Best Place to Start on Building a Complex Forum

  • j3N
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  • Loc: Detroit

Post 3+ Months Ago

I need some advice… I’m doing some research online, but I hoping someone may be able to point me in the right direction. Here’s the situation:

I work at a good-sized nonprofit organization. Management of the Board of Directors and Board Committees is currently an inefficient process that I hope to change by utilizing online forums, user profiles, etc… The advice I need is on what bbs/forum system to invest my time in. I need something that is customizable, able to grow with the organization, and also something I am able to manage, or learn to manage on my own.

I am looking for the following functionality:

• Ability to create multiple, separate groups within the forum – ie: the Strategic Planning Committee should exist entirely separate from the Finance Committee (we currently have 11 committees, the Board of Directors and then the Executive Committee which is comprised of Board members that are also committee chairs)

• I need the ability to post meeting materials, manuals and other information, some available to ‘all users’, some only to Board members (Not all committee members are on the Board), some materials specific to the committees.

• Ability to create a calendar system for each committee – the Board and the Organization.

• Ability for users to log-in and customize a profile that includes user name, password and demographic information that can later be queried for use in various proposals/grants/etc…

• Admin functionality to grant registered users to specific committee groups, and the ability to query these memberships. Hopefully generating rosters dynamically from current membership.

• Then, of course, I want users to have the ability to take part in discussions. Some being general, all access, committee specific and Board only for those that are Board members.

• At some point I would like to connect the Board/committee forum membership data with our website to dynamically update content there as the Board membership changes – although this is not as much of a priority.

• An admin needs to be able to remove – or mark as non-active – membership that has resigned as well as remove a member from one committee and add them to another or allow them access to multiple committees, depending. The Board Chair, for example, would have an all-access pass to everything.

• I also need the whole thing to be inaccessable to anyone other than registered & invited users

My current skill set includes mainly html / xhtml / dhtml / ccs and some javaScript. I’ve read a bit about xml, but haven’t actually played with it. I’m able to learn pretty much anything I set my mind to, but I don’t want to invest myself into learning something that ends up not being what I needed. Any advice in where to start would be appreciated.

I really hope to find something that is free, but that I can customize out like I need. I know this is a long shot, but if something exists, hopefully someone here may know of it. If not, then advice on where to start, what help I may need to recruit (if any), etc... would be grand.

Sorry for the long post.
Thanks so much,
Jen
  • graphixboy
  • Control + Z
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Post 3+ Months Ago

what kind of server (win/unix) and language(php/.net/asp/etc) do you want to use?
  • Bogey
  • Genius
  • Genius
  • Bogey
  • Posts: 8413
  • Loc: USA

Post 3+ Months Ago

I don't mind the long post. It gives me a more specific image of what you need... this way, I don't give you what you don't need and possibly already ruled out.

Of course I would suggest phpBB3 (It uses PHP as it's base programming language). It has most of the stuff you need and the rest are either already created as a mod (such as a calendar... you would just need to tweak it out to be Group specific).

Modifying it isn't hard either... that's if you know PHP... most forums are based on PHP so that's pretty much a given thing that you would need to learn with about any forum you choose.

It's free, just like what you want, you will be able to create forums, and tweaking everything else wouldn't be too hard... well... it will require regular PHP work and difficulty if you were just doing it... but integrating that script into phpBB3 wouldn't be hard.

Of course, for the roster thing, you could get a pre-made free script and integrate that into PHPbb3 and that would work fine...

The reason I'm suggesting phpBB3 is because I got it, used it and liked it. It was easy for me and I integrated my whole site into it, added mods and stuff like that. Personalized it to my own liking. I didn't find it difficult.
  • j3N
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Post 3+ Months Ago

cool, thanks.

It's a unix server. Php seems like it's everywhere, so maybe that's where I'll start. Does the member info from the board go into a database that I could query?

Srry it took me a while to get back to the board... classes started this week :)
  • IcyDragoon
  • Student
  • Student
  • IcyDragoon
  • Posts: 65

Post 3+ Months Ago

i only know chinese forum systems... =_=

Discuz and PhpWind are both excellent bbs applications.

I don't think there are English version though,,,,
  • vsparky
  • Born
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  • Posts: 1
  • Loc: AZ

Post 3+ Months Ago

phpBB rocks, you don't have to even know php to run a phpBB board. It has most of the features you are looking for and the rest can easily be modded. The also have excellent support, all free. Check out the support forum at http://www.phpBB.com and you will gain a better understanding of what phpBB has to offer. Your hosting should be Linux for a phpBB board. And yes you can query the database easily

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