Forum Software for the Web

An independent guide to discussion forum & message board software
your own Board

Maintained by David R. Woolley
Updated Jan 13, 2014

Complete Index

Contents of this Page


Additions - Comments - Suggestions - Corrections

New Additions

Jan 2014

Product Reviews & Articles

Crowdgather: The Importance of Forums on the Internet
Sanjay Sabnani, in an interview by Tom Murphy, explains why internet forums have unique value and attributes that are not shared by Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking tools.
The Right Tool for the Job: Choosing Tools for Collaborative Work Online
Presentation by David R. Woolley delivered at the Virtual Team and Leadership Strategies conference in 2004.
Choosing Web Conferencing Software
by David R. Woolley
Categorizes forum software products and suggests some key criteria for choosing among them.
Conferencing on the Web
by David R. Woolley, from the book World Wide Web Unleashed
Discusses what makes a good forum system, reasons to use web forums, and issues and challenges with forum software.
Review of Beehive Forum .5
by Jim Lynch of ExtremeTech, Feb 2005
Forum Software Roundup
by David Mytton, Aug 2003
Reviews phpBB, Invision Power board, Snitz, Web Wiz Forums, and IkonBoard.
More articles

Best-Fit Recommendations

David R. Woolley can give you custom-tailored advice about choosing forum software that's best suited to your organization's particular needs.

Contact him here to get started.

