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Why I don’t Recommend vBulletin 4

Being a die hard fan of vBulletin for almost 5 years (See here) I am yet to upgrade any of my forums to vBulletin 4 and it is not that I have not tried but I just could not get it working the way I wanted it to be.

I did order vBulletin 4 in pre order offer on Oct 17, 2009 and have not used it till date on my MBA Forum

In my opinion, the new vBulletin team (Remember vBulletin is not owned by Jelsoft now but by Internet Brands) is just putting out a horrible product. Being a developer I can understand that when the original developers of the product are not working on it anymore, there are bound to be a difference in the product development approaches but the actual problem is new vB Team is not accepting that there even is a problem.

Horrible Front End Design Control

They have just too many issues when it comes to front end template system. Creating new templates with Style Generator does not even generate a theme using the color selected (Needless to say selecting the color in the Style generator can be an issue for even experts). You are left to modify lot of style vars to match the color code especially member pages and other login forms. Editing each of those is a hell of a task where you have to find thousands of variables at various places and update them. vB team does not consider this as a bug which should be fixed on priority basis.

I can write paragraphs after paragraphs for vBulletin 4 templates issues like rounded corner issues, navbar menus … but I don’t think they even deserve it and so let us move on.

See also:

Horrible Backend Code

PHP coding is way below par but let us see issues which any common CMS can have for day to day management and not being very technical about server and load. Normally vBulletin coding is such that you can identify each page with a variable THIS_SCRIPT but when it comes to CMS that variable is same for all CMS pages. So you cannot identify if your user is viewing category page or content page and so it becomes that much more difficult to get simple functionality like insert ads on only content pages.

Shift of focus

vBulletin for last year or so is focusing more on Integrating new products to generate revenue but not working heavily on bugs to make forum script better. I don’t see a single reason to be coming up with new product integration like skimlinks, VerticalResponse, CKEditor … when you have more than 2000 open bugs. Some of them are just too serious to be ignored unless you are only worried about only profits and not about your customers who are using it.

I remember they did stop allowing users to upgrade to latest version of vBulletin 3 but were forcing people to buy vBulletin 4. They finally realized that trying to force existing users to adopt 4.x wasn’t going to happen and now they have given the ability to update to latest vBulletin 3.

See also:

Most IB sites don’t use vB4

This tells me that even management is not happy with the product. If they themselves don’t put their money with their product, why would I?

Apart from DigitalPoint (Shawn has completely changed vBulletin core and has even helped vBulletin team fix some major issue) I am yet to see one large forum running in vBulletin 4.

So what’s Next?

Time to move on to Xenforo or IPB for upcoming forums and use vBulletin 3.8 for existing ones. What about you?

Update: It’s not only me who is not with vBulletin 4. See other articles on poor quality of vBulletin 4.

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  • Bradley Weston

    vBulletin actually horrifies me as a developer. A friend of mine is wanting me to work on his site and I am thinking of how I would code for the “CMS” even Joomla has better coding style.

  • Someone can go “vbulletin.com” ? Someone left the “IP discourage” to “on” for the customer group!

  • How do you guys feel about vB5?

    • Same as vB4 but with one difference. It looks promising but still a long way to go.

  • I have a vb 4 suite license just sitting in my member area, vb 3.8 to me is the best.

    If I want an addon, I just download them at .org and I get what I want

    I would rather vb just have awesome pro addons that can be purchased then wasting their time with 4.x.x

    • Exactly Nick. vB 4.1.10 is slightly better but then nothing great as of now but I think things are now moving with Internet Brands.

  • Absolutely Right! Shabbir , Actually on top of the Problems you mentioned above a major concern is of security! VB 4.x.x was welcomed with 2-3 Big 0days , Which resulted in Mass Defacement and Privacy Disclosure in Many of VB forums!

  • xenforo

    but xenforo system requirements are more complicated than IPB or VB. Only those who prefer dedicated hosting can go for xenforo. IPB or vb can be hosted on shared hosting also, so it increases its cost. I am saying this after i inquired for godaddy’s. Their shared hosting is not supporting all of its requirements.

    • What requirement of Xenforo is not supported in Godaddy. I have friend’s forum running on Xenforo in Bluehost for quite some time now.

      • xenforo

        i mailed them the system requirement, they said that some of them are not supported in shared hosting.

  • I was really stupid when I decided to run vBulletin 4 for my main forum
    Customer support ‘vBulletin.com) there is just non existent.

    Keep away !!

  • Maximilian

    Totally agree with you. “IB ruined VB” i have twitted in the past. Now i suggest to use IPB or Xenforo.

  • Updated the article to link to few other articles on poor vBulletin 4 quality

  • Hi Shabbir!
    I agree with you that vBulletin 4 is too bad for customizing and there are lots of bugs! What I feel while customizing vBulletin 4 for my clients, we need to modify too many CSS files for changing style of a single section. Also, it’s too hard to find the desired CSS files. Also I agree with you that the codes of vBulletin 4 are really like hotchpotch!! One more thing I noticed that vBulletin releases new versions too frequently due to their huge number of bugs, even their frequency is too high than free scripts like SMF or MyBB!! 😛 Who has so much time to upgrade their forums so frequently?? 😀 Everyone is looking for a stable script!!
    My personal suggestion is to use XenForo instead vBulletin 4 (I’ve never used IPB). Even we can use MyBB (A free bulletin board), which is far better than vBulletin 4, at least developers are able to understand the coding easily and can customize it according to their ideas easily!!

    • Yes I agree that they do release the new versions frequently but that is not because of the bugs but they are pushing too many new things without worrying about the bugs. Last release included CKEditor which is again comes with more bugs relating to CKEditor than solving previous bugs.

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