When comparing Vanilla vs Flarum, the Slant community recommends Flarum for most people. In the question“What are the best web forum software packages?” Flarum is ranked 2nd while Vanilla is ranked 7th.
Ranked in these QuestionsQuestion Ranking
Pro Free and open source
Vanilla is a free PHP+MySQL application that's licensed under GPLv2 with source code available on GitHub.
Pro Importer from many other forums
Vanilla Porter can import posts (comments), threads (discussions), users, categories, roles and passwords (hashed) from most other forum software: bbPress, Drupal, MyBB, NoteBB, phpBB, PunBB, SimpleMachines 1&2, Toast, UserVoice, vBulletin, Xenforo, YAF.NET and others. Some importers support avatars, attachments, signatures, and PMs. A few support tags and user notes.
Imports aren't flawless, but they do most of the work.
Pro Easy setup
Vanilla is a MySQL + PHP app and can be set up very easily.
Pro Simple forum software
lightweight Internet forum package
Import from other forums
Pro Discussions can be organized in categories and tagged
Discussions can be tagged with an arbitrary number of tags, separately from categories. Categories are hierarchical and don't scale; tags do.
PHP may not be the most modern language, but Vanilla is fast.
Pro Hosted and self-hosted options
Pro Single Sign On
Ability to sign in with another system to your forum
Pro Deep integration with WordPress
Use SSO with your WordPress site, adds recent discussions widgets and best of all have comments also create discussions in your forum.
Pro Very fast loading time
Pro Based on (but not built with) Laravel
Flarum was originally based on Laravel and uses the Eloquent ORM. But it is not a traditional Laravel software.
Pro Lots of features
The developers do a great job adding new bells and whistles.
Con Poor search, unless using Sphinx
The default search that comes with Vanilla produces poor results because it uses MySQL. One needs to investigate integrating with Sphinx for much better results.
Con No post edit history
Old versions of a post are only visible to admins, which may lead to a credibility problem. The amount of time during which users can edit their posts is configurable from a few minutes to indefinitely.
Con Templating could be better
It is difficult to customise Vanilla in a way where it can be source controlled. This may be a benefit for communities who just want to get up and running, but is a drawback for developers.
Con Vanilla Cloud offering is expensive for bigger communities
The commercial options of other software providers are generally better value-for-money. Vanilla is a cheaper option if you commit to self-hosting.
Con No sitemap for discussion
Even sitemap plugin cannot add discussion in xml file.
Con Slow development
Development moves at a glacial pace.
Con Very complicated installation process on shared hosts
This is not a MySQL+PHP application. it is impossible or very hard to install on shared hosts compared to vanilla or phpbb.