As you may have noticed, I love Vanilla Forums. We started designing themes for Vanilla a couple months ago. Almost a year ago I have my first experience with Vanilla after searching for a simple, easy to setup, and clean looking forum platform. Most importantly, it had to be free. For years I had used phpBB, SMF, etc. For me I grew tired of the same ol’ forum vibe. For years the mainstream forum platforms have changed very little. I needed a breath of fresh air.
Enter Vanilla Forums. What first drew me in was the extremely simple structure. Vanilla forums is a very basic platform. It has all the basic features of a forum but nothing else. You get a user system, category system, and discussion system. Everything else is added in the form of addons. Do you want the ability to format posts? Do you need advanced profile fields? What about the ability to login with Facebook? All of these things can be added with user created addons. I was instantly in love. I had my basic platform to build a very simple community where users simply post. No clutter with useless features, no bulky settings pages to configure, and no complex theme system. But it was more powerful than that because I could add what I wanted, when I wanted.
What I appreciate with Vanilla is that they do not follow the industry norms. The default configuration in Vanilla has your index page as a list of recent discussions. You don’t even have to use forum categories with Vanilla. For example, your support forum could use no categories. Users simply post discussions. Whats more, the new topic button displays on every page. Users don’t have to visit a category to get into the action. It’s a big button just waiting for you to press it!
In summary we here at Forum Mechanics love Vanilla Forums for it’s simplicity. But it is more than just simple. It’s expandable to suit your individual community needs. It has a loyal following of contributors that create addons and themes, and provide support. And best of all, it’s free!