Commercial Web Forum Software

Acme News
Compatible with PicoSpan and YAPP. Comes with complete source code (C and Bourne shell scripts).
Developer: Jef Poskanzer
Platform: UNIX
Web-based bulletin board system. Can be configured to emulate competing products. A limited version is available free for noncommercial use.
Developer: Netbula
Platforms: UNIX, Windows (requires Perl 5)
ASP Message Board (AMB)
Inexpensive message board software featuring email notification, voting, and thread rating. Requires IIS, MS Access or SQL Server.
Developer: Infuseum (formerly Tipped Cow Development)
Platform: Windows
ASP Playground.NET Forum
In addition to the usual message board features, offers photo galleries, polling, user ranking, group calendars, document change tracking, and other features. Requires VBScript and Microsoft SQL Server 2000 or MSDE 2000.
Developer: ASP Playground.NET
Platform: Windows 2000/2003
Comes with Perl source code; can be customized using Perl, PHP, C, or other languages. Supports mySQL and a variety of other databases. Users can access the message boards via the web interface, or through WAP, NNTP, telnet, and other front ends. Software licenses can be purchased for a one-time fee or rented for a low monthly fee.
Developer: bbNetwork Ltd
Platform: Linux
Carbon Communities
Inexpensive linear message board software, also offering private messaging and chat rooms. Requires Windows IIS and either MS Access or MS SQL Server. A limited free demo version is available.
Developer: Sinertia Software
Platform: Windows
Available in English and several other languages. Features e-mail notification and listserv capabilities. A free version is also available.
Developer: Lilikoi Software
Platforms: UNIX, Windows, OS/2, Macintosh
Comment Board
Simple, inexpensive message board software. Requires Microsoft Access or SQL Server.
Developer: yMonda
Platform: Windows
A database-driven BBS.
Developer: DCScripts
Platforms: UNIX, Windows (written in Perl)
Deluxe Portal
Inexpensive message board software based on PHP and MySQL.
Developer: Andrew Harper
Platforms: UNIX, Windows
You can run a discussion forum on JADA's site, or purchase the software and customize it for use on your own server. Requires SQL server.
Developer: JADA Productions
Platform: Windows
Usenet News server with a built-in Web gateway. Free to nonprofits and educational institutions.
Developer: NetWin Ltd.
Platforms: UNIX, Windows, Macintosh, OS/2, VMS, Novell Netware
Open source Java forum software.
Developer: Jcorporate
Platforms: Any (written in Java)
Encore Web Forum
Uses a linear discussion structure, organized in topics and subtopics. Also features email notification. Requires MySQL or Microsoft SQL Server. A free limited version is available for evaluation.
Developer: Arborior
Platforms: Windows, UNIX (written in Perl)
Forum Web Server
Inexpensive BBS software with a built-in web server; no other software is required.
Developer: MiniHTTPServer Co. Ltd.
Platform: Windows
Online discussion forum software available in ColdFusion MX and .NET platforms. Feature rich, including web services enabled API, multiple forums capable of different permissions and users, built-in reporting. Attractive, secure and customizable web interface. Highly scalable and configurable.
Developer: FuseTalk Inc.
Platforms: Windows, UNIX
Gossamer Forum
Template-based message board software, allowing for customized user interfaces in different languages, etc. Requires mySQL or another SQL database.
Developer: Gossamer Threads Inc.
Platforms: UNIX, Windows, Macintosh (written in Perl)
Ideal BB
Bulletin board software based on Active Server Pages. Requires Microsoft SQL Server.
Developer: Ideal Science
Platform: Windows
Ideal BB.NET
Bulletin board software based on the Microsoft .NET framework. Features an API allowing customization through C# programming. Requires Microsoft SQL Server.
Developer: Ideal Science
Platform: Windows
Inexpensive forum software based on ASP.NET and SQL Server. Full VB.NET source code is available.
Developer: InstantASP Ltd.
Platform: Windows
Features both threaded discussions and real-time chat.
Developer: Media Design in Progress
Platform: Macintosh
IP.Board (formerly Invision Power Board)
Popular forum software featured by many forum hosting services. Offers content sharing via RSS, extensive "skin" customization, and some ability for custom extensions through PHP programming. Available as licensed software or as a hosted service. Also offers automatic conversion from many other popular message board formats.
Developer: Invision Power Services
Platform: Any (requires PHP and MySQL; Oracle and SQL Server also supported.)
Open architecture, threaded forum software, written in Java. Free or discounted for noncommercial users.
Platform: UNIX, Windows
Fast and feature-rich forum software modeled after the WELL.
Developer: Bryan Higgins and Leha Blaney
Platform: UNIX
Sample site: Cafe Utne
Web site engine, with features such as forums, chat rooms, blogs and galleries for all members, and a community database. A free version with most of the same functionality is available.
Developer: ocProducts
Platforms: UNIX, Windows
Threaded message board software with instructions in English and French.
Developer: Crossdraw
Platform: Windows (requires Cold Fusion and SQL database)
Features framed and frameless user interfaces.
Developer: wiTHinc
Platform: UNIX
Created by a merger of WELL Engaged and Delphi, this company will customize their community software for your site.
Developer: Prospero
Platform: UNIX
Sample sites: The WELL
French language product.
Developer: TimSoft
Platform: Windows with SQL Server
Toast Forums
Message board software implemented with Active Server Pages. Requires Microsoft Access.
Developer: Josh Painter, Headrush Media
Platform: Windows
Supports both linear and threaded discussions, moderated forums, and a multilingual user interface. Requires PHP and mySQL.
Developer: Groupee (from Rick Baker's WWWThreads)
Platform: UNIX, Windows
UltraBB (formerly WowUltra)
Based on WowBB with additional enhancements for private messaging, custom user titles, visitor log, theme change options. Unlimited members, categories, forums. Versatile permission system. Single license available for indefinite use and various plans available for subscription.
Developer: Jim Hale
Platforms: many
Very popular and inexpensive bulletin board software based on PHP and MySQL. Features e-mail notification and user profiles. A limited freeware version is available.
Developer: JelSoft Enterprises Ltd.
Platforms: UNIX, Windows
Uses cookies to keep track of what users have read, and has an e-mail notification feature. Distributed as shareware.
Developer: Darryl C. Burgdorf
Platform: UNIX (written in Perl)
Includes features for user profiles, listing recent users, etc. Also features real-time chat rooms.
Developer: Akiva (originally O'Reilly, then ChatSpace)
Platform: UNIX, Windows
Web Crossing
Highly customizable and scaleable. Features forums, real-time chat, mailing lists, blogs, email notification and digests, and integrated email and newsgroup services. Also available as a hosted service.
Developer: Web Crossing, Inc. (previously Lundeen & Associates)
Platforms: UNIX, Macintosh, Windows
General-purpose Web development tool that includes a forum application called Web+Conference.
Developer: TalentSoft
Platform: Windows, UNIX
Wildcat! Interactive Net Server
BBS-style web server.
Developer: Santronics Software, Inc.
Platform: Windows
Web implementation of a BBS, including forums, chat rooms, instant messaging, live and recorded video streaming, and more.
Developer: Galacticomm
Platform: Windows
Inexpensive bulletin board software implemented with PHP and MySQL. Features a WYSIWYG editor, spell checker, private messaging, polls, and attachments. User interface is available in several languages (English, Spanish, French, German, Dutch, Italian, Arabic, and others). Compatible with other popular bulletin board software, including phpBB and, UBB.Threads, vBulletin, and Invision Power Board.
Developer: Aycan Gulez
Platforms: UNIX, Windows, Mac OS X
Based on WowBB and enhanced with Mass PM, User Group Ranking, Top Posters, Member Stats, birthdays, hide a forum, and much more.
Developer: Nancy Chandler
Platforms: UNIX, Windows, Mac OS X
See UltraBB
See UBBThreads.
Web interface to YAPP, a clone of the WELL's PicoSpan forum system.
Developer: Dave Thaler, Armidale Software
Platform: UNIX

