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  1. #1
    SitePoint Enthusiast doddsey_65's Avatar
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    A Simple Forum (Forum Software)

    I would like to introduce a new forum software package that I have been working on.

    It's an open source forum that I have been developing for about a year now. I am getting very close to the final stages of development. A few features need to be finished in the admin section but the overall front end is finished.

    The goal of this software is to offer a free and open source forum, but with the features of a commercial package.

    I will soon be adding a new template for the design.

    I have done as much testing as I can, but there is loads more testing that needs to be done, which includes the moderator features. I'd like to see your comments on the features.

    Thanks and I look forward to hearing some of your thoughts.

    http://www.asimpleforum.co.uk
    Last edited by Shyflower; Dec 19, 2011 at 21:38.

  2. #2
    SitePoint Member jacksters's Avatar
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    The forum looks very nice and is really very simple, I would like to know how many users could the forum serve at once.

  3. #3
    SitePoint Enthusiast doddsey_65's Avatar
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    That would depend on the server being ran, and the options the admin chooses. All file sizes are relativly small. For example I use PDO in favor of writing a seperate class for mysql, mysqli and mssql. I also add the ability to turn on memcache for those users who arent on a shared server. But there is also page caching available. Query count has been kept to a minumum, which is why i show the query count at the bottom during testing. Compared to rivals, my software seems to be faster so far according to GTMetrix.com

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    Thumbs up

    It is very clean and neat. The UI is pretty (something I suffer seriously from a lack of skill )
    Forum software is an admirable undertaking considering the number of competing products that exist!
    I am sure you can garner a good set of testers from a well worded request posted here on Sitepoint.
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  5. #5
    SitePoint Enthusiast doddsey_65's Avatar
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    Thanks for the reply. I need testing done on a large scale. As i said I have tested much myself but not as thoroughly as a new user could. I will be promoting the next 10 registered users to the BETA Tester group so they can test out the moderator features.

  6. #6
    Programming Since 1978 silver trophybronze trophy felgall's Avatar
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    Took a while to find the activation code in my junk folder - you might consider placing some more text into the email to make it less likely to be mis-identified as spam.

    Once in it was easy to get into one of the forums but not so easy to figure out how to go from there to a different forum. Some navigation links beyond just having the home tab at the top might help.

    I couldn't post these suggestions in the forum itself as there appear to be no links for creating or replying to threads.
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  7. #7
    SitePoint Member SLY-Ivan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by felgall View Post
    Took a while to find the activation code in my junk folder - you might consider placing some more text into the email to make it less likely to be mis-identified as spam.

    Once in it was easy to get into one of the forums but not so easy to figure out how to go from there to a different forum. Some navigation links beyond just having the home tab at the top might help.

    I couldn't post these suggestions in the forum itself as there appear to be no links for creating or replying to threads.
    I agree .

    Looks pretty neat and simple...

    Questions '?'

    Can it be converted to other forum databases?

    Is the template easy to edit for beginners?

    Can addons be installed?

    Is it free ? Or will it be paid sometime in the future ?



    Sent from my HTC Sensation 4G using Tapatalk

  8. #8
    SitePoint Enthusiast doddsey_65's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by felgall View Post
    Took a while to find the activation code in my junk folder - you might consider placing some more text into the email to make it less likely to be mis-identified as spam.

    Once in it was easy to get into one of the forums but not so easy to figure out how to go from there to a different forum. Some navigation links beyond just having the home tab at the top might help.

    I couldn't post these suggestions in the forum itself as there appear to be no links for creating or replying to threads.
    Thanks for the reply. the emails are just basic until i finish the language class. as far as replying goes, must be a problem with the permissions, i will fix it asap. the template is being redesigned by a graphic designer friend so i havent done too much in that respect. once he is done though, i can add the navigation trail and the final customization options to the admin panel. once thats done i will start the insyall wizard and release it foe download. estimated release is january 3rd.

  9. #9
    SitePoint Enthusiast doddsey_65's Avatar
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    Can it be converted to other forum databases?

    Is the template easy to edit for beginners?

    Can addons be installed?

