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I Have a Problem

I finally found some time to work on the Impact website in the last few days. I just wanted some pages with documentation and tutorials along with a nice and simple forum. Nothing special. I looked around to find a forum software that would fit my needs. I couldn't find any.

So I sat down for a few days and put together my own forum. It's called Discuss and you can see the beta here. Account creation only takes a second and you don't need to provide an email address, so please try it.

This is my problem. I love to create my own stuff. My problem even has a name: Not Invented Here.

“Not Invented Here” syndrome is manifested as an unwillingness to adopt an idea or product because it originates from another culture

Ouch, that sounds pretty harsh. Of course there's a bit more to it, as Joel Spolsky wrote some time ago.

The thing is, “Not Invented Here” has worked great for me. This Blog is running on my own CMS, that I created some time in 2004 and it has been virtually unchanged since. It survived being linked by Daring Fireball twice, has seen the Reddit frontpage twice and the Digg frontpage once (when Digg was still popular, mind you). All without downtime or any security issues. I can only imagine what a struggle it would have been if this site was running on WordPress.

Of course, my CMS is not the answer to all problems. In fact, it only does very few things, but those are the things I need and it does them very well. (That also means that I won't release it any time soon. The fact that it works for me doesn't mean that it's “complete” in any way. Sorry.)

Back to my original problem. All the different forums that I tested suffered from feature creep. The big players (i.e. phpBB, woltlab and vBulletin) are trying to let you create your own personal Facebook, with Blogs, profiles, private messages and whatnot. Even those forum applications that advertise themselves as “light” (FluxBB, PunBB) will greet you with more than 200 files and make little distinction between code and layout.

And they all look the same, like they time traveled from 2001 to the present day. It's extremely difficult to make one of these systems feel like a part of your site. I'm still impressed by how Shaun Inman was able integrate his Mint Forum (PunBB) so tightly.

I like simple. I like software that does one thing and does it well. I'm extremely allergic to feature creep and code smell. When I create my own stuff I know what I get. Sure, the “Not Invented Here” syndrome initially demands a lot of time, but I like to think that it pays off in the end.

With all that said, creating my own forum probably is borderline stupid. I will be surprised if this works out and I don't end up installing PunBB or FluxBB anyway.

Monday, October 18th 2010
— Dominic Szablewski, @phoboslab

22 Comments:

#1Antonin Hildebrand – Monday, October 18th 2010, 20:23

What about using some hosted solution, like GetSatisfaction or UserVoice?

I would really like to see you doing Impact instead of building yet-another-crappy forum software which requires me to create-yet-another-password and then does not support gravatar or thread watching.

#2Kurt Zenisek – Monday, October 18th 2010, 20:42

Hey Dominic,

I ran a Vanilla 1.x installation ( vanillaforums.org/ ) to try out a "light" forum solution after having run/moderated various Invision Power Board & phpBB installations. It works well, and is quite streamlined. It starts out as a simple forum, but it is built modularly so you can expand upon it however you want.

#3Dominic – Monday, October 18th 2010, 21:01

You certainly have your point. Maybe I'm dead wrong and forums really need to be a convoluted mess with as much features as possible. And I can only speak for myself when I say that I never used the thread watching feature of any forum.

As for the "doing Impact instead of building a forum" - I wouldn't.

I mean, even if I used a hosted solution (which I always find to be far too detached from the main thing), I wouldn't use my newly found free time to work on Impact. I just get "exhausted" from working on the same stuff for a long time. I always need to have several projects at a time. Sadly, that's just how I work :/

#4Dextro – Monday, October 18th 2010, 22:14

If you want a simple forum that you can costumize the hell out of it look at BBPress from the Wordpress guys.

