Why people go with XenForo instead of IPS?

Alfa1

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Ingenious I actually think that you are exposing a very large weakness of XF as well: XF does not have a good way to display new content unless you are running forum only. For example, this site has the following content types: forum posts, articles, article comments, article reviews, reviews, review items, questions, showcases, showcase comments, resources, profile posts.
My site actually has a lot more content types.

The only way to see all new content in chronological order in XenForo is in pretty much the same way as IPS does:
The problems with it are the same as with IPS. There is too much clutter and its not offered in an easy to read format. Its chaotic.

XF does have a widget page page on whats new. Each widget will display the last X results, even if its a year old or if there are more results from the last hour. IMHO the whats new page is as useless as the latest activity page.

What I did for my site is clean up the recent activity page by hiding specific content types which I think are not important enough. (through CSS) I improved the styling to make it easier to read through. And I used an addon to auto-refresh so it becomes a news-feed people can watch. Maybe its possible to do the same for IPS?

IMHO XenForo is really weak in displaying content from addons. New content in addons is often not noticed by the community and the addon activity is lost. It also requires addons to create empty forum threads to be noticed at all. These empty forum threads are awful for SEO and User Experience. There is no global commenting-posting system.

What I really like about IPS is that it allows you to see new content from all content types and filter / drill down what content types you want to see, followed content/users, read/unread. That's something I wish XF would have. It would make a world of difference.

As mentioned before: with XF you rely upon a mass of addons without even the most basic code auditing taking place nor any security about the future of those addons. I can tell you for sure that if Xon or Bob would retire from developing and supporting XF addons then I would immediately consider an exit strategy. Im currently using xf1 and one of the things I need to upgrade to XF2 is an addon to auto-refresh recent activity. Because the XF1 addon is not being upgraded nor supported. Like many XF addon developers, this developer too has left the scene.

With Xenforo you upload it by ftp, go back into the theme menu, find the option, then add the text that points to the logo.
This is true for XF1 but not for XF2. Are you familiar with the XF2 admin panel? XF2 has 1 click upgrades for core and official addons. Unfortunately no 1 click install for 3rd party addons, so its still a drag if you have many addons. But there is no ftp involved. You can upload the package trough admin panel and install it there. Same for addon updates.

XF2 is a much better system than XF1 IMHO, but it also still has a long way to go.
 
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TheChiro

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Jun 26, 2006
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I had a 'recommendation' recently to simplify it for those that are advanced users and those that are new. But it wasn't a dig at the admin cp so much as it was just a way to better simplify it for those that may not need to use all of the countless advanced features it has.

Eventually Xenforo will absolutely run into this problem. However they are pretty vanilla in comparison to most forums out there yet as they seem to rely more heavily on plug-ins and addons to fill those gaps. Which to me is pretty dangerous as it can open the forum to security vulnerabilities, lack of support which can cause member dissatisfaction if you want to upgrade your forum but can't without removing it if it's popular, and can cause numerous other problems and concerns. I have a grand total of 4 on mine.

I even pointed out that I can navigate the admincp pretty easily. But for those that are NEW to IPB or forum software in general, it can be overwhelming out of the gate. It was a simple recommendation other forum software should follow.

I am looking at it from a new user perspective, which I'm not. Which is more than I can say for Xenforo which is underwhelming and I would need to rely on numerous addons or plug-ins to get the same or similar functions. Why is their admincp less cluttered? Simple. They offer far less. Period.

VB3 and VB4s admincp were not always easy to navigate either. They offered quite a bit and were cluttered. Xenforo will absolutely eventually get that way at some point. And people were complaining at that point about it. Those same people are now working on Xenforo. So you better believe the same problems may eventually follow when they start becoming more complex.

It was a recommendation for new users. And I can't say new users would have an easier time with Xenforos smaller menus and feature options. There is definitely some counter-intuitive stuff going on in their admincp. Stuff I'm certain even some of their more rabid fans had no clue was there or that they could do.

But long story short it's simple math. As the forums get more complex and the admincp grows in options and abilities, its navigation and ease of use should be looked at from a noob perspective. Not just an engineering perspective. With IPB they already have the option to drag and drop the navigation options for ease of use and to better find what you use and don't use. And 4.5 has shown to bring further improvements to the admincp.

