YaBB Review

(August 19, 2010 22:22)
Last Version 2.5 (July 05th, 2010). Released under Custom License.
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What is YaBB?

YaBB is one of the oldest existing forum software on Internet. It started in 2000, when PERL was the most powerful tool for designing website. YaBB has clearly defined its path since the past 10 years, and still could be considered as a good alternative if you have skills in installing and configuring Apache and pointing scripts to the right PERL executable (using shebang the line). Note that YaBB is NOT compatible with the mod_perl module.

YaBB History

After creating YaBB in 2000, it has been forked 2 years later to create YaBB SE, a complete PHP rewrite of the codebase. This fork, that is now discontinued, has been quickly renamed to establish one of the most known free forum software: Simple Machines.

YaBB could also be considered as one pillar of the current forum software world, because E-Blah (no longer maintained) was also forked from the YaBB codebase, and, more over, the well known Matt Mecham, co-creator of Invision Power Services with Charles Warner, was initially a YaBB developer (before creating Ikonboard).

Note that YaBB had recently lost its main sponsor, Xnull Internet Media, Inc., and took advantages of this information to revamp its main website and be hosted to Sourceforge web servers.

YaBB Licensing

YaBB is a free forum software, but you can ask for copyright removal if you wish, for a given amount:

$0 - Free YaBB Public License
You can use YaBB forum if you agree with its YaBB Public License.
$150 Copyright Removal License
This license is required for any website that wishes to remove the copyright displayed on the bottom of a single YaBB forum..
$50 Executable Renaming License
This license is required if you wish to rename the YaBB.pl main script executable (visible in your forum URL) to another name such as index.pl or by hiding it completely.

Review Updates:

  • August 19, 2010: First Review.

YaBB is recommended for Medium Community.

(and supports smaller communities perfectly as well.)

Server & Client Requirements

Server Requirements
Programming Language
Required Architecture and Versions.
  • Perl
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.
  • Plain Text File
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, CSS.
Languages supported by YaBB.
Supported Languages:
German Danish
Spanish Finnish
Polish Russian
English (American)

The full packages list is available at YaBB language packs page.

YaBB Installation - Configuration

Even if the PERL architecture is a little bit less common than before, it's still simple to install on a Linux server, with the right Apache PERL module.

Note that the next major version of YaBB plans to support MySQL database.

Compatibility with Smartphones
Compatible SmartPhones
Compatible Cellphone Brands and Manufacturers.
Application Distribution / Type
How it is distributed / App Store Availability

Forum Threads & Posts

Forum Threads / Topics
Forum Style Flat Forum Organization
  • Forum Categories
  • URL Redirection Forum
  • Sub Sections
  • Trashcan Forum
Thread Icons Yes Topic Tags No
Hot Topics - Unread Topics Yes
Hidden Topics No 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 Yes
Message Rating
Yes Message Quoting Yes

YaBB - Quote a message

YaBB uses a specific BBCode format, called YaBBC, but it is similar, so you will not be surprised by the syntax.

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

Apart the calendar (which should be integrated in the next major version), YaBB is really complete regarding the features it provides for topics and threads. You are able to rank posts, users, quote each post, and of course, a nice WYSIWYG editor is available for directly preview the message you are typing.

YaBB - Tab Editor

The Tab Editor is quite interesting to customize the look and the default actions you want to see on the main top bar.

User Profiles & Options

Some details about YaBB 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...)

YaBB - User Control Panel

Each user has its own profile, that he could customize by giving email address, avatar, signature, and several way of contacting him (ICQ, AIM, YIM, MSN, Google Talk, Skype/VoIP, MySpace, FaceBook and website URL).

Moderation & Users Management

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
  • 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

YaBB - Administration Dashboard

Administration Panel is sufficient and easy to use. Its clear and effective design will help you in your everyday managing tasks.

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.
No 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.
Manual Upgrading
Updates Notifications
The Admin Panel informs you when a new version is released.
Forum Migration
Convert an existing forum to YaBB.

YaBB Administration - YaBB Backup

The YaBB forum backup tool is quite useful to remotely create backups of your forum. This is really rare and we found that very nice.

No known forum from which you can migrate.

Security & Spam Protection

Security & Spam Protection
Captcha protects your forum against spam bots.
e.g., Syndicate
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.

