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Trying to Decide Between XenForo and IPB

Discussion in 'XenForo Pre-Sales Questions' started by Ian Eberle, Dec 16, 2012.

  1. Ian Eberle

    Ian Eberle Member

    I want to start a forum under the domain AquaticForums.net and I have been looking at three major software companies - vBulletin, IPB, and lately, XenForo. I automatically ruled vBulletin out because it looks as if they are going backwards in development, so now it's down to XenForo and IPB.

    I had my heart set on IPB until I went to check out and it was going to cost almost $300 to get the IP.Board, IP.Nexus, and IP.Content. That's $300 without the extra renewal fees to get updates every 6 months. Basically, IPB looked like an endless money pit, so I turned to XenForo. I know XenForo is currently in a lawsuit, but I don't really care. I see them beating vBulletin and if they don't, I'll simply take my forum to another platform - no biggie.

    Here's what I like about IP.Board and their official addons (IP.Nexus and IP.Content):

    1. Flashy design - The first thing that caught my eye about IPB was that the design appears modern. Most vBulletin-powered forums look like they were made in 2005 and haven't been updated since. Even the forum I'm trying to base mine off of (AquariumAdvice.com) looks archaic and old. Plus, the old vBulletin software is hard to navigate with its complex menus and such.

    2. The ability to bill members using IP.Nexus that will automatically add them to certain groups and display badges or custom messages under their username when they post. I'm pretty sure vBulletin also offers this.

    3. Another thing about IP.Nexus - The ability to accept credit cards and other forms of payment with Authorize.net, PayPal, 2Checkout, etc. This is nice so I can accept donations, create a premium area, sell advertisements directly, etc. IP.Nexus also had advanced options for ad placement even with Google AdSense, which is probably what I'll start using at first.

    4. IP.Content seems to be streamlined into the forum software as well as other addons like Nexus and Gallery.

    5. I liked some other features, but generally, I want software that does what it's supposed to.

    What I don't like about IP.Board:

    1. The price is outrageous.

    2. You can't transfer licenses, so if I were to get a used license from a place like Digital Point Forums, it would be sketchy and risky, so I'm stuck paying the full price if I want to be safe.

    3. When people reply to a thread (or start their own), they have to opt-in to email updates with a special button. I feel that this button is very much overlooked and will affect the amount of repeat visitors I have. People are used to vBulletin's style - when you reply to a thread, you're automatically subscribed to receive emails when others reply. I personally like this and it's disappointing that IPB doesn't even allow you to turn it on without altering code.

    What about XenForo?

    I understand XenForo is in the middle of a big lawsuit right now, so things are delayed, but they really have no information on their sales page. I know they have the demo you can try out, but they don't really tell you the features it comes with. The price at $140 is VERY reasonable and I believe that's a one-time deal, correct?

    As with CMS, I would probably use WordPress as I am already familiar with it. However, I'm still unsure if installing XenForo at forums.domain.com or domain.com/forums would be better for SEO if I used WordPress as a CMS for articles.

    Does XenForo allow the features I like with IPB? What about the ones I dislike? The truth is - there's not a lot of info out there about XenForo, but it looks promising! I know the signup and getting to be able to post this thread was super easy, so it's already giving me a good impression.

    P.S. One last thing - I've seen a lot of people talking about XenForo's code and how perfect it is. This is something else that's important to me because good code = less server load. If the code has PHP errors and stuff, it could cause timeouts and cause my server to crash.
    Miner likes this.
  2. principia

    principia Well-Known Member

    Yes, thats one important thing for me. im running on a shared host and up to 100 users online with no problems

    XenForo does not bring every ring and bell a forum can offer, but the important ones are still there.
    and there a many addons (most a free) which will help also.

    this depends on the articles you are writing (and how many). SEO is build in in XenForo and its working well.
    You can try XenPorta, instead of Wordpress if you dont really need a full blown CMS

    Yes, 140$.
    If you want, you can get support after a year for a small fee (40$ ? i think). This will give you also the possibility to get updates and patches for another year.

    hope that helps
  3. Ian Eberle

    Ian Eberle Member

    Yeah, it helps. I'm messing around in the demo board they give you to try. How difficult is it to completely make your forum have a custom-looking design? Not necessarily custom, but altered. The default style is kinda boring. Are there themes or anything you can download?
  4. principia

    principia Well-Known Member

    you can look at the resoures manager. there are a lot of themes and addons.

    working on a design is very easy, i dont know any forum software where its easier.
    but there are also great themes from professional designers.
    i like this very much: http://xenique.com/forums/
    but there are others and it depends on your needs.
  5. Ian Eberle

