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Xenforo vs. Free Options

Discussion in 'XenForo Pre-Sales Questions' started by Fish, Nov 23, 2013.

  1. Fish

    Fish New Member

    Hello all,

    I'm a gaming community leader. We are looking at setting up a nice forum for our members. Xenforo is one I'm looking at, as a potential candidate for use. It looks nice and simple to use, but this leads me to my question: What is the advantage to paying the licensing fee on Xenforo instead of just using something free, like phpBB or SMF?

    It seems like Addon/Mod support is there for both, and forum management systems aren't all that different. In other words, what am I getting for the nearly $150 I'd be spending on Xenforo? Is it worth it for a small community?
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2013
  2. oman

    oman Well-Known Member

    For sure it is. You are guaranteed to get a more quality, more stable product. You'll get a years worth of ticket support an upgrades as well.
    Bionic Rooster likes this.
  3. xIsabel38

    xIsabel38 Well-Known Member

    As a former SMF user, I can tell you there is good and bad to both systems.

    Please keep in mind that the following is based on my own experience and my own opinion. Some of you may or may not agree hence why this is all an opinion.

    PROS of SMF over XenForo:
    On SMF you can easily use the Reputation (Karma) System as it is prebuilt into the software. You can also name this anything you want and restrict who can and cannot give out Reputation Points thus you can create your own unique point system from this. I turned my Reputation System into a "Participation Points" for events and tournaments I used to run. It made it easy to track users that participated in my events. On XenForo, you will need an Add-on to do this.

    With SMF you can also easily use Rank Images based on Post Count (Such as the traditional user rank star.png images) and you could easily change these stars into anything you want. XenForo does not do this.

    Permission settings were a lot easier to manage on SMF. Xenforo tries to make it easier by changing one permission to affect all users but in the end, I find this more tedious and it is very easy to miss a simple permission which restricts you from doing something (yes even super admins can be restricted from doing something on XenForo whereas on SMF, super admins have total rights and cannot be locked out of anything.

    SMF uses traditional naming conventions such as a forum is a forum. This makes it more user non tech savvy user friendly. XenForo uses the name "Node" as a forum which can be a bit confusing for first timers. It took me a while to figure it out.

    PROS of XenForo over SMF:
    Modern and more "this" generation type feel. Xenforo will relate more to this generation with it's advanced Like and AJAX features whereas SMF feels more outdated.

    XenForo Addons rarely ever interfere with each other. In SMF, you can download a thousand Add-ons and get a thousand errors because the developers don't bother to build their Add-ons to work with other Add-ons. Here on XenForo, developers build to compensate others and when an error is found, it's usually fixed relatively quickly.

    XenForo has built in Search Engine Friendly features which is just always better. Period.

    You can manipulate almost anything on XenForo from the ACP with some knowledge of coding. If you don't have Knowledge you can ask here and most people are generally willing to help you figure it out.

    The Community is overall more friendly and more helpful here than they are on SMF, however, you can generally find someone willing and able to do custom work requests on the SMF board a lot quicker and easier than you can here.

    With that said, I would not nor could not ever revert back to SMF. It just feels way too old now when compared to XenForo. I would highly recommend XenForo over all the rest.

    PS- Most of the SMF Add-ons are built and only work correctly on the Default theme. So when you have a custom theme as most people do, you have to do some extra work to get those Add-ons to work on your theme. Here on Xenforo, it does happen, but not quite as often and usually when it does, the Developer will try to help you fix the issue.
  4. dknife

    dknife Active Member

    Thanks for those comparison notes there, as someone possibly moving from SMF to XF I appreciate this.

    XenForo is also HTML5 and Responsive.
  5. rudymaddy

    rudymaddy Member

    Even i was wondering about Permission issues, in yaf it was easy. Not sure how it is in xen, The reason i am goin to purchase is digitalpoint moved to xenforo. and xenforo loads damn faster, from what i have seen in all the xenforo websites
  6. xIsabel38

    xIsabel38 Well-Known Member

    XenForo uses Cleaner code from what I understand. Don't ask me what that means because I honestly don't know.

    I do however know that it has to do with the way it was designed to use less resources so that it indeed, will load faster and be generally more responsive to user interaction.

    To understand XenForo permissions you have to without a doubt read and study @Brogan's Permission Guide. This is what finally helped me understand things.
  7. AndreaMarucci

    AndreaMarucci Well-Known Member

    Switched from Phpbb to Vbulletin to XF. Xf is the best and modern one I've ever seen, the code is lighter e there is a lot of support here.
    Adam Howard likes this.
  8. Adam Howard

    Adam Howard Well-Known Member

    Socially Uncensored has made the trip....

