Woltlab Burning Board Review

(June 29, 2010 23:33)
Last Version 3.1.7 (May 10th, 2012). Released under Proprietary License.
Resources Website Woltlab Burning Board Website Download Download...
Company WoltLab® GmbH.
Price $69.99.
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Woltlab Burning Board is a PHP based forum software, developed since 2001 by an German company, WoltLab® GmbH.

Even if it is not very known in US and other European country, this software is very active in Germany and other German countries. Indeed, since software first version, Burning Board counts more than 100,000 active installations over Internet.

Burning Board is available in two different versions:

Burning Board Logo

Burning Board 3.0

Burning Board Lite Logo

Burning Board Lite 2.01

Differences between Burning Board and Burning Board Lite

Burning Board Lite is free and is simply a light version of what propose the full and commercial Burning Board product. You will be able to migrate from the light and free edition quite easily, so this is perfect to review and test the software before purchase it. We would really appreciate this kind of efforts from other commercial companies, so thank you Woltlab for showing the right example.

The whole prices list is available at the Purchase screen of Woltlab.

WBB and Woltlab Community Framework (WCF)

WBB 3 is built upon a WoltLab-developped framework (called "WoltLab Community Framework", in short "WCF"), which uses a package management system, like Linux does. WCF is being installed while installing WBB, which slows down a bit the whole installation however. As WBB 3 is only an application running on top of WCF, many other applications can be run with WCF simultaneously.

WCF supports all applications, serving database, users and many other basic system functions, so that developers do not have to develop everything repeatedly. That way you can build large sites running only one integrated system. Apps even share the style of the system (called "skin" in your comparison).

Review Updates:

  • June 17, 2011: Extensive Refresh of the Review with the help of Luzifer, from Berlin.
  • July 11, 2010: First Review.

Woltlab Burning Board is recommended for Large Community.

(and supports smaller communities perfectly as well.)

Server & Client Requirements

Server Requirements
Programming Language
Required Architecture and Versions.
  • PHP 5
Web Servers
How the forum is delivered to users.
  • Apache 1.3
  • Apache 2.0/2.2
  • Microsoft IIS
  • Lighttpd
  • Nginx
How Forum Data are Stored.
  • MySQL
Operating Systems
Systems Supporting this Software.
  • GNU/LinuxGNU/Linux
  • BSD UnixBSD Unix
  • Microsoft WindowsMicrosoft Windows
  • Apple Mac OSApple Mac OS
Browser & Client Requirements
Compatible Browsers
List of Compatible Browsers.
Mozilla FirefoxMozilla FirefoxInternet ExplorerInternet Explorer
Google ChromeGoogle ChromeOperaOpera
Apple SafariApple SafariKonquerorKonqueror
Mozilla SeaMonkeyMozilla SeaMonkey
Required Plugins/Technologies
Additional or Basic Requirements from Client Side.
HTML, Javascript, AJAX, CSS.
Languages supported by Woltlab Burning Board.
Supported Languages:
Portuguese (Brazilian) Chinese (Simplified)
German Danish
French Croatian
Italian Portuguese
Turkish English (British)
English (American) Chinese (Traditional)

More information about supported languages on Features Description. Note that German Informal language is also built-in.

Woltlab Burning Board - Admin Design - Languages

The scope chosen by Woltlab is a little bit limited, because they expect you to install Burning Board to a PHP / MySQL server, also known as LAMP (even if Apache could be replaced by Microsoft IIS). This is actually logical, because this architecture is the most spread all around the world, so you nearly can't know this, and moreover, this basic architecture is free and open source, so you can easily rely on it, even if you're used to other platform like JEE, .Net or Python.

Compatibility with Smartphones
Compatible SmartPhones
Compatible Cellphone Brands and Manufacturers.
  • AndroidAndroid
  • iPhoneiPhone
  • BlackBerryBlackBerry
  • Windows Phone 7Windows Phone 7
  • Symbian Phones <em>(Nokia)</em>Symbian Phones (Nokia)
  • HP WebOS <em>(ex-Palm)</em>HP WebOS (ex-Palm)
Application Distribution / Type
How it is distributed / App Store Availability
  • Web Application

WBB perfectly fits smartphones screen, so as soon as you have a modern phone, browsing a Burning Board forum should not be a problem.