    Is it free ? Or will it be paid sometime in the future ?
    At the minute I'm not sure about database conversion. That thought process will begin when I finish with the main forum. As far as them template goes, I have created a template system unique to ASF. Users can access much information using a set of predefined variables. For example, if they wanted to print the current logged in username they could use <asf: user[username]>. I have also created a hook system which means users can inject content into any part of the page without having to change the actual template file. This means that their changes wont be lost when i release updates to template files.

    Addons will be an option as I feel this is an important aspect to customization. However that thought processs still needs to be considered.

    ASF will always be free and advert free. I may release premium support packages aswell as premium modules and custom templates.

  10. #10
    SitePoint Member SLY-Ivan's Avatar
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    Thank you for taking your time and answering the questions.

    ASF will be a great project and I wish good luck ! , Will be looking forward in using it.

  11. #11
    SitePoint Enthusiast doddsey_65's Avatar
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    No problem, happy to answer any questions. I hope ASF will be a success given the time and commitment i have added to it. If anyone has any suggestions then let me know. I added a topic regarding making ASF fully AJAX'ed. let me know your thoughts.

  12. #12
    SitePoint Member SLY-Ivan's Avatar
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    The AJAX seems to be doing justice , good job.

    tumblr_lfi03wHdlo1qbvc38o1_500.png

  13. #13
    SitePoint Enthusiast doddsey_65's Avatar
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    I was thinking of implementing AJAX across the whole site. No page loads when clicking to view topics or profiles etc. Something like twitter and facebook

  14. #14
    SitePoint Member SLY-Ivan's Avatar
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    That's good , less bandwidth

    I'm not really liking the twitter and facebook images D:

  15. #15
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    Carl, just registered and added a few bug threads.
    Tried to PM you but that isnt working yet.

    Looks good and a whole lot of effort gone into it.
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  16. #16
    SitePoint Enthusiast doddsey_65's Avatar
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    Thanks for the report. I have fixed that error, simply removed a character that shouldnt have been in the URL lol. As far as the error goes, since the project is open source its not really an issue if people know the table layout. I use PDO queries so they will never find out the values, only the structure. Ive kept errors like that in so people can help with testing, rather than just telling me a database error occurred.

    The email sends the standard headers. I think it may be to do with Hotmail. If you recieve an email from someone you have not added as a contact it goes into the junk. I will add some more content to those emails which may make them look less like spam to hotmail.

    Thanks for the help so far guys

  17. #17
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    over all look is good but it still needs more work on header and footer... it does not looks like a professional forum.

  18. #18
    SitePoint Enthusiast doddsey_65's Avatar
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    Work is being done on the template by a graphic designer, so you should see some graphical improvements soon

  19. #19
    SitePoint Enthusiast doddsey_65's Avatar
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    I think i have fixed most of the bugs now. The avatar upload has been fixed, aswell as a new avatar cropping feature. Private messages should now work also. Let me know if you find anything that I have missed. I will be finishing up the admin section now.

    Oh and I added a new feature (it was in the first version of A Simple Forum). The admin can choose to prevent double posts. They can leave them on, which means the users can double post, they can turn them off, or they can choose a merge option. With this option the user will be able to create a new post, but if it will be a double post then the script will merge the posts and indicate that it has been updated.

    Thanks

  20. #20
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    The use of fixed metric fonts across the default skin makes it hard to use for me -- though you APPEAR to be declaring %/em in most places, by saying '13px' on body you've COMPLETELY broken the reason to use %/EM, since EVERYTHING is based off that!

    The markup is also problematic -- paragraphs around non-paragraph elements, lack of tables on obviously tabular data (a sick trend I've noticed in recent forum skins), and endless pointless CLASSes, ID's, DIV, and P that could be pitched in the trash if you used semantic markup.

    ... and that's before we talk the jquery bloat making me ask "FOR WHAT?!?" -- static scripting inlined in the markup... When you're blowing 22k of HTML to deliver less than 5k of plaintext, somethings awry...

