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I've been admining for years, but never hosted my own forum. I've been playing around with Jcink lately (and actually have a forum mostly set up already), and really enjoyed it... Right until I got to the bit about premium. I hate being that guy and chasing after my members over content, and between exchange rates, PayPal somehow doubling exchange rates, and being on a very small fixed income at the moment, I know for a fact that I can do better than that on price, and thus can't justify it. That all means I'm tentatively looking for another software to run elsewhere. After lurking around the forums and internet, myBB seems like a reasonable alternative, but I'd love and appreciate hearing from people who use it or any other forum software. I'm willing to use mods for things, but I'd love to have as much of this as out-of-the-box as I can so I don't break things.

 

As for features, I'd consider these things I can't live without:

  • Ease of Use and Updating. I need something that I can get up and running and maintain. I'm reasonably tech savvy, but the less fires I have to put out, the better.
  • Good Admin/Mod Panel. Something nice, clean, and organized. If there's a dark mode, I'm especially sold, but I can force something in Vivaldi so not a necessity.
  • A Solid Community. I like to break things and ask millions of questions, and only having support tickets/email sucks. Forum-style support, especially if its active, is best.
  • Granular Subforum Control. I have a system where characters can get maps to access new areas, and my understanding is that accounts can generally only be placed into one member group at a time on most forums, so having a second way of saying "this group can access this subforum, but this group can't" is much needed.
  • Points/Shop System. Automatically earning points for posting and being able to transfer them between accounts is necessary. Having a 'shop' setup where people can use those points to buy awards/change things automatically would be amazing as well, but we can do this manually if necessary.
  • HTML/doHTML/custom BBcode Functionality. Some way of being able to drop HTML into threads is kind of a necessity because I like pretty threads. If its hidden behind BBcodes, that's fine, but I'd prefer being able to just dump my HTML as-is.
  • Full Skinning Ability. I'm a coder, so being able to control every part of a layout down to the pixel is important. That being said, JavaScript/jQuery scares and confuses me, so being able to do it with HTML and CSS is essential. Also something that uses minimal tables. Its a personal vendetta.
  • Custom Profile Fields. Using profiles for character apps means less broken code, and therefor a happier owner!

 

These are things I'd like the option for, but aren't strictly necessary:

  • Subaccounts Switcher. Being able to easily switch between character accounts is something people expect, and I love.
  • Skin Switcher. Nothing fancy here. Just, I prefer dark themes, but loads of people prefer light ones. A quick way of being able to switch between them is ideal.
  • Better Awards System. I'd love to be able to just click a few things, and give people awards/badges instead of having to copy/paste a bunch of stuff.
  • PM Controls. A way to set up a PM system that sends notifications to all of someone's subaccounts when one gets a PM. 
  • Profile Field Puller Thing. Something that pulls info from specific profile fields and compiles it for things like face claims/stats.
  • Discord Webhooks. Not quite sure what this one would require from the software, but being able to dump specific posts into a Discord channel would be cool.
  • Automagic Pruning. Some way of automatically archiving inactive/complete threads and profiles after X amount of time.
  • Rich Text Editor. For just posting replies/shitposting in games, something like what we've got here would be awesome.
  • Members Moving Threads. Allow members to move their own threads between set subforums so they can archive their own stuff, but not other people's.

 

Tell me about the software you use; features, flaws, how running it is. I'm mostly looking at things from an owner's point of view, but if I'm also interested in end user/member experiences as well. I'm also interested in why you dislike a specific software if you care to share. Even if it doesn't have everything I'm looking for, tell me about it because I'm willing to change up some things in order to get a really awesome place to do it in.

Candide: An original dystopian RPG

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So, long time phpBB user here. I've tried a few different softwares like SMF, myBB, jcink, etc. and I've always gone back to phpBB because for me personally, it is the most flexible. I'm a fan of its theme and templating system, as well as group permissions, custom profile fields, and overall structure. For some of your questions as they relate to phpBB...

