I run a big anime site that has two components: the main site, and a forum. Back in the day I used to use phpBB, migrating to vbulletin many years ago because I was sick of how painful upgrades were with phpBB (given I have so much custom code). The site-side database is postgresql, mysql is set up solely for the vbulletin instance.
The main purpose of my site is the site, not the forum. The forum has been skinned to look like an integrated component and I'd like to be able to implement much better integration - vbulletin has been a challenge for that due to how much of a mess the codebase is. Currently users have to register twice, both in the site and forum, and that's a problem.
I've wanted to move to xenforo for awhile, then the yearish-long developer silence made me wary the project would go anywhere so I gave up. Meanwhile, vbulletin 5 seems to have some of the new features I'd like to implement (better groups/clubs functionality, namely) but the zillions of beta releases and no update in months makes me wary. Now that releases are happening again with XenForo I'm re-interested. I'd just like to make sure what I'll need is possible. Any feedback would be awesome.
Customization already set up:
- Site-side scripts that auto-create forum threads using a single 'user' account (a site-owned forum acct). This is used as a logging mechanism for community-added content on the main site. As long as it's relatively straightforward to find out how to do this with xenforo's codebase, i don't see this as a blocking issue.
- Site skinning to make the forum look like it's in the main shell. This was a hack-y job and challenging to figure out due to vbulletin's includes, and doesn't work perfectly. To date we were never able to figure out how to easily make the various vbulletin colors (text, heading, etc) work off of the main-site's skin stylesheets.
I've stuck with vbulletin 3.x because 4 didn't have the features I'd really need for the amount of work involved in an upgrade. At this point, there's some core ways we already use vbulletin that would need to exist in an upgrade, some other customizations that vbulletin 5 in theory will have that I'd like to use, and some new ways to integrate that I'm hoping are possible with xenforo:
- Groups/clubs. I found the other thread where there's a lot of conjecture but no apparent mod reply, and Kier's 2010 post saying it's possible. I know lots of people here think they aren't useful in xenforo - for me, clubs are very important as it's a top ask in the community (due to other sites offering them). It's something I don't have the bandwidth to build from scratch on the site-side, so having a forum 'club' system where users can moderate a group with a custom image, threads, etc is something I'd really like to have. Can someone from the mod team comment on if this is something planned, and/or a super rough timeline? Meaning would it be years till this is worked on? It would impact my decision
- Auto generation of forum accounts. In vbulletin, if users wanted a single sign on they generally needed to use vbulletin as the gateway. All core site content is in postgres, so my postgres db needs to be the single sign on. Is the codebase easy enough to figure out for us to write custom scripts that create a forum account (or delete an account) on behalf of a user? And, is there a straightforward way to suppress registration on the forum side? One hope I had with vbulletin is that I could leverage the system's IP bans/etc and query those when creating the site-side accounts.
- Large amounts of site code/features integrated with the forum. We have a ton of features on the site (like user stats with how many reviews/recs they've made, custom signatures, our own badge/achievement system, etc) and I always wanted to output that data in a user's forum profile. If I write the scripts to generate that content from postgres, does xenforo have an easy way to include it on pages like profiles, the profile section of a post, etc? It was possible in vbulletin but again, the codebase was horrendous to try to figure out. I'd also like to be able to write scripts that gather forum data (ie, # of posts by a user, recent posts by a user) to output on the postgres/site end, in their profile. I may want to just override the forum profile entirely and have those links go to the site profiles.
- Hidden forums and usergroups. We have teams of moderators that use the forum in hidden moderator sections - it's quite critical that we can keep the hidden forums because it's the main way we set policies and triage issues. Mods get tagged in certain usergroups who then are the only people that can access these sections.
- VBSEO migration. I'm fine with redirects as long as some of the top threads are preserved, if not all. I've seen threads around talking about this but haven't dug in much, so I'm assuming this is possible. It's not the end of the world if I have to axe the old urls and just add in important ones manually via htaccess.
And a final question is, is there a feature roadmap somewhere? I couldn't find one off hand.
I'm probably missing a few 'we'd need [x]' and will reply if I think of them. Thanks for reading,