XenForo Review

(March 16, 2011 13:15)
Last Version 1.3.4 (July 15th, 2014). Released under Proprietary License.
Resources Website XenForo Website Download Download...
Company XenForo Ltd.
Price $140 for a Standard License, $250 for Brand Removal.
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XenForo development started in 2009, beginning with two former and talented developers of vBulletin: Kier Darby and Mike Sullivan. XenForo is based really modern paradigms of efficiency, ergonomy and simplicity. Using the classical PHP/MySQL couple, extended with the Zend Framework, the goal of XenForo when the project started was to create a forum software as it should be with today constraints: highly connected to social networks, based on modern technologies, but keeping it professional and simple.

You will indeed discover that XenForo is doing a really good usage of AJAX, because it only uses it to improve user experience, while others sometimes give you the feeling they want to replace jQuery effects documentation. It of course uses tools and services that are clearly mandatory if you want to have a modern and secure application ; to not quote them all: Google Analytics, Gravatar, Facebook, Twitter, ReCAPTCHA,...

XenForo Pricing

  • XenForo License: $140. It includes 12 months of ticket support and upgrades
  • Extension of support and upgrade: $40. Valid for 12 additional months.
  • Branding Removal: $250. Even if it's really easy to guess the forum software behind a website, you can hide XenForo copyright for this price.
  • Installation by XenForo Services: $50. No experience in Web server? That's for you.

Review Updates:

  • April 6th, 2011: Update Review with XenForo 1.0.1.
  • March 16th, 2011: First Review.

XenForo is recommended for Huge 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 XenForo.
Supported Languages:
Albanian Portuguese (Brazilian)
Chinese (Simplified) German
Spanish French
Hungarian Indonesian
Icelandic Italian
Dutch Norwegian
Polish Portuguese
Serbian Russian
Arabic Swedish
Turkish Ukrainian
English (British) English (American)
Afrikaans Chinese (Traditional)

The Official Language Forum of XenForo will provide you a good way to get updated and new translations in your language.

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)
Application Distribution / Type
How it is distributed / App Store Availability
  • Web Application

Forum Threads & Posts

Forum Threads / Topics
Forum Style Flat Forum Organization
  • Forum Categories
  • URL Redirection Forum
  • Sub Sections
Thread Icons Plugin Topic Tags No
Hot Topics Yes Unread Topics Yes
Hidden Topics Yes Sticky Threads Yes
Related Threads No Detect Duplicate Threads No
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,...).
  • Plain
  • BBCode
Spell Checker
Checks typos on posts and topics.
Image Attachment
How Images can be Attached and Displayed in Message Posts.
  • Upload via Classic Attachments. Images are all at the end of the post.
  • 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

XenForo - Create new Thread

Sections and Threads are really pleasant to read, with a small tooltip giving you an excerpt of the topic, and with the picture of the author on the left.

By the way, having access to the RSS feed of each section is so useful and, the icon is really accessible for once.

Posting new topics and answers could be done with either a WYSIWYG editor or with a plain editor extended with buttons.

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.
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,...).
  • Custom Template Engine

XenForo - Member List

The features list is really complete, and every single important things are there.

User Profiles & Options

Some details about XenForo 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...)

XenForo - User Profile Page

Avatar could be manually uploaded by members and are automatically retrieved thanks to a Gravatar integration.

Payment Subscription is possible using the User Upgrades menu, that provides an integration with Paypal. By the way, you can choose if it needs to be renewed in time or if it is permanent. This upgrade basically gives the user access to a new user group, which can be customized elsewhere.

As usual, a user can submit his personal way to contact him, and these Identity Services can be customized in the Administration panel.

Moderation & Users Management

XenForo Administration - Moderators

Moderator rights can be configured really precisely, which is really important when you manage an important forum community.

Moderation & Threads Management
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

XenForo Administration - List All Users

The User Discouragements panel is really interesting, as it allows to setup some delays and restrictions to a certain category of users: the Discouraged Users. The aim of the Discourager is simply to define a loading delay, display some blank pages, prevent message flooding, disable search, redirect it somewhere,... To sum up, enabling all these features should not let a user of this category stays here more than 15 minutes.

Guest Posting is of course supported, and the forum is still protected using ReCAPTCHA if required.

Administration & Support

XenForo Administration - Import Data

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 XenForo.

XenForo Administration - Tools

XenForo provides per default a Google Analytics integration: copy paste your identifier, and that's it, you are tracked.

The Import External Data menu helps doing the migration. For the time being vBulletin 3.7/3.8 and Invision Power Board are supported. By the way it's really simple to extend this engine.

Security & Spam Protection

Security & Spam Protection
Captcha protects your forum against spam bots.
e.g., Syndicate
Complexity: [++[ Normal
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.

XenForo Administration - Captchas

To prevent being spammed, XenForo asks per default questions to his members, which is more fun than try to decipher complex images. By the way, additional questions could be added to let you being more secure and to maybe request questions about the universe or the subject your forum is about.

