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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


vBulletin (abbreviated as vB) is a commercial Internet forum package produced by Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd. Written in PHP using a MySQL database server, it is comparable to other forum software.


In 1999 James Limm and John Percival were running a Visual Basic website using Infopop's UBB.classic forum software on VB Forums. As their site grew, they noticed that their software, written in Perl using a flat-file database, could not always cope with the number of users they had. In February of 2000, the two decided that it would be better to write their own solution as both were unfamiliar with the software's code and thus unable to optimize it. Initially, it was designed solely as a rewrite of UBB, but in PHP using MySQL, and was meant only for their forum. However, a few months later, other UBB owners expressed interest in the solution. Because of this, they offered to sell it to Infopop, but their proposal was rejected. As there was still a demand for the software, Limm and Percival created Jelsoft and released their work as a paid solution, thus becoming vBulletin 1.

After subsequent minor releases of their software, the two decided to start working on a new version that would be more than a rewrite of UBB: they wanted to turn their software into a competitive solution for forums. Rewriting the entirety of the product, vBulletin 2 commenced development. Shortly thereafter, Limm became the managing director and Percival the lead developer. To help with the scale of the project, two additional developers, Freddie Bingham and Mike Sullivan were brought on to help finish vBulletin 2. Kier Darby was brought on during the vBulletin 2.0 Beta phase to further development. The release of vBulletin 2 proved to be very successful and is what made vBulletin popular.

In December of 2002, vBulletin 3 was beginning development. Percival decided to step down as lead developer and product manager, turning his roles over to Kier Darby. vBulletin 3 was under development for a lengthy period of time—nearly 2 years—as it went from a mere improvement on vBulletin 2 to a complete rewrite. However, version 3 was finally released in March 2004. In 2005, vBulletin 3.5 was released that addressed some of the shortcomings of 3.0 (discussed later on). vBulletin 3.6 was released as a stable version on August 3rd, 2006.


Since the initial release of vBulletin in 2000, there have been many improvements of the software. The current stable version of vBulletin is 3.6.4.
Below is a list of the major revisions and what they improved on from the previous version.


vBulletin 3.6 adds a number of major features over version 3.5. vBulletin 3.6.0 is available for customers to download via the Members Area. The latest version supports many new features previously requested. So far the major features that have been added are Multi-Quote, Infraction System, RSS Poster Robot and Podcasting Support. Also a large number of smaller features were added. For details (and a full list + screenshots) please refer to the original thread at The Gold version of vBulletin 3.6.0 was released on August 3, 2006 [1].

Latest Release

The latest supported release of vBulletin is 3.6.4 which was released on November 22nd, 2006. The main reason was that a Cross Site Scripting (XSS) flaw had been discovered. This is a preventative release. It also includes minor bug fixes.


vBulletin 3.5 addressed some of the shortcomings of version 3.0. Here are a few of the changes:

  • A plugin system that allows for modifications of the software without the need to edit the program scripts. This allows a forum operator to keep their modifications (called "hacks" in the vBulletin community) and not having to re-edit scripts after upgrading.
  • AJAX (Asynchronous Javascript and XML) editing of thread titles and post content.
  • Inline moderation, allowing forum operators to manage threads and posts on their board without having to go through intermediary steps.
  • An API system (referred to as "data managers") to let third-parties integrate more easily.
  • Template history and comparison where administrators can store a specific revision of a template into the database, which can be arbitrarily compared against each another.
  • MySQLi wrapper that adds support for MySQL 4.1.
  • A database-stored thread marking system. Previous versions of vBulletin relied on a variable stored in the database, and also a cookie, to store information about what threads had been read and not read by the user. However, this information was volatile and did not keep; plus if you merely idled for 15 minutes (some forums have longer timeouts, 15 minutes is the default) this information would be lost.