 

 

Features:

  • Ease of Use and Updating. Pretty easy to update, but it depends around how you construct your own custom theme. Ideally you create a child theme and only import the files you really want to edit, so when updating, there's less files you need to check. Updating is a monstly manual process, but is easy enough if you take it slow and read the directions.
  • Good Admin/Mod Panel. I like the admin panel. Easy to find things. It's a light theme, but there might be a way you could colorize it. The MCP will look like your theme.
  • A Solid Community. phpBB has a pretty active community, but I've also seen it be hit or miss as far as "niceness". 
  • Granular Subforum Control. phpBB has a pretty nice grouping system and users can be in multiple groups. You can set up permission masks where users can override permissions from one group to another or you can also do permissions on a per user and forum basis. There are also Mod, Admin, and User permission masks as well and you can customize and create your own masks.
  • Points/Shop System. Out-of-the-box, there isn't anything like this, but there is an extension in RC: https://www.phpbb.com/community/viewtopic.php?t=2500296. The same author also has an "Advanced Shop System". I haven't used this, so I am not certain if that fits the bill.
  • HTML/doHTML/custom BBcode Functionality. phpBB utilizes BBCode and it can be customized to contain your own custom BBCode. There is no option to allow HTML as they consider it a security risk. (I agree with them here, but that's another story.)
  • Full Skinning Ability. You can definitely create your own custom skins. With what you're asking, you would want to create a child theme that modifies CSS (and maybe some HTML files), but relies on inheriting the JS and other functionality from the default skin (prosilver). It is also worth mentioning that phpBB's default skin is responsive / mobile friendly.
  • Custom Profile Fields. So many options here and there are a few extensions that further expand on the functionality of profile fields. I've had a lot of fun with their profile fields lately.

Optional:

  • Subaccounts Switcher. They have a "Linked Accounts" extension that is up-to-date: https://www.phpbb.com/customise/db/extension/linked_accounts.
  • Skin Switcher. There's options to switch themes within the UCP, but for something built directly into a theme, you'd need to find a theme or extension that does that.
  • Better Awards System. There's a "Profile Flair" extension. https://www.phpbb.com/customise/db/extension/profile_flair I have it installed, but have not actually used it.
  • PM Controls. I'm not sure if phpBB has what you need here. But I would accomplish this by setting up maybe "Writer" and "Character" groups then you can choose what groups you want to PM? 
  • Profile Field Puller Thing. You can only display custom profile fields on topics, member listing, member pages. registration, and UCP edit profile areas. I've done a bit of custom work to pull the custom profile field data and display them on other areas though. So, it is possible, just requires work. @Muse Also uses phpBB and might have an idea on how to do this as they also have a character listing of sorts.
  • Discord Webhooks. There was a extension in the works for this, but it has been abandoned.
  • Automagic Pruning. For posts within forums, it looks like there is an auto-prune option you can turn on. There is also a "Prune users" option.
  • Rich Text Editor. There is a WYSIWYG extension, but I haven't used it. It could probably work here.
  • Members Moving Threads. I am not really seeing a way to do this.

With all that said and done, I would recommend maybe installing something like WAMP or XAMPP (depending on your operating system) and installing different forum softwares to test. That way you're not tied to something, become unhappy with it, but have already spent money. These server setups will allow you to install forum software and test out different variations.

 

 

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Khyeras: an original fantasy RPG.

 

"I keep wanting to write 'dwarves' as 'drawers'."

"Land of the Drawers... we call it... Ikea."

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@memoria  Oh wow! Thank you for all the information! I really appreciate it! You're the best!

I think I looked at phpBB the other night, and I don't remember why I didn't do much more than some cursory digging, but it definitely looks interesting based on what you've said/linked. The documentation (based on that skinning page you linked) and out-of-the-box features also seem pretty decent. I'll definitely see if WAMP/XAMPP have a Linux version to play around with it and see what I can break lol

 

Since you said you've been using it for a while, I'm curious to know if there's anything you don't like, or have a lot of trouble with. You don't have to get into it if you don't want to, of course. I'm just curious about both the good AND bad sides of things, especially for someone who's been using it for a while.

Candide: An original dystopian RPG

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Sure, there's a few things off the top of my head that I can think of that I don't like:

  • I don't like the idea that the custom profile field data isn't available on other pages. On the other hand, I used this as an experiment, figured out how to get the data by setting up my own extension, and learned a thing or two.
  • In the Admin CP, moving custom profile fields around can be tedious if you have a lot (I do). There's no real drag and drop feature for moving these around, but it's not a big deal.
  • I haven't really asked the phpBB community for help partly because I can figure most things out, but partly because it can be slightly intimidating at times. When asking how to customize certain things in themes (like moving profile fields around or an alternate way to display data), I've seen people reply telling posters to fill out an extension request when the task can easily be completed by adding a small snippet to the theme. Thankfully there's a good amount of tutorials and threads to search and if you do have a playground, that'll help.

