I just switched to Nodebb from SMF (~400 forum users) out of curiosity and because I liked the funny round category symbols. And because SMF was buggy and isn't really developed anymore with passion.
The installation, setup and customization of Nodebb took me about 72 work hours and 6-7 complete reinstalls.
Why? Because Nodebb is really buggy out of the box compared to most other forum softwares.
Just installing plugins and doing some normal random stuff hosed the database couple of times and I got locked out from my admin account 3-4 times, I was unable to login with any account including administrator accounts in maintenance mode and had to learn some crazy Redit database voodoo skills to remedy the situation.
If you have a problem that is not a regular problem that 90% of the people have - the support is basically nonexistant and you are on your own.
Importing from SMF hosed the database couple of times. BBcode -> Markdown conversion and html conversions don't work really. No, really they don't. And yes I read the manuals a few times and tried different approaches.
The plugins are mostly broken, like at least 65% of the plugins that I tried just don't work.
The developers have an idealistic vision about modular BB system where you can do next to ANYTHING with plugins. You don't like the composer? Swap it out. You don't like Marked? Swap it out!
In theory this is really cool. In reality? In reality we have developers making - really nice - plugins for their own needs and then publishing those. It's all great. But then the need goes away and 40% of the plugins become abandoned and stop working or don't work as intended when Nodebb get's updated. The plugins lag behind. Some critical systems have support from the developers, other's become abandoned mostly.
What does this mean? It means that if I want to use Nodebb for my projects and if I want some features that are not there out of the box (and the box is pretty light because of the design philosophy, modularity, expandability and all) then I have to Do It Myself, code it myself.
The shoutbox, for one simple example - it's a very popular feature out there. Well, guess what? It's not available in the core. But it is available as a plugin! But.. the plugin doesn't work by a simple press of a button, now does it? Why not? Because it's broken. So you have to become a developer and get under the hood and fix the problem yourself because, you know, people have lives and the plugin authors have other things to do besides always updating his or her plugins.
What if you aren't so lucky that you actually can do all this stuff like I can with ~30 years of experience in IT? Well, then you're out of luck. Maybe you can wait for a couple of months - or a year - to see if someone has managed to fix the problem? But perhaps you just wish to open up a forum for your users or friends, like.. now? Instead of waiting. Then maybe Nodebb is not for you.
In theory the philosophy of keeping the core light and having modularity and letting the users do the extra features that are a part of other forums software by default - it is a really good idea. I like it myself.
But in practice it doesn't work very well because the weakest link there is the people, always the people.
I have Nodebb up and running now and I really like it. Yes - it has shortcomings, yes - most of the plugins are useless, yes the composer is utter crap (you really should be able to compose in the "preview mode" by default and the other way around too if you're inclined to do so - instead of this one way street. What is this, the 80'ies? Get your **** together) but overall I love Nodebb and see a lot of potential there.
One or two more weeks of tweaking here and there and I think and adding a couple of features and my installation of Nodebb will be just fine.
Oh yes, about the composer? What ever happened to this proposal?
(The last message in this thread)
What the man suggests - I checked out the demo - it's just so awesome. It's just what the composer needs.
Make it happen. Please?
Thanks for reading my praise of the Nodebb