    Ian Eberle Member

  6. Ian Eberle

    Ian Eberle Member

  7. principia

    principia Well-Known Member

    In the "Have you seen" Section, there a a lot of Videos about XF.
    some are about styling and themes.
  8. Ian Eberle

    Ian Eberle Member

    Thanks. I think I'm going to jump on the XenForo bandwagon! Purchasing now :)
    jadmperry, Kim, R_A and 3 others like this.
  9. principia

    principia Well-Known Member

    Oh i forgot to tell the main thing about XF: the community.
    here you will always get a helping hand.
    Cal and Chris D like this.
  10. Aarmin

    Aarmin Active Member

    Here are some threads of interest...

    Somewhere in the off-topic there is a specific thread that has some really good information, but I can't find it.

    I'm surprised there is no option for that :eek:
    You don't have to worry about that for xF; there is an option in the ACP: "Watch threads when creating or replying" can be set to one of three options (yes / yes, with email / no).
  11. Chris D

    Chris D XenForo Developer Staff Member

    Just a note on some of the functionality you mentioned.

    XenForo includes the User Upgrades feature, whereby you can accept payments in return for the promotion to an additional usergroup. This is perfect for accepting donations.

    To complement that, there's a great add-on by Robbo: http://xenforo.com/community/resources/donation-manager.385/

    By default only PayPal is accepted.

    Here's a couple of add-ons that allow you to accept other payment methods:

    Yeah in XenForo we have the "Watch Thread" feature. The default option is that threads are automatically watched when you reply. This means that not only will they receive e-mails for replies, but also they will receive an Alert when there's replies. I think the Alert system is fantastic. You've probably noticed it here, while people reply to this thread.

    Of course the default option can be changed, or the user can choose different options if they wish.

    There's no particular advanced bells and whistles in XenForo relating to advertising, but one important aspect is that the product is shipped with a number of special ad templates which cover almost every single ad placement possible (sidebar, above posts, in posts, below posts, above content, below content, above breadcrumb, below breadcrumb are just the ones I can rememer) so the beauty of that is, it's just a case of working out which one is appropriate for your ads, pasting the code in (you may need to do some minor formatting to center the banners etc) and saving the template.

    The good thing is, those templates are always blank so there's not going to be any clashes during upgrades which will mean you'll have to reapply the code. Those changes will always remain. I don't know how this compares to vBulletin and IPB but it's one of those little things that just makes it really much easier.
    R_A likes this.
  12. Ian Eberle

    Ian Eberle Member

    IPB claims that "forum owners can abuse that option" so they don't even include it in their software. That's another thing that irritates me with them - the developers aren't flexible. They also axed their mobile app (iOS and Android) because "they wanted to focus more energy on their mobile theme".

    But yeah, I just purchased XenForo and I'm about to buy this theme - http://www.audentio.com/shop/view/XenForo/eternelle-11. They have a customization service that costs $45, but they can change the color of the theme to blue for me. I've never really seen a forum with a theme that looked quite like that, so it'll be really exiting :)

    Now my only worry is getting people to join my forum once its set up...
    Luxus likes this.
  13. Slavik

    Slavik XenForo Moderator Staff Member

    Welcome to the mad house :D

    I see you've already linked you license to your forums account (y)

    Need any help just ask or drop a support ticket in (though we mainly handle technical support opposed to customisation on tickets), you'll usually get a reply pretty quickly :love:
  14. Chris D

    Chris D XenForo Developer Staff Member

    Corrected ;)
  15. Morgain

    Morgain Well-Known Member

    I tried IPB once and I found these drawbacks:

    The updates are too frequent. Updates are disruptive to my addons and my own design work so this was a BIG PAIN.
    The design was clunky to edit. I enjoy individualising my boards so this was a BIG PAIN.
    The list of addons looks good but actually a high number are dead wood. Getting info and help on the active ones was generally very slow.

    By contrast XF doesn't keep churning out upgrades. (When development was fully active I mean.)
    Xf design is lots of fun to play with - I don't do package designs but there are lots of those. There are lovely admin features to help you quickly and easily make your own colour scheme. Plus add css snippets of design to a special protected template EXTRA.css that doesnt get disrupted by upgrades.
    XF addons are great almost all are live, with good support. Often you can request something and it gets done. Hundreds of smaller changes are done by us sharing bits of code. I think having the addons right here on the main site at the centre of the communi9ty is genius. If you ask for support you don't just get brushed off with "That's an addon go away" the mods here know the addons and often advise on them - they even make some of them.

