|Original author(s)||Mark O'Sullivan|
|Developer(s)||Todd Burry, Tim Gunter, Matt Lincoln Russell, Klaus Burton|
|Initial release||1 July 2006|
2.3 / November 18, 2016
|Operating system||Cross Platform|
|Platform||PHP / MySQL|
|Available in||Official support for English, Multilingual|
Vanilla is a lightweight Internet forum package written in the PHP scripting language using the Garden framework. The software is released under the GNU GPL. Vanilla Forums is free software, standards-compliant, customizable discussion forums. Since 2009 there is also a cloud-hosted version (offered by Vanilla).
Vanilla's open source project was released on 1 July 2006, and has since undergone many changes; the most notable being the complete rewrite between Vanilla 1 and Vanilla 2, the latter of the two became the primary product and Vanilla 1 was passed into the hands of other developers. Vanilla is designed to bring forums back to their roots, providing core functionality with additional features such as emoticons available as plugins.
Vanilla 1 is unfunded, and supported by other developers, it is not supported by the original core team.
Vanilla 2 is currently funded in part by a custom, non-distributed hosted implementation of the software run as a commercial SaaS, by Vanilla Forums, Inc. offering various plans with support options.
Plans offer many features from the open source version with additional premium add-ons supported by the core team.
- Users can easily set up and maintain a full-featured discussion forum with unlimited categories
- A variety of community made themes and add-ons are available.
- Single-Sign On
- Social media login
- Embeddable forums
- Import from other forums
- Commenting system for a site
- Integates with other FOSS projects, like WordPress
Mark O'Sullivan created an early version of Vanilla to support his own online graphic design and programming community. Between 2002 and 2005, this alpha version of the forum went through many revisions, and the core theming and plugin engines were built, culminating in the release of Vanilla 1.
Vanilla increased in popularity and was invited to TechStars 2009 in Boulder. At the start of 2010 Vanilla received 500,000 CAD in series A funding. In July 2010, Vanilla 2 was released, which was a complete rewrite of Vanilla 1.
Vanilla 1 has a very lightweight core with a number of optional plugins, including chat, private messages, "Who's Online", and attachments.
The most recent version (1.3.0) was released on February 17, 2012.
Vanilla 1 is no longer maintained by the Vanilla team, and has been transferred to another development team.
New core features in Vanilla 2:
- GPL importer for other forum systems such as vBulletin and phpBB.
- Social Connect
- Vanilla Mobile - Configuration required
- Vanilla Connect (Single Sign In)
- File Upload - included as a plugin
- WYSIWYG Editor - included as a plugin
- Emoticons - included as a plugin
When downloading a Vanilla release, it is packaged in Garden as an application.
Garden can be developed on via 'Addons' of applications, plugins, themes, and locales.
Each application follows the MVC paradigm, and applications are typically placed in the applications folder, pluigns in plugins folder, and so on.
Applications can be extended by plugins and themes, these mainly use a combination of convention based file structure, configuration, and event hooks.
Pluggability is a core feature of the framework, as is object-oriented programming, so the application and core is mainly extended via plugin classes using a public method naming convention to denote event hooks, 'magic event' hooks, 'magic methods', and occasionally method overrides. Some general functions in the core can be overridden by predefining them.
In addition, locales can be used to translate into different languages, or variations of text, which are replaced by reference.
|Legend:||Old version||Older version, still supported||Current stable version||Latest preview version||Future release|
|Version ||Release date||Notable changes||Latest release|
|Old version, no longer supported: 2.0||21 July 2010||Bug fixes||22.214.171.124||14 September 2014|
|Current stable version: 2.1||29 April 2014||MeBox, Improved social features, bug fixes, improved embedding of forums, support for WordPress plugins, /me action||2.1.13||29 October 2015|
|Future release: 2.2||12 November 2015||Improved features, better security and PHP 5.3 min requirement||2.2||12 November 2015|
PlushForums is a commercial fork of the Vanilla 2.0 branch. It incorporates a new design, real-time discussions, an integrated blog, image gallery, member directory and paid subscriptions. PlushForums was awarded the 2014 Critics' Choice Award for Best Commercial Forum Solution by CMS Critic.
The hosted version of Vanilla runs on the newest version of Vanilla. It also provides features that are held back from the community edition (usually people who are self-hosting their forum). The features held back are Reactions & Badges, Polls, User Ranks, and enterprise integrations such as Salesforce, Zendesk and Github (among others). This leads to ongoing discussions in Vanilla's own community forums. There have been numerous discussions in the past about the business model and why certain features have been held back. The community version of the software has seen developers replicate much of these functionalities.
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