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.
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.
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.