Choosing a forum
Results and Recommendations:
The most fully featured options appear to be between Vanilla, GroupServer, Phorum, and FUDforum.
Between Vanilla and Phorum, I have to say Vanilla wins hands down due to ease of installation, ability to embed within the current site, and activity of both the user and developer communities.
FUDforum is a very powerful option and could be great, however I personally think it is overkill for what OH needs.
GroupServer looks amazing, however I was unable to get it to install even after several hours of trying. There is a hosted option, however I couldn't quire determine if it was free or if there would be a cost.
At this stage, I don't feel that the django based forums are quite there yet, with the possible exception of the Q&A style forums, which we have established don't fit the use case for OH.
My recommendation would be using Vanilla and working on the cookie based login integration with the main OH site. While FUD is a reasonable option, it doesn't "look" quite right with the design of OH. This may come down to features vs how natural and clean we would want the forums to appear.
Email list integration
Login integration with main OH site
Jack has experience with other sites and doing this.
Does appear to offer login integration through some exposed PHP APIs. Not sure how we would sync the user databases and call the PHP code from within python, but I do understand it may be generally possible (see http://www.brool.com/index.php/hacks-python-calling-php).
Does appear to have a mailing list integration. From the notes on the config page: You can either schedule imports or pipe messages into the forum with procmail or postfix. Having never administered a mailing list personally, I don't know quite what this would entail.
Appears to have a pretty active community.
- Very simple to install.
- Can use mysql, postgres, oracle, etc. fairly db agnostic.
- Has a classic look (ie lots of options and configuration).
- Doesn't look like it was intended to be embedded within another site.
Written in PHP. (could buildout still get it as a dependency for the site?)
They currently have a password/cookies based plugin that will allow single site sign in.
It appears they are working on OAuth based single sign on.
Decently sized community behind it.
You can have a hosted version that integrates with your site easily, but it’s a pay to play.
Has a mobile layout. http://vanillaforums.org/features/mobile It can send email, but I didn’t see anything specifically for mailing list.
Tutorial videos. http://www.screenr.com/user/vanilla
- Dead simple to install.
- Uses mysql.
- Has an embedded theme/mode/plugin that allows integration with current site with one line of code.
- It can send email, but I couldn't find an option to post to the forum from an email.
- Lots of cool plugins.
- Very active community.
Written in Python, specifically using the Zope framework. http://groupserver.org/groupserver/architecture/
If we had to write our own integration, would this make things easier?
Has a hosted option. http://onlinegroups.net/, but there would be no possibility of login integration.
At first glance, user manuals don’t really look all that clear or helpful. Definitely has mailing list features.
Looks quite fully featured.
- Requires postgresql
- Runs on zope, with it's own dependencies.
- Requires running postfix for email integration.
- Tried for about 2 hours to get it installed and couldn't get past a buildout error with egenix-mx-base.
Written in PHP. External authentication plugin, which only supports certain apps.
We would have to write our own code for making it work with Django.
Mailing list plugin. http://www.phorum.org/phorum5/read.php?62,129244,129244#msg-129244
- Dead simple to install.
- Requires mysql.
- Can send emails.
- Mailing list plugin appears to be send only.
- Lots of plugins.
- Active community.
Django Modules. Login integration would be automatic (I am assuming).
A nice comparison of options exists: https://code.djangoproject.com/wiki/ForumAppsComparison & http://djangopackages.com/grids/g/forums/
AskBot (UPDATE: it looks like http://www.osqa.net/ may be better. It was a fork of the original project.)
Based on the Q&A style of StackOverflow. Non-traditional look, but very popular right now.
Login integration details: http://askbot.org/doc/askbot-as-reusable-django-application.html
This seems to be quite an active project. Last commit was 2 days prior.
Several committers to the project and appears they have unit test written. Email list integration?
- Post from Asheesh that he didn't feel this style of Q&A was proper for the intent of the forum addition. No install required.
In the style of phpBB Personal opinion - this style forum looks dated and wouldn’t look great with OH’s more hip style. They refer to it as “classic style”.
Looks like there is only one author to this project (just a single committer, but maybe he has been accepting patches).
Last commit was 4 weeks prior.
Login integration: Requires: django-authopenid and django-registration, both of which are already in the buildout requriements for OH.
Not sure how easy integraton would be.
Login integration is automatic, as this was build as a reusable app.
Has email subscription to threads, like most, but nothing specific to email list integration.
- Installation of the module was pretty simple.
- Has third party requirements of markdown and django-common
- requires setting up templates before anything works, which I did not explore.
- Little to no documentation. No clue how to start with setting up templates or administrating the forum.