worldsight, you have made an excellent point. When you get down to the very core of it, blogging and bb software are very similar to say the least. If this were 10 years ago, I would agree with most of what you have said.
However, this is 2011, and users are very very demanding in terms of what they expect from their software. The "usage" of the two is different. Consequently, as Oleg has pointed out, there is a litany of specialist features that mark differences...many of these are tiny, e.g.
- a blog orders posts by time of original post while a bb orders them by time of last post
- a blog, more often than not, requires a great deal of rich post editing capability, compared to a forum, where the post editor can be fairly rudimentary
- a blog requires a great deal of flexibility with regards to how much of a snippet/preview of the content is shown
- a bb requires a much greater deal of nested organisation capability while a blog is more or less flat
- a blog requires greater flexibility in sorting and nesting of comments...forums are flatter at topic level...in that respect, each blog post is like a board, rather than a topic....and don't even get me started on the new-fangled ideas like Disqus
and Intense debate
- a blog typically is concerned with trackback and pingback when it comes to comments, while in forum topic replies, most people couldn't care less
- tags and cross-promotion are quite important for blogs
- in blogs, usually, there is a small set of users (lets say admins) who can create posts/topics, but almost anyone can reply/comment....(although, admittedly, this can be done relatively easily using phpbb)
- several cosmetic, but still big differences
etc etc etc
While most of these when taken in isolation appear very small, when taken together, the flexibility/configurability demanded of the system creates a level of complexity that is best left out of a single system. Simple skinning won't do.
I would rather have my bb software separate from my blog software.
That being said, there is a massive demand for "integration" of bb and blog software. This should not be misconstrued to mean that the 2 should be merged. A request for integration is just that - a request for integration. Similar to bb-blog integration, there are plenty of demands for (many to many) integration among blog, cms, ecommerce, bb, photogallery, wiki, etc
But phpbb team would do well to listen to these requests....people want to use several different software, and they want them to play together. At the very least, they want SSO among these software.
The phpbb team also needs to think about the strategy as a company.
Perhaps due to the numerous "integration" requests as well as inadequacy of phpbb on several fronts (while phpbb is awesome, it is for a great very many user too complex and lacks some basic things that many users care about such as one-click upgrades, extensibility and pretty URLs), the Wordpress team have launched bbpress
(worldsight, as you will note, Wordpress didn't build the forum within the blog software, but rather as a separate software because the differences are material enough). While bbpress is an infant compared to phpbb, it should give the team a lot to think about. While it may not look possible at the moment, bbpress threatens to make phpbb disappear into a has-been oblivion within a couple of years if the phpbb team do not speedily improve upon certain aspects. The thought of a rewrite from ground up (which seems to be the idea behind 4.0) will be a massive step backwards and should be abandoned.
To compete effectively, phpbb should focus on rapid deployment of frequently requested features -
- one-click upgrades,
- extensibility (hooks),
- pretty URLs,
- configurable themes like Wordpress Weaver
- user agent detection and mobile themes
- multilingual installations
- integration with akismet,
- integration with gravatars,
- integration with wordpress, joomla, and gallery 3
Additionally, the phpbb team should consider whether or not it wants to diversify by creating a blogging software (which could reuse SOME of phpbb code)