I have to take something I said back - XenForo is not a dinosaur after all.
I started this thread because it was getting evident that no innovation is coming out of vB and theme customization is still a headache with its latest release, so I can no longer afford to invest in it.
After investigating all the possible options out there (and there are some incredible innovative products out there), as suggested by some of you, I've taken my time (again) to look at XenForo, read around the forums, see how people manage themes and custom styling, what designers are available for custom work and check out how active the developer scene is. Even though my personal choice for a communication platform would have been a lot more radical (Vanilla, Discourse or even Flarum), I am very close to being persuaded that XenForo is the way to go.
To be honest, the initial few posts of people liking XenForo as a choice, it got me a little depressed because for the life of me I could not understand why members here would prefer XenForo, something that looks and feels like vBulletin. It seemed outdated and irrelevant because I am seeing the overall trend of how people communicate online change from traditional forums to more open and fun messenger-type ecosystem. So with all the apples on the table - most of the members in this thread and those I've had conversations with name XenForo as their preference. And you know what, I am starting to believe that you guys have been right all along.
While apps like Vanilla, Discourse or Flarum have a lot going on for them and they have some very clever and trendy social features, the road ahead is still exceptionally long. Plus, from what I've seen, I am starting to realize that some of those juicy and sellable features can probably be implemented on XenForo as well. If not through custom code, hopefully as part of default features in coming releases. I could name at least 3-4 such features that XenForo is missing today that I would have loved to offer HostingDiscussion members, but I'd be shifting away from the topic.
Through study I found that the problem with these new software products is that some of them are still in beta and most do not yet have a very long track record. Vanilla seems to be the most established out of the group and very well received. However, I've been following it for a long time and major updates take a painful amount of time to release. Pretty much all of them do not have the financial muscle to throw large development resource behind them, while others primarily target enterprises.
IPB was my top choice because it had a good mix of traditional and new social features that seemed to be gaining traction. However, after seeing what XenForo has in store with their upcoming brand new release 2.0, I like the direction just as much.
So, folks, I think we have reached the decision and I have YOU to thank for it. We are going to start the preparation towards migrating HostingDiscussion to XenForo. I have already identified developer and design resources that I am going to approach to discuss how they can best assist in this transition. I have a strong feeling that most people here would agree that HD requires an update beyond software alone and in the form of new look as well. Its been years since the very talented Lucian of Emblematiq designed our current theme, but I promise we'll present the new site with a design that fits today's design trends.
Looking forward to working on this new exciting change together with all of you!