Recently we wanted to create a forum site. As we are running this website for many years on WordPress, continuing with WordPress was one of the simplest options for us. On other hand almost 50% of the forum sites on the web are powered by phpBB. Unfortunately none of the WordPress plugins offer the complete features for a community based forum sites. So it was confusion for a while to whether go for WordPress based bbPress or phpBB forum.
If you are in the same situation, here is the comparison of bbPress and phpBB to quickly get an idea of these forum software.
bbPress – The WordPress Way
bbPress is free and open source forum software created by the community of the people behind the WordPress. One of the notable contributors of bbPress is Matt Mullenweg, the developer of WordPress and CEO of the Automattic Inc.
Before going for bbPress you should understand the purpose of bbPress is not creating complicated forum site. The idea behind bbPress is to simplify the complexity and have an integrated forum with your main WordPress site.
Initially bbPress was offered as standalone forum software but now it is being offered as a free plugin that can be installed on WordPress.org powered site. So you need to have a main site running with self-hosted WordPress in order to start with bbPress.
Like any other plugins, bbPress can be installed through the WordPress plugin repository directly from the admin panel. This will create three custom post types – forums, topics and replies. The settings can be configured and controlled combined with the site’s settings. For example, membership function will be a common feature for your site and forum. The forum’s features can be extended with additional set of plugins available as extensions.
This eliminates the need of having a huge maintenance for forums and have an integrated forum on your WordPress site. The WordPress.org support forum is the most popular example of bbPress forum.
phpBB – The Community Based Forum
If you are looking for an end to end community based bulletin board then bbPress is definitely out of scope for you. As mentioned above, almost 50% forums on the web are powered by one single software – that is phpBB.
PHP Bulletin Board or phpBB is also an open source and free software offered as a standalone package. You should have a hosting service and a domain to install the phpBB software. Once installed you can change the styles (theme in WordPress) and customize the forum with extensions.
You will have many options to rank and group users, set different preferences for different group of users, enable private messaging, etc.
Remember phpBB forums run with large server resources due to dynamic nature. You should check with your hosting company whether your hosting plan have the option to install phpBB forum. Most of the popular hosting companies like SiteGround, Bluehost and HostGator offer phpBB installation by default.
Comparison of bbPress Vs phpBB
|Type||Flat forum with the possibility to reply in threading reference to an existing message.||Flat forum without threading, still users can quote previous post content as reference.|
|License||GNU general public license||GNU general public license|
|Developed by||WordPress Foundation||phpBB Limited|
|Offered As||Offered as a WordPress plugin||Offered as an independent software|
|Hosting||Installed on WordPress.org site, hence separate hosting not required||Separate hosting and domain are required|
|Subdomain||No, plugin can be installed on a subdirectory like “yoursite.com/forums/”. You can have subdomain installation only if you have a site with “forums.mysite.com”. Even then the forum URL will be “forums.mysite.com/forums”.||Easily install on any subdomain or subdirectory.|
|Installation||Through WordPress admin panel like any other plugin.||Generally installed from the hosting company using one click installation or Softaculous. Manual installation is also possible.|
|Database||Part of main WordPress site’s MySQL database.||Separate MySQL database required.|
|Customization||Additional plugins available for customization.||Themes and extensions are available for customization.|
|Server Resource||Less server resources are required due to simple format.||High resources are required due to complex features.|
|Forum Management||Integrated with WordPress admin panel.||Managed using different options - User control panel, Administrator control panel and moderator control panel.|
|Suitable||Suitable for integrated forums on main site. For example, offering product support on the main e-commerce site.||Suitable for dedicated bulleting board sites with any concept.|
|SEO||Complete SEO friendly with user friendly URLs. SEO plugins like Yoast SEO can be used to have Sitemap for forum post types. This will help Google to crawl your pages instantly.||SEO friendly but URLs will not be user friendly by default. Each topic and reply will have a separate URL with dynamic parameter.|
|Notable Features||Simple and integrated within WordPress as a plugin. Popular plugins like Akismet and BuddyPress can be easily integrated.||Complete bulletin board with user management, post approval, forum search and administration features.|
|Themes||As plugin, bbPress will adapt the theme style of the main site. Dedicated forum themes are also available for commercial purposes.||Forum can be customized with different theme or style. Both free and custom styles are available.|
|Support||Through dedicated forum on bbPress site.||Through dedicated forum on phpBB site.|
|Active Usage||300k+ active installations as per plugin page.||No specific statistics, but half of the forum sites on the web are based on phpBB.|
|Demo||WordPress.org support forum is the best demo.||Dedicated demo available which can be seen here.|
|Migration||Not easy as the database is integrated with the WordPress site.||Easy to migrate to other platforms with custom adjustments.|
Hope you got the basic idea of the bbPress and phpBB forum differences. If you are looking for a support forum or small forum site integrated with your main site then go for bbPress. Otherwise, for a complete forum package phpBB is one of the best available options.