This month, I’ve made some major changes to the JP Software support forums, the overall server perfomance (forums, web site, and blog), and the server security. I’ll talk about the latter two in the next couple of posts; here I’ll focus on the support forums changes.
For those of you who missed the earlier threads on the support forum about why this was necessary (and who have a strong stomache for corporate greed and mind-boggling stupidity), Google “Internet Brands vBulletin upgrade”. We were also suffering increasingly frequent outages as the vBulletin and/or the database would crash every few days, the page view speed of the forums was dismal despite applying every possible optimization, and Google seemed completely uninterested in indexing the forum messages more than once every few months.
It’s been two weeks now since I switched the JP Software forums from vBulletin to XenForo, and I couldn’t be happier with the results thus far. XenForo is 10x easier to configure, and now that I’ve gotten everything tuned up, the forums are running 270% faster than the best they could manage under vBulletin. (And that’s with more mods running than in vBulletin.) The XenForo UI is much cleaner and easier to use than vBulletin, it abounds with nice little touches (like the Alerts tab), and I have yet to find a significant bug in the XenForo code. (A couple in the third-party addons, but they’ve been quickly resolved.)
We took a hit in the traffic and Google rankings after the switchover (due to the changed URLs), but we’ve already recovered some of that. And Google managed to reindex almost all of the forum messages in 10 days. (It took more than a year for Google to index the original vBulletin forums!)
I know there’s a half-dozen users who are still upset that they can’t respond to messages via email. But the fact is that the upgrade that was being forced on us by vBulletin would not only have resulted in not being able to respond to messages via email, but also in not being able to receive any email notifications of new messages. The current email notification system isn’t perfect, but it’s a heck of a lot better than the only alternative (i.e., nothing at all). I’ve sent a request to XenForo for some improvements to the email notification, so it’s possible a future release will incorporate some of the features you’ve requested.