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nohaber
02-05-2005, 05:45 AM
In the last 4 months I've been exclusively working on a forum script (php/mysql). I will be releasing it as an open-source forum script in a month. I know the market is over-crowded with forums but I really like working on competitive markets ;)

Now I have 1 more month till release, and I'd like your opinion on some additional feature that you think are a must for a forum software. Basically I am asking your opinion on "what else" should I develop to make the software appealing to webmasters.

I've put the current version on my SEO site: http://www.seoguide.org/forums.php

I'll list what the software can do, and what it can't.

The software does not support these popular features: avatars, signatures, image uploads, a members list, calendar, user/post ranks/ratings, half of the administration is through php files to speed up the forum (most forums keep things like posts per page in the database). Requires PHP 4.3.0 and mysql 3.23.23

The software supports: tree forum structure with unlimited levels, code/design separation (all html is in separate HTML files which can be edited), stickies/locks, moving posts, seeing new posts till last visit, moderators, post previews, language packs; private, post-only, html-allowed, articles (topics sorted by creation date) forums; built in mod_rewrite; things like search, register user and a member's profile are called through forms for PR leakage purposes; anti-spam protection; IP/IP ranges/UserID/Email Banning; last N posts on the main forum page and as an addon (see http://www.seoguide.org); open/close registration; time zones; sha password encoding; gzip compression; smilie support; very easy customization IF you know php/html.


My major concerns at the moment are:
1) I don't like signatures. I've dedicated a whole user info field where every member can write a huge amount of info about himself (contact, CV, sites, etc.). It appears in his profile. Do you think sigs are very important? I guess I'll be providing a sig addon, but this feature won't be a part of the default version.
2) Members List. Does anyone use it? Isn't the search functionality better?
3) A lot of the administration is in a php file. For example, to appoint user 'Test' with id 2 as a moderator to forum with ID 3 you write this in the php file: $moderators = array(3 => array(2 => 'test')); That kind of administration eliminates db queries but it makes administration not so easy to people not familiar with php.
4)User sessions are cookie based, which has pros (no session IDs) and cons: users without cookies cannot login/post. DO you think there are a lot of people without cookie support?
5)Avatars. How important are they? Would you not consider a forum script because of lack of avatar support?


Sorry for the long post, but I'm really excited about this project and been working hard on it. I would appreciate all opinions/suggestions about the final feature set.

Chris
02-05-2005, 07:09 AM
You need to include these features if you wish to compete with existing forums. A good admin interface is really the driving factor behind why I use VB.

MarkB
02-05-2005, 07:28 AM
The majority of people who use forums have no knowledge of PHP, nor do they want it. Particularly those using it in a commercial setting - they may have a webmaster, but THEY will want to run things.

Also, think less of what features to leave out because YOU don't like them, and more about what people will want and need :)

I'll have a closer look at things this evening.

moonshield
02-05-2005, 08:23 AM
I personally think the forum looks good, perfect for certain sites where you dont want the forum to be a seperate entity from the site, you see these on many sites. Its quick and easy to use, I have not seen the admin functions yet though. From what I see it looks pretty good. I do think you should include like a member list, if it is coded well that wont even be a problem. Looks good though.

Mike
02-05-2005, 08:28 AM
I think it looks good...

But...as everyone else is saying, you should include those features. On some forums a sig, avatar etc are key features to the site.

James
02-05-2005, 02:36 PM
Why not have it so that they are able to choose which features to include? just have it for everything: having a search engine, signatures, profiles, registration, etc.

moonshield
02-05-2005, 02:48 PM
yea, not so much the avatars and the sig, but an awesome cp would help you out and make you one of the more popular forums on the net. A control panel is indeed key.

The New Guy
02-05-2005, 05:40 PM
How is it coded? OOP?

James
02-05-2005, 07:14 PM
Speaking of which: you need to make sure that it's well-coded, like vBulletin is (though you probably don't need to be that amazingly well-coded), and exactly like phpBB isn't.

moonshield
02-05-2005, 07:39 PM
yea, it would be really really cool if it were coded in php5.

nohaber
02-05-2005, 11:50 PM
Thank you all for the feedback. More questions on the way:

1) you say admin cp is a key factor. What admin functions do you regularly perform on your forum sites and think should be as easy as possible?

2) the current version has no PM system. How important is this feature?

3) I need to choose on which side of the forum battle I should go. IMO, there's 2 kinds of forums - have-it-all, or lightweight-no-bloat ones. My initial idea was to have a lightweight, very fast forum and to be the most SEO friendly (hence the SEO-Board name). I am seeing some great lightweight forums like minibb and punbb have thousands of people using them. I guess I'll try to release the first RC as soon as possible and then probably start making addons for all other features like sig, avatars, PM etc.


How is it coded? OOP? No. Simple old-fashioned php with functions. The code is really short .


Speaking of which: you need to make sure that it's well-coded, like vBulletin is (though you probably don't need to be that amazingly well-coded), and exactly like phpBB isn't. What do you mean by well-coded? Optimized for speed or well commented?


yea, it would be really really cool if it were coded in php5. No one uses php5 yet. When it becomes a standard, I'll follow.

James
02-06-2005, 01:46 AM
1) you say admin cp is a key factor. What admin functions do you regularly perform on your forum sites and think should be as easy as possible?
Templating, enabling and disabling features (signatures, etc.) maybe should just have radio buttons, etc.