Forum Threads & Posts

Forum Threads / Topics
Forum Style Flat Forum Organization
  • Forum Categories
  • URL Redirection Forum
  • Sub Sections
  • Tags
Thread Icons No Topic Tags Yes
Hot Topics Yes Unread Topics Yes
Hidden Topics Yes Sticky Threads Yes
Related Threads Yes Detect Duplicate Threads Yes
Announcements Yes
Posting Messages / Answers
Message Editing Form
How to Post Messages.
  • WYSIWYG Editor
  • Formatting Buttons
  • Preview Button
Post Editing Format
Supported Markup Language (HTML, Wiki, BBCode,...).
  • HTML
  • BBCode
Spell Checker
Checks typos on posts and topics.
Image Attachment
How Images can be Attached and Displayed in Message Posts.
  • Upload via Advanced Attachments. Images can be placed in the flow of message text.
  • Use BBCode or HTML. Need to type the URL of an already hosted image.
Embedded Videos
Videos and Media Websites Supported in Message Posts.
Posting Features
Quick Reply Box Yes Smileys Yes
Attachments Yes Syntax Highlighting Plugin
Message Rating
Yes Message Quoting Yes

Woltlab Burning Board - Topic Posts

YouTube and MyVideo are supported through BB-Code, that is quite useful to embed a videa with a click. Of course, announcements are available, and this is useful to inform your entire community (communities are often splitted among some specific categories / subforums of your bulletin board) about something new, or a future event (restarting, maintenance tasks,...)

The Posting Message Form is one of the best part of Burning Board: really well designed, really powerful. Without any doubt, it's one of the best advanced textarea we saw long-past.

The "Multiquote" system of WBB is also really powerful. Once you are getting used to it you never want to use the rudimentary quoting system of other board systems. Here are some possibilities WBB is giving to you:

  • You can quote plainly as in other systems.
  • You can let the system quote paragraphs into single quote-blocks in your post automatically so you can conveniently write between them.
  • You can select text in posts and quote just that piece of text.
  • You can even quote from the list of the last posts when previewing your new post (below the editor).
  • You can quote text from everywhere in the whole system (wherever posts are being shown, like the Board, Private Messages, Guestbook, Calendar, Bugtracker and so on.
  • You can also save the quotes for re-use.
  • You can gather quotes from all over the system (even from threads you cannot write in) and put them in a post from a tab under the post editor, like emoticons. In the WYSIWYG-view you can see the quotes exactly as they later look in the post (framed and the same colors).

Additional & Technical Features

Additional Forum Features
Poll Creation Yes
Private Messages
Users Can Communicate using an Internal Messaging System.
Instant Messaging
Discuss with Visitors and Members in a Chat Window.
Topic, Member Birthdays, Events are available from the perspective of a calendar.
Online Users List
Connected User List (Often Found in the Forum Footer).
Members List
Search and Consult the List of Members.
Technical Features
Bundled Software
Additional Software Available with the Forum.
  • Portal
  • Blog
  • Gallery
RSS/Atom Syndication
Posts and Threads Exported to Feeds Aggregators Syndicate.
Friendly URLs
URLs are clear and contain information about the topic (title, message,...). Highly recommended for SEO purposes.
Post by Email
Post Directly From your Email Box.
Remote Control
Remote Control from External Software/Websites.
Cache System
Cache pages to optimize bandwidth and load times.
Template Engine
It is easier to theme a forum using a known template engine (more docs & examples,...).
  • Smarty

Woltlab Burning Board - Private Messages

The only thing that surprise us in Woltlab is the lack of a calendar in the standard installation, but, after thinking about that... is it really useful for a forum software? If you however really need it, it is however provided as a commercial plugin.

Regarding polls, they are not limited to the first message of a thread, but to every message users can post. This dramatically increases the usage of such feature, which does not force user to create a new topic whenever they want to create a poll.

Note that WBB includes its own Friends Network architecture, which could be really nice to show relationship between users.

User Profiles & Options

Some details about Woltlab Burning Board features regarding members.
Member Options & Features
Bookmark Threads
User Profiles Keep a List of Followed Posts and Topics.
Email Notifications
Receive Emails When New Messages are Posted in Followed Threads.
Export private messages
Private Messages can be Downloaded by Users.
Payment Subscriptions
Paying Membership Subscription.
User Profiles
User Profile
User Information and Settings.
Pictures of Members, Useful to Easily Identify their Posts.
Signatures Added at the Bottom of Each Message.
Tags and Labels Identifying the Members, based on specific criteria (Total Posts Count, Credits, Moderation Level...)

