Vanilla was born out of the desire to create flexible, customizable, and downright entertaining community solutions. Vanilla has been used to power tens of thousands of community forums around the world and we couldn't be happier if you've decided to use Vanilla to grow yours.
Every community is unique. Vanilla is a finely-crafted platform on which designers and developers can build a custom-tailored environment that meets your community's particular needs.
5 reasons Vanilla is the sweetest forum
- We've reimagined traditional forums for mass-appeal.
- Our theming flexibility is second-to-none.
- Impossibly good integration options with single sign-ons and embedding.
- The best tools available for community management.
- Curated features with great plugin options, not the kitchen sink.
Vanilla is free, open source software distributed under the GNU GPL2. We accept and encourage contributions from our community and sometimes give hugs in return. You can join us on the Vanilla Community Forums to be part of that discussion.
The latest stable release is always listed here. Currently, it is the
New plugins and themes can be listed in the Official Addon Directory. We encourage addon developers to release their code under the GPL as well, but do not require it.
Vanilla Forums provides an official cloud hosting solution at vanillaforums.com with a 1-click install, automatic upgrades, amazing professional support, incredible scalability, integration assistance, theming and migration services, and exclusive features. For the very best Vanilla forum experience, you can skip the rest of this technical stuff and go there directly.
If you professionally run a large community or enterprise forum, our cloud solution will make the best technical and economic sense by far.
We strongly recommend:
- PHP 7.0 or higher.
- MySQL 5.6 or higher (or Percona/MariaDB equivalent).
If your server is not running PHP 7.0 or higher, you should address this soon. While PHP 5.6 will receive security patches thru 2018, Vanilla may end support for it prior to that.
Our minimum requirements are now:
- PHP 5.6 or newer.
- PHP extensions mbstring (
--enable-mbstring), cURL (
--with-curl), and PDO (on by default).
- To import into Vanilla you need MySQLi (
- To use our social plugins you need OpenSSL.
- MySQL 5.0 or newer (or Percona/MariaDB equivalent).
Vanilla ships with a
.htaccess file required for Apache support. Using nginx or IIS may require additional configuration.
On the client side, Vanilla should run & look good in just about any modern browser. Still using IE? How exotic. You'll want IE8 or greater. IE7 might work if you squint hard and click gently, but we make no promises.
We've been natively mobile since before it was cool. Vanilla ships with a mobile-optimized theme enabled by default for all smartphones & tablets. Heck, it even works on the PlayStation Vita.
Vanilla is built to be simple, and its installation is no exception.
- Upload Vanilla's pre-built version to your server.
- Confirm the cache, conf, and uploads folders are writable by PHP.
- Navigate to that folder in your web browser.
- Follow the instructions on screen.
Follow these steps to upgrade Vanilla when a new stable release is announced.
Please consider using maintenance mode before running database updates if your database is very large (millions of users or discussions).
- Backup your database,
conf/config.phpfile somewhere safe.
- Upload the new release's files so they overwrite the old ones.
- Delete all files in
- Go to
yourforum.com/utility/updateto run any database updates needed. (404? See next paragraph.)
- If it fails, try it a second times by refreshing the page.
If your forum still uses URLs including
Support for this URL structure is ending after 2.3 in favor of "pretty" URLs so it's time to make the switch. First, confirm your server is setup to handle rewrites. On Apache, using the
.htaccess file provided will accomplish this. Additional setup is required on nginx and other platforms. Test whether it is working by visiting
/discussions - if you see a discussions list (rather than a 404), it is likely setup correctly. Then, open
conf/config.php and find the line with
$Configuration['Garden']['RewriteUrls'] = false; and delete the entire line. Your site should immediately switch to "pretty" URL paths instead of using the 'p' parameter. If there is a problem, re-add the line to your config and do further troubleshooting.
To upgrade from 2.1 or earlier:
- Update any locales you have installed (their name format changed in 2.2). Verify they are working after upgrade.
- Apache users must update their
- Delete these files from your server if they exist:
To upgrade from Vanilla 1.0 requires a full migration (see next section). Themes and plugins are not compatible. Backup your Vanilla 1 data and files completely, then delete them from your server before attempting to install Vanilla 2.
Migrating to Vanilla
- Get Vanilla Porter and verify it supports your platform.
- Read the Advanced Uses notes on that page.
- Upload it to your current server.
- Navigate to the file in your web browser & run it.
- Take the file it produces and import it to Vanilla.
- Troubleshooting upgrades & installs
- Official documentation
- Vanilla community forums
- Official cloud hosting with professional support & migration services
- Troubleshoot issues you run into on the community forum so everyone can help & reference it later.
- Got an idea or suggestion? Use the forum to discuss it.
- File detailed issues on GitHub (version number, what you did, and actual vs expected outcomes).
- Sign the Contributors' Agreement to send us code.
- Use pull requests against the
- Keep our to-do list fresh by reviewing our open issues for resolved or duplicated items.
Building with Phing
Vanilla includes a buildfile for Phing, a build system for PHP, in the build directory. Running the
phing command from the build directory will create a deploy-ready copy of Vanilla. This process automatically fetches dependencies with Composer, filters out any unnecessary developer files (Git files/directories, .editorconfig, unit tests, etc.) and compresses the result into an archive.
Version Control Strategy
master branch is production-ready for our cloud product but is not yet vetted for open source release (alternate platforms & configurations).
Reviewed, stable changes land against
master via pull-request.
Our open source release branches are named by version number, e.g.
We begin release branches with a beta (b1) designation and progress them thru release candidate to stable.
All open source releases (included pre-releases) are tagged.
Reporting Security Issues
Please disclose security issues responsibly by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org with a full description. We'll work on releasing an updated version as quickly as possible. Please do not email non-security issues; use the issue tracker instead.
Copyright © 2009-2017 Vanilla Forums Inc.
Vanilla Forums is free software: you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation, either version 2 of the License, or (at your option) any later version. Vanilla Forums is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. See the GNU General Public License for more details. You should have received a copy of the GNU General Public License along with Vanilla Forums. If not, see http://www.gnu.org/licenses/. Contact Vanilla Forums Inc. at support [at] vanillaforums [dot] com