"Vanilla" forum software looks like a possible next forum software package...

BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 33,082 admin
Hi everyone,

From the research that David and Rick have been doing, they are tending towards the Vanilla Forum Software package. There is bare bones "core software" site running that people can review.

Note that there is still a long way to go (customization, importing of User IDs, posts, attachments, configuration of forum look and feel, moderation tools, and such). So don't get too wrapped up in the forum layout and look&feel. It will change.


You can register and post on the forum (I believe).

Remember that all content will disappear on the Vanilla forum--This is demonstration of the forum software only.

Here are some marketing points (edited for size of post and other non-member stuff of interest) (Note, formatting and many links have been removed). Quote from Marketing email.... -Bill
Vanilla Forums Overview

Our Most recent features section:


Along with our New Lithe Mobile Theme, New Advanced Editor, New Reporting Plugin and Advanced Search update etc. it's all covered below in more detail.


Vanilla.com offers a complete hosted community forum solution. The cloud (SaaS) product is hosted on a purpose-built infrastructure that delivers great uptime (for the last few months we hit 99.99% and previously we were averaging 99.98%) and fast loading pages, it comes with support, and has many premium features both for users and administration and is easily themed to look amazing.

Our goal is to provide you with a great product and excellent service so that you can create a unique and thriving community. Vanilla is a very flexible platform that can be fully customized and integrated to your website and existing systems.

High level Vanilla Summary

- Best in class usability and user experience
- Gamified to reward encourage positive and keep people coming back
- Extremely customizable look and feel to preserve brand identity - do it yourself easily or get us to do it
- Easily integrated to your website to make the experience seamless for users
- A services team to help you migrate or get up and running smoothly
- Moderation features that encourage peer-moderation and make mods jobs easy
- Mobile optimized - and now a super new Mobile Theme called Lithe
- Deep integration to social networks, including open graph markup, to encourage sharing and to viralize community content
- "Best of" page curates best content to help engage new visitors to the site
- Profile pages, badges, private messages, activity feeds, user wall, etc.

Built to Scale

From the outset, our goal has been to build a system that allows and encourages your community to grow. We’ve worked very hard to consider scalability in every aspect of our infrastructure, from the code all the way down to the systems that run it. We’ve chosen Rackspace Cloud Servers as our infrastructure platform, a decision that enables us to conjure and dismiss server instances as needed to maintain consistently high levels of performance and availability.

Blogpost on our Infrastructure and Security - Hosted Vanilla


The Vanilla User Experience

This is what makes Vanilla such a popular option

Here is a quick overview of the User Experience - Intuitive and easy to use: http://vanillaforums.com/features/user-experience

List of 25 Top User Features

-click on each one for more detail
1- Reactions & Badges: Users share how they feel about posts and get badges.
2- Last Read Comment: Continue reading from where you left off.
3- Mark All Viewed: Mark all conversations as viewed to start fresh.
4- Mark As Read: Automatically mark read any thread.
5- Quick Reply: Users can reply easily at the bottom of the discussion.
6- Immediate Comments: Your comments appear immediately, no redirects.
7- Mentions: Mention another member by putting @ before their username.
8- Automatic Embeds: Social Media content automatically embeds, just post url.
9- Best of Page: Most popular content of your forum update - regularly helps discovery.
10- Vanillicons: are avatars that are unique to your name or email address.
11-Profile Page Thumbnail: choose which part of a photo or avatar shows up as the profile picture in the community
12-Private Conversations: A fresh take on private message systems.
13-Notifications: Cool pop-up notifications make it easy to see what’s going on.
14-Auto Time Zone: When a user signs in, post times are adjusted to local time.
15-Auto Image Resize: We resize an image to fit, automatically.
16-RSS Feeds: Subscribe to your forum feeds via RSS.
17-Recent Discussions: The most recent discussions right from the sidebar.
18- Search Auto Complete: User queries are searched as they type.
19- Discussion Profile Photo: Adds a profile photo to discussion view.
20- Dismiss Messages: Users can dismiss messages and announcements.
21- Native Mobile: forums look great on a mobile device without a mobile app.
22- Drafts: auto-save feature that keeps a draft of your comment until you publish.
23- Polls: Create polls to measure community opinions on any topic.
24- Profile Pages: Every user gets a beautiful profile page
25- Spoiler Tag: Hide text from users until they click the link.

Creating Categories In Your Vanilla Forums

All you need to know about creating and managing Categories including Category CSS to theme Best Answer highlighted in Question and Answer Categories etc.


A summary of Vanilla's moderation capabilities can be found here:

This article summarizes Vanilla’s moderation functionality

Anti Spam plugins Akismet and Stop Forum Spam are available plus other measures:

Our Showcase is a great place to see custom theme work done by both Vanilla professionals and also clients who have done their own theming.

