For a long time vBulletin was the reigning king of forum software. It’s been around for years, has a highly developed community of experts, and is powering tens of thousands of forums across the internet. However bbPress is a new open-source software developed by the creators of WordPress.
Emulating a simple threaded web forum, you can install bbPress as a stand-alone application or to tie into a WordPress blog. User profiles can carry over into both sections, and it allows for you to not just run a website powered by WordPress… but to launch an entire community!
The real benefit comes from the support over at bbPress Forums. It’s an extremely simple installation process, and it’s outlined step-by-step at many places on their site. It makes launching a simple web forum so simple, and the fact you can run the software stand-alone gives it even more power.
Tying in the software to a blog is also very simple, just going through a few settings during installation. The forums and blog still have 2 different administration panels, but can be set up to run through the same userbase or users table in your WP database.
This means you can run an entire open source community powered by the WordPress backend. You can tie in user avatars, profile info, and everything else into 1 big collection pool of resources. You are also able to develop plug-ins for the system, allowing you to run bbPress and WordPress as separate systems but still tie into each other.
The software is still in heavy active development. There have been some great strides over the past few months, and funded by Automattic bbPress is sure to have a very large future ahead for itself.