Want to build a forum (name it F) for mobile web application so that:

  • a registered user on my existing website (name it W) can log in onto F directly using the user ID and password pair registered in W, without registering again on F. Didn't come up with an example to proof the concept yet. But the business logic should be roughly like this: a user log in website W i, click on a Go to Forum button on his or her setting page, the F forum page get launched in mobile web browser, and the user get logged in the F forum automatically with information registered on W website, which can be user ID and password pair, or the cookie, if possible, and so on.

  • mobile devices such iPhone and Android phones should load pages on F naturally. MacRumors forum serves as a good example: we get mobile styles when opening the forum on mobile devices.

Have investigated into vBulletin latest version but seems like it's not so good at doing the above things.

Any idea?

  • 1
    A good example of same user main site/forum would be NexusMods Apr 16, 2014 at 1:41
  • What kind of server stack do you have (ie. Apache/PHP or MS/ASP.NET or something else)? Also do you care about pricing? Apr 16, 2014 at 1:45
  • What is the technology of your existing website? For instance if your website is powered by Liferay, then you can use the Liferay forum software and have native user integration.
    – Nicolas Raoul
    Apr 16, 2014 at 4:07
  • @NickWilde Server stack is nginx/PHP. CodeIgniter is used as a PHP framework.
    – George
    Apr 16, 2014 at 5:08

2 Answers 2


If you want a free PHP option: I very much like phpBB.

There are many styles available; see this for an example of one that includes full mobile device support and instructions.

In regards to automatic log in that can be done via JavaScript - not natively though. See the FaceBook dev docs/ for an example of how to do something similar.

In regards to using the same logins that is easy via one of two options:

  1. add an extra bit of to your existing site to automatically copy all users as necessary to the forum database.
  2. adjust the phpBB code to get your user information from your existing db.

Either of those options are relatively easy if you know your database setup.

To run down your features:

  • No ads: Yep none of that ugly stuff.
  • Fully customizable or an option to choose from various themes Open-Source and fully customizable - and has a massive amount of themes/user styles available.
  • PhpMyAdmin compatible: It uses PHP & MySQL so yes although you really shouldn't use PhpMyAdmin to manage db applications - much better to use their built in management tools since otherwise you can easily mess things up royally if you don't know what you are doing very very well.
  • Social logins (Facebook, Twitter, Google+): Not natively; however PHPBB is highly highly extensible and there are literally thousands of plugins available (and lots more in other locations - like SourceForge or GitHub. I haven't used them but I have heard good things about OpenID for phpBB (open id based login) and ConSof phpBB Alternative Login (probably better: it supports OpenID login, Facebook login and a bunch of Facebook communication options, and Windows Live login).
  • A clean looking responsive interface: Clean looking hmm I'd say so but UX is a challenge for me since I don't think the way many simple users do.

You can also test it freely on their servers. (see the last paragraph)


If you want a commercially supported PHP/MySQL option then I'd suggest Invision PowerBoard. There are a variety of plans available ranging from hosted with 20 users/month at $20 to licensed with updates and online services for 6 months at $175+options.

It has enhanced mobile support.

For sign-on it has lots of built in and other sign-in options can be easily included.

I've used it mostly as a user although I have done some moderation tasks; I haven't played with it's code at all.

In many ways I would say it is a better forum software than phpBB however if you include the price component then it is debatable - and comes down to your exact situation really.

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