Woltlab Burning Board - User Profile

Users Profiles are quite complete, you will find in Burning Board any classic features, like Avatar, Signature, Bookmarking,...

Woltlab Burning Board - Admin User - Ranks

User Ranks are customizable, as usual in such forum software.

Moderation & Users Management

Moderation is well integrated, as it allows moderator to administrate comments and posts inline. This is really efficient, as they will fix and correct mistakes very quickly, as soon as they find one.

Moderation & Threads Management
Pre-Moderation In pre-moderation, every post needs to be validated by a moderator before being published.
Post-Moderation The moderation is done afterwards, if an administrator notices a problem or if a member reports something wrong. Each message is therefore directly published.
Reactive Moderation By reporting any problems, members are reactive against moderation problems. Moderators' main objective is to regularly check user reports, without having to follow each threads.
Distributed Moderation By organizing the forum around moderators, who are usually power and experienced users, moderation is self-powered and only depends on the community.
Moderator per section Yes
Global Moderator Yes
Move Threads
Move Threads from Topics
Shadow Topics
When a thread is moved, the previous position is kept in order to inform users of this modification.
Close/Lock Threads
Close/Lock Problematic Threads
Users Management
User Groups
Organize and define groups of users, and apply different actions and settings on them.
Common Groups: Guests, Members, Moderators, Administrators,...
User Registration
  • Free Registration
  • Registration needs Approval
  • Invitation Only
  • User Account created by Administrator
  • Confirmation sent by email for validation
Limit Features For New Users
Features are limited if a user has created a small number of posts.
Guest Posting Yes
Multiple Administrators Yes
Send Warnings to Users
Inform users by email or PM that they infringe the board rules, and could be excluded for such behavior.
Forum/Section Restricted Access
ACL could be use to determine if a user or a group of users can access (in read only, post message) to some sections and topics.
User Banishment Yes

Administration & Support

Woltlab Burning Board - Admin System - Logs

The Administration Dashboard is one of the best we ever saw in our long live of forum testers. Well organized, well designed, everything is findable in two or three clicks.

Database Management
Backup Database
Backup forum datas that you could store somewhere else.
Prune Database
Remove old and unused datas from your forum.
Restore Database
Restore a backup of your database if the previous install crashed.
Administration Tools
Statistics about posts count, users, traffic...
Yes Error/Notice Log Viewer
Forum Logs could be consulted.
Tasks Scheduler
Maintenance tasks are regularly launched and could be scheduled.
Yes Mass Mailing
Send an email (newsletters, advertisements, information,...) to all users.
Installation & Upgrading
Installation Method
How this forum software could be installed.
Installation Wizard
Upgrading Method
How this forum software could be upgraded.
Upgrade Wizard
Updates Notifications
The Admin Panel informs you when a new version is released.
Forum Migration
Convert an existing forum to Woltlab Burning Board.

Woltlab Burning Board - Admin - Dashboard

Note that Woltlab is based on a derived version of the Smarty template engine. It is therefore really powerful and allows templating quite easily, if you have skills in the Smarty template files.

With its package-system included in WCF, the upgrade process could be also done in two different ways: Manually just by uploading of the (previously downloaded) installation archive. Or again, as with the plug-ins, you can search the update servers and install without any upload directly from the servers of WoltLab with the package-system.

  • APBoard 2.0.x, 2.2.x
  • IP.Board 2.0.x, 2.1.x, 2.2.x, 2.3.x
  • MyBulletinBoard 1.2.x
  • NewBB 2.x
  • Parsimony
  • phpBB 2.0.x, 3.0.x
  • PHPKIT 1.6.x
  • PunBB 1.2.x
  • Simple Machines Forum 1.1.x
  • Snitz Forums 2000
  • ThWboard 2.8.x
  • vBulletin 3.0.x, 3.5.x, 3.6.x, 3.7.x

Security & Spam Protection

Security & Spam Protection
Captcha protects your forum against spam bots.
e.g., Syndicate
Complexity: [++[ Easy
Abnormal Behavior Detection
Detect users or request strange behaviors, and try to process proactive actions.
Words Filtering
Offensing Words are automatically replaced.
User Blacklist
Prevent specific user accounts to register (based on email address, name,...) and disable potentially harmful members.
IP Blocking
Prevent access to spam robots and other scripts that could attempt DDOS or Brute Force attacks on your forum.