Free Web Forum Software

These software packages can be used to set up forums on your own Web site, and are available free.
AEF,Advanced Electron Forum
Simple bulletin board software. Free.
aGNeS News Forum
Threaded discussions. Look and feel can be customized with template pages.
Developer: Daniel Doubrovkine, Vestris Inc.
Platform: UNIX, Windows
ASP-DEv XM Forums
Linear software newly rewritten as XML-based forum. Available as inexpensive hosted service, option for commercial license, or free with 'powered by' logo.
Developer:ASP Resources
Basic Bulletin Board Script
See WebBBS.
Displays the developer's banner ads. (Buying the commercial version lets you eliminate the ads.) Features e-mail notification and listserv capabilities.
Developer: Lilikoi Software
Platforms: UNIX, Windows, OS/2, Macintosh
Simple system with linear discussions. Also suitable for use as a guestbook. Free for non-profit use. All sites must register.
Developer: Brian Johnson
Platform: Macintosh
Nabble is actually a hosted service, but allows embedding a forum into your own web site simply by copying and pasting a line of javascript code into your HTML page.
A simple but powerful tool that's unlike anything else. Essentially, a wiki is an open-ended, interlinked set of web pages that anyone can edit or add to. A wiki can be used as a discussion forum, a database, an organically grown encyclopedia... you name it. There are now many versions, written for many different platforms. A list is available here.
Developer: Ward Cunningham and others
Platforms: Many
W3 Interactive Talk (WIT)
Highly structured forum software designed for group decision making. Probably the first Web forum system (created June 1994). Unknown if still available.
[Description in WWW Unleashed]
Developer: Ari Luotonen, CERN
Platform: UNIX
Enhanced version of YaBB. Not supported since March 2004. The development team has gone on to create SMF.
Developer: various
Platforms: UNIX, Windows (written in Perl)

