Forums are getting old in general… Things are becoming more and more social and in I think forum software lags, especially ours. It’s moving more towards a mobile experience as that’s our primary computing experience these days.
The skinning I did a few months back was an attempt to bring our old antiquated forum into this new world somewhat. We needed a responsive design that could adapt to large and small screens as well as be touch friendly. Google actually prioritizes search results based on a sites mobile friendliness now. This skinning accomplishes all that, though there are issues. The skin doesn’t play well with certain android iterations and can become load intensive in general.
Part of the problem is I feel we’re trying to polish a turd here. SMF, the forum software we use has been around forever and the development gorup for them is slow in keeping up. I’d like to move away from it, but the question is how big of a leap to make?
Two of the next generation forums are Discourse and Flarum. Discourse is the one that’s more production ready with Flarum being the cooler younger brother. They both are “mobile/touch” from the ground up, have social media embedded, ability to compose a post and read at the same time, real time updates to threads, etc. Discourse even allows drag and drop of images into posts.
A key component is they do away with traditional “forums” and instead have categories as tags. So, you can actually cross post in more than one category. For instance if you were creating a post about a newspaper article that talked about multiple sports, you could tag both and it would be seen in multiple spots. They are the future of forums, that is until forums just die out alltogether and are consumed by the Facebook monster.
So, we could go with PHPBB (the defacto standard right now) which would be easy to convert to something down the line. It would be easier to get it “responsive” and with few to 0 issues as compared to the current situation. We could take a leap and go with leading edge (Discourse) or bleeding edge (Flarum). I’d be happy to setup a demo of these with some of our data if anyone is interested in seeing it.