Rails Forum Roundup «
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I’ve got a Rails project in the works that needs a forum to live alongside it, so I went looking for an existing Rails forum to adopt and customize.

Most projects I found were defunct. I’m looking for software because I’d prefer not to be a sole maintainer, so I skipped those that didn’t have a commit in the last few months: Beast, Altered Beast, Ultimate Beast, Savage Beast, merbums, rforum, fringe_forum, wicked, fora, and murito.

suratpyari’s forum has the reverse problem, it’s too young. It’s also a plugin for a thinly-documented platform.

fu2 sounds interesting, but I want public readability. When I couldn’t immediately see how to create a user to poke around, I figured it wasn’t worth the hacking.

My project doesn’t have a User model, which means I’m looking for more of a standalone app than aep_beast is. I couldn’t find a demo forum and the setup is complex, so I moved on.

simple-forum also is designed to be added to an existing site, but it has much less setup than the previous. Not in English, and simple enough that I could recreate it without hassle.

RBoard (demo) is solid: a dead-simple install and solid featureset. Not to claim I could do much better, but it kind of suffers from a case of Programmer’s Graphic Design Syndrome. The gradients are tacky, but more importantly the structure doesn’t showcase the content: ancillary information like post count, post date, and the poster’s security level are more eye-catching than the body of posts. As contrast, I think I got this right on NearbyGamers: the poster’s name is called out and the rest of the metadata fades away unless you’re curious.

Right off the bat, the name and attitude leave me well-disposed to opinionated-forum. Software development is all about decisions and tradeoffs, I like that the author doesn’t shrink from that responsibility by hedging with big config files full of options. It continues by looking sharp and including an easy login for dev mode, but bugs prevent viewing pages while logged in or starting topics. I suspect there’s some kind of setup step I didn’t know to do, as the tests don’t pass. I’ve mailed the author for help.

That’s all the Rails Forum software I could find to try out. If you know of others, I’m curious to hear of them. For now I’m deciding between opinionated-forum and extracting the NearbyGamers forum.

Update April 2012: This list is now probably out of date. I’m closing comments because spam bots love it (the keyword ‘forum’, I suppose).