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 1st while Vanilla is ranked 8th.
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 Open source
Pro Modern UI
Pro Great community
The community building flarum is fantastic and very helpful!
Pro Easily expandable
Pro Lots of features
The developers do a great job adding new bells and whistles.
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 Mobile Friendly UI
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 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 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 No sitemap for discussion
Even sitemap plugin cannot add discussion in xml file.
Con Still in Beta
Wonderful software with great future, but on current build status still lack of some must have features like nice search engine, installation/update script or proper user management.
Con Extremely complicated to install
It's extremely hard to install Flarum, especially using anything that is hosted by Amazon. Good luck with a simple install for amazon.
Con Simple things (eg email authentication) still broken
Simple things that should be automatically included in any forum software - are still obtuse at best and completely broken otherwise; such as email support/authentication.
Con Complicated installation process on shared hosts
PHP Composer is used as a dependency manager. Because of that SSH access is needed which makes Flarum harder to install than, for instance, Vanilla or phpBB. Especially on shared hosts where no SSH access is available or where shell access is severely limited.