I am a novice at web design. I have two websites up but they are extremely basic. A friend wants me to put up a third. He wants it to have online user forums and a community calendar for users. I've looked at several different apps to build forums--including vBulletin, Vanilla, SMF and phpBB. My platform is a Mac running OS X 10.4.x. My question is, is there any possible software solution that is going to let a total novice put up user forums on a website without having to learn a lot of complicated database coding (presumably in mySQL). Are there any canned solutions is basically what I am asking? Am I going to have to have PHP? MySQL? Or is this just way, way out of my league?
I'm posting here because someone on Mac OS X Hints suggested this site. I hope I am within the right forum on this site. If not, my apologies, and could someone tell me where I should have posted? I'd appreciate whatever feedback, suggestions, opinions, information, reviews, whatever you could offer. I would like to do this project, but I don't want to bite off more than I can chew, as I have just started learning Dreamweaver.
Thanks in advance for your help and feedback.
The forum script gets installed on the webserver. The only thing you need your local machine to do is possible FTP the package to your hosting account. Then you unzip it there, set up a data base in your hosting control panel (just a database name & user/password...no programming). Then user your browser to navigate to the forum you just uploaded and it will walk you through the setup. You can literally have it up & running in less than 10 minutes.
You only need to mess with PHP when making MODs or creating a custom theme. I think I could install a new SMF forum on a hosting account from my cell phone (tmo-mda)!
If you are trying to host all this on your local MAC you should consider geting a REAL hosting account. It only costs a cheeseburger a month.
If you have a hosting account somewhere you can do it. If you don't have a hosting account your can get one for probably $5/mo. You do need PHP and mySQL but they are on your hosting account automatically...has nothing to do with your local PC.
I just timed the forum install.... starting from a dead domain (name was regstered but not hosted anywhere) it took me 14 minutes to do all this:
1. go to name registrar control panel (eNom) and edit the name servers to point a domain to a webserver.
2. Logged into WHM on the webserver and created the hosting account.
3. Logged into domain control panel (cPanel) and created a database, a database user/password, and added that user to the database just created.
4. downloaded latest SMF zip over at simplemachines.com.
5. opened ftp software on local pc and created site login for new domain. Connected via FTP to new domain hosting account.
6. Uploaded ZIP file of SMF to root of hosting account
7. Went back to domian cPanel and used "filemanager" to select the ZIP file and "uncompress"
8. Opened web browser, navigated to domain, and walked through the SMF setup process. Entered database info (db name, db user, password) etc... It has a script that just asks you questions.
9. OPened browser window and browsed new SMF forum at the domain. This was 9 minutes.
10. Then I went to google and searched for "SMF Themes" and