Customization & Social Networks

Add new features to your forum installation.
~175 Available Plugins. More info »
Installation: [++[ Very Easy
Modify the style of your forum easily.
~80 Available Themes.
Custom BBCodes Yes Smiley Packs Yes
Thread Icons
Plugin 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.
  • Drupal
  • WordPress
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,...).

XenForo Administration - Style Properties Block

Customizing BBCodes and Smileys is really easy, and XenForo supports natively Youtube, Facebook and Vimeo through the BBCode Media Site interface.

Styling and customizing the look of your forum is really easy, and XenForo provides several way to do it:

  • Style: Import and modify a complete style.
  • Color Palette: Customize default colors of your forum.
  • Style Properties: Edit a group of properties, applied to a certain portion of your forum.
  • Template Editor: Edit templates of your forum, to add new content if required.

About templates, note that the template engine is really well thought, and that the language is really simple to learn. Here is a small snippet of what you can do:

<xen:title>{xen:phrase avatar_editor}</xen:title>
	<xen:breadcrumb href="{xen:link 'full:account/personal-details'}">{xen:phrase personal_details}</xen:breadcrumb>
<form action="{xen:link 'account/avatar-upload'}" method="post" enctype="multipart/form-data" class="xenForm">
	<xen:if is="{$visitor.avatar_date}">
			<dl class="ctrlUnit">
				<dt><label>{xen:phrase current_avatar}:</label></dt>
				<dd><xen:avatar user="$visitor" size="m" class="NoOverlay" /></dd>
			<dl class="ctrlUnit">
				<dd><label for="ctrl_delete"><input type="checkbox" name="delete" value="1" id="ctrl_delete" /> {xen:phrase delete_current_avatar_question}</label></dd>
	<dl class="ctrlUnit">
		<dt><label>{xen:phrase upload_avatar}:</label></dt>
		<dd><input type="file" name="avatar" /></dd>
	<xen:if is="{$xenOptions.gravatarEnable}">
		<dl class="ctrlUnit">
			<dt><label for="ctrl_use_gravatar">{xen:phrase use_gravatar}:</label></dt>
			<dd><input type="checkbox" name="use_gravatar" value="1" class="Disabler" id="ctrl_use_gravatar"{xen:checked '{$visitor.gravatar}'} />
				<span id="ctrl_use_gravatar_Disabler">
					<input type="text" name="gravatar" value="{$visitor.gravatar}" class="textCtrl" />
	<dl class="ctrlUnit submitUnit">
		<dd><input type="submit" value="{xen:phrase modify_avatar}" accesskey="s" class="button primary" /></dd>
	<input type="hidden" name="_xfToken" value="{$visitor.csrf_token_page}" />

W3C Norms & Accessibility

Norms & Accessibility
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 XenForo correctly follow (X)HTML and CSS norms?

Using an HTML 5 Doctype, you do know that XenForo is the first forum software entering to the new generation of the Web.

Final Words


If four words could sum up the feeling we have using XenForo, they would probably be: "XenForo is absolutely outstanding!". I were positively surprised by all the small things making the user experience fun and efficient, while being able to mask the complexity by using new web standards and a very nice ergonomy.

XenForo is indeed the first forum fully compliant with HTML 5, providing for its first major release almost all must-have features that other forum software developed in, sometimes, 10 years. Of course, as a company, XenForo Ltd has to make money and had to provide the best forum software ever if they want to get a place on the extremely competing sector of forums and social networking, and this is clearly what they did. As former vBulletin employees, we clearly see that developers who work on XenForo have a strong background and have tons of ideas they were not able to apply on their previous job, probably because of the old-fashioned style vBulletin monolithic-code has.

Anyway, I would highly suggest you to have a look to XenForo demonstration, because it is really hard to describe here all the eye-candy and sugar features that are put in place into XenForo: your own experience will convince you more than this review.

Additional Resources:

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Comments (30)

This software is rubbish,

This software is rubbish, really bad, I'm a systems engineer and I can do better forum than this. Look my site is better.


you are liar and suck, your

you are liar and suck, your site is rubbish and you are a bad engineer





I totally agree

I totally agree Smile


And you suck at trolling

And you suck at trolling Smile


Hypothetically, you could be

Hypothetically, you could be working for Internet Brands. LOL


You obviously work for

You obviously work for Internet Brands.


I wonder what's your

I wonder what's your intention behind this comment

XF is a good forum software IMO. I haven't bought it still, but I'm in the middle of that decision, but in a user's opinion, XF is a good option.


I recently launched a new

I recently launched a new XenForo community and I have to say after using VBulletin, phpBB, and Vanilla in the past, this software is easily the best I have ever used.

The XenForo guys deserve some serious props for making it so easy to use and customize.

Great stuff.



I really dislike xenforo. Not

I really dislike xenforo. Not only they refuse to fix bugs, it's full of bugs. I'm happy I didn't purchased it


Exactly what bugs are you

Exactly what bugs are you talking about? I've had exactly the reverse of that experience.


You trollin bro...They have

You trollin bro...They have great support both forum and through customer area.