And thats what my comments on that forum were about. I can walk around their admincp pretty easily and quickly and generally have no problems. (Been using them since the early 2000s.) Even Xenforo fans have issues with Xenforos admincp. And it's not even loaded with half the abilities of IPBs admincp yet. It's always good to see things from other perspectives and not just yours. And my recommendations were generally not entirely my perspective, but from new user perspectives. Its a recommendation. Not a requirement.
Lots of fluff and no facts. Answer my questions on my previous post, otherwise everything you say is moot.

And when I talk about acp features and settings, I'm talking about the stuff in both sets of software. One of organized better and the other is IPS. IPS acp search feature is also a good example of how bad the acp is. Search something simple and there are 4 different sections you have to go to just to figure out which one will modify the setting that needs changing.

Looking forward to actual facts in your next reply. The fluff is getting repetitive and boring to read.
 

Matt M

Director Development at Invision Community
Joined
Apr 28, 2005
Messages
234
Ultimately does it really matter which you pick? Being overly obsessive about the platform doesn’t create a successful community.

How the ACP is laid out won’t increase member registrations.

How many third party apps won’t increase the emotional connection your members have.

I know we’re all tribal by nature and defend our teams but what you should really be asking is “what is right for me?”

If it’s xF then great! If it’s Invision Community; also great.

Focus on what really matters, and that is nurturing your members.
 

eva2000

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Jan 11, 2004
Messages
1,770
My experience with forums is as follows
  • vBulletin since 2000 as a customer and since 2001 as vB staff/support for 10+ yrs - mainly optimising forum/servers for speed, performance and scalability
  • Xenforo since 2014 as a customer
  • Invision 2011-2016 as a customer
For past 19+ yrs, I've worked with some of the largest vBulletin and Xenforo forums online in terms of post count and concurrent users 60,000+ and 500,000+ unique IP visitors/day. So I know how to optimise and scale such forum software. There's an inherent bias still as my Centmin Mod LEMP stack powers ~10% of largest Xenforo forums online right now including Alexa Top 10,000 and Top 100,000 based forums as well as large vBulletin and Invision forums. Even TAZ forums is now powered by Centmin Mod LEMP stack :D So I'm exposed to a higher portion of Xenforo forums in my daily life which is involved in forum related server optimisation consulting work for performance and scalability :)

I chose Xenforo for my Centmin Mod community forums https://community.centminmod.com/ due to familiarity with vB in how things where laided out and due to performance and scalability and familiarity that is there.

Unfortunately, Invision never took hold for me - backend wise was a big factor back then. Past 5+ yrs some of the forums I frequented switched from vB to Invision and those forum members abandoned ship and 3 of the forums closed up with lack of activity. One attempted to be salvaged months later with switch from Invision to Xenforo, but was too late, regular members had moved on - including me. Invision 4.5 looks interesting though I haven't looked at it much - Xenforo is what occupies my time forum wise.

XF does not have a good way to display new content unless you are running forum only
+1 on that.

However, as folks have touched on in this thread, it is personal preference really - especially if you have tried out alternatives yourself in making your choice :)
 
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Pandemixx

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Apr 23, 2018
Messages
28
I currently run my product support forums on Invision Power, who as a company has been one of my biggest sources of inspiration for my own software business for many years.

As impressive as the full suite is, I know I only need forums, and have been contemplating moving to XenForo as there is something about the look that really pulls me in (vB nostalgia maybe?) and the developer tools look more alluring to me as well. Still contemplating my decision as I have not customized my own IP board much, but I have seen many more impressively custom designed XenForo websites than I seem to find on IP boards, which is definitely pushing me more towards XenForo for customization purposes.
 

Joeychgo

TAZ Administrator
Joined
Feb 28, 2004
Messages
6,912
Past 5+ yrs some of the forums I frequented switched from vB to Invision and those forum members abandoned ship and 3 of the forums closed up with lack of activity.
That's exactly what I was referring to earlier. People are far more familiar with how vBulletin works as far as look and feel since so many sites were and are on vb. Xenforo, although different in some ways, has a similar look and feel, making the transition easier for members to figure out and feel comfortable. When you don't consider that, you risk losing your members.
 

Matt M

Director Development at Invision Community
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Apr 28, 2005
Messages
234
"but I have seen many more impressively custom designed XenForo websites than I seem to find on IP board"

We've got plenty :D

 

Alfa1

Administrator
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May 28, 2007
Messages
3,934
There's some nice looking websites there. Is it my connection or are several of those sites on their forums and thread pages hanging for some microseconds before loading the rest of the page? It seems to load 'shocky' instead of smooth on first page load. Is that common for IPS?
 

