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What forum system to choose?

This article on forum systems will not answer the typical question of “ Which forum system is better? ”, Since that question has no answer by itself, because it depends a lot on the use that is going to be given or on the characteristics of the project you want to develop. That is why there is no “best” forum system, but there is a forum system that “best adapts to the needs of your project”.

Features to consider when choosing a forum system


You will have to be clear if you are willing to pay for the license or if you prefer to use a free script. Today there are several free alternatives that have nothing to envy to the payment forum systems in terms of functionality.

If you pay a license you usually have better support, although this point is not decisive either since there are many communities (even Spanish speaking) where they can help you solve your doubts or problems.

The main payment alternatives you have: Vbulletin, Invision Power Board, XenForo.
The main free alternatives are: Simple Machines Forum , phpBB , MyBB .

Community size

The size of the community is something to consider when choosing a forum system, as there are better optimized scripts for large communities. Within the paid scripts for forums the best for large communities is XenForo. In the free alternatives everyone does a good job but MyBB is the one that consumes the least resources, so it will better support larger communities.

Obviously we are talking about the forum script itself, since if plugins or add-ons are installed for these forums the performance can drop considerably.

Integration and programming of complements

In the long run it becomes necessary to touch some parts of our forum system code, either because we need to optimize something or because we want to customize something. These forum systems offer this possibility of modification, but as long as one allows to do it in a simple way others need time and it becomes a very complicated task.

Within the payment scripts Invision Power Board and XenForo, they are the most comfortable when it comes to customizing for cleanliness and clarity in the code. Within the free MyBB and Simple Machines Forum scripts are the best alternatives to customize, while phpBB is not recommended for this purpose.

Individual characteristics of each forum system


Payment license and currently in version 5. Vbulletin became very famous when it reached version 3, since it was a very complete forum system and one of the most used. Then came version 4 which was disappointing and is currently in development of version 5, which is even worse than version 4.

In conclusion, I can say that it is a good forum system in its version 3, but this is no longer supported, so this script would rule it out because there are better payment alternatives.

Invision Power Board

Today is the script for reference payment forums. It is very complete and is constantly evolving. It fits well with the needs of the majority of users, both in small and medium-sized communities and in large communities, optimizations will have to be made but many resources can be consumed.

A drawback that I would highlight from this script is that there are many add-ons and plugins but most are paid.


Payment and development license currently stalled for legal reasons. This script is developed by those who were in their days Vbulletin 3 developers, who decided to leave the company and create this script. The result is a very complete and fluid forum system.

Personally I love this script and if I do not use it it is because its development is currently paused by a demand from the Vbulletin company. In principle, this demand is resolved in the first months of this year and if everything continues, XenForo will undoubtedly be the best payment forum system.


He was the pioneer in free scripts for forums, but personally he has lagged behind his competitors. It is currently in its version 3 and has a fairly large community but personally I do not like it because it is quite complex to customize it since it does not have a hook system.

Simple Machines Forum

A good free script with an active community and countless free add-ons. It is currently in version 2. Today many communities have moved to this free script that nothing has to envy paid scripts, it is very complete.

It is the best choice for medium or advanced users. He was criticized in his day because the developers took a long time to go from version 2 beta to the final 2, so they have earned the reputation of “slow” in developing, but sometimes it is better to go slowly and safely.


It is a free script, the simplest within the forum scripts but with a very complete functionality. A good choice for all types of users and communities. It is my favorite within the free forum systems for its simplicity, easy integration and low resource consumption.

A good choice for both novice and advanced users.

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