Forums and mailing lists are a big part of the Internet. But the software powering them sucks. It’s clunky, bloated, complicated, and frustrating. Forum design hasn't really changed in the last decade.
We want to take the concept of a forum — a concept that still has so much value in how we interact online — and start again. Not to add another layer on top of what’s already there. But to completely redesign the whole experience, focusing on how people actually use forums. And that’s exactly what we’re doing with Flarum.
A Fresh Start
Flarum is beautiful, modern, elegant forum software which we’ve carefully designed from the ground up. No more scrolling through endless screens of signatures, and clicking through pages of clutter. Flarum is clean and simple, built for the modern web.
Discussion That Flows
Flarum introduces a simple scrollbar that makes navigating through large discussions a joy. Discussion takes place over time, not pages. New comments are pushed to your browser as they’re posted. And you can continue to read a discussion while you’re writing a reply, so you won’t lose your place.
Flarum has a multi-pane view that makes it really quick to jump between discussions. It slides out when you need it, and you can pin it there if you want it to stay. You can thumb through unread discussions without having to open hundreds of tabs. Flarum makes reading the topics in a forum as easy as reading the emails in your inbox.
Mobile From Day One
Flarum has a gorgeous mobile interface that looks and feels just like a native app. On too many forums, mobile is just an afterthought. With Flarum, we’ve been working on a first-class mobile experience right from the beginning. Buttons are big. Scrolling is smooth. Gestures are natural.
Built For Your Community
Flarum is 100% free and open-source under the MIT license, and it always will be. It’s unopinionated — built to be customised — so you can make it work for your community. Create a beautiful theme that reflects your brand, write plugins to add functionality, or translate it into your own language. With Flarum, you can do it all.
Forums In The Cloud
Traditionally, forums are independent, isolated, and self-hosted. Users have to create a new account for every forum they want to participate in, and then check back for new activity on each one. And for admins, managing a server is the stuff of nightmares — as if managing a community isn’t already hard enough.
We’re bringing Flarum to the cloud. We’ll provide easy and affordable hosting so you can set up your forum in just a few clicks. You won’t have to worry about scary things like backups, updates, or traffic spikes. It’ll be the easiest and most powerful way to use Flarum for your community.
Accounts will be centralized, so users will be able to participate in any forum using a single login, and see an overview of all unread discussions on a dashboard.
We’ll make it quick and easy to migrate data from popular forum software like phpBB, vBulletin, IP.Board, XenForo, and Vanilla. We also plan to provide extensive integration with platforms like WordPress and Drupal so you can use your forum as a commenting system.
Your data is your data. You’ll retain full ownership of your forum’s content and you’ll be able to export or delete it as you please.
We want Flarum to be the most powerful forum software out there, and we have a huge list of ideas that we want to implement. It will take time, but Flarum’s flexible plugin system will mean we can release early and often. Here’s a snapshot of what we’ll be working on first:
- Categories and sub-categories
- User and group management with powerful permissions
- Private discussions
- Markdown and rich text editing support
- Powerful search
- Single sign-on (Facebook, Twitter, GitHub, etc.)
- Topic/category subscriptions and digest emails
- File attachments
- Post flagging/reporting and an intelligent auto-moderation system
- Rewards, badges, and gamification
- Q&A format and voting
If you have any ideas or requests, please send us an email. We’ll gauge the most commonly-requested features and prioritize accordingly.
Developers, Developers, Developers
Flarum’s internal architecture is just as carefully designed as everything that it portrays. On the surface, Flarum is an Ember.js web application. It consumes a Laravel-powered API, conforming to the JSON-API spec, on top of a MySQL database. All of the code is SOLID, tested, and extendable. And we’re going to make writing killer documentation a priority so it’ll be easy to learn how to help out.
Because it uses PHP and MySQL, Flarum will be portable and easy to set up on virtually any server (and any virtual server!) so we can get it to as many people as possible.
Who We Are
Toby Zerner (@tobscure)
I’m a medical student with a passion for web development and building amazing user experiences. I built esoTalk, an open source forum platform that a lot of people love to use. esoTalk, as well as my experience with running forums in the past, has been a massive learning tool which ultimately lead to the conception of this project. With Flarum, I want to take the pain away from forums once and for all.
Stephen Grace (@nephets_)
I am a digital designer, currently working in an agency. I love making things that look beautiful. However, beyond the surface level, there needs to be a backbone of usability and empathy, which forums are currently lacking.
Where We Are Now
We’ve been slowly working on Flarum for over a year, developing our skills and experimenting with designs. We’ve now built a basic prototype which does more or less everything we demoed in the video. It’s a solid foundation on which we’ll be able to build the rest of Flarum.
Now we need your help to get serious and get Flarum into your mittens. With your support, we’ll be able to:
- Work full-time on Flarum in 2015
- Set up the infrastructure for our cloud hosting platform
- Contract work to speed up development
If all goes to plan, next year should look something like this:
April – Begin weekly releases for Enthusiast Pack backers
June – Release Flarum to all backers
July – Release Flarum to the general public
August – Open the cloud hosting platform to backers
October – Open the cloud hosting platform to the general public
Music: "Fireworks" by Jahzzar (http://www.betterwithmusic.com)
Risks and challenges
While we’re more than capable of building Flarum itself, we don’t have a lot of experience with large-scale cloud operations. We plan to learn on the job by asking the right questions and getting the right help.
As with any software development project, things take time — sometimes more time than expected. We think our estimates (see above) are pretty conservative and will allow for plenty of breathing room, but there’s always the risk that we’re more terrible at estimation than we thought. We’ll be looking at contracting/hiring development help to speed things along.
If you think you can help on either front, we’d love to hear from you! firstname.lastname@example.orgLearn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)