When vBulletin was sold to Internet Brands I immediately went into panic mode, knowing the future of vBulletin was bleak at best and I wanted to get my community off of vBulletin as quickly as possible. The post I wrote to my community was pretty simple and to the point (while it lacked a little tact) and I told them:
“We will not be continuing with vBulletin because Internet Brands (who acquired vBulletin) sucks ass and that my friends is a fact.”
I found XenForo early in the beta phase and wasted zero time. I bought it and installed it and went to work on a plan to test it and migrate to it. The design and feature/functionality sold me immediately and once I installed it and tested it I was ready to look at importing my boards in a test bed and seeing how things worked. The import was an utter nightmare at first (mostly system issues) as I was trying to consolidate 6 sites, 3M posts and 150k users. Overall once I worked out the kinks and ran the importer the process went really smoothly and I had a functioning board in my development environment.
I began testing it, figuring out what the nuances of such a large import were and working through any issues that came up. Within two weeks I was ready to attempt a full blown migration of all sites to XenForo in production on their beta software. Keep in mind we’re not your typical users, we are a huge software community and we can typically handle most of the trivial issues we run into internally so we really were not that concerned about the fact that XenForo was in “beta”. The migration took us about 24 hours to do the imports and another 24 hours of general preparing the forums to release to the end users. Once we were done the overall feedback was timid. Our users were in shock… XenForo is such a complete departure from what they were used to (vBulletin for *years*) I’m not sure they even knew how to react. Eventually the feedback started coming in at a trickle, they were interested and then the floodgates opened and about 90% of the users were enthused with the change.
The migration itself for such a large site was not without pain… we had trivial issues that required help from Kier and Mike (and the Sphinx search add-on). Between them and the wonderful users here at XenForo.com we were able to get the migration done relatively quickly.
Our board at RunUO.com (www.runuo.com/community/) has been running XenForo since December 7th, 2010 in production. I’m not sure what beta release we went live with off of the top of my head but as I look back on what we went through and how far we’ve come I wouldn’t change a thing. Kier did his best to discourage people from migrating to the beta products but he showed genuine interest in helping us even though we did. With a solid nine months behind us I can say the community recovered from the “shock and awe” XenForo put them through and has grown at a steady pace with a higher amount of contribution than with our vBulletin setup.
We’re currently hosting about 150 sites on the server our community runs on, the server itself is a Dual Quad Core Xeon with 8 gigs of RAM and the database for our forums is on the local server. We’re running custom compiles of Apache 2.2.19, PHP 5.2.17 and MySQL 5.5.9 and Sphinx for our search engine. The overall traffic from this server runs a 95th percentile of about 30Mbit so it’s under a pretty heavy load however our community runs like a champ.
XenForo has provided us with a state of the art forum platform upon which most anything can be done. While you won’t find a large addon community the size vBulletin has you’ll realize very quickly vBulletin is dying a very public and very painful death right now. A simple search through Google trends will show you the decline vbulletin.com is going through right now. Acquisitions like vBulletin typically do not go well and products usually suffer. Internet Brands doesn’t have the best of track records and what’s happened here with XenForo in the past year is nothing short of amazing.
RunUO.com as a site is past our “glory days” but we still have a great community of users who love a decade old game. We all play it together and have a great time and XenForo has brought our community together in a way which I never thought could happen.
I hope my feedback can be helpful to anyone who’s in the position I was in… and I am looking forward to XenForo 1.1 and the ancillary products which could allow us to look at dumping Sphinx in favor of an all XenForo platform and am hopeful we’ll see much more development in the future
Sorry for the long post, it got away from me. I hope it's helpful!
P.S - Kier – Please don’t sell XenForo to Internet Brands, we enjoy our new home here.