Vulnerabilities Advisories Criticality

Secunia Criticality

Secunia Advisories severity affecting Woltlab Burning Board.

Vulnerabilities Impact

Secunia Impact

Secunia Advisories impact affecting Woltlab Burning Board.

Customization & Social Networks

Add new features to your forum installation.
~300 Available Plugins.
Installation: [++[ Easy
Modify the style of your forum easily.
~229 Available Themes.
Custom BBCodes Yes Smiley Packs Yes
Thread Icons
No Additional User Profile Fields
Ask more about your members with custom fields.
Integration with Applications, Social Networks, Intranet...
Social Networks
Users can share information from their social network account...
CMS / Blog Bridges
Integration with existing Web publishing tools.
User Accounts Integration
Do users be able to log in with their corporate, Google, Facebook,... accounts?
Content Aggregation
Forum allows to integrate news and content from other website, using an aggregation protocol (RSS, RDF, Atom,...).

There are two ways to install plugins in WBB: either manually just by upload of the (previously downloaded) plugin archive, which can be done easily, without editing of any files. You can also search the update servers and install without any upload directly from the servers of WoltLab or other developers with the package-system.

W3C Norms & Accessibility

Norms & Accessibility
XHTML 1.1 Strict.
XHTML 1.1 Strict
Click to see if it respects HTML norms.
CSS Stylesheets
CSS 2.
Click to see if it respects CSS norms.
Accessibility (WAI)
Web Accessibility ensures that the forum is usable by people of all abilities and disabilities.
Conformance to AA level.
UTF-8 Support
Default encoding used to support all locales and countries.
Conformance to W3C Norms
Does Woltlab Burning Board correctly follow (X)HTML and CSS norms?

Unique Features

Key points and major differences that make Woltlab Burning Board unique:

  • The package management system: WCF / WBB 3 consists of many basic packages and a lot of free optionals / commercial ones (not only by WoltLab, but private developers).
  • The PluginStore, also connected to the package system.
  • The template editor mad system, which keeps you always up-to-date, even when you have modified your templates.
  • WBB 3 and WCF are being coded strictly in OOP-style, as all plug-ins are.
  • Event listeners and template scripting derived from SMARTY.
  • Accessible and semantic approach of the software.
  • Personal notes/text-modules system - very handy when posting repeated texts and also integrated with the quoting system.
  • Master password for sensitive sections of the ACP, only for the boards owner.
  • Security-token system.
  • The multilinguality mode, where the board can be set to only show threads in the user chosen language(s). Unlike other systems, where different languages can not exist side-by-side, and have to be separated in different board sections. With WBB you can virtually split your board for different languages without really splitting it.
  • Attachments in Private Messages.
  • The style editor with its ability to import/export styles to share, including style settings, custom CSS, icons and templates. Also the possibility to get/install/update styles over the package system, without editing anything.
  • The contextual search system, which is always there on the top of the page (in other systems you have to open a separate page) and searches always the page section you are in. So on the index page it searches the whole board and in a thread it searches the thread. But there is also a separate extended search page if you need it. Also searches Private Messages (only your own, calendars, images, blog articles, and other texts).

Final Words


Modern, polished, well designed, norms compliant... the count of positive qualifiers is really impressive, and Woltlab Burning Board clearly deserve them all. By combining a nice interface, with an outstanding list of features, all manageable through a very well designed administration interface (that does not consist of a series of tables), Burning Board reaches the top list of best forum software at once.

We however only regret the installer wizard, that is quite slow, more particularly because you have to install the Woltlab Community Framework fast, and because the entire software is packaged in small parts, that all needs to be unpacked, installed and to launch post-installation actions.

Apart from this point (that is not so much important, you are supposed to install it once), everything is just awesome. This forum software from Germany could easily compete with the major platforms of Internet, like vBulletin, PhpBB or IPB.