    Other better qualified folks than me will tell you that XF SEO is very good and the code is very stable. What I know is that my users across several boards simply LIKE it. It's friendly and intuitive and you can adapt it to YOUR users by tweaking the design.I have very simple users on one board, and I easily made some edits to make it all toddler simple for them.

    But the biggest thing to me that underpins XF code is its community. I think this is a combination of the effect of XF friendly design itself, plus the liveliness that comes from the addons being right here at the centre, and the friendliness of the core team, oh and good mods.

    I have my little gripes. When this XF board gets busy again we really need to be able to control What's New by Hiding what is not relevant to the individual admin's point of view. Otherwise you get swamped with so much busy development and tweaking going on! But that's kind of a nice problem to have.
    (There.'s an addon to do this on your own board but we need it HERE.)
    8thos and R_A like this.
  16. BGL

    BGL Well-Known Member

    Recently made the comparison and decision. XenForo did everything and did it much better. The user interface was 21st century vs. the 20th century look to IPB and VB. Like getting your first Mac after decades of Windows. Xenforo was easy to use, problem free and I found good installation and add-on vendors. The "future" issue is real but at least a year out as XenForo current development is ahead of the IPB and VB. If I have to change in a year for some reason, there will be other choices.
  17. petertdavis

    petertdavis Well-Known Member

    Just wanted to clear up a couple of points that I think you might not have the full information......

    The price of just IPB is about the same as buying vBulletin or Xenforo. It does get pricey if you include the IP.Gallery, IP.Blog, IP.Content, etc... but you should compare that to buying Xenforo with addons that compare to those other products too. Xenforo, for example, works better if you want just a forum without all those other things (gallery, blog, etc...) while IPB is probably a better solution if you want all of those other things built into the forum without using third party developers. With IPB, you should start with their $10 a month hosted version, especially if you want the gallery, blog, content, etc, as the ten a month is less than the renewal fees. Since most startup forums fail within the first couple of months anyway, you would end up paying less. If your forum becomes successful, then the cost of a license shouldn't be an issue for you.
    The three companies you mentioned, vBulletin, Xenforo, and IPB each have different rules about license transfers, but none of them currently have a no transfer at all license policy. What vBulletin's license transfer policy is, I'm not sure at the moment as they seem to change their policy sometimes. But, with IPB and Xenforo I do understand their license transfer policy and you should understand them both too before you decide. With Xenforo, if you purchase a new license directly from them, you can sell it and transfer it away to a new owner. If you buy a second hand Xenforo license from the original owner, they can transfer it to you, but you will not be able to transfer it after that. If you buy a second hand Xenforo license from someone other than the original owner, you wouldn't be able to get it transferred to you. With IPB, you can transfer the ownership of the license as many times as you want but they charge a license transfer fee. You can also buy a second hand license and have them change the name on the account to your name.

    Hope that helps....
    John likes this.
  18. Ian Eberle

    Ian Eberle Member

    I actually bought XenForo directly from their site because I wanted to support them and give them funds for their legal battle. $140 is very reasonable in my opinion. The reason IPB gets expensive is because of the renewal fees - even if I just got IP.Board for $175, I think it is $25 every six months to continue getting support and updates (and from what I heard above, they release bug fixes a lot so not getting updates would be bad).

    Anyway, yeah, I bought XenForo and I'm really excited. I also got this theme - http://www.audentio.com/shop/view/XenForo/eternelle-11 and paid for their customization services so they can change the color to blue and do some other tweaks for me. I know how to design and alter WordPress themes and such, but I just figured to let these guys do it because I already have enough to learn with this being my first forum. Might as well leave the stress of possibly messing up the skin to the people to created it.

    I also posted a thread in the support forum if anyone wants to head over there and help me out - http://xenforo.com/community/threads/putting-xenforo-inside-wordpress-install.42241/

    I appreciate the support everyone here has given me (within just hours of owning the product). I'm really glad I gave my money to the XenForo community and not IPB :)
    Morgain, Kim, ForestForTrees and 3 others like this.
  19. web09

    web09 Member

    Re: "The Community, here you will always have a helping hand."

    I'm new as well, and have to tell you. The resources and people who help each other out here are more than worth their weight in gold. Having solid software is one thing and I think the foundation here with Xenforo is top notch. But when you combine that solid foundation with help when you get stuck---and we all do, then it gives you the satisfaction that you're moving forward with your business with a group of people who all want and support you in the success of your forum and your community that you create.

    Miner, Morgain, borbole and 3 others like this.
  20. oman

    oman Well-Known Member

    Well said. So true.

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