Which is better NodeBB or Discourse?

  • Plugin & Theme Dev Anime Lovers GNU/Linux

    @djensen47 Well, a little more or less but that pretty much sums up the pros and cons of both NodeBB and Discourse.

    I used Discourse before I used NodeBB, but found them both at the same time. I was going to originally use Discourse for my community (Convoe), but changed my mind pretty quickly. I had a hard time trying to customize Discourse to make it as unique as possible as to show its capabilities. Yet, this involved so much gutting of the handlebars (template system used for Discourse) and when it was time to update, the site was so broken, it was like a waiting game.

    NodeBB uses a set of templates that are easy to understand and modify and even though Convoe speaks for itself as an example of NodeBB's capabilities, I'm sure it can go further - out of this world, as far as customization goes.

    Discourse is slowly reminding me of a more refined supercharged vBulletin and I can definitely bet most sites that use Discourse will all look alike. We will attempt to jump that "same-look" hurdle most forums suffer from because of the difficulty in their customization. 😉 - We all want familiarity, but most of us want a unique aesthetic look - something fresh, new, and bold.

  • @trevor It's funny, but the last time I took Discourse for a spin and dug around to see what I had to do to theme it, I found I had to store images in a thread on the forum. That's right. You store your Discourse theme images in a forum thread. And working with Docker is a real pain, even though it's supposed to make running Discourse easier.

    Despite those issues, I do like Discourse's fixed-width design, NodeBB's full-width design is only good until up to 1000px or so, then it really needs a max-width attribute or I have a hard time with it, especially on my 1080p monitor. I know about the super hidden button on the bottom right to change it to fixed-width too, but that isn't very useful because the homepage looks awful at whatever that button sets the width to. And it's not intuitive to click that button because you'll never known it's there until you accidentally mouse over it one day or someone here tells you. That's when a design has failed, it's when things aren't intuitive.

    Discourse also takes 3-5 seconds to show anything the first time you visit a Discourse forum after the DNS resolves. You just sit there spinning for a bit on a blank white page. Really irritating to me, but they're working on that.

    Notifications in NodeBB are also pretty messy as well, especially if you're following several people, because you get this:


    I think a lot of those could have been truncated into "User made 5 new posts" and then you could click to expand or view a page like the Unread tab listing those posts the user made, or something. And it's not just with new posts either, watched topic notifications are just as messy.

    Anyway, I think when it comes down to it NodeBB is definitely better than Discourse. I like the stuff Discourse is doing and it does feel more refined, but the setup + VPS requirements just aren't worth it. I think NodeBB could use some inspiration from that project in some areas though.

  • Thanks for the feedback @luke 🙂 I think that a lot of our criticisms are down to our current default theme, and are things that could be solved (ie. the faults are not down to the engine per se). Good point on the notifications.

    We've worked really hard on the plugins/widgets/themes side of things - we don't want to be locked down to a certain style or look... so hopefully, that methodology will work out for the best in the long run 🙂

  • GNU/Linux Admin

    @luke Really good points... to be honest, I didn't even notice that the notifications got annoying that way, because I don't follow anyone... but when I think about it, I don't follow anyone because I didn't want to get (what I considered) to be pointless notifications. 😆

    So... do we really need a notification every time someone you follow posts something?

  • @julian said:

    So... do we really need a notification every time someone you follow posts something?

    Well, not if we had like a stream page where we could see all that. Then, you could just show a notification that says "New posts from users you follow" and it goes to that stream, showing the full posts from those users. Just an idea, anyway.

  • Plugin & Theme Dev

    @luke said:

    @julian said:

    So... do we really need a notification every time someone you follow posts something?

    Well, not if we had like a stream page where we could see all that. Then, you could just show a notification that says "New posts from users you follow" and it goes to that stream, showing the full posts from those users. Just an idea, anyway.

    I like this idea a lot. More like a 'feed' page a la Twitter would get even better, with a timeline format to boot. Would make it real nice to see posts from people you follow.

  • This post is deleted!