Open Source Software

Open Source refers to software that is available under a license that permits its use, study, modification, improvement and redistribution.
Forum based on PHP. Modify for nonprofit and personal use only.
Developer: AZ
Platform: UNIX, Windows
Text-based linear forum software, compatible with YAPP. Comes with C source code.
Developer: Jan Wolter and Steve Weiss
Platform: UNIX
Bazaar is configurable through template files, though significant technical skills are required for full utilization. Allows the creation of a variety of applications in addition to message boards, such as polls, FAQs, and announcement boards.
Developer: Mike Sosteric
Platform: UNIX (written in Perl)
Simple bulletin board software.
Developer: Joe DePasquale
Platform: UNIX (written in Perl)
Beehive Forum
Open-source forum based on PHP and MySQL. Features frame-based layout, email notification, private messaging system, and extendable user profiles.
Developer: Various
Platform: UNIX, Windows
PHP-based message board software with email notification, instant messaging, polls, and other features.
Platform: UNIX
Formerly a commercial product, Caucus is a high-end, powerful, and extremely customizable linear forum software, now available as open source. Support, services, and add-ons are available for a fee.
Developer: CaucusCare
Platform: UNIX
Full-featured open source message board system with similarity to phpBB.
Developer: Rick Root
Platform: Multiple
Class-1 Forum Software
Based on PHP and MySQL, and distributed under the GNU General Public License.
Developer: Class-1 Web Design
Platform: UNIX, Windows
Code Project Discussion Boards
Open source message board software, implemented as an Active-X control and ASP scripts.
Developer: Uwe Keim and Chris Maunder
Platform: Windows
COW - Conferencing On Web
Similar to YAPP. Source code may be available from
Developer: Eric Klavins, San Francisco State University, University of Michigan
D3E - Digital Document Discourse Environment
Open Source tool for document-centered discussions. Works with customized versions of HyperNews and Phorum.
Developer: Tamara Sumner, Simon Buckingham Shum, and others
Platform: Windows, UNIX
A re-imagining of forum software, begun in 2013 and still in beta. Developer: Jeff Atwood and his Discourse Team
Platform: Ruby on Rails, Postgres database. Javascript user interface.
Open source bulletin board implemented in Perl.
Developer: Justin
Platforms: Windows, UNIX
Supports distributed servers. Requires Perl and mySql, though it isn't clear if this software is still available for download.
Developer: Eric Richardson
Platform: UNIX
Free Open Source Objects for Online Community Building
Selver Tosic has written some code objects that handle various functions for online communities. Not a complete forum package, but these objects are freely available and could be incorporated into a custom-built forum system. Requires PHP and MySQL.
Developer: Selver Tosic
Platform: Any (written in PHP)
FruitWare BBS
Displays all messages in a forum on one page.
Developer: FruitWare
Platform: UNIX (written in Perl)
Bulletin board with many features, including tracking which posts each user has read, moderation, support for multiple languages, and integration with newsgroups and email lists. Requires PHP and MySQL or PostgreSQL.
Developer: Advanced Internet Designs
Platform: UNIX
Galleon ColdFusion Forums
Forums application built with ColdFusion. Supports various levels of organization, subscriptions, member levels, moderators, code display. Requires ColdFusion or BlueDragon.
Developer: Raymond Camden
Platform: Multiple
PHP 4 Open Source Flat File Bulletin Board. Uses HTML. Offers unique usernames, time stamp, categories. Requests user offers link back to GrimmBB.
Developer: Grim
Platform: Windows, UNIX, Macintosh
Allows discussions to be distributed across multiple Web servers. Must display HyperNews license/copyright.
[Description in WWW Unleashed]
Developer: Daniel LaLiberte
Platform: UNIX (written in Perl)
Flat (linear) message board software featuring email notification and instant messaging.
Platform: UNIX (written in Perl)
Allows readers to register approval and interest ratings for each message. Complete source code is freely available. InterMix II is in development.
Developer: Collective Communication Inc.
Platform: Windows
Open source forum software implemented in Java. Requires a database (MySQL, PostgreSQL, Oracle, SQL Server, etc.)
Developer: Rafael Steil and the JForum Team
Platform: Windows, UNIX
Forum software based on Java and the Struts framework.
Platforms: UNIX, Windows, Mac
Web interface to mailing lists; includes Web browsing of a mailing list archive. Development on this product appears to be frozen.
Developer: David W. Baker
Platform: UNIX (written in Perl)
E-mail gateway: permits Web browsing of a mailing list or newsgroup archive.
Developer: Earl Hood
Platforms: UNIX, MS-DOS
A minimalist, yet nicely designed, bulletin board. Can be integrated with an existing user database. Open source. Requires PHP and either mySQL or PostgreSQL.
Developer: Paul Puzyrev and Sergei Lariono
Platforms: UNIX, Windows (written in PHP)
Open source forum and blog software which drives Advogato. Also see the Virgule scripting engine.
Developer: Raph Levien and others
Platforms: UNIX
Open source threaded forum software implemented with Perl and MySQL. The user interface is available in English, German, and several other languages.