    1. phpBB
    2. phpBB WordPress Bridge
    3. vBulletin
    4. vBulletin with Blogs
    5. vBulletin Suite
    6. IP.Board
    7. IP.Board Suite (everything except IP Content)
    8. SMF
    9. XenForo

    That is what we have publicly used. Privately for testing though, I have imported our community into everything above, plus

    1. myBB
    2. FluxBB
    3. Burning Board 3
    4. Vanilla Forums
    5. bbpress
    So in total we have tried 14 developments (currently) off memory. 7 of them being free meaning the ratio of 50% of everything I have tried. Today we use XenForo. Ironically, we left XenForo for a short while thinking maybe the grass would be greener on the other side... It wasn't (god it sure wasn't). And so we ended up switching back right here.

    You'll be happy with XenForo.
    bortrenamo likes this.
  9. Deathstarr

    Deathstarr Active Member

    I pick Xen over the previous forum systems I have used.


    Its just getting better and better.
    Adam Howard likes this.
  10. Fish

    Fish New Member

    Thanks for the replies everyone. :) Good info here. I'm pretty sure we'll be going with XF when the time comes. :)
    rudymaddy and Adam Howard like this.
  11. TSPowerr

    TSPowerr Member

    I am currently in the phase of switching from free phpbb to xenforo. Phpbb has been serving me good for the past few years but when i saw xenforo few weeks ago i was sold.

    The main problems of phpbb are:
    1. No new features only bug fixing in recent releases,
    2. If you use different skin, you will probably have problems with mods. And you will probably want to use alternative skin. I modded default one,
    3. Mods needs to be installed manually and you can easily miss edits. It also takes a lot of time, especially at the beginning when you want to add all those interesting plugins,
    4. Many many mods are abandoned now and can also pose a security risk,
    5. Its a pain to upgrade to newest version if you use heavily modded forum. I managed to do it, but with a lot of manual files editing,
    6. Phpbb looks outdated and not inline with current web developement.
    BassMan likes this.
  12. oman

    oman Well-Known Member

    I can agree with all your problems, as phpbb was the forum software I used before XenForo. Point number 3 I especially agree with you on. That was the one thing that really annoyed me, and most of the time the installations didn't work for me when it came to add ons.
  13. shorepower

    shorepower Active Member

    Having done the switch from SMF to Xenforo (for a fairly small forum with money constraints) I can only agree. SMF unfortunately have gone into a silent phase from a development perspective. I do not regret doing the change and we have seen increased traffic and also that people spend more time on the forum.

    In addition to the above there are in MY view some additional pro's / con's

    • Usability. Features such as the like function, editor and ability to add images via drag and drop
    • SEO. Without any change we have seen increased search traffic. Seems like Xenforo is better adopted to search engines
    • As mentioned, add ons are more stable
    • Ability to tweak the user interface
    • Support for devices. SMF developer almost declared people asking for adaptive user interfaces as idiots. "Who needs a smart phone". In Xenforo it's built in
    • Extensive built in SPAM fighting features. Much more extensive.
    • Post sale support. Impressive. Had some challenges with the migration that was handled in a very professional manner. Thanks to particularly @Jake Bunce
    • User tagging. Drives a lot of interaction
    • etc etc
    • RSS support. Xenforo's handling of RSS is strange. Xenforo always publish the first post of a thread when new posts are added to a thread.. In multi-page threads this means that the same post gets published over and over. This was the only major draw-back moving from SMF. If you use RSS extensively to publish to other sites (like Twitter, FB etc) or have people following you via RSS, be aware
    • National language support is limited. Check the language you want to use
    Overall, feel that the money spent on Xenforo was well worth. Strongly recommend Xenforo as a platform
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2013
  14. japersonal

    japersonal Member

    But is this a bug... or a feature?

    Do you mean XenForo is not fully translatable?
  15. Brogan

    Brogan XenForo Moderator Staff Member

    XenForo is fully phrased and can be translated to any language.
    japersonal and Adam Howard like this.
  16. Francesco V.

    Francesco V. Active Member

    I was in the same situation some days ago (needed a forum for a little gaming clan). If your gaming community can afford the expense, then go to Xenforo among other commercial competitor.
    If you are looking for a free product because you don't need "cannons in order to fire at flea" then i will suggest you MyBB with CKCeditor add-on. Easy to mantain, easy backend compared to the painful Phpbb for example.
  17. shorepower

    shorepower Active Member

    What I mean is that the translated languages are less extensive than for instance at SMF.. Going to Xenforo in Swedish meant that I did 30% of the translation vs SMF a community already done the translation.

    Translation is easy and can be done either directly in an XML file or directly in the SW but if I would point out one thing that are missing is a place to put semi-translated files to have other people to work together with you.
  18. Brogan

    Brogan XenForo Moderator Staff Member

    Did you release the translation here as a resource?
  19. shorepower

    shorepower Active Member

    No problem doing it, it's semi-translated and I would like other people to "help" out. I focused to translate the front end vs the back end. Have posted questions if it's ok to post a semi-translated but not received any answer
  20. Brogan

    Brogan XenForo Moderator Staff Member

    You can upload any resource you wish, we don't screen or vet them.

    A partial translation is better than none at all and uploading it may result in others contributing.

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