  • +1 for a Twitter like Notification Feed 👍

  • GNU/Linux

    This is definitley better 😛 I kinda like NodeBB extremley 😛

  • GNU/Linux Admin

    Alright, feedback received 😄

  • GNU/Linux

    You know i really like to try nodebb unfortunately it doesn't have installation based on docker for easy upgrades.

    Since i failed at installing nodebb via digitalocean and successfully installing discourse following the beginner docker guide -> +1 discourse

    Any up-to-date tutorial for newbie non developer hobbyist to install nodebb on digitalocean?

  • @Nur https://docs.nodebb.org/en/latest/installing/cloud.html

    The site that holds the digitalocean step by step tutorial seems to be down, but may be temporarily since is owned by @psychobunny . I think theres docker support too for nodeb now.

    Edit: https://docs.nodebb.org/en/latest/installing/docker.html?highlight=docker

  • GNU/Linux

    Weird upvote button should be at the bottom and bigger.. what if it is a long post.

    Also will be cool when i'm composing a reply,i can view the thread as well - discourse style 😅

  • GNU/Linux Admin

    @Nur On desktops, you can view the thread 😄 Just click the taskbar button to minimise the composer.

  • here's some small addition to what I want to see for nodebb that I liked from discourse.

    • keyboard shortcut for the text editor (its faster to use keybord shortcuts)
    • link clikcs number showing (this is somehow very important to if people do really show interest on my post and it also adds attraction to the post and curiousity)
    • highlight quote (discourse does have this hopng to see it also here or in a plugin)
    • search realtime results when typing
    • image does not show in a lightbox

    although I am not sure if this has already been implemnted here on nodebb via plugin or core features

    so far those are the things I think missing as far as I used the discourse for a couple of months and now migrating to nodebb 👍

  • GNU/Linux

    I spent more time messing with Discourse, this is my impression of the two so far:

    What I liked most in NodeBB so far:

    • less memory usage
    • faster and lighter
    • downvotes
    • option sort replies by most voted

    What I like in Discourse and didn't find in NodeBB:

    • wiki posts
    • reply by e-mail
    • got better results in search with Discourse (used mongodb dbsearch in nodebb)
    • poll plugin
    • the message in the end of the topic asking users to register seems to be working
    • I managed to have topic thumbnails using the first image from the topic body

  • For what it's worth, I ended up going with NodeBB.

    Node + MongoDB (or Redis) just makes life so much easier than Rails. The plugin system here is great. I have no regrets I think what this team has done is awesome!

    So for me it's solved. NodeBB is better. 😉

  • GNU/Linux Admin

    @djensen47 Thanks for the kind words, always love hearing about converts from all sorts of forum software 🙂

  • Community Rep

    I hope I don't get accused of super bumping multiple threads tonight (really not so old threads or well not so old last post!)

    On first impression, nodeBB was the ticket - without any of the technicals. It's all that matters.

    It truly is all that matters. Since the majority of fourm users are not going to be technical and forum have there work cut out to drag people away from the twitters and face books of the world.

    A forum can be deployed to any user base so it's application and audience is potentially as wide as you like and varied as you like, that you have to think about simple but not dumb Ui/UX and rely on the beauty of tradition, i.e. established and solid universal conventions that are universal but not afraid to push the envelope to enhance convention to the point it's at least feels innovate if not actually is.


    It's silky response. The fade out fade in transition was a genius choice, let me type that again GENIUS!

    The Composer.

    • It looks and is weighed better i.e. it's styled better, simple.
    • It's not perfect, but it's one of the best out there.

    The composer is the window to all content creation, the crucible of an entire forums everyday lifeforce. It's got to be good, it's got to always be trying to be better, by trying to be great. This is the interface that makes or breaks the user experience and thus a forum.

    My UI/UX 2c:

    Please consider making the composers upper top line a drag focus draggable area so it is not restricted to the black circle aligned to the left, that should really be centered (it took me too long to figure out) - it breaks a basic UI/UX expectation burned into our retinas at this point!

  • GNU/Linux Admin

    Thanks for the kind words, we strive to keep NodeBB minimal and fast, and I feel we're keeping up with trends. Of course, what's in style always seems to pass too quickly 😉

    With regards to the composer resize, there's no particular reason it has to be limited to the resizer button, I'll look into it 👍

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