I agree with you. I've

I agree with you. I've installed the demo and Xen run smoothly ..
Its awesome Forum's script !


Hello the last version is

Hello the last version is 1.1.2, not 1.0.4 anymore.


You may change the size

You may change the size recommendation to Huge community by having in mind this.

lastnico's picture

Right, Xenforo definitely

Right, Xenforo definitely reached a new category! I've updated the "community size", thanks for pointing this me out.

FSR Admin - Vote for 2012.


Xenforo is a really powerful

Xenforo is a really powerful board. Don't know why people around here post such kind of comments.
I choose IPB over it though


Mybb is way better than

Mybb is way better than Xenforo or any other paid forum software , i am using over on my Cricket Forum


Disagree. MyBB maybe the best

Disagree. MyBB maybe the best free solution, but Xenforo has a flair to it that MyBB is lacking.


I totally agree with

I totally agree with you.
Xenforo is the best forum software till now.


I totally agree with

I totally agree with you.
Xenforo is the best forum software till now.


I'm looking to put adds on my

I'm looking to put adds on my forums, is that possible with this program?


XenForo has been updated to

XenForo has been updated to 1.1.3 Smile


Did you already know about

Did you already know about it?!

Video with member of this forum was uploaded on YouTube!
Its is so shoking...
You must know about it.
You must see it!
It is really she - just look it carefully.

Here is URL:

Sorry, it was removed on YouTube!
Uploaded video here:

So, hero...
What you will say to your parents after that?


How can you rate this a 5/5

How can you rate this a 5/5 and then go on to list all the standard features of forum software it's missing. Not to mention if you're going to list "It'd be a perfect open source software" as a "con", then why don't you list the fact it's no longer developed as a con as well?


XenForo is very stable, fast,

XenForo is very stable, fast, and most importantly secure. I have tried both vBulletin and IPB and both were found not to be secure, with IPB being the worse of the two.

Switched to XenForo have never had a problem again. Nor were there any major security patches needed.

Support staff is friendly and willing to help.

Only con is the support community is kind of "tight". Which sounds goo, but if you happen to be in disagreement with the wrong individual you're going to have problems. It also means that some people seem more privileged above other people. This is something you would expect in an off topic site and not so much with a business.

However looking past that and you've got yourself a very good product.


The software is built well,

The software is built well, but for a paid service it lacks basics that have been around for years.
Xenforo is built to control outside hacks that's a plus. However they are very spam friendly, allowing
any bots, guest etc, to see pertinent information. However the free SMF software offers these protections on the fly free.

The staff at Xenforo are very pretentious, to the point of being rude.
They respond to new members as if they were children and are doing you a favor selling you the software.
The support system is not for newbies, people will treat you like you should know everything about
Xenforo when you buy it. However Xenforo makes this impossible as the documentation is short and lacks any details to
be helpful. They seem to have a very small staff on duty, so plan on waiting along time for a response.

The $140.00 Xenforo, has no real pm system, but uses a heavy bulky conversation system
There is no chat system, and many add-ons and themes require more money.
You must pay even more money if you want updates after a year, plunk another $40.00 per year, after three years
its like buying another new copy. Xenforo's licensing is horrible seems its all about control and money in the licensing.

Ok now after beating up the deficiencies of Xenforo, here are a few great things.
Xenforo is insanely stable, its easy to update, easy to update themes and change colors.
It has a great Admin area for managing allot options, but falls short on security as mentioned above.
From a members access point of view its fairly intuitive to use, and members have allot of settings
to interact with as well.

In closing Xenforo is not worth $140.00 or worth paying $40.00 a year for updates.
The staff needs training on learning how to interact with its inexperienced members.
And documentation needs clarifying for use, why many free option have horrible documentation
and even support. Xenforo should be providing top-notch material, not acting like its clients are
bothering them.

When compared, SMF beats Xenforo hands down in price and security and free options.
Free software is often done by people with passion in what they are doing, Xenforo lacks this view
and its obvious . Responses are short, and curt from support, I refer my interactions to pulling teeth
from the staff to get simple answers, almost feels like they intentionally want you to feel stupid for asking
a question. As you can tell the operations at Xenforo are its downfall as well as security features
to protect from spam.

This software could be great, and support could be awesome if they cared what their clients
felt about interacting with them. I know several people who dumped Xenforo to go back to other
free software simply because of how they are treated at Xenforo and how its community treats new clients.



Worst than I.P Board

Worst than I.P Board considering what you wrote in your comment, I can agree paid softwares like XenForo (which makes me think I'm in Facebook) are not worth their price, and an extra detail is that XenForo was made by former VBulletin developers, another paid software, I agree, SMF is better than XenForo, it's free, elegant, simple and easy to use, and has a decade over the forum software world, XenForo is like the kid who tries to prove he can.

TheMysterious's picture

XenForo is very complete but

XenForo is very complete but it lacks in customization and styling. XenForo is too easily recognizable and there's no way to hide that.

yaredi123's picture

I need xenforo but i need low

I need xenforo but i need low price. Can you help me, please

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