Skip to main content

Flarum - The next-generation forum software that makes online discussion fun

Flarum
Posted by admin on 31st Mar 2017

Since Flarum is still in Beta, this will be a short article guide on installing Flarum and a summary of the pros and cons.

So far, i am really impressed with Flarum. The stable release should hopefully be made available some time next month.

This is a great alternative to Discourse forum, which I was very interested in but having no experience with Ruby on Rails, i didn't really want to mess with it even though it was very easy to install using a Docker image (ie, container).

Installing Flarum only took less than 10 minutes to complete using Composer.

Requirements:

  • A web server: Apache (with mod_rewrite), Nginx, or Lighttpd
  • PHP 5.5+ with the following extensions: mbstring, pdo_mysql, openssl, json, gd, dom, fileinfo
  • MySQL 5.5+
  • SSH (command-line) access
  • Composer

Installation:

SSH to your website and navigate to a directory you want to install Flarum. I am installing it in the webroot directory so i changed directory to public_html

Once in my public_html directory, i ran this command: 

composer create-project flarum/flarum . --stability=beta

If you get this error message below,

[InvalidArgumentException]
Project directory ./ is not empty.

it means your directory is not empty. In my case, i had 2 directories inside the directory i want to install Flarum:

.well-known
cgi-bin

(Let's Encrypt automatically creates .well-known directory)

I created a temp directory outside of my webroot and move those 2 folders for the mean time and moved them back once the installation has completed.

Next, run this command again to download Flarum and all its dependencies required.

composer create-project flarum/flarum . --stability=beta

Once all the files have been downloaded, create a new mysql database. We need this to install Flarum. Take a note of your database login credentials as you need this for the installation process. 

Finally, visit the website on your browser and complete the installation process.

What does Flarum frontend looks like? visit Flarum community site

What does Flarum Admin Control Panel (ACP) look like? below are some screenshots:

Dashboard

Dashboard

There isn't anything useful info in the dashboard at this stage. Hopefully, this will change once it is out of Beta. I hope it will display some stats.

Permission settings

permission settings

On permission page, you can set global permissions for your forum.

Marketplace

Marketplace

There are already plans for a Marketplace where you can purchase extensions. This is still in the works. At the moment, there is a community setup where you can download free extensions. Extensions are plugins that add extra functionality to your forum. Currently, you need to instal it via Composer.

Setting up SMTP

I recommend using smtp as it is more reliable way to send emails. Follow these steps to use smtp:

SMTP Server
Driver: smtp
Host: mail.domain.com (replace this with your domain name)
Port: 465 (this could be different from your server so consult with your hosting provider)
Encryption: ssl

SMTP Account
user: user@domain.com (this is your email user)
Password: ****** (this is your email password)

So what are the Pros and Cons?

Pros:

  • Great looking forums with a modern touch and no clutter like you get from standard forums software.
  • A forum that harness many similar features found in social media for better UI interactions.
  • Fast loading pages
  • Easily extensible by adding extra extensions
  • Consistent UI with desktop and mobile versions 

Cons:

  • Lacking in more extensions
  • Design layout maybe less customisable. Only UI can be themed.
  • No anti-spam in place. Spam is a growing problem for any community sites.
  • No forum/user statistics available
  • No built-in features to create pages or forum.
  • No features to add more fields to user profiles.
  • No wysiwyg editor to easily add/update text and media content. It would be nice to have this out of the box, even though there are extensions for this.  

I have to admit, the cons are a bit unfair because Flarum is still in beta so i believe most of that will be addressed once it hits a stable version. 

If you are WordPress user, you will be excited to know there will be an integration planned. It will probably be integrating the user base using SSO (Single Sign On).

If you are just starting out a new community, i think this is the best time to start using Flarum because by the time you have grown your user based (which will take awhile), more features will have been completed and ready. 

 

Back to top