Developer: Mark Wichitill
Platform: UNIX
MyBulletinBoard (MyBB)
Free bulletin board based on PHP and mySQL.
Developer: Chris Boulton and others
Platform: UNIX, Windows (written in PHP)
A suite of open source modules designed for building web-based communities, originally based on ArsDigita's ACS.
Developer: Ben Adida, Don Baccus, and others
Platform: UNIX
Open source, light-weight, fast discussion board. Retain copyright with distribution.
Developer: OvBB Project
Platform: UNIX, Windows, Macintosh
Open source message board software implemented with PHP and MySQL. Features e-mail notification and moderated posting.
Developer: Brian Moon
Platform: UNIX
Popular open source message board software implemented with PHP. Features e-mail notification. Requires an external database (MySQL, MS SQL, PostgreSQL, or Access).
Developer: The phpBB Group
Platform: UNIX, Windows, Macintosh
A Usenet News system based on PHP.
Platform: UNIX
Highly customizable open source forum software designed for Linux/Apache/MySQL system. HTML template design with innovative features and administrative options.
Developer: Neil McIver
Platform: UNIX (written in Perl)
Simple open source forum software with a linear conversation structure, implemented with PHP and MySQL.
Developer: Steve Yelvington
Platform: UNIX
Open source message board software implemented with PHP. Requires an external database (MySQL, PostgreSQL, or SQLite).
Developer: Rickard Andersson and others
Platform: UNIX, Windows, Macintosh
Quicksilver Forums
Open source forum software implemented with PHP and MySQL.
Platforms: UNIX, Windows
Simple BBS software, originally modelled after WWWBoard but has been completely rewritten.
Developer: Andrew Maltsev
Platform: UNIX (written in Perl)
Open source system similar to Slash.
Developers: Brent Metzler, Rusty Foster, Chad Kreimendahl, and others
Platform: UNIX (written in Perl)
Simple message board implemented with PHP and MySQL. Designed to be search engine-friendly.
Developer: Hristo Hristov
Platform: UNIX
Open source system based on J2EE and MySQL, which also features an address book, a wiki, polling, a guest book, and other widgets.
Developer: Anders Hovmöller
Platform: UNIX
Open source news and message board software implemented with Perl and MySQL.
Developers: Patrick Galbraith, Chris Nandor, Brian Aker, and others
Platform: UNIX
SMF (Simple Machines Forum)
Popular community software based on PHP and MySQL. The source code is freely available, but the SMF license differs from most open source software in that redistribution is not permitted without written permission.
Developers: Jeff Lewis, Joseph Fung, David Recordon, and others
Platform:Windows, UNIX, Macintosh
Snitz Forums
Feature-rich message board software similar to UBB, based on ASP.
Developers: Snitz Communications
Platform: Windows, UNIX with ASP-enabled server
Freeware. Supports both threaded and linear discussions; stores messages in an SQL database.
Developer: KaYue Mak,, Mike Robb, and others
Platform: UNIX (written in Perl)
Open source blog and discussion software inspired by Slashdot. This is a plug-in module for Zope.
Developer: Butch Landingin and others
Platform: UNIX
Free, open source bulletin board software based on PHP and MySQL. Features RSS and topic subscriptions via email.
Developer: Dietrich Moerman and others
Platform: UNIX
Free, open source, multi-lingual discussion forum software based on PHP and MySQL.
Platform: UNIX, Windows
Venice Web Communities System
Linear forum software with open source, under development.
Developer: Eric Bowersox and others
Platform: UNIX, Windows (written in Java)
BBS software that features a multilingual user interface and ability to upload file attachments to messages. Comes with full source code in PHP.
Developer: Marc Druilhe
Platforms: UNIX, Windows
A template you can hack to suit your own needs. Formerly known simply as "Basic Bulletin Board Script."
Developer: Selena Sol
Platform: UNIX (written in Perl)
Web Wiz Forums
ASP-based bulletin board software. Free download, but there is a modest fee if you want to remove the Web Wiz branding and links from the user interface. Requires MS Access or SQL Server.
Developer: Bruce Corkhill
Platform: Windows
Hybrid forum and Wiki. Allows turning useful discussion threads into wiki articles. Search engine friendly. Also features private messaging. Based on PHP and MySQL.
Developer: WikidForum developer community
Platforms: All
Very widely used.
Developer: Matt Wright
Platform: UNIX
CGI-based Usenet newsreader. Connects directly to NNTP servers. Page layout is configurable through template HTML pages.
Developer: Kasper Peeters
Platform: UNIX
XMB Forum (Extreme Message Board)
Based on PHP and MySQL.
Developer: XMB Group
Platforms: UNIX
YaBB (Yet another Bulletin Board)
Perl-based message board software.
Developer: Zef Hemel and others
Platforms: UNIX, Windows (written in Perl)
Open source, Java-based forum software. Uses JDBC to connect to a wide range of supported databases. The user interface is available in several languages.
Developer: various
Platform: UNIX
Zope-based forum. Works with MySQL or Postgres.
Developer: various
Platform: UNIX, Windows
Based on PHP and MySQL. Supports both linear and threaded discussion views. A commercial release is planned, but the original will remain free for noncommercial users.
Developer: Zoltan Nagy
Platform: Linux