Another thing I forgot to mention. phpBB themes have two different code structures:

  1. A structure that was built specifically for phpBB where the code looks like HTML comments. This is an older format and though it's still in their themes, I believe it's being phased out for...
  2. Twig. Twig is the newer syntax and it's based on php. You can use it in themes and it's more robust than the above. You wouldn't necessarily need to learn it, but it might be worth booking their page for reference. I've done a lot of neat things in my theme by using the functionality that Twig offers.

banner-01-88x31.jpg
Khyeras: an original fantasy RPG.

 

"I keep wanting to write 'dwarves' as 'drawers'."

"Land of the Drawers... we call it... Ikea."

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@memoria Hmm, okay. I can see how those would be issues too, yeah. I'm kind of used to the pain of reordering custom profile fields with Jcink (I use profiles for apps, and just dump the fields in first and reorder them later), so that probably wouldn't be too big a deal for me personally. That kind of sucks on the community, but as long as things are well documented, it doesn't seem TOO horrible.

 

Two more quick questions though, if I could...

What language are their extensions written in, if I want to DIY a few later?
WHAT THE HELL IS THAT TWIG THING?! I'm sure its easy once you get into it, but I saw some of their sample snippets, and just... o.O

Candide: An original dystopian RPG

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Extensions will be mainly written in php, though you can use template events with extensions to insert HTML snippets, JavaScript, or even CSS without editing your theme.

 

Twig is a templating engine / framework based on php. They use it because it is a more secure than dumping php right into your themes. So instead of writing something like:

<?php echo $variable ?>

You'd write in the template:

{{ variable }}

That's simplifying it, but it really is easy enough once you get the hang of it and practice with it.

banner-01-88x31.jpg
Khyeras: an original fantasy RPG.

 

"I keep wanting to write 'dwarves' as 'drawers'."

"Land of the Drawers... we call it... Ikea."

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@memoria Ohhh! Okay! I'm not super familiar with php, but I can kinda read and give a pretty good guess on what the snippets do. Been meaning to learn php for a while, but never got any further than making a contact form/doing basic includes. Guess its time to learn lol I'm guessing phpBB is more reliant on php than Java/jQuery then?

Candide: An original dystopian RPG

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  • Operations Mod

Well, why not? Lemme introduce you to something called Vesta. I may be a bit biased about it. I wrote it myself. See, I realised that I liked SMF because of x y and z features and then realised all these features were mods, not SMF. This became even more obvious with the release of SMF 2.1, and I'd said many times before that I hated how archaic SMF was. So I set out to fix it. I took all the functions that I'd gotten accustomed to having, threw in a few more wild ideas, and wrote an entire software based around roleplaying as up to date as I could.

 

I will preface this with, Vesta is not perfect. It does weird shit sometimes, and some things are a little janky (I coded it in four months, I got tired of it really fast lol). It may be very close for you, though. I am still working on improving it and it's soon receiving an update that will switch its templating system to Twig and make creating themes for it much easier.

 

