What is it that makes Vanilla an attractive option?
There are a lot of things, but the ones that stand out for me are:
(a) No additional modules required to install – it doesn’t use any external modules that require any special configuration on the server – not even for internationalization.
(b) It’s small – while it may not fulfill the needs of some massive categoried/subcategoried/subsubcategoried boards, it fills the gap for smaller communities that just want one forum to post all discussions.
(c) Feature-rich – It comes with almost nothing, and can be made to do almost anything.
What changes should be made for version 2
(a) It needs to perform faster – this means that some of the features that slow it down need to come out. It needs to allow caching in some way. It needs to not rely on object oriented programming (unless it is PHP5 specific).
(b) It needs to be able to fulfill the purposes of both a small and large forum.
(c) It needs some newer web features to be available to addons & users right out of the box (eg. built in ajax functionality).
What sort of new ground can be broken in regard to forums at this point?
Forums aren’t as necessary as they once were. They are a dinosaur of the internet and are fast being replaced by messaging clients and the like. More and more you see live interaction on websites – so where do forums fit in? We all need forum discussions to show up in our google searches so we can get answers to our questions – so I don’t see it going away completely any time soon. And for me personally, I’ve always preferred the slow nature of a forum over the urgency of a beeping instant message that requires my attention now.
I think that forums need to go the way of social networking sites. We need to have a reason to click on someone’s name in a discussion and visit their profile. I’m not going to say anything more than that, because I’ve got some neat ideas and I don’t want anyone to steal them.
When will Vanilla 2 begin?
I have no idea. I’m not as driven as I used to be, but I am craving a new start with a completely new codebase. The Vanilla 1 codebase became so big so fast that it now feels like I’ve lost touch with it. I can’t remember half the things I programmed, and I don’t like a lot of them either. At the same time, I remember how long it took to program it, and I’m not prepared to dive back into something that large all by myself. If I had a coding partner, it would make a huge difference – but like it or not, having someone you can sit next to and work is completely different than having someone you chat with over im and program with. It’s just not the same, and I have no-one here where I live that understands what I do, let alone wants to help out.
If forums are dinosaurs, why start on a new one?
I’m not entirely convinced that I should, to tell you the truth. I have a few other ideas that I’m interested in pursuing – but they’re just pipe dreams that I’m not sure anyone else would find useful. The one thing that’s true about forums is that people need and use them still. And if I make Vanilla 2, I am sure I can provide a hosted solution like wordpress.com and make a living from it. My other ideas – while interesting and fun – don’t necessarily have a market value that I can clearly see. At this point in my life, that is a very important thing to consider.