Imageboard Software

Imageboards originated in Japan and are essentially bulletin boards focused on images instead of text. Some English-language imageboards focus on Japanese culture as well. Imageboard software is built around anonymous posting with no requirements for registration.

Be advised that you may encounter offensive or questionable images. These sites are not monitored for content of posts.
Futaba (Japanese)
The original board script.
Platforms: based on PHP, MySQL
Joyful Note (Japanese)
Platforms: based on Perl
Developer: Garrett Albright
Platforms: based on PHP
Platforms: based on PHP
Developer: Dag Ågren
Platforms: based on Perl, JavaScript

Social Networking & Content Management Systems

These products offer forums within a much broader context. Some are platforms for social networking (similar to Facebook or MySpace), others are content management systems (CMS) that help you create and manage large amounts of web content as well as various collaborative features.
AlstraSoft E-friends
Commercial software. Lets you run your own social networking site, complete with group discussion forums, blogs, friend connections, chat, instant messaging, searchable member profiles, etc. Requires PHP and MySQL,
Developer: AlstraSoft
Platform: UNIX, Windows
Commercial software. You can give your users the ability to create their own "clubs" with forums, calendars, and other features similar to Yahoo! Clubs. Also available as a hosted service.
Developer: (Ecreations Software)
Platform: UNIX or Linux
BAC Instant Community
Commercial software. Includes Community Forums, with threaded and conversational styles, plus modules that support photo galleries, mailing lists, polling, video sharing, and ad management.
Developer: (Ecreations Software)
Platform: UNIX or Linux
Clearspace Community
Commercial, enterprise-class community software, meant for building customer social networks. Organizes discussions, blogs, and wikis by topic, making it easier for members to follow subjects of interest. Also available as a hosted service.
Developer: Jive Software
Community Server (formerly ASP.NET Forums)
Commercial software. Suite of applications for community building including blogs, forums, file/photo sharing and user management. Free for personal use with one domain. Service provider licensing available. Also available as hosted service.
Developer: Telligent Systems
Platform: Windows
Open source Content Management System. Features a sophisticated role-based permission system for controlling who can add content and perform various adminstrative functions. Users can add content, rate articles, write blogs, post comments, participate in polls, build picture galleries, share files, etc., and a large developer community continues to build additional modules.
Platform: Apache or Microsoft IIS web server with PHP and either MySQL or PostgreSQL
Ektron CMS400.NET
Commercial software. Content management system with social networking features, including forums, blogs, and wikis.
Developer: Ektron
Platform: Windows
Commercial software. Content Management System featuring forums, mailing lists, blogs, wikis, photo galleries, and other tools.
Open source Content Management System. In addition to forums and chat, features dynamic form builders, business or organizational directories, document management, image and media galleries, e-commerce, calendars, blogs, email newsletters, banner advertising system, and more.
Platform: Apache web server with PHP & MySQL
Open source Content Management System, built for ease of developing custom extensions. Includes forums, chat, mail, instant messaging, blogs, wikis, and many other features.
Platform: Windows, Linux, Unix, Mac. Based on Python and Zope.

Proprietary Web Forum Systems

These are forum systems that were custom-created for use at certain Web sites and are apparently not available as products.
This used to be free software but has apparently become proprietary.
Raging Bull
Popular stock market message boards.
Silicon Investor
Popular stock market message boards devoted to high tech industry.
Universal Soup Kitchen Forums
WELL-style forums based on Cold Fusion.
Universal Thread
Developed by Fournier Transformation. Uses a FoxPro database for message storage and retrieval.

