Web Applications

I've used, tested and tried a lot of online applications in the last few years. This page is a collection of short descriptions and recommendations (or will be, rather).


CMS Made Simple

CMS Made Simple is a great project - the developers have managed to come up with a full-featured content management system that's easy to use and expand, and it can be tailored to fit just about any need one can think of. But it's a full-blown CMS - it's not hard to use, but too much for a simple website. I use it for just about any big project I have to manage, but not for private web-publishing.


CMSimple is lean and mean - it used to be one of my favourites for private projects, but they've got a complicated (and close-to-proprietary) licence policy I find really tiresome. Bottom line: Great usability, but a nuisance if you want to adapt stuff (you have to publish each and every code change explicitly - including templates!). Nevertheless, if you've got to whip up a website in a hurry, this is all you need. Attention: CMSimple doesn't offer user management - you're on your own (which is great if you want exactly that, of course).



YaBB was the base of the first serious project I got drawn in: It powered the BeaBoards (now long diseased) and proved to be a great tool for developing communities; the same system was also used on the Xaphoon site; we've since moved the latter to YaBB2 and found that to be a very good move. YaBB2 is a bit bulky and certainly not for the faint at heart to implement, but it offers a lot of helpful features for administrators, especially in terms of security. We've not had one spamming incident since we switch (well, they tried, but they got kicked automatically!). The overall usage experience is okay, too, but new users will need some time to explore it all. I recommend it for growing and active communities - it may be overkill for small groups.


PunBB is one of my favourite web applications of all times because of its concept - it simply does what it says and does it well. It's a very compact system, but it scales well and is easy to maintain (and will be even more comfortable in future versions). Alas, development of this software has seen some shake-ups lately, leading (among other things) to the forking of the project; thus, FluxBB was born... Anyway, if you need a small, stable forum with all basic features (but not much more than that) in place, PunBB will most certainly suit you. I'll monitor the projects to see what becomes of them.

SimpleMachines Forum (SMF)

SMF is a great piece of software - it's a pity that it's not entirely free software, but then, it's extremely well supported, constantly developped and well documented; in fact, we use it for most of our project sites like Debris Linux because it offers very good performance and high control.


I've been introduced to forums with phpBB; it was the place where the role-playing part of a gaming community took place. I really liked using it, but frankly, phpBB2 was a nightmare when it came to security, so being responsible for such a forum isn't what I call fun; I'm still helping to adiminister one of those forums, and though it offers some helpful tools, it's impossible to secure against spam. phpBB3, on the other hand, looks really promissing. It's easier to handle than phpBB2, looks a lot better and offers much tighter security. If you're a PHP afficionado and/or don't want to put up with SMF's licencing, you should give phpBB3 a try.

Unclassified Newsboard (UNB)

When I first discovered UNB, I was really intrigued: It looks beautiful, has special capabilities admins will like (like iJabber[/i] notifications) and is very easy to operate. The only reason why I don't use it anymore is that it's kind of an intermediate solution: not as big as the big guys (and for good!), but a little too feature-rich for small projects. But I'll definitely keep an eye on it. If you need a good-looking solution that's well thought through and doesn't weigh in at dozens of MBs, try bUNB[/b].

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