Matt M

Director Development at Invision Community
Joined
Apr 28, 2005
Messages
234
There's some nice looking websites there. Is it my connection or are several of those sites on their forums and thread pages hanging for some microseconds before loading the rest of the page? It seems to load 'shocky' instead of smooth on first page load. Is that common for IPS?
No. Which sites? We don't host them all.
 

TLChris

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Jan 2, 2020
Messages
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I didn't experience any lag on the sites. I really dig the SquareSpace forum look.
 

zappaDPJ

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I think all but one loaded within a couple of seconds for me which isn't too shabby for a first load of some fairly graphic heavy sites.
 

Ingenious

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Messages
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I like the Squarespace one - minimal and quick, also the Primetimer one as it's done a good job with a huge number of sub-forums.

They seem to load fine for me Alfa1 though some are badly designed for speed like RustEZ.
 

sanction9

Enthusiast
Joined
Feb 19, 2015
Messages
219
The only way to see all new content in chronological order in XenForo is in pretty much the same way as IPS does:
Latest activity The problems with it are the same as with IPS. There is too much clutter and its not offered in an easy to read format. Its chaotic.

XF does have a widget page page on whats new. Each widget will display the last X results, even if its a year old or if there are more results from the last hour. IMHO the whats new page is as useless as the latest activity page.

What I did for my site is clean up the recent activity page by hiding specific content types which I think are not important enough. (through CSS) I improved the styling to make it easier to read through. And I used an addon to auto-refresh so it becomes a news-feed people can watch. Maybe its possible to do the same for IPS?

IMHO XenForo is really weak in displaying content from addons. New content in addons is often not noticed by the community and the addon activity is lost. It also requires addons to create empty forum threads to be noticed at all. These empty forum threads are awful for SEO and User Experience. There is no global commenting-posting system.

Well, latest activity kind of by definition includes all the latest activity, so I'm not sure what the issue is...? To be honest, I personally don't even use it that much, and I'm not sure how often my members do either. I think most people are more fixated on latest posts and latest threads, and they're also displayed chronologically by default. I've created a homepage where I display just the latest threads in chronological order, because that happens to be what I'm most interested in, and they're divided by category in columns, which you can accomplish via latest threads widgets in an html widget, and then latest posts are on a side widget of the page and forums and wherever else. You can also display 3rd-party widgets this way. So I don't think XF is necessarily "weak" in this regard, although I do wish for two things: pagination for latest threads and a core option to highlight/feature specific threads using various criteria.
 
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sbjsbj

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sanction9

I think you didn't understand what he is trying to say. XF is very weak in that regard. The "What's new" thing is very confusing and it divides content in to separate tabs. This is bad design imo.

Imagine it like this. As you say newest post/threads are displayed in a widget chronologically. Now add to the same stream (not different widgets or tabs) other type of content. Like:

--new post 1
--new post 2
--new media 1
--new post 3
--new resource 1
--new post 4
--new attachment 1
--new resource 2
--new attachment 2
--new post 5
... etc.

So chronologically ALL type of content in one single place. And specially not hidden under the "what's new" page or "new posts" page. It should be displayed by default on the forum list.
 

sanction9

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Joined
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Messages
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sanction9

I think you didn't understand what he is trying to say. XF is very weak in that regard. The "What's new" thing is very confusing and it divides content in to separate tabs. This is bad design imo.

Imagine it like this. As you say newest post/threads are displayed in a widget chronologically. Now add to the same stream (not different widgets or tabs) other type of content. Like:

--new post 1
--new post 2
--new media 1
--new post 3
--new resource 1
--new post 4
--new attachment 1
--new resource 2
--new attachment 2
--new post 5
... etc.

So chronologically ALL type of content in one single place. And specially not hidden under the "what's new" page or "new posts" page. It should be displayed by default on the forum list.
I would imagine that any display like that would, by it's nature, be as "confusing" as he says Latest Activity already is, since if there's no visual division (e. g. tabs) then you'd have to read it all line by line, would you not? And ordinarily, would anyone but an admin care about things such as latest attachments, etc.? (Okay, maybe an image/photography centered site would be the exception.) I don't use any of their official addon's, so I'm not sure how well they're integrated into the activity stream, so I might be missing something there.