#5Benjamin Meyer – Monday, October 18th 2010, 22:54

While I can't help on the forum I have just recently started work on a documentation site for javascript libraries. Continuously updating the documentation with search, comments, and api access. I played around with the engine api a few weeks ago (made a dummy game) and started messing around with api generation for it, but it is all private and a lot of exploration at this point. It is very early in the project at this point so even if I can't help you out I would be interested in discussing the topic. Feel free to contact me via email <ben@meyerhome.net>.

#6Hendrik Granna – Tuesday, October 19th 2010, 16:26

Simplicity is the point why I would like to try your content management system.
I hope to hear more of it in the future!

#7 – eric – Wednesday, October 20th 2010, 05:10

There's a lot of us junior level programmers out here that love looking at basic projects from expert/higher-level-than-us coders.

Even if your CMS is unpolished and a little dated, I always get a lot out of dissecting code.

#8 – Lux – Wednesday, October 20th 2010, 18:06

www.mwforum.org/ - okay, that's probably not what you're looking for. But I love the threaded view which makes it superior to all those boards.
Also, its "Simple"/"Simpli"-styles look quite similar to your site (and there are only about 100 (code-)files!) ;)

#9 – skyper – Monday, October 25th 2010, 08:59

So when can we expect ImpactJS?

#10 – Arko – Monday, October 25th 2010, 16:52

You just put a word on something i do most of my time.

#11 – random dude – Monday, October 25th 2010, 19:46

Do you plan to release Pagenode?

#12 – SpaceHorse – Tuesday, October 26th 2010, 15:37

>I just get "exhausted" from working on the same stuff for a long time.
yeah dude! i know what u r talkin bout :D
it's betta to smoke some weed ahahahah than switch to another project) lawl))
just kidding. sometimes i have the same problem. n it sux when u close to the finish. sometimes i switch and make something just for fun or sometimes i just don't do anything and wait till new insperation which could come from everywhere. Writer's block SUX! never thought it could happen in programing)

#13 – SpaceHorse – Thursday, November 4th 2010, 20:24

hey! where r u man?? u disappeared ><

#14Colin – Friday, November 5th 2010, 20:44

Not sure if it's custom but the nano loop website has a delightfully simple little forum:

www.nanoloop.com/forum

#15 – WonderCsabo – Tuesday, November 9th 2010, 08:51

Hi Dominic!

The sound is no more in Fxs.

It worked before, so i guess it's not the browser's fault. Could you check this?

#16Dominic – Tuesday, November 9th 2010, 22:46

@WonderCsabo: Yep, thanks for pointing it out. I switched from Apache to nginx over the weekend. The mime type for .ogg wasn't defined by default. It seems to work now.

#17 – WonderCsabo – Wednesday, November 10th 2010, 11:02

You are welcome!

Thanks for fixing this. Your game is the best HTML5 game so far, i wish to play it for more levels... Yeah, with the release of level editor, i think we will get enough playtime. :)

#18gampleman – Saturday, November 20th 2010, 00:12

Altered Beast is a reasonably simple forum built with MVC - so all the layout and view code is seperate from business logic.

#19 – Alex – Sunday, November 21st 2010, 08:38

So, looks like to me the ImpactJS project is dead, even before it started?

#20 – Frank – Friday, November 26th 2010, 19:51

I like it, that you make, waht you will and mean, i think, this is the greatest step to be satisfied. But i love it, i use a free software and find an solution to use this application for the requiremnets. But, the difference form the people makes the web so great.

#21SpaceHorse – Monday, December 20th 2010, 11:47

Ahhhhh!!!! Dude!
Every day i think of dis AMAZING SUPERAWESOME GAME U MADE!!
'n every day i think Y Y Y Y u dissapeared??? PLEASE !!! PLEASE KEEP MAKING ENGINE :0000

DIS ENGINE WILL CHANGE TEH WORLD!! 'N MAKE EVERYONE HAPPY!! 4EVER!!1

n u r is a SUPERHERO ALREADY!

#22 – Anybody – Sunday, January 23rd 2011, 20:22

Will you publish Discuss? That beta version would be fine.

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