vBulletin: Not Just a Board Anymore

Stephen Yagielowicz
A somewhat controversial application due to changes in its licensing terms, vBulletin is nonetheless one of the most familiar online applications to adult webmasters, powering many of the industry's busiest message boards and community based websites.

It is this latter application — the building of community based and social media sites that reach beyond traditional user forums — that the new vBulletin 4.0 is targeting, with its evolution into a full-blown content management system (CMS).

Claiming to be "the most powerful community software," the vBulletin website states, "Content publishing, search, security, and more — vBulletin has it all. Whether it's available features, support, or ease-of-use, vBulletin offers the most for your money."

Tool Tips is always interested in robust applications that offer the most bang for the buck, so we decided to look at the latest features of this veteran software.

The first thing that experienced webmasters will notice are the updates to the familiar vBulletin forum software, which offers a new tool for the removal of duplicate content links, as well as SEO friendly URLs which are automatic and configurable; allowing for better indexing and increases in search engine traffic to the forum.

Where the rubber meets the road, the redesigned user interface features a clean and modern appearance that hides the clutter and provides a better visual experience for your community; while new contextually activated menus allow for easier navigation and greater content exploration.

An Asset Manager allows users to access photos and documents anywhere and anytime; while improved search functions allow for unified search results across all forum threads, posts, social groups, social group messages, visitor messages and more. Designers will also appreciate the greater levels of customization that are possible using the new Style System, new Syntax Capabilities and even Semantic HTML, which provide creative freedom.

Expanding upon the standard vBulletin "4.0 Forum Classic" package, the company's new Publishing Suite offers the 4.0 forum software along with a custom CMS built to enable community members to easily create content and cross-publish it between forums, blogs, and site articles. Community Blogs let users easily create their own blog within the community; while an integrated Widget Platform allows webmasters to create their own widgets or add 3rd party widgets such as Google Gadgets to their site.

Free ticket-based support is included for the life of the 4.x product, and upgrade as well as pre-order new license discounts are currently available.

If you are looking for an easy-to-use solution to starting a new (or upgrading an old) user community, then vBulletin Publishing Suite 4.0 may be just right for you.


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