Of course, I'm always here to help, but.
- I've never had anyone need anything but bug fixes. Updating is just replacing some core files.
- I like to think the ACP is nice. Everything's clearly labelled at least. I made it mobile-friendly. Main site is also mobile-friendly by default.
- Sorry, just me and a few others, but I only wrote it last year.
- This is coming later in Salerno.
- Vesta uses an HTML-based WYSIWYG editor called TinyMCE. The input is sanitised in Vesta's backend before being sent to the database.
- Yep. If you understand PHP anyway. Twig will make everyone's lives simpler but you have full control over it either way. As well, nothing depends on a specific arrangement of HTML to function.
- Vesta has an entire set up for custom bio forms. You have full control over the fields and how they're displayed.
- It doesn't have an account switcher, but that's because it handles characters differently. They're not separate accounts, they're more like masks that your account wears for some posts and not others. Characters are fully managed by the OOC account.
- Theme switcher is a thing. Also the themes have support for different variants. Variants use the same HTML, but different CSS.
- Award system isn't in yet, but planned after Salerno.
- Vesta fully integrates with Discord. You can post new posts, posts with a certain tag, notifications about news items posted on the site (Vesta has a custom news system), new registrations, new characters created, and theoretically, new staff approval things. I don't know how well that works, actually.
- Uhh I think players can lock their own stuff? I may not have made that change in 1.0.1 I don't know. In any case, I can actually walk you through making it so users can lock and move their own threads if you need.
- We also have autolists for any field in the bio system you want. No more manual face claim or job lists, just set up a page and select the field you want it to pull from, boom.
- Autosave drafting system for PMs and posts. This will later expand globally anywhere there's a textarea.
- Oh, custom pages. Set up anything you need at yoursite/whatever.
- Automatic character thread tracker.
- Timeline functionality, for setting up a chronological in-character timeline.
- Vesta supports both app-less and application sites. With approval enabled, the system will send the staff alerts when a character is marked ready for your staffy reviewing. Once a decision is reached, you can approve in the admin panel, or reject and send a PM detailing why from the admin panel, without ever leaving it. Users can't select a character in the drop-down until it's approved or marked ready.

- Has an alert system and a mentions function. Custom alerts with your own text can also be sent from the admin panel.

 

I'm not going to talk a lot about upcoming features, because, well they're not here yet, but I have several cool things on the way. Unfortunately Vesta is not free, because I'm one person and spending too much time on it takes away from real life, but it is donationware, meaning you can donate as much or as little, as often or as infrequently, as you want.

 

I am also not opposed to adding new features and functions if the users find they need it. We also have a coterie specifically for Vesta here on RPG-I, if you'd like to peruse its support system/community and check out screenshots and more feature stuff. I just woke up, I have no idea if I forgot anything. xD

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There comes a point when you have to realise that you'll never be good enough for some people.
The question is, is that your problem, or theirs?

Archive of Our Own | Fanfiction.Net

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@Arceus You're definitely selling me on Vesta lol I saw little mentions of it here and there while lurking, but it seemed like it was more of a 'this is still very basic/in alpha' from what I saw, but you've definitely got my attention with it now. I just joined the coterie, and I'll definitely be doing some more lurking around. Is there an online demo or anything to poke around at, or is it primarily just in the coterie?

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Candide: An original dystopian RPG

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Ah, no lol it was officially released in April 2019 and is in use by several sites. c:

You can visit and register on the "download site" link in the Vesta coterie description (IP Technology). That site functions as the central Vesta site and runs Athens 1.0.1, I've got it set up so you can make characters and play with it and stuff. I haven't got anything set up for testing the admin panel, but there should be some screenshots of it in the screenshots section of the coterie.

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There comes a point when you have to realise that you'll never be good enough for some people.
The question is, is that your problem, or theirs?

Archive of Our Own | Fanfiction.Net

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2 hours ago, ThriftStoreTeeth said:

I'm guessing phpBB is more reliant on php than Java/jQuery then?

 

I dunno if I'd say more reliant. It depends on what you want to do for your theme really. I mean, the core of phpBB is certainly built on php (hence the name :P), but if you want to just style your theme, you could do so with just CSS / HTML and no additional JavaScript or jQuery. It depends how much you want to customize, which I think could be said for any forum software maybe! Twig is just there as an option in case you want to use phpBB variables and conditionals in your theme's template.

banner-01-88x31.jpg
Khyeras: an original fantasy RPG.

 

"I keep wanting to write 'dwarves' as 'drawers'."

"Land of the Drawers... we call it... Ikea."

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@memoria Yes, sorry. That's precisely what I was trying to ask about lol I was wondering about it purely because the solution with most Jcink issues is "just hack it/beat it into submission with jQuery", and I'm honestly not keen on that approach when it can be done natively in CSS/HTML. Thank you ❤️

Candide: An original dystopian RPG

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Yeah, for sure. I think that's one of the benefits about self-hosting is that typically, you are able to edit all files if you really want to tinker with things.

banner-01-88x31.jpg
Khyeras: an original fantasy RPG.

 

"I keep wanting to write 'dwarves' as 'drawers'."

"Land of the Drawers... we call it... Ikea."

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@memoria I 100% agree. I got used to having to override ass-backards site design years ago, but even the small taste of control I got from Jcink was nice, and I'm ready for more lol And again, thank you for your input! I really appreciate it!

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