When you think of forum platforms first that comes to mind are phpBB, SMF and vBulletin. But there are also not so famous platforms, which are more lightweight and packed with many features like their famous brothers.
This post is a detailed showcase of top 13 lightweight PHP board for running a forum. At the end of the article, there is a simple comparison table that allow you to compare all the platform showcased in the post.
Advanced Electron Forum
AEF has a very simple and easy to use Administration Panel. You can install new themes, customize themes the way you want. The User Control Panel has a simple yet beautiful interface where users can set their preferences for the board.
This Bulletin board or forum software has all the general features that a forum software should have. It also includes features such as :
- UTF-8 Supported
- Search Engine Optimization Tools
- IP Ban
- W3C Validated
- News System with articles
- Threaded Mode for topics
- JS DOCK for easy navigation(A first from AEF)
- WYSIWYG Editors
- Customizable Themes
- Multiple Languages supported
- Time Zone Adjustment
- Automatic Updates
- Export Files and Database
- Suggest Framework for usernames while writing PM’s
- Domdrag for reordering Categories, Forums, emoticons
bbPress is forum software with a twist from the creators of WordPress. bbPress is focused on web standards, ease of use, ease of integration, and speed. bbPress is plain and simple forum software, plain and simple. It’s easy to use, easy to administrate, fast and clean. But don’t let its simplicity deceive you; underneath the gleam, it’s got some powerful features and is highly customizable.
Drupal is a free CMS that allows individual or community of users to easily publish, manage and organize a website. As a CMS, Drupal is not firstly targetted on the management of a forum software, but it however contains, in its default package, a Forum module, that allows you to plug a board to your website, including all features of Drupal (friendly URLs, users management, content publishing,…)
FluxBB is a fast, light, user-friendly forum application for your website. FluxBB was designed as a lighter, faster alternative to some of the traditional feature heavy forum applications. It is easy to use and has a proven track record of stability and security making it an ideal choice of forum for your website. Often features which aren’t included in the core are implemented by the community and released as modifications.
miniBB is a free standalone open source software for building Your own Internet forum, written in PHP and using mySQL database as the backend. It’s developed with a pretty simple purpose of posting and getting messages, which includes answering questions, spreading opinions, providing support, and other kind of online public communication between website owners and their visitors, and between visitors themselves. It is a forum platform, which is supplied in the basic version, but could be extended with specific features and custom additions depending on everyone’s Choice. If You just want a quick, easy, stable and secure message board attached to Your existing website at the very high integration level, which may include full customization to the look of Your website, or even synchronizing with the existing membership system, You just found the better forum solution available worldwide!
IceBB is a powerful, fast, free, and open-source forum solution powered by the free PHP and MySQL. IceBB scales well, no matter how many users or posts, due to its clean and efficient code. It can also be fully customized to your needs with full skin and language support. A powerful admin control center, along with easy-to-use moderation tools, allow you to easily manage all aspects of your forum.
Some of IceBB’s features include:
- RSS feeds
- Favorite topics and forums
- E-mail topics
- Private messages in the style of a topic
- Powerful search
- Unlimited subforums
- Redirect forums
- Powerful admin control center
- Inline moderation
- PHP-based skinning system
- Full localization support (language system, full Unicode support)
From administration to posting a reply, MyBB is a forum package full of useful and to-the-point features for both you and your visitors, helping you to make running your bulletin board as easy as possible. The main features of MyBB are:
- Ease of Use
MyBB was designed to be easy to use, for both you and your visitors.
- Powerful Plugin System
Extensive plugin system for great expansion of your forum without modifying the code.
- Administration Updated
Developed and refined to put you in full control of your forum.
- Moderation Updated
Powerful tools for forum moderators and staff to work by your side.
- Built-in Template & Theme Editor
A built in syntax highlighting template editor and easy CSS editor for aesthetic customization.
- Private Messaging Updated
Send messages to one or several registered users at a time, privately.