Defunct Web Forum Software

These products are no longer available.
Very inexpensive message board software with built-in web server engine.
Developer: AEX Software
Active Data Online DiscussionBoard
Message board software based on Microsoft .NET Framework. Compatible with MS Access, SQL Server, MySQL, and Oracle.
Developer: Active Data Online
Based on server-side Java and XML. Features an object API.
Developer: (formerly IntraActive Software)
Advansis Forum Server
Threaded message board software. Users can receive follow-up replies by e-mail.
Developer: Advansis
Developer: Simon Croome
Agora (MoJo LiveWire)
Developer: Peter Seibel
Allaire Forums (also known as Cold Fusion Forums)
Previously a commercial product, now available as free open-source software. Based on Allaire's Cold Fusion, a tool for creation of interactive Web database applications.
Developer: and Allaire Corp.
AltaVista LAN Browser (previously called Workgroup Web)
Requires users to install proprietary version of Mosaic.
Developer: Digital Equipment Corp. (now part of Hewlett-Packard)
ArsDigita Community System (ACS)
A suite of open source modules designed for building web-based communities. An alternate version is available under the name OpenACS.
Developer: ArsDigita Corp.
Platform for Web-based groupware applications, including forums and chat. Users need a Java-enabled Web browser.
Developer: Persimmon IT
ASP Fast Forum (formerly Forum 104)
Very inexpensive, especially for noncommercial users. Implemented using Active Server Pages and VBScript.
Developer: Allan Ebdrup, 10-4
ASP Forums
Threaded message board software implemented with Active Server Pages, Javascript, and VBScript. Any ODBC/SQL compliant database can be used for message storage.
Developer: ASP Forums
A Visual Basic discussion component based on Active Server Pages.
Developer: iExchange Corp.
Simple bulletin board software that allows file attachments.
Developer: True Digital
Big Mouth Lion
Uses an expandible outline format with custom "emoticons" displayed next to message titles.
Developer: Infohiway
Free threaded message board software with e-mail notification. Offers several alternative formats for viewing threads.
Developer: Aristole Vathis,
Board Power (formerly BigTalker)
Linear message board software offering email notification, user profiles, and other features.
Developer: The Webmaster Guide, Inc.
A toolkit for building e-Commerce sites, with a strong emphasis on forums. Also offers chat rooms. An API allows full customization of the user interface.
Developer: (formerly BuzzCompany)
Caput offers software components that serve as building blocks for community sites, including message boards, chat, Web-based email, mailing lists, instant messaging, and others.
Very inexpensive. Includes chat and voting features.
Developer: LabGO
Offers file attachments and email notification. Source code is available. Requires Cold Fusion and SQL database
Developer: Erudition Zone
Chatterbox Forums
"A robust forum system written in VB.NET with a Microsoft SQL Server 2000 database backend."
Developer: Saigonova
Very basic BBS/classified ad system; almost free, written in Perl.
Developer: Viola Research Associates
C|net Online's "Posting"
Proprietary software. Displays discussions either in "outline view" (vertically scrolling text) or a unique "table view" that shows responses in a horizontal series of cells.
Allows posting by MIME-compliant e-mail to a Web bulletin board. No longer supported by its authors, but still available.
Developer: Ben Johnson, Paul Walker, and Joan Massó at NCSA
Commerce Builder
Web server designed for secure transactions, with many features, including discussion forums.
Developer: The Internet Factory, Inc.
CommuniWare Enterprise
A full suite of community tools designed to support large-scale, commercial online communities.
Developer: Akonix, Inc.
Web interface to the CoSy forum system.
Developer: Softwords Research International Ltd.
Platform for building web sites, featuring plug-in modules for forums,mailing lists, and other features.
Inexpensive message board software. A limited version (CrazyWWWBoard Limited Edition) was available free.
Developer: Nobreak Technologies, Inc.
Very simple BBS.
Developer: David Wall
Dialogue Forums
Free for noncommercial use. Stores messages in a Microsoft Access database.
Developer: Phillip Kallerman
Linear message board software, integrated with DigiChat and Hubz instant messenger as part of the Enclave Community Suite. Java based; requires mySQL. Allows participation via email. Also available as a hosted service.
Developer: Digi-Net Technologies, Inc.
Discus and Discus Pro
Uses a tree structure for categorizing topics and subtopics, but each discussion is presented as a continuous, linear stream of responses. Available in English and several other languages.
Developer: DiscusWare, LLC
Platforms: UNIX, Windows (written in Perl)
Discuss It!
This is a standalone software component of Darasoft's Class Act system for web-based instruction management.
Developer: Darasoft Ltd.
Dr. B's Virtual Message Board Tool
Very inexpensive. The user interface makes extensive use of Javascript.
Developer: The OM-Tec Company
Simple BBS based on the design of WWWBoard.
Developer: Mike Bagneski
EIES (Electronic Information Exchange System)
Web interface to the venerable EIES forum system.
Developer: CCCC, New Jersey Institute of Technology
Open source forum software based on PHP and MySQL.
Developer: electrifiedPenguin
Emaze Forums & Emaze WebThread
Requires Allaire's Cold Fusion.
Developer: Emaze Software
Enclave Community Suite
See DigiPosts
eShare Expressions Forums
A Web server featuring integrated bulletin board and chat features.
Developer: eAssist Global Solutions (formerly eShare Technologies)
Extended BBS
An extended version of Userland BBS.
Developer: Matthew Stratford
EZsite Forum
Threaded forum software based on Active Server Pages. Requires Microsoft IIS and an ODBC database.
Developer: Doug Dean
Threaded message board based on Active Server Pages and Microsoft SQL Server.
Developer: Underwater Software
Platform: Windows
Tree-structured forums with multiple display options, using frames, tables, and Java.
Developer: UK Web
Forum News Gateway
Usenet News gateway, a server-based gateway developed by the Geometry Forum at Swarthmore College. No longer supported by its developers.
[Description in WWW Unleashed]
Developer: Geometry Forum, Swarthmore College
Developer: The Media Machine LLC
Inexpensive forum software written in ASP.NET and C#. Requires an ODBC database, .NET Framework, and IIS.
Search engine-optimized discussion forum software, available in German or English.
Developer: worldweb
Proprietary software used at Microsoft's online magazine, "Slate".
Developer: Koen Holtman
GlobalChat Boards (formerly iChat Message Boards)
Threaded message board software. Allows email subscription. Can be integrated with GlobalChat's ROOMS chat software so that chat transcripts are recorded in a message board.
Developer: GlobalChat
Proprietary software developed for Gravity
He Bulletin Board
Inexpensive bulletin board software implemented with PHP and MySQL.
Developer: Hescripts
HeyMax Message Boards
HeyMax builds customized community sites for their clients, including message boards and chat rooms.
Developer: HeyMax Interactive
Open source BBS software written entirely in Java.