  21. #21
    Mazel tov! bronze trophy kohoutek's Avatar
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    Hi doddsey_65,

    I think you've got a great project going, but like deathshadow has pointed out, the code could be improved. Most forum applications lack good frontend and backend code which is unfortunate because good code is an important quality feature, next to providing solid security. I think you could set yourself apart from the competition as the quality frontend code feature is almost categorically ignored by forum developers, big or small, so it's something to consider.

    As for the design; I like it. It's great that the layout isn't fixed width and colour scheme is well chosen.

    A few minor quibbles:

    a) The neon green you've chosen for a set of members is too bright. I have to squeeze my eyes because it's too aggressive.

    b) The descriptions underneath forum titles have to low contrast.

    c) The date is not aligned (drops) in single forum posts.

    d) In your navigation, it should say "FAQs", not "FAQ's" as it's not a genitive but a plural.

    e) The dates are very hard to read (no contrast) in the threads list, e.g. here: http://www.asimpleforum.co.uk/f/Announcements (same goes for the count/views column)

    f) I can't see a search function. I don't know if you have one for logged-in uses, but I'd definitely allow guests to search posts and threads.

    That's all I can think of right now.
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  22. #22
    SitePoint Wizard spence_noodle's Avatar
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    Just had a quick look at your website and welldone for keeping layout and design very simple. Do the above mentioned and you will be on the right track.

    My suggestion is change the "<<" on the left hand side to a tag/button as this is a nice feature but not noticeable.
    "Don't you just love it when you solve a programming bug only to create another."

  23. #23
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    It looks really fine. Getting into forum software is challenging since there are lots of competing upshots that subsist.

  24. #24
    SitePoint Enthusiast doddsey_65's Avatar
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    Thanks for the replies. I am currently working on a newer version to supersede this one. When I have enough of the basic features done I will upload the files to a new directory while keeping the old version intact.

    Forums tend to be quite slow and "clunky" so I am optimizing everything for speed and efficiency, whilst keeping all of the current features and adding some more. This means rewriting the forum from scratch. But like I said the old one will stay up until this version is complete enough to replace it. I have already got most of the core coding completed aswell as a new api which makes pulling information easy and efficient.

    Im also using memcache for this version. I realise that is a bad idea for people on shared hosting but I will be looking to provide my own server for people who want this module. But if they do not then i will be providing the option to use disk caching if they choose to disable memcache.

    Thanks
    Test and help out with a new
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    Check the A Simple forum Github Page
    Visit my Github profile to see what I work on.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by doddsey_65 View Post
    Im also using memcache for this version. I realise that is a bad idea for people on shared hosting but I will be looking to provide my own server for people who want this module. But if they do not then i will be providing the option to use disk caching if they choose to disable memcache.
    That's where modular code can come in really handy -- since you could just write two separate .php files containing the same functions or classes -- one using memcached, one not.

    Out of curiosity, what's your skinning system like? Will it have the ability to completely redo the markup? Is it going to be real php code for themes, or one of those goofy 'templating' systems like SMARTY? (please say the former, it's why I stick with SMF and you couldn't pay me to skin myBB or most other forums at this point)...

    Also, if you're looking to speed it up, maybe you could get some of us here on the forums to help you out with the markup and functionality; right now you're current version takes 22k of non-semantic HTML for 3.4k of plaintext -- that could probably be cut down to 10k or less using semantic markup and easing up on the 'classes on everything' routine. Severing the ties to the "jquery for nothing" could easily get rid of 40k (100k or so uncompressed) given how little you're actually using it (or worse, how the scripts you have with it could be the same size or smaller WITHOUT it).

    Also your CSS appears to be generated by PHP? BAD idea all around in most cases. It might be cute to be able to edit it, but that really should be dumped out to a static file for serving to the end user; it also seems excessively large given how simple the layout is -- though I suspect some of that is again, the throwing classes on EVERYTHING.

    ... and don't let my previous post or this one mislead you -- I really think we NEED another forum software out there given that the current ones ALL have major failings in terms of speed, code, ease of skinning, or the default skins on which most people base them.

    Oh, and hopefully you won't be revealing query internals on the production copy? (Joke, I assume that's debugging info)


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