Building a forum. I need something completely minimalistic. A clean clutter-free non-clunky user-interface.

It doesn't have to be free, but it does need to be open-source.

Take a look at urbanbaby.com , that's exactly what I want (edit: it's built in Ruby on Rails though... I seek a PHP equivalent.)

The closest I've found is FruitShow (for a demo, see crazyontap.com ). It is free and open-source.

What I particularly like about urbanbaby.com and crazyontap.com is the high-density of words on the page.

However, FruitShow hasn't been updated since 2007, so I'm wary of using it.

What alternatives do you know of? (I'd prefer something in PHP.)

  • That's not quite a forum - That site kinda reminds me of a discussion board, ala reddit, which might be a better thing to look for. Commented Oct 16, 2014 at 3:35
  • @JourneymanGeek Agreed. I was using the terms as synonyms. Perhaps I shouldn't have. Can you recommend any discussion board software that would do an equivalent job of that site? (I've looked and haven't found anything close.) Commented Oct 16, 2014 at 5:00
  • Not from experience, since I'd have posted an answer :). Commented Oct 16, 2014 at 5:37

2 Answers 2


Saito looks good from their demo -

enter image description here

  1. Very minimal UI, with a threaded option (Actually, even more minimal than your example), and one of the sites they mention as using their framework looks identical to what you want
  2. Its relative but as of the date I posted this answer, its updated

  3. PHP/mysql based.

Installation seems sensible but I haven't tried an install of it myself yet. It does seem to rely on htaccess files for some things, but other than that I don't see anything that yells run away!!!

  • Hey Journeyman G., I can't for the life of me figure out how to install this thing. When I unzipped it, there was no .htaccess file in any folder. But the installation instructions (admin-install.md) say "Apache: .htaccess should take care of correct url, just open the url root." ... what does this mean? Commented Oct 17, 2014 at 2:54

I would like to give identification first about Urbanbaby. I have checked the technology behind UrbanBaby.com using Builtwith. I got the results here, you can look on the frameworks section (no Content/Forum Management System yet). The result show us that forum website didn't use PHP as the frameworks, but it was Ruby on Rails (RoR). Well, if you want use Ruby on Rails as the framework of your next forum software, I recommend to you using Discourse. You prefer using them in PHP than any other language.

Since you prefer PHP, I suggest to you the alternative of software forum which you have mentioned above, FruitShow. That is Vanilla forums. I found interesting projects of the cross software forum between FruitShow and Vanilla forums (https://github.com/ruipacheco/fruitshow). Unfortunately, it was written in Python. Vanilla forums is written in PHP originally. If it's not enough, I suggest you using the popular PHP forum software, for example Simple Machine Forum (SMF).

  • Thank you my friend. I was aware that UrbanBaby.com used RoR. I should have admitted that in my question. I don't know Rails though, so I was looking for a PHP equivalent. I was aware of the Python cross you mentioned (also called FruitShow), and I might go with that if I can't find anything else. I was aware of Vanilla, I appreciate your endorsement. I'm going to give it a serious look-through. The problem with the popular forum softwares (including SMF), is that they're not minimalistic (unless there's a theme out there that I'm unaware of). Commented Oct 16, 2014 at 3:10

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