Initially, version 3.0 was intended to be an extension of the 2.x release that would improve performance and user experience. However, as time progressed, it proved to be a complete rewrite. Some of the key advantages over vBulletin 2 are:

  • The templates and style use XHTML and CSS.
  • None of the language displayed by vBulletin is hard-coded in English: there's support for multiple languages.
  • A WYSIWYG editor for users to post in.
  • Paid subscriptions that allow administrators to charge for certain features of their site.
  • Multiple views for threads: linear (a flat system), threaded (display of the entire thread tree), and hybrid (a combination of both).


vBulletin 2 is no longer under active development, except for security updates. When this version was released, it had numerous new features over vBulletin 1, which it replaced:

  • Private messaging to allow users to communicate in private.
  • Polls could be attached to threads.
  • Nested forums of unlimited depth. This allowed forums to be children of each other without constraints.
  • User avatars.
  • A user control panel that allows users to control various board options.

v1.x and vBulletin Lite

Development of vBulletin 1 is no longer active; also, it is no longer a supported release.

vBulletin 1 was the initial release of vBulletin, sporting the same features as UBB.classic. The release was very popular as it was one of the first systems that was written using PHP and MySQL that had the features of UBB.

vBulletin Lite was a degraded version of the 1.x series that allowed potential customers to test their server for compatibility with vBulletin. The product was discontinued after vBulletin 2 because there were security issues and it was out of date, and Jelsoft did not want to spend resources into maintaining a non-commercial product.

The Current vBulletin Developers

  • Kier Darby
  • Michael Sullivan
  • Freddie Bingham
  • Scott MacVicar
  • Jeremy Hutchings
  • Andreas Kirbach

Sister Sites is the main site for the English version of vBulletin. Since vBulletin has been translated into many languages, Jelsoft has officially released 3 language versions. These versions are:

  • German
  • Chinese
  • Hungarian

Along with these languages come with sister ("official sites") sites. is also a sister site that provides modifications and additions for vBulletin software.


  • On December 21, 2006 had their vBulletin license revoked by PirateReports on behalf of Jelsoft due to moral reasons.[2] An e-mail correspondence between PirateReports lawyer Howard G. Spinks shows the reason the license was revoked.[3] The heart of the controversy lies in the fact that Spinks, in his E-Mail correspondence with the administrators of HongFire, alludes to section in vBulletin's license agreement which enables them to remove the content cited at their own discretion, a supposed "AUP." In fact, as of December 24, 2006, no such clause can be found in vBulletin's license[4]. In addition, there has been activity by an unnamed member of someone who claims to be an employee of PirateReports in the digg article dealing with this issue[5].
  • On December 23, 2006 A vBulletin official, Freddie Bingham, made a post of vBulletin's official forums promising to look into the matter, assuring vBulletin customers that Jelsoft Enterprises has no intention of policing the content of users' forums.[6] However, another administrator later closed the posting to comment, stating that it would be re-opened when Bingham had returned with a statement.
  • December 24, 2006 came back online still running vBulletin. Whether or not any issues have been resolved is currently unknown at this time, but a statement by the product manager of seems to indicate that they cannot force a site to close on such a basis.[7]

Needless to say, we do not have the power to arbitrarily shut down sites, either on a legal basis or because we can't physically pull the plug on sites to which we or others object on whatever grounds. When a site is found to be in violation of the license agreement the best we can do is approach the owners of the site to request that they alter their site in order to comply with the license agreement, and if that fails we may take it to the next level and ask the hosting ISP to act on our behalf. As the vast majority of our customers can confirm, it has never been our policy to act as 'the internet police' nor to try to enforce a moral code upon those sites that choose to run our software.


  • The developers (and members of the vBulletin community) occasionally refer to the location where development takes place as the "Ninja Development Server."

See also

  • Comparison of Internet forum software

External links

  • vBulletin Homepage
  • Hacks and Modifications
  • vBulletin FAQ: How-To Tutorials and Forum for vBulletin Forum Owners
  • vB Hackers: Hacks and Modifications
  • vBadvanced: Free vBulletin Portal / Homepage addon
  • vBulletin Modder: vBulletin Webmaster Help
  • vBulletin Setup: Basic vBulletin Tips, Optimization and support
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