verizon because we work with them so we can cut out the "middleman" although we do use AWS and SoftLayer too.

    Excellent. We've only begun the testing phase of PHP 7 but naturally we can't stay on PHP 5.6 forever. We've been updating code in preparation for PHP 7 deployment and to know that XF is compatible makes that a little bit easier.

    Excellent. We want to not only be able to display what's going on in the forums where appropriate but to also ensure that we can script in our SSO Account Management and that the APIs were there to do such scripting. At the basic foundation, the SSO system just has to be able to identify the SSO account to the forum account but if APIs exist in it or can be created within XenForo to more deeply integrate such a system, the better.

    Naturally, we are looking at XenForo for the long term. vBulletin served us for a decade and our hope is to find a forum software that can do that for another decade. Our first thought was to take a look at IP.Board but they nickel and dime you to death whereas XenForo just charges a yearly update fee without the nickel and dime.
  4. rv65

    rv65 Active Member

    I am running XF on PHP7 and it works great! I also recommend @Russ at PixelExit as they have nice designs and their XenBase framework is easy to work with!

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