Vanilla, We Love You More
by Terrie Miller
Related link: http://forums.makezine.com/
Forums can be surprisingly difficult. It was clear that we wanted forums on Makezine.com, but we weren't happy with what we could do with our existing publishing system. Luckily, we found Vanilla, by Lussumo (from the Lussumo Swell Blog, Lussumo rhymes with "bus-you-toe" means "love you more".)
What we immediately loved about Lussumo was its clean interface, and its getting real approach. RSS is built right into the application, making it easy to do interesting things like feed new discussions out via the MAKEBot.
There are endless features that one could ask for or imagine in a forums system. We pretty much had to pick two...we chose to limit scope and abandoned some of the features we had previously considered "must haves". And you know, it's been ok. It's been great, in fact. After seeing some of the amazing and useful discussions there, my only real regret is not getting forums on the site sooner.
By the way, it was a great experience working with a Vanilla's creator, Mark O'Sullivan, who we hired to help integrate the forums into our site and user account system. We could tell immediately that Mark was asking the right questions about the project at the start, and he really helped us make the right decisions about various details. Our in-house technical lead, Jay Laney, did an amazing job of the integration on our side of things; it was a notable rollout in that there was nothing particularly, uh, "memorable" about it.