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vBulletin 4.0 Is Coming…Is It The FriendFeed Forums?
From the early days I’ve noted that the technology that Friendfeed created is great. Even though response times have slowled lately and now the service is going to become some sort of flower, the real-time nature and the ability to provide major page updates with no refresh are amazing. It’s the number two reason that Facebook acquired Friendfeed earlier this year.
One of the wishes I had was that Friendfeed would provide a forums version of their platform where publishers could run an in-house version. I thought this was the way Friendfeed could generate massive revenue. While that revenue stream is gone, I still have hope that the forum software providers were watching how Friendfeed worked and picked up on some of the elements for their own future versions.
For nearly a decade, I’ve purchased the vBulletin software for our HTMLCenter forums. The software has always worked well and (I think) it’s only $30 a year for updates after you buy a permanent license. Last week I received an email that vBulletin 4.0 is coming soon and that I can pre-order an upgrade now. The upgrade price is $130 for the full suite; no discount is provided on the forums-only version.
I headed over to the vBulletin site and I was pleasantly surprised. They have updated their logo and created a completely Web 2.0-ish website. Now this is going to get good, right? I mean certainly they have heard me and the others calling for something more “today” when it comes to a forums too.. right?
Looking through the screenshots, I am pretty disappointed. The screenshots look cleaner but nowhere near as smooth and quick as Friendfeed. Naturally vBulletin is super-robust when it comes to community management. I’d wonder though, how many of the vBulletin-powered forums really need that level of management — I know I don’t.
There are some new features including the ability to create a blog post or article from a forum comment. This is similar to the reblog feature from commenting service Disqus. I continue to give vBulletin high marks for customer service — every question I’ve had over the years has received a response very quickly.
What I don’t see on the features list is anything related to social sharing. Where are the buttons for Digg, Twitter, Yahoo Buzz, etc.? In the current version, social sharing is available via a plugin. I assume the same will be required for the 4.0 version.
I don’t want to take anything away from vBulletin and the 4.0 release. vBulletin is one of the best examples of local software and revenue models out there. While the service doesn’t get the love from the web 2.0 blogs, I’ve always been happy with it. Unlike some other software which we won’t name, I’ve never worried going to sleep when using vBulletin.
I will have a full in-depth review once I receive the software and work on the installation. I am really hoping that it looks and acts more “today” than previous versions of the forums software.