wounded in the line of duty
Here are a few Drupal-related answers to the needs brought up by CentOS forum members (point D in the requirements):
- Remember me checkbox
Persistent Login module: http://drupal.org/project/persistent_login
- Convenient for longer threads that you keep revisiting.
Drupal's "updated" flag on unread messages when you revisit a thread that has new posts since you last viewed it. Clicking the "# new" link in your Tracker or the forum takes you to the first unread post. This "new/updated" status is tied to your user account, not the computer you are viewing from, so you can switch to any other computer and pick up where you left off.
- One of those Thanks icons, so that one can thank someone for a post... able to thank someone when they've helped you.
Not quite sure, but probably User Points module: http://drupal.org/project/userpoints
- Quick links.
- Ability to see subscribed threads from the login page.
Flag module (various other choices as well, but this one is often recommended): http://drupal.org/project/flag
- See the threads with which you're involved.
Drupal core Tracker module.
- Let me change my contact email address.
Drupal users can fully control their account data. The core Profile module supports required, hidden, and public fields.
- Its got to be mainstream, its got to be something with a secure reputation and its got to be something that is going to be around for a while.
Also to cover some current features of the forum that weren't mentioned:
- Print thread
Print module: http://drupal.org/project/print
- Rate this thread
Voting API paired with Fivestar module. Also possibly useful for other voting needs is the digg-like Plus1 module.
- Post counts, user stats, and other "postbit" data
Various modules to pick and choose from: http://drupal.org/node/227121
Using Advanced Forum pre-assembles many of these into place if they are installed.
Nice to have
a. Gateway to Email
Not sure I understand, but if this means subscribing to threads and receiving email updates, there are options like Notifications, Subscriptions, and Notify.
b. Capable of running multiple instances from a single deployment
Drupal's built-in multi-site capability, which can run an unlimited number of separate sites off a single code-base (the sites can even use both shared and/or separate modules and themes).
c. Responsive community and developers
Drupal's the best I know of :D
Drupal (particularly version 6) is fantastic to theme. The theming system is powerful and (in my opinion) pretty easy to use for just about everything most people need to do. The HTML is solid and standards-compliant, ready for customization by CSS, and in almost all cases HTML that is hard-coded in modules is over-ridable without hacking code. I wrote an article the other day about easily converting any template into a Drupal theme: http://drupal.org/node/313510
So far as importing data from the current system... the most "automatic" (no coding) transition appears to be from punbb -> phpbb -> Drupal (also here are more threads about punbb to Drupal). However in my case I was able to write SQL queries to port data from my custom CMS/forum (and I am not even a "slightly" capable programmer haha... the custom CMS was written for me not by me), so it shouldn't be too hard. I shared my SQL Queries and procedure for importing to the Drupal forum the other day in case they are helpful. I'll be happy to help if you need it. Forum nodes are essentially the same as any nodes in Drupal, so any "node importing" script/module can import them... I personally went with raw SQL queries due to the huge amount of data I had to transform (thus avoiding PHP timeouts, etc). Categorization is handled by Taxonomy module. In my case I came up with a bit of a convoluted way to convert my forum categories into Drupal, but it worked (someone else may be able to do it more efficiently).
Back to the performance topic... haven't quite finished organizing my test results, but will post them asap. Regarding my above post's estimated time for the CentOS forum main page loading, I re-read that and realized I forgot to mention that would be "without" proper caching, just straight out of the box. With proper setup it could be much faster.
In any case, I'd suggest considering Drupal for the site portal even if you decide to go with a 3rd party forum (e.g. looks like there's a nice Drupal 6 bridge for phpbb). I've been working with Drupal for about 2 years now and never cease to be impressed with what it can do.
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