- Threads, Posts, and Polls Updated
Infinite possibilities arise from every conversation on your forum.
- Calendars and Events
Multiple calendars each with their own recurring or ranged events by users.
- Reputation Updated
Give ratings and leave comments on other registered users and their posts.
- User Promotions
Automatically promote users based on their post count, reputation or registration date.
- Warning System
Warn and punish users when they act inappropriately.
- Mass Mail and Newsletter System
Send instant or scheduled messages to registered users matching specified criteria.
- Task Scheduling System
Automatically keeps your forum in tip-top shape with tasks running behind the scenes.
MyBB 1.6 runs faster and more efficient than previous versions.
- DBMS Support
MySQL, PostgreSQL and SQLite database support with replication/slave support built in.
Phorum’s developers pride themselves on creating message board software that is designed to meet different needs of different web sites while not sacrificing performance or features.The platform is a versatile product that can serve anyone’s needs. Phorum is created with a very flexible hook & module system. These hooks allow a webmaster to create modules for using external authentication, altering message data before its stored, adding custom information about users or messages. Phorum gives the web designers the power to rearrange the data in any shape, form or fashion they could want. The templates are in pure HTML with simple to understand text commands embedded in them. You can use the provided templates as a starting point or start from scratch.
PunBB is a fast and lightweight PHP-powered discussion board. It is released under the GNU General Public License. Its primary goals are to be faster, smaller and less graphically intensive as compared to other discussion boards. PunBB has fewer features than many other discussion boards, but is generally faster and outputs smaller, semantically correct XHTML-compliant pages.
UBB™ is one of the most fully-featured forum solutions available. The most important features of this platform are:
- Unlimited Forums
- Integrated Portal
- Integrated Photo Gallery (UBB.Gallery)
- Database Backend
- Fully Templated
- Multiple Language Support
- RSS Syndication of content
- Unlimited Subforums
UseBB 1 is an Open Source forum package developed in PHP 4 and using the popular MySQL database back-end to store data. Unlike other popular forum systems, UseBB does not strive to have as many features as possible, but to be one of the easiest and most usable forum packages, limiting the basic feature set to only the essential. UseBB is pure forum software.
UseBB is an ideal solution for small to medium-sized websites which require an easy to use forum package without the bloat, that produces standards compliant output, is secure and easily configurable.
Viscacha is a free bulletin board system with an integrated content management system. The intention of the software engineers is to combine the current standards with new and user friendly features. The system supports packages (plugins and components) for easily extending the core system. Viscacha uses an database abstraction layer to support as many databases as possible. With this software you can easily set up a complete (personal) homepage. The CMS extends the bulletin board system to have a homepage which is connected to the community.
WoltLab Burning Board
Burning Board is well known for its intuitive operation. Clearly understandable descriptions, precise symbols and uncomplicated features suit your users needs – independent from individual knowledge. The developers put all their knowledge and experience into the user interface, allowing you to completely focus on your community.
Experience its awesome administration control panel firsthand, banishing your memory of tricky and overloaded interfaces. It reflects the modern appearance of our software including groundbreaking innovations in board management – without reading endless documentations.
FUDforum (Fast Uncompromising Discussion Forum) is a free and open source web discussion forum released under the GPL (version 2) license that is written in PHP and can be used on virtually any operating system. FUDforum combines an extensive feature set while maintaining the ability to generate forum web pages extremely fast. The forum includes i18n and templating support allowing for a complete customization of its output as well as a very capable group based permission system. FUDforum can also act as a Mailing List Manager, USENET newsreader and even an XML Feed Aggregator. This will allow you to build an instant community and consolidate all your messages into a single system.
The table below contains the most important features of each board compared to all other platforms. It includes the platform version, the license, the eventual price, the minimum PHP version needs and other features. The last two columns contains a rate referred to the ease of installation and administration.
(Click on image to enlarge)