In any case, no matter how I envision what you propose, I'm still not convinced it would be something that a lot of people would be in rapture over. I get it, I'm not representative of everybody, and what's important to be me is maybe not important to you, etc., but again, I just think most users will be more narrowly focused on most recent threads and posts and aren't going to fuss about having to click some tabs right next to each other. I can honestly say I've never had a single member complain about it.

EDIT: Okay, after thinking about it, I can think of at least one way I think Latest Activity, as it is now, could be better visually presented (without adding tabs): they could maybe add headers, by date, and then perhaps subheaders by content type under each date. So basic tree organization. Maybe that would be an improvement of at least the visual aspect of it...? Just thinking out loud here, so to say....
 
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zappaDPJ

Administrator
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Aug 26, 2010
Messages
7,125
I think what's important as far as new content is concerned is knowing the type and volume when you hit the first page. A notification to that effect on a tab suits me. After that I want as near as possible a one click solution to take me to a list, one list for each content type.

What I don't want is to have to drill down into multiple sections in order to find new content that may not even be there.
 

sbjsbj

Fan
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Feb 9, 2015
Messages
639
sanction9
The latest activity displays all kind of stuff like who liked what post, who posted a new profile post, etc.
Obviously it should be a setting for admins to decide what kind of content they want in their streams. You could disable all and just have newest posts.

But for example this site has articles and showcase and resources. When someone adds a new item to those, how does that get noticed?
So it would be nice if they would be included. There are tons of other addons which would benefit from it. Of course the stream must be minimalistic as possible, for exampe with fake prefixes (or sth. similar) to give you hint what kind of content is in the stream line.

Most people are narrowly focused on threads and posts is true. But the system pushes them to that because all the other stuff is just clutter and useless. Wastes too much time.

Imagine this:

1581367468449.png

and imagine the prefixes would give you a hint about the content type like "image, post, attachments, resource etc.".

As you see this addon also uses tabs, which again is just clutter.
 

Joel R

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Nov 24, 2013
Messages
780
The SquareSpace theme is the grid view, which ships by default (they probably do have some minor adjustments to strip it even more for the clean look). Invision Community has three views for the forum index: traditional table, grid, and fluid forum.

One thing I'd like to add - and where I think that Invision has genuinely evolved beyond their competitors - is that the Activity Stream on Invision Community can be totally customized to the content types you'd like to include. If you only have forums, then you can choose to show unread / followed / all new topics. Or posts. Or from certain boards. Or include status updates. Or create different variants. Or include blog entries, but exclude gallery albums. Or include gallery albums but only from certain categories. This becomes more powerful once you start building content hubs on the other apps. Its one integrated stream of the content. This isn't to speak badly of Xenforo, but they've "siloed" their content into separate streams. I haven't checked Woltlab (and they're probably a closer competitor to IPS than Xenforo), but I believe they silo'd as well. It's not bad, and it's the easiest to implement, but a more evolved approach is combining the content from different apps into one simple stream. (For the record, I'm waiting on any platform to give us machine learning-personalization of the user streams! 😝)

Navigating on mobile is especially challenging in these situations. When you evaluate a rich and multi-app site like TheAdminZone, and you want to read other sections, it can quickly get overwhelming. The latest content / view new content button is usually the most clicked button, and content discovery is key, so this is an area that you absolutely want to get right.

While I understand that most admins on here only offer forums (regardless of platform!), I personally believe that the future belongs to communities + content hubs: websites that offer best in class, authoritative, and comprehensive content AND a community. Google has already declared UGC as one small step above nofollow (link: https://www.searchenginejournal.com/google-nofollow-link-attributes/325255/), which is a hint at their worldview of UGC content in general. UGC won't always be ignored, but it's a strong hint that maybe it should. When you start building out authoritative content on apps like Pages while fostering a sense of community on Forums, you're going to need an integrated, unified platform with evolved design.

I totally understand that some people think the peer forums of IPS aren't friendly (do you actually go to support forums for friends though?) or that the ACP can be confusing (IPS owners think XF control panel is confusing too!). But you also need to think through the bigger questions of which software can handle your current and future needs, which software can grow with you, which software is going to give you the best potential and execution of your goals. You'll find talented and trusted peers in whatever community you choose. You'll learn the admin control panel of whatever platform you choose. The real challenge is using your chosen platform to the best of your ability.
 
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