The newer ones led by Discourse, Nodebb and Flarum have completely gone in another direction in reinventing how discussion forums should be and perhaps gone too far. They feel strangely 'rootless' and completely lack the 'community feel' of user forums.
This looks promising for something fast, lightweight and easy to deploy.
I've looked at all three:
* Flarum had nausea-inducing animation, and now it overrides natural scroll behavior. (Please never do that to users.)
* NodeBB had some problems when I was using it. If JS is disabled, even the homepage links don't work. Forums should be server-rendered.
* Discourse could be improved by removing most of the animation and Material Design creep (bad for motion accessibility), but other than that, it's the best at the moment. It would also be nice to have easier, full theme customization. Maybe it's in there somewhere, but I haven't found it yet.
I started the project years ago and in the last few have gotten really great support from glebm and some others to get it to the point where it's a really lovely, stable, and fast piece of work.
We consider it the best Ruby/Rails-based alternative to Discourse out there (as an aside - wewere honored that Ryan Bigg would point people our way when he stopped maintaining Forem)
√ I would like to see forum software that has the feel of classic forum software (like Flux)
√ not in PHP
√ that is server-rendered
√ with a very minimal default theme (no animation)
√ and that has many of the modern features of Discourse.
(Your about page says a lot about the forum software & its features, but nothing about who you are or why you're donig this, e.g. vision & goals.)
What about providing hosting? (for people who don't want to / cannot install themselves.) And what about Gmail & FB login, what are your thoughts about supporting that?
There are others working on it as well (much more than I have, or will be) and they're all doing an excellent job.
As far as vision and goals, it depends on what's needed. It's pretty loose for the time being although I could see it maybe changing in the future depending on everyone's circumstances.
No hosting for now, no.
https://www.effectivediscussions.org (I'm developing it)
I have copied ideas from Discourse — so yes it has some of Discourse's features. Plus features from Slack (i.e. chat), HackerNews (best comments rise to the top) and StackOverflow (question-answers) & Disqus (embedded comments).
I made a personal commitment not to use Facebook's software (React) whenever there are suitable alternatives available, because I don't want to support that awful company in any way, but hope that your project goes well.
For me, when I disable JS in Chrome Dev Tools, the website still loads properly, incl homepage, forum index and discussion topics. (but one cannot leave comments, that still requires JS). I tested a bit in Lynx also.
Uncaught TypeError: debiki.internal.startDiscussionPage
is not a function
I do wish that it were server-rendered by default. SPAs are not ideal for content websites for several reasons. And one shouldn't need a recent browser version to read and participate in the WWW.
As you said, someone shouldn't need latest gen hardware to use the WWW. I personally don't have a lot of control in what the predominate platforms are on the internet, but I have remarked to myself in my bunker that Discourse is a first world echo chamber because no-one else can run it.
Look at hacker news. It isn't pretty and it has lots of glaring usability problems that are trivial to fix, but it could literally run with Firefox 1.0 on a P3-500 just fine.
The WWW has been heading in a terrible direction (animation, over-saturated colors) over the past few years. People use too much JS and CSS3 because it's possible, not because it's a good idea.
Have you tried turning of JS on Discourse forums? It should render a minimal HTML page via the <noscript> elements. Maybe they should do feature detection -- if a browser isn't capable of running the application, turn off JS and serve the minimal HTML. If it works, you could open an issue in their Github repo or post on meta.discourse.org.
Frankly, it never occurred to me that Discourse could ever run w/o JS. Next time I am near my ipad, I'll definitely test it out. I'd use a combo of allow/deny. Remember when we used "gradual enhancement" ?
I think there should be a standard way for the client to request the low resource usage version of an app, the hack is say you are a phone or request the m.dot site, but it should just be in the accepts header.