I have one site running the new vBulletin Gold Suite. The site was closed so I decided it would be a perfect test bed. It had a few users and a few posts before I closed it down. I opened it back up and upgraded the old database to vBulletin 4. If you want to check out the site before you finish reading you can find it at http://serverhelpforum.com.
The install on of vBulletin 4 Gold went well. The vBulletin CMS part did give me an out of memory error. More on that later. Once we got past that everything looked good and seemed to work well. Read on to get to the good, the bad and the ugly.
The install of vBulletin 4 Gold went smooth except for the out of memory error while the vBulletin CMS was being installed. That was fixed by upping the memory in php.ini from 128M to 256M. The server has 8Gigs installed so it had much more to allocate if needed. After the install I promoted a few posts in the resources section to articles. This went well. I added a couple extra forums and did a few test posts. All is still good. Everything seemed to work and work well. Then it was time to get into the nuts and bolts of vBulletin 4 and here comes the bad.
I turned the forum into debug mode. What a shock when I saw the vBulletin CMS main page used 202 queries. I refreshed the page so the cache would kick in. Query count was now 197. Refreshed again count went back to 202. I removed one column. No change. I cut the amount of articles to show. Query count down to 187. Refresh the page back to 202. I removed the widgets. No change. Refresh the page down to 178. Add one widget. Back up to 200. I don’t know what is causing this. I do know if it is left like this the vBulletin CMS will be useless unless it is installed on a dedicated server.
I then went about changing the style of the forum. I downloaded the docs that were posted on vBulletins site. I created a new style and went to work on it. I change the background and save changes. Nothing happens. I change a few more things. Nothing happens. Everything is still default. I head over to vBulletin’s site. In the bugs and suggestions forum there is a number of posts with the same problems as me. It seems the stylevar editor does not work as it should. A member who saw my post sent me a PM telling me how to work around the issue. Thanks much for that if you happen to read this.
Well lets start with the out of memory error. There is no way that upgrading to vBulletin 4 Suite on a small site should throw up out of memory errors. This is unacceptable. If you try to install this on a VPS you’re basically screwed unless you host is willing to up the allocated memory for php.
Now on to the sitemaps a core new feature that was touted throughout the discussions at vBulletin. They do not work. Sure they are created fine. Submit one to Google and you’ll see that they throw an error in webmaster tools. The error says that the sitemap file is empty. Rebuild it, resubmit it and the error returns shortly after Google redownloads it.
The stylewar editor should work without any work arounds. This was another highly touted feature of vBulletin 4. It does not work out of the box.
Search engine friendly URLs another feature that is supposed to make vBulletin 4 the best. Sure they work just try finding the docs that explain how to use the .htaccess method. You won’t because, surprise, vBulletin 4 was released without any docs. You have to visit vBulletin’s site and look in the vBulletin 4 Beta forum to find your answer.
That brings me the last ugly part. In the admincp the help files for these new features don’t exist. Don’t believe me? Go into the vBulletin 4 admincp, open the stylevar editor, pick any stylevar and select the help icon. You get an empty page.
How Internet Brands can release vBulletin 4 as gold is beyond me. They broke just about every unwritten rule that developers follow. The beta process was a joke. I was a supporter of the process when it was first announced. Closed betas to select testers always works better than open betas if the beta is done correctly. The vBulletin 4 beta was a mess.
Then they release vBuletin 4 Gold without help files or updated docs. vBulletin 4 as it stands now is at best beta quality. It should have never been released as gold. A visit to the vBulletin 4 forums at vBulletin’s site will tell you that.