YaBB Administration - Security Settings

YaBB provides several tools to prevent spams from invading your forum. This is particularly true for bad users, that you could ban if you wish.

Vulnerabilities Advisories Criticality

Secunia Criticality

Secunia Advisories severity affecting YaBB.

Vulnerabilities Impact

Secunia Impact

Secunia Advisories impact affecting YaBB.

Customization & Social Networks

Add new features to your forum installation.
~735 Available Plugins. More info »
Modify the style of your forum easily.
~262 Available Themes.
Custom BBCodes Plugin 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,...).

The customization are quite enormous. With more than 700 mods, YaBB is perfectly designed to host and run plugins.

From the style and theme part, you will also be pleased to notice that the forum embeds an editor that allows you to modify your files from a web browser. This is particularly useful for little changes.

YaBB Administration - Template Configuration
YaBB Administration - Stylesheet editor

W3C Norms & Accessibility

Norms & Accessibility
XHTML 1.0 Transitional.
XHTML 1.0 Transitional
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 YaBB correctly follow (X)HTML and CSS norms?

Unique Features

Key points and major differences that make YaBB unique:

  • The most complete Perl-based forum software, existing since 10 years.
  • Forum Backup Tool
  • Tab Editor
  • Template and Stylesheet Editors

Final Words


YaBB is the kind of forum software we like. Reliable, simple and still alive after 10 years of development, where competitors often give up after 2 years. We would like to congratulate the YaBB development team for this tenacity of providing a good and free forum software, more particularly in PERL.

Additional Resources:

Found a Mistake? Tell us »
Post a Comment

Comments (4)

Clearing up some negative

Clearing up some negative reports:

There are by default
Thread Icons - 13 (Topic Icons)
Message Icons - 12

Spell Checking is present, when Posting, if enabled by the forum administrator
Enable Spell Checking?
This spell checker relies on external websites belonging to Google (googiespell). You must take into consideration firewall settings and content blockers in using this feature.
The scripts in /yabbfiles/googiespell are dual licensed. One is for free software ("open source") the other is for proprietary software.
The free license is the GPL. Under this license you can only use GoogieSpell with/in free software (i.e. software where the source isn't released). You can't use GoogieSpell with proprietary software even if you don't distribute your software.
For more details see http://orangoo.com/labs/GoogieSpell/License/.

Hidden Topics can be enabled and restricted, by membergroup or All (except Admns/Global Moderator)

Syntax Highlighting is by default enabled and selectable by drop down window, covering html, css, perl, php, C++, java, javascript, pascal and sql, with color.

Internal Instant Messaging has been incorporated for several revisions and still is. Also external messaging is permitted from an individuals profile (AIM, MSN, ICQ, YIM, Google Talk, Skype/VOIP), . including FaceBook and MySpace.

Abnormal Behavior Detection is available to be enabled in the YaBB Admin Center, including CLIKE, UNION, Scripting, Environment String, Request Method Blocking. Also Referer, Proxy and Harvestor Blocking.
IP Blocking can be used and wildcard to block entire country if desired.

Custom Profile fields can be added, using 10 different field types.

Limit New User Features, they can be restricted to individual catergories and boards. They can be restricted from using the IM system, from inserting url links in posts, from adding a signature, until a post requirement is met.

Guest Posting is controlable from the Admin Center -
Disable all Guest access?
Enable Guest Posting?
Enable Guest language selection?
Prevent Guest from seeing media files or having clickable auto-linked urls in messages?

Forum/Section Restricted Access - Category and Board can be restricted to individual membergroups or by age and /or Gender.

The db can be "pruned" by age and selected boards.

The db backed up by the built in Backup system can be restored also (automatically) from the same control area in the Admin Center.

lastnico's picture

Hi, Thanks for this extended


Thanks for this extended review of the review, it has been updated accordingly.


FSR Admin - Vote for 2012.


YaBB has worked well for our

YaBB has worked well for our community, and scales quite well. We currently have 8000 members and about 1,000,000 posts, and run on a modest Virtual Machine on a very busy ESX server. The search facility is weak, due to the SQL-less architecture, but other than that, YaBB is superb for our needs.


We would like to congratulate

We would like to congratulate the YaBB development team for this tenacity of providing a good and free forum software, more particularly in PERL. This article is helpful for me. It helps me a lot. I have been researching this subject for a few days now for a report I am writing. Your post has been very helpful in this regard. Thanks for another great post.

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