About Vanilla

Vanilla is cloud based software (SaaS) that lets you create a customer community forum.

Your customers, your partners, employees, members want to be able to engage you and each other in an open forum. A Vanilla community makes it easy for people to have meaningful online discussions. A community can reduce your support costs, increase loyalty, get feedback and help drive sales.

Vanilla has been chosen by many of the world’s leading companies because:

  • Easy to use software that is quick to implement and quick to deliver value
  • Best in class functionality
  • A seamless integration to your website. Integration includes branding, single-sign-on and connections to backend and CRM systems.
  • A higher level of service at a lower costs vs. other cloud vendors

In short, the open source product is a simplified version of our cloud product and is community supported. You can find more information here.

Getting Started

Instead of having your community url look like this: joescommunity.vanillaforums.com, it can be setup to look like this: * joescommunity.com; or * community.joeswebsite.com.

To setup your custom domain, log into your Dashbaord and go to ‘Custom Domain’ under Settings > Appearance. Follow the instructions on that page.

Vanilla offers different options for how users can view your forum. Here, you can select from ‘Discussions,’ ‘Categories,’ or ‘Activity’ layout options.

  1. Select ‘Homepage’ under Appearance.
  2. Select the page you want your users to see as soon as they visit your forum (Tip: all Discussions is the most popular.) Click “Save.”
  3. Select Your Theme.

Your forum’s theme is like its wallpaper. A nice theme makes your forum more inviting and memorable , so it’s important to select one right from the get-go. 1. Select “Themes,” under Appearance. 2. Choose your theme. You can “Preview” a theme before clicking “Apply.”

Don’t see any themes you like? You can customize a theme (or create your own) by editing the html/css. Click “Customize Theme” under the Appearance category, or contact [email protected] if you’d like Team Vanilla to create a custom theme for you. For more information please consult our theme guide and documentation.

Yes. You can make the entire community private or you can make specific categories private. To make the entire community private go to Membership > Roles in the Dashboard and use the toggle to ‘enable private communities’. To set a category to private, upon category creation check the option ‘This category has permissions’. This will let you grant access and permissions to the category.

Product Questions

Yes, Vanilla does not require additional SEO plugins or add-ons. The pages have been designed with SEO in mind. Google considers content on a sub-domain as part of the main site. Having a forum on a sub-domain is as SEO friendly as having it in a folder. However, when using a custom sub-domain, we recommend adding the sub-domain to your Google Webmster Tools account.

  • Vanilla’s URLs are formed as: domain/discussion/#ID/discussion-title
  • We have a plugin that can format URLs as: domain/category-name/#ID-discussion-title.html

Yes, you can use Google Analytic and other analytics tracking software with Vanilla. Simply send your Google Analytics ID to customer support and we will add it to every page of your forum.

Yes, Vanilla supports about 25 languages including double-byte and right to left languages. find out more here.

Yes, Vanilla supports several SSO protocols. Documentation can be found here.

Yes, Vanilla has a RESTful API. It is documented here.

Yes, you can receive notifications via email and a plugin called VanillaPop allows you to participate in discussions. VanillaPop is not suitable for large communities with a large amount of activity.

Services, Support and Billing

Yes, the status page can be found at https://status.vanillaforums.com/.

Yes, we can migrate almost every legacy or home grown forum to Vanilla. We can usually import all data including passwords, uploaded media, private conversations, permissions. etc. Migration is done as a service and is included in many of our plans. Migration of data from Vanilla’s open source product to our cloud product is free. Please contact sales for more information. Our migration process is explained in further detail here.

Yes, we’ve done several emergency migrations and can restore your forum if you can provide us with the data.

From our website:

  • From https://vanillaforums.com sign in using the username and password used to create your accounts
  • Once logged in, click on the ‘Account’ link in the top navigation
  • On the account page, you’ll see a summary of your payment method in the right hand column. You’ll see a summary of payment and link to view invoices in the main area of the page.

From your forum:

  • Go to your forum Dashboard (usually accesssed from the ‘cog’ icon)
  • Click on the down arrow next to you profile photo in the top right
  • Click on ‘Account’
  • On the account page, you’ll see a summary of your payment method in the right hand column. You’ll see a summary of payment and link to view invoices in the main area of the page.

If you did not create the account, you will need to contact support to be added to the account as an authorized user.

Yes, you are the owner of your account data and we will provide a data export upon request. We provide exports within a reasonable time and at a reasonable frequency. Please contact your CSM to inquire about automated daily backup shipping.


Yes, to setup SSL, you must contact support and provide us with an SSL certificate. The setup process is documented here.

Yes, data is backedup daily and kept in a secure location.

Yes, Vanilla has exensive security measures in place. Our security efforts are outlined in our security overview document.