HotWired's "Threads"
Proprietary software. HotWired was the first commercial Web site to offer forums.
[Description in WWW Unleashed]
E-mail gateway: permits Web browsing of a mailing list archive.
[Description in WWW Unleashed]
Developer: Enterprise Integration Technologies
From the Radiation family of Web tools.
Developer: GlobalMedia Design, Inc.
ichat Message Boards
See GlobalChat Boards
INAF Parliamentary Conference Center
A Web system designed to support parliamentary procedure.
Builds customized community sites for their clients,including forums, chat rooms, and instant messaging.
Developer: Inchima
Inexpensive message board software. Allows viewing in either "flat" or threaded mode. Requires PHP and mySQL.
Developer: Biznik Limited
Forums may be hosted on Infora's site for a monthly fee, or the software can be purchased for installation on your own server.
Developer: Infora Forum Management
Interactive Web BBS Systems
I-Web offers several different inexpensive bulletin board systems: Javascript BBS, FrameBoard, and WebForum.
Developer: The CCS Network
Runs as a separate server (not as a CGI application).
Developer: Forge Foundation, Inc.
KOZ Community Publishing System
Kudosnet Web Forum
PHP-based web bulletin board software that also allows e-mail subscription. Forums can be run on your own server or on Kudosnet's server.
Developer: Kudosnet
lightNews (previously lwNEWS and vw3news)
An open source application.
Developer: Veikko Wünsche
Very simple system based on Tcl and SQL.
Developer: Phil Greenspun
Developer: Standpipe Studios
Mercury Forum
Highly customizable forum system based on the scripting language and database structure of Mercury, an object oriented CGI database program.
Developer: internet five
Message Board
Very simple and inexpensive; free to nonprofits.
Developer: Techno Trade Online Solutions
Message Foundry
Was a commercial product, became freeware, and has now disappeared
Developer: Application Foundry, Inc.
Very simple and inexpensive.
Developer: Alex Heiphetz Group, Inc. (AHG)
Microsoft FrontPage
General-purpose tool for managing Web sites. Redesigned into two products: Microsoft Expression Web and Microsoft SharePoint Designer
Developer: Microsoft
Platform: Windows
Unusually structured message board that allows a thread-starter to specify the exact list of people who have access to each thread. J2EE-based.
Developer: Comunaware
Open source message board software implemented with PHP and MySQL. Features e-mail notification.
Developer: Wankyu Choi
NetBoard Pro
Very simple and inexpensive.
Developer: IServices/ CGI World
General-purpose tool for handling HTML forms that supports simple message boards.
Developer: Maxum Development
Once popular, NetForum went from freeware to commercial back to freeware, and finally has been dropped entirely.
Developer: Medical Informatics & Biomedical Computing, Univ of Wisconsin
Still under development. Uses a threaded structure but displays each topic as a continuously scrolling discussion.
Developer: Jacob Zielinski
Developer: eShare Technologies
BBS style software modeled after Renegade BBS.
Developer: Scott Zibble, dto productions
Intended to be a superset of WELL Engaged's features.
Developer: Blake Buzzini
Participate was an early forum system developed by Harry Stevens and first put to use on The Source in the 1970's. A Web interface for it was developed for use in Co-Nets (community networks).
PForum and JForum
These products were originally developed by Proxicom. PForum was previously known as P/Forum and Podium. JForum, the Java-based system, was known as J/Forum. (Note that Proxicom's JForum is unrelated to the open source JForum developed later.
Developer: MercuryWare
PHP/FI Webboard
Simple bulletin board software implemented with PHP/FI and MySQL. Sample discussion is in Russian.
Developer: Mark Napartovich
A version of Slash, ported from the original Perl to PHP.
Developer: Various (open source)
E-mail gateway: permits Web browsing of a mailing list archive. Similar to Hypermail but written in the Python language.
Developer: A. M. Kuchling
Post-on-the-Fly Conference
Features a frames-oriented user interface.
Developer: HomeCom Communications
Tree-structured forum system, written in Perl.
Developer: Forstle, Inc.
Simple BBS written in Visual Basic.
Developer: Thies Schrader
Rhombus Discussion Web Forum
Rudimentary hierarchical forum system distributed with C source code.
Developer: Tod Harter, Rhombus Communications, Inc.
RZ Forum
Simple BBS written in Perl.
Developer: RZ Soft
Web implementation of a traditional BBS.
Developer: Searchlight Software
Synthigence Forum Pro
Inexpensive threaded message board software. Requires Microsoft .NET Framework and MS Access or SQL Server. Includes full C# source code. Was also available free (Synthigence Free) without the source.
Developer: Synthigence
Threaded forums based on WebDBC, a tool for creation of interactive Web database applications.
Developer: StormCloud Development
Customizable, linear message board software.
Developer: Elated Communications, Ltd.
Based on PHP and mySQL
Developer: Toan Huynh
Developer: Fredo UK
Simple message board software implemented with Active Server Pages. Now available for purchase.
Developer: yMonda
Simple message board software implemented with Active Server Pages and SQL. Requires SQL Server. Now available for purchase.
Developer: yMonda
Supports collaborative filtering (rating) of messages from a mailing list or newsgroup.
Developer: Moe D. Ritter
A discussion and newsgroup server designed for large enterprises.
Developer: bCandid Corp.
UBB.classic (Ultimate Bulletin Board)
Popular, inexpensive BBS software with a linear conversation structure.
Developer: Groupee (formerly Infopop)
Ultimate Bulletin Board
A stripped-down freeware version of the commercial product.
Developer: Ted O'Neill, Prime Web
Very inexpensive BBS software. Free for personal and nonprofit use.
Userland BBS
A BBS based on Dave Winer's Frontier software for Macintosh. A description of this apparently extinct software is still available here.
Developer: Dave Winer, Userland Software
Virtual Bulletin System (VBS)
Frames and Java-based. Supports file uploading, sound and image embedding, realtime chat.
Developer: Brad Daugherty
See lightNews (defunct).
WarpWare BBS
Shareware, open source BBS. Requires Perl and SQL on the server, Javascript-capable browser.
Developer: Max Baker, WarpWare
Washington Candidates Forum
Free Perl scripts designed to support online debates between candidates for office.
Developer: Sanford Morton
Washington Web Conferencing System
Very simple demonstration system. Developer will modify it to suit customers' needs.
Developer: Washington Web / Internet Online, Inc.
WBB - Web Bulletin Board
Commercial software for a moderated Web bulletin board. No facility for threaded discussions, though.
Developer: InterContinental Marketing Ltd.
Web Bulletin Board System written in Perl.
Developer: WebTechnics
A collection of Bourne and Perl scripts that act as a Web interface to Usenet news and mailing lists.
Developer: Chris Nystrom
Minimalist WELL-style interface.
Developer: Bonsai Software, Inc.
Developer:Afzal Ballim
Developer: Floersch Enterprises
Stores messages in an ODBC-compliant database
Developer: Metasys
Shareware Perl script for a very simple bulletin board.
Developer: VirtualMarketing Technologies.
Web implementation of a traditional BBS, designed for compatibility with Worldgroup and Major BBS.
Developer: Computerized Horizons
WebMoot (formerly known as WebÞing)
Features realtime chat and e-mail participation.
Developer: Nick Kew, WebThing Ltd. (WebÞ)
Platform: UNIX
Web interface to NetNotes, a client-server forum system.
[Description in WWW Unleashed]
Developer: Spyglass, Inc.
Web Threads
Developer: inTouch Technologies
World in a Box
A complete Web site management system, featuring discussion forums, realtime chat, Web page publishing, etc. Based on Allaire's Cold Fusion.
Developer: i5ive Communications, Inc.
XAforum (formerly XaNotes)
Messages are stored in an SQL database.
Developer:, Inc.
Developer: DigitalFacades Corp.
Inexpensive threaded message board software, written in VBScript. A limited free version is also available.
Developer: Tim Coles,

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