vBulletin is one of the most famous solutions for providing a forum software to communities. It is commercial Internet forum software produced by Jelsoft Enterprises and vBulletin Solutions, both subsidiaries of Internet Brands Company. It is written in PHP and uses a MySQL database server. The first vBulletin 1.1.0a was released on 25 April, 2000.
vBulletin, which is, historically, a forum software provider, now provides two packages, one containing the forum only, the other the complete software suite. vBulletin also introduced the mobile suite for operating it on mobile phones. The latest version of vBulletin is vBulletin 4.1.5 Patch Level 1 which was released on 22nd August 2011. New for vBulletin 4 is the vBulletin publishing suite, which includes CMS and blog functions. Other updates to the software included a cross-content search system, improved search engine optimization and a centralized attachment system which allows the sharing of attachments across products.
All about vBulletin forum software
What is a forum?
An Internet forum is an online discussion site where people can hold conversations in the form of posted messages. They differ from chat rooms because there messages are only temporarily archived. Forums have a specific set of terminology associated with them for e.g. a single conversation there is called a “thread” and depending on the access rights the forum set-up, a posted message might need to be approved by a moderator before it becomes visible.
Thus, a forum can be defined as a common place for discussion of any topic online. Many websites are running their forum to know the general opinion of their members and to run their forum they need a forum software to operate on.
vBulletin is the most powerful forum software in the world. It includes all of the features of the new vBulletin 4.x Forum.
The general features of the software include:
• MySQL back-end database
• Scalable Solution: This allows database server and web servers to reside on separate machines.
• Multi-Platform: vBulletin can be run on any machine that can support PHP and MySQL (Solaris, BSD, Linux, Windows, Mac)
• Written in PHP which makes for a fast and efficient product
Apart from discussion/ forum VBulletin software consists several built in applications like photo albums for image sharing, calendar, polls, groups and events management, providing you the complete package. It also provides separate control panels for admin, user and moderator, thus playing multiple roles with unified permission system and power Template Engine for Advanced Customization.
SEO Friendly URLs, Custom META keywords/description tags , Automatic Google XML sitemap module and Removal of duplicate content links are some SEO assisted features and it also provides security measures with features like Granular Privileges, Problem Notification, SSL Compatibility and parental controls.
NEW Features of vBulletin forum:
• The software endows you with the unlimited hierarchy of forums including private forums. You can now also attach a Video also in your post (YouTube, Vimeo, Hulu, Dailymotion, Google, Metacafe) besides Smilies, Avatars, HTML content and polling options. Now, Member Profile Pages can also be viewed by other members from the member list apart from Member Search, Friends List, Private Messaging, Member Birthdays options.
• Full featured threading: Every thread haves sort by, sort order, from date type listing with Thread and forum subscription (notification by email optional), Thread preview on mouse-over (optional, via Admin CP) Active Users viewing thread shown, New Post Indicator and Admin tools: edit, delete, move, lock, make sticky, etc.
• Redesigned User Friendly Interface:
The new clean and modern user interface hides all the clutter making a better experience for your community. New contextually activated menus and design provides the efficiency, making it quick and easy for your users to intuitively browse and post on forums.
• You can also import posts and members from other bulletin board systems, including Infopop’s Ultimate Bulletin Board, UBBThreads, OpenTopic, ezboard, and Ikonboard and can take payment Subscriptions from PayPal, WorldPay, NOCHEX and Authorize.net. It also integrates Google AdSense and Skimlinks affiliate rewriting.
vBulletin Publishing Suite: After the huge success of vBulletin Forum, Company also launched a full powered pack vBulletin publishing suite. The software is a publishing platform which includes a community forum. With vBulletin Publishing Suite, you can now run a website/blog and integrated forum. It has a comprehensive CMS and is embedded with plethora of features and customizing abilities.
The vBulletin Publishing suite is empowered with many such features which mark its excellence. The features include:
• Social Bookmarking Manager: vBulletin’s in-built social bookmarking manager provides support for major social bookmarking sites. Digg, delicious, stumble upon are activated by default and you can add further options.
• Efficient Blog and Content Management: It provides separate panels for blog management and content management. While the blog manager manages blog entries and statistics, the content manager helps in playing around with layouts, adding the widgets and setting the permissions.
• Videos integration and Advertisements Management: You can easily integrate the YouTube videos to your CMS powered by vBulletin and place advertisements on your blogs, forums or along the discussion threads as well.
• CMS Admin Tools: vBulletin also provides a Content Manager, Category manager, Section Manager, Layout Manager, Grid Manager, Widget Manager and Unified Permission System to manage all your contents.
• Spam Detection: vBulletin also makes provisions for penalizing undesirable activities in the discussion forum. vBulletin automatically ban the user on the basis of pre-defined set of activities which include inept language and also the reputation of the members disrupting the threads.
Pricing policy: You can either upgrade your current version of vBulletin or can buy a new license. The prices are as follows:
VBulletin Forum Software - Upgrades $175/ New licenses $195
vBulletin Publishing Suite - Upgrades $250/ New licenses $285
(*Free Upgrades until current license expires)
Wrapping up: vBulletin is a all-encompassing software tool designed exclusively for people who value the forums and discussion platforms. If you are buying a premium publishing suite you must be expecting big from it on that note vBulletin doesn’t let you down. If you are starting a professional community, vBulletin will definitely be a better choice.