I recently took a project that really should have been simple. Install some forum software and import some old forum data. The forum software of choice was vBulletin. vBulletin came complete with an import script for the old forum data. The install of vBulletin was easy and quick, albeit not very good looking, but it worked. I then logged into the vBulletin admin control panel to get started with the import. The control panel is hideous and not very user friendly. I clicked import and got started.
This process was a bit confusing at first because it offers no instruction whatsoever. But, I just used my instincts and clicked on the first module button. This gave me the option of pointing vBulletin to the data files. I was importing from an old UBB Classic forum, which is all flat file based. I entered in absolute paths to key data points for the old bulletin software. Then it asked for a relative path from vBulletin to the data. Why, when you have an absolute path to everything you need would you need a relative path?? Oh well, I put the relative path in and away it went. I then continued through the rest of the modules. All in all, the import process went smoothly except for a few sql errors (I had to adjust some mysql config settings).
Once the import was done I assumed (wrong) that I could go to the site and see all of the newly imported data. This was not the case, all that was presented to me was a default forum. Great, I thought, the import failed. Well actually it didn’t, there was just more to do. I had to go into the admin control panel and run a bunch of update statistics scripts that updates the forum cache. Why would the import scripts not do this for you?
Now that the update statistics scripts had run, I could see the imported data. However, the forum site is sooo slow. I mean, a page will take 30 seconds or so to load. It is absolutely ridiculous. As of yet I have not found a single shred of useful information in the vBulletin forums for my problem. All I have found so far is it is something going on in the web server as the web server (I have tried IIS and Apache) hangs using about 50% of the processor while the page is loading. I know, I know why are you using php / mysql on windows? The client I am doing the job for has no knowledge of Linux and requested that the forum be set up on a windows box. I am going to have to contact vBulletin support to get this one solved.
All that being said, I do not understand why anyone would pay money for vBulletin? I have used phpBB in the past and it is extremely well put together. It is very nice looking with its default theme, and the admin is also very nice looking and MUCH easier to use than the vBulletin admin. Right out of the box on windows phpBB is lightening fast. You can see it in action on the fiesta pig forums. Also, the vBulletin documentation is pretty poor. It contains the bare minimum you need to get through installing / importing and is not very easy to navigate. Again I ask, why pay money for vBulletin when there are other better forum suites for FREE?