Additional Resources:

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Comments (16)

Please update review and demo

Please update review and demo with Burning Board latest version 3.1.4


Go?d ?ay! This is m? first

Goοd ԁay! This is mу first сοmment heгe so
І ϳust wantеd to givе a quicκ ѕhout out and tеll yοu
І trulу enjοy readіng thrοugh
your blοg ρosts. Ϲan уοu гecommеnԁ any οthеr blogѕ/websites/foгumѕ that
covеr the sаme subjeсts? Αpprеciаte


The WBB 3.1.4 has no

The WBB 3.1.4 has no calendar, no gallery, only as a plugin for a lot of money.


Individual plug-ins - that

Individual plug-ins - that makes sense.
Why should this softare be included?
Community calendar or gallery cost 29,99 € each.
A lot of money?


To me, Woltlab is not worth

To me, Woltlab is not worth it comapred to free easy-to-install software like MyBB. In order to install any forum or software, you have to use their Community Framework, which is one .zip file with about 15 seperate .zip archives mixed in with it.

The lack of simple features like a warning system for Lite and a calendar make other solutions like MyBB/ phpBB look much more promising.


I develope Plugins for the

I develope Plugins for the WCF/WBB (in german Wink ). It's easy to learn, if you have skills in PHP. WoltLab have a very good documentation for this, sonwe are very much developers and there are not ~300 but ~30.000 Wink
Look in the WoltLab pluginstore: http://www.woltlab.com/pluginstore/ . And there are not all of the existing plugins Wink


I like Burning Board Lite

I like Burning Board Lite Wink


The demo link not

The demo link not working:

Fatal error: PHP warning in file /var/www/wotlabbb/lib/system/io/File.class.php (35): fopen(/var/www/wotlabbb/forum/options.inc.php) [function.fopen]: failed to open stream: Permission denied

This means nobody can use the demo feature.


Demo is here:


Yeah.. the forum worked for

Yeah.. the forum worked for me for a little bit. Started (re-?)adding some of the default languages from my own WBB3.1 install. All went fine, languages worked, then all of a sudden I got this:


error message: PHP warning in file /var/www/wotlabbb/lib/system/io/File.class.php (35): fopen(/var/www/wotlabbb/forum/options.inc.php) [function.fopen]: failed to open stream: Permission denied
error code: 0
file: /var/www/wotlabbb/lib/system/WCF.class.php (281)
php version: 5.3.6-13ubuntu3.6
wcf version: 1.1.2 (Tempest)
date: Tue, 10 Apr 2012 03:29:43 +0000
request: /wotlabbb/forum/

Weirdly enough, the admin control panel still works as if nothing happened (including logging in etc.)

something's definitely buggy here..


Latest version is 3.1.7 now.

Latest version is 3.1.7 now.

lastnico's picture

Updated, thanks.

Updated, thanks.

FSR Admin - Vote for 2012.


Thanks, awesome.

Thanks, awesome.


It`s really good soft. Thanks

It`s really good soft. Thanks


Burning Boards will not

Burning Boards will not return your money, and will lie to keep that money which they obtain by false advertising. They are gambling with their advertisements, stating easy automatic installation on most hosting sites. This was not the case at all when I went to install it.

I had installed PHBB on the same site, but after about a year and half they hacked the PHBB board. That is why I looked into burning board, because they said their software would not get hacked. They stated that no customizing was needed, this was not the case.

When I tried to get my $100 bucks back, they said no way, because they said I did not work with their experts to try to make the software work. If I wanted to customize my hosting site or their software, the add should have said that, and perhaps I would have bought their software, and I would still be using it. The truth was that I liked what the add said about no customizing, that is why I bought it.

I let them keep their $100 bucks, it will probably cost them thousands, and force them to live out an immoral lifetime.

There was a good side to all this though, it lead me to Pro Boards, a totally hosted company where you do not have to worry about spammers and hackers, like I did with PHBB. Pro Board shields you from hackers. The price of Pro Boards is Free. You can make a really nice modern looking totally customized forum, and it costs you nothing.


William McCormick


Burning Board is a piece of

Burning Board is a piece of shit.
It didn't install on my server after I checked it met their fuckin' requirements.
It stopped at the same point with a fatal error.
50 € worth of shit !
Support is charged 14 € a ticket if you don't pay for their support option.
They can go fuck themselves, fuckin' germans !
The review here should be cancelled and this board never advertized or reviewed again !
It's a truckload of crap !

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