Vanilla Mobile
We understand the importance of being be able to take your community with you everywhere you go. With Vanilla Mobile your members can access your community on the go and start a discussion from anywhere on their iPhone, Android, WinPhone, or Blackberry.

New Mobile Theme

When a Vanilla forum is accessed on a mobile device, Vanilla will detect the browser agent and serve up an optimized, purpose-built mobile theme. With a user experience optimized for the mobile browser, there is no need to frustrate your users with an app download.

The new lightweight mobile theme provides excellent usability on a small screen. Slide out menus, action sheets and bigger touch targets are among the improvements in the new mobile theme.

Vanilla UI is now even better on small screen devices.

More here about Lithe our new Mobile Theme: http://blog.vanillaforums.com/features/introducing-new-mobile-theme-lithe/

We make migration from your legacy platform to Vanilla an easy and stress-free experience

Our process includes: a test migration; ample time for testing and orientation; communications best practices; and a final migration with minimal downtime

Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset


  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 33,082 admin
    You are welcome to "play" on the Vanilla sand box, and make comments/observations/questions here.

    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • JoshKJoshK Solar Expert Posts: 232 ✭✭
    So if I am typing a post, and another user makes a post, will that be pushed to me immediately so I can reword my post in real time? Like a messenger app?
  • JoshKJoshK Solar Expert Posts: 232 ✭✭
    Or, stated in a different way, if Bill is composing one of his long posts, will he be seeing the members post is real time? Or is he blind?
  • froggersixfroggersix Solar Expert Posts: 35
    not much there either no one is trying it or maybe it doesn't work either?
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 33,082 admin
    We are posting, editing, downloading pictures, sending private messages (with email notification), etc.

    Seems to work very well so far. No bugs so far.

    Remember that this is the bare forum engine. There is a lot of software configuration to do before it will look like a normal forum.

    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • ILFEILFE Solar Expert Posts: 364 ✭✭
    If I may ask, why did they move, the short and sweet, from vBulletin to Vanilla? The site looks horrible, in comparison to the way it did before. I'm talking purely about the skin. I have never used the software before. 
  • westbranchwestbranch Solar Expert Posts: 5,183 ✭✭✭✭
    you missed the "improved" version of the old forum.... :s
    KID #51B  4s 140W to 24V 900Ah C&D AGM
    CL#29032 FW 2126/ 2073/ 2133 175A E-Panel WBjr, 3 x 4s 140W to 24V 900Ah C&D AGM 
    Cotek ST1500W 24V Inverter,OmniCharge 3024,
    2 x Cisco WRT54GL i/c DD-WRT Rtr & Bridge,
    Eu3/2/1000i Gens, 1680W & E-Panel/WBjr to come, CL #647 asleep
    West Chilcotin, BC, Canada
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 33,082 admin
    This is mostly the Off the Shelf theme... Given that the new forum software appears to be pretty stable at this time, NAWS is looking at a new/custom theme now. When it will be done, I do not know at this time.

    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • Mountain DonMountain Don Solar Expert Posts: 494 ✭✭✭
    It's only a "skin".  The content and navigation is what counts, IMO. Content comes from"us" and the navigation is pretty good. The present design is very legible, IMO. Legibility is also very important. Especially as your eyes grow older... we fogies need a design with adequate contrast. This is good for me. 
    Northern NM, 624 watts PV, The Kid CC, GC-2 batteries @ 24 VDC, Outback VFX3524M
  • AguarancherAguarancher Solar Expert Posts: 315 ✭✭✭
    edited November 2015 #11
      I was curious as to where our flock of posters had migrated to, after a bit of searching found them on ‘the other board’ along with some of them being mods on that board, which I thought was cool as they all have their act together.
      Was enjoying reading all the new content there that used to be present here. They were using the older version of vbulletin and it was fine. Just went to the site this AM and was horrified to see they had done the dreaded ‘update’. Someone should have warned them of the results of it. I really hope they had the insight to have backed up all their server content prior to downgrading.. jmo

     ps.. to be fair, they may have been forced into the update as I see the system software had recently been hacked..
  • inetdoginetdog Solar Expert Posts: 3,123 ✭✭✭✭
    edited November 2015 #12
    The old vBulletin software was just getting too unstable and a change had to be made. The main problems have been getting used to new locations for old familiar features, but so far so good. We did actually work with a live on-line test server with a copy of the main database and there were no disasters to be found. Cross fingers, knock wood. :)
    I am not super fond of the new style, but that can be tuned.
    We were aware of the problems this Forum had with an earlier vBulletin update and tried to check out all that we could in advance.
    I must say that I do like Vanilla too as I get more used to it. Forget the Badges and Ranks though.....

    SMA SB 3000, old BP panels.
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