By well-coded I mean well-organized, very consistent (using the same code over and over again), and as optimized as you can get with both these things in mind, along with enough commenting so that people can find their way around easily.


2) the current version has no PM system. How important is this feature?
Essential.

Maybe you should have it light-weight with extra features being able to be added into it; I don't know, but there's probably a way to have it light-weight and have the ability for people to download and have some way for features to be very easily installed that the original super-thinned-out version doesn't have (like maybe have PMs downloadable). Just a thought--probably a really dumb one, too.

What's the file size at the moment?

nohaber
02-06-2005, 08:44 AM
I've decided I can't wait a minute more and I'll release the current version next week. I need PageRank and the forum will pack on PR easily. Then I'll see the feedback from the forum users and make the necessary features.

tony
02-07-2005, 10:58 AM
i dont think a calender is needed or member list (although it could be useful for some people) Id say like everyone else admin control panel is needed


Apart from that i like the layout and it looks like it has all the things you dont actually need missing, which in my opinion is a good thing, although i do like avaters as they can be used so you know who has posted without reading the name (if that makes sense)

If you need any help testing it feel free to ask i dont mind helping as i use phpbb which im not a hug fan of but i dont want to fork out 100 for vb (and i hate invision)

James
02-07-2005, 08:03 PM
I'd say member lists are indeed needed; however, you should impliment something like authorization images so spam bots and the sort can't get at them.

I agree that avatars should be included; if only as an option that can be enabled.

nohaber
02-08-2005, 01:12 PM
Forum is online at www.seo-board.com
You can download and see the source code. Thanks for all your opinions.

tony
02-08-2005, 01:58 PM
looks good, if you ever add an admin panel, id give it a try definately

nohaber
02-08-2005, 02:08 PM
The forum has an admin panel. Though most settings are controlled with one .php file.

moonshield
02-08-2005, 04:51 PM
wow, that is nice. I had not looked at it in too much detail. It really is SEO, It is very snappy.

The New Guy
02-08-2005, 05:38 PM
I cant believe you used globals in functions. When I look at the code, I cant even believe how you ended up with a finished product, you must have an incredible memory.

Emancipator
02-08-2005, 06:55 PM
you dont want to see my php mmporg then New Guy :P

nohaber
02-08-2005, 11:30 PM
I cant believe you used globals in functions. When I look at the code, I cant even believe how you ended up with a finished product, you must have an incredible memory. There are just a few global vars. The lang array to hold all strings and 3 forum arrays. I tested if using a separate var for each text string would be faster than an array, but it turned out the array is faster. The bottleneck of the current version is the skinning. I get every template from a file and parse it to put all vars in in it. If I output directly the forum will twice faster but customizing will be a pain.

James
02-08-2005, 11:46 PM
Heh, you crazy super-brilliant programmer people. Some day I hope to join the ranks--but probably just on the side :)

A few changes you could make, at your own discretion, to the page:

No bloat. No fancy features. Just brutal speed.
I think that brutal's a little too... brute of a word. Maybe blazing, or something that highlights the idea of speed better.


Does not take too much server resources.
Hmmm many or much? I'm not clear on the proper usage of words around something like this.


PHP and HTML is separated for ultra easy customization.
Are seperated.


Can fit into your site design.
Is flexible. Unless you're 100% positive it'll work with any design.


Anti-spam protection. Admin can ban IP/IP ranges/Users/Emails.
I kinda like the sound of "Protection against spam" better, take my opinion on this with a grain of salt, though.


Search Engine Friendly: comes with Apache mod_rewrite support; cookie based sessions (no SessionIDs in the URLs)
cookie-based.


Multi-language packs support.
I assume you're only supporting a single one at a time? If so then I think it's just 'pack'.


Forever 100% free for both personal and commercial use. All I ask is that you don't remove the copyright link from the main forum page.
I'd say that you don't want to tie yourself down with the word "forever".

(wow when making this post, I accidently deleted it in the morning, and just a few seconds ago. Thank Firefox for the undo button in text fields!)

nohaber
02-09-2005, 12:08 AM
tntcheats,
thanks for the English lesson. I'll be fixing these.

Joachim
03-07-2005, 02:26 AM
I'd say member lists are indeed needed; however, you should impliment something like authorization images so spam bots and the sort can't get at them.

I agree that avatars should be included; if only as an option that can be enabled.

Agreed, be carefull with "Public" memberlist as it attracts lot's of spam.
I used to get (before I figured it out..) lot's of sign ups at phpbb forums
just to get their backlink in the memberlist. Needless to say I took it down in
this case.


Joachim

OrbitSystems
04-08-2005, 02:48 PM
it sounds to me like you are trying to get by on as little work as possible, trying to leave out tasks that you dont feel like undertaking.

I once developed my own message board software (non commercial) for a website of mine to allow perfect integration, but switched to vBulletin a month later.

There are so many features / usability options that you dont even realize and I dont think you can even begin to compete with vbulletin, phpbb, invisionboard, and ubb.

Also, programming it without the help of OOP will most likely cripple it in the future when you start pileing on more and more and more... it just will not be scalable enough.

asphalt
04-12-2005, 11:37 AM
Looks good to me... keep us updated on how it works..