Over the years, I have worked with several different forum softwares: SMF, PunBB, PHPBB2, and as a user vBulletin. One of my customers wanted to upgrade his forums on his hosting plan after using PHPBB2 for a while. He needed to grow his forums a little more and add features to his groups, including attachments, sophisticated group management, increased ease of use, and so on. But the vBulletin license was too expensive.
I recommended SMF as a good alternative, and in fact, it is. But we had to migrate the forums. It was complex but possible. So, yesterday we worked for about 4 or 5 hours to get everything working. So here’s how the process went!
Backing up your installation
I first backed up everything, then I created a working install of the original website. Just in case everything went wrong, we could redirect everything to the backup or restore the backup easily enough. If you are upgrading, such a cautious route is highly recommended.
Finding the software
We decided to go with SMF, but I couldn’t get the webinstall software that they were offering to install, so I downloaded the files from the most recent version, and uploaded them to my host. It was a little slow, but reliable. Once uploaded, the install went quite smoothly, and was done quickly.
Importing Posts from PHPBB2
The next problem we faced was importing the 300-odd posts and settings from PHPBB2 to SMF. Naturally, there is an importer utility, but initially it wouldn’t work. I tried almost every variation, but it kept reporting that it couldn’t find the PHPBB files. I think that was because I hadn’t installed the backup properly. The other odd thing was the posts all have to be IN THE SAME database as the SMF install BEFORE you import. You can’t import from another DB to your SMF database. However, it did work as reported, eventually. I still don’t know why it didn’t work at first or what I got wrong.
TinyPortal and Themes
Adding TinyPortal, and TP themes was the final stage for the initial development. Once downloaded, the administration functions of SMF allowed the easy upload and install of these packages.
So, you’d like to take a look at SMF, with TinyPortal and Aero_TP theme installed, go to AgentsChat.com and have a gander! Adding a small but nicely presented community to your blog as StevePavlina has done. It will increase the number of people coming back to your blog as well as your forums.