After much wait and controversies, vBulletin 4 has finally made a public appearance. Although still in a early beta and not available for public testing, at least thousands of forum admins, who use this famous forum software to run their communities, now know what future looks like.
And boy does it sucks!
Not only is the default theme much worse than the original one (which wasn’t that good to begin with), it also seems like a copy of phpbb 3 theme, which isn’t good either, but is slightly better!
Add to this, it seems that vBulletin 4 is somewhat of an halfhearted attempt by the vBulletin Development Team, to come up with a new version of the software for the sake of changing the software version!
To begin with, the SEO (Search Engine Optimization) features have been implemented in a rather awkward manner. While now one does get inbuilt sitemap for search engines and URL rewrite; URL rewrite options are rather limited and basic (source), especially when one compares them to what is available in vBSEO or for that matter wordpress, which is a free software!
Add to this, now there are three URLs which lead you to the forum home page as opposed to two in earlier version, which was acceptable and understandable.
Having multiple urls/pages for the same content ensures that your link consensuses gets bled away and doesn’t really makes any sense, however way you look at it.
Then there is the video embedding feature (video uploads are still not supported), which has finally been included in vBulletin 4. However unlike plugins like AME, which automatically covert urls from video sharing sites to an embedded video, vBulletin 4’s implementation requires user to click on insert video link and then insert the link to the video.
While for expert users it might not be a big deal, for novice users, it can certainly be a turn off. Not to mention if like me, you too are using AME (highly likely), then you will either have to keep using the plugin or go in and fix each link or worse still, leave those videos to be converted into normal links.
Apart from this the new version of my favorite forum software, is not fully compatible Internet Explorer 6 and has quite a few rough edges and things I do not like.
While I am hopeful that at least some of these issues will get addressed, before the gold release. I seriously hope that vBulletin developers take all the suggestions mentioned here and in other blogs and their support forums, in a good and healthy manner and work to ensure that future releases are more enthusiastically accepted and welcomed by the community and is really a notch above not only the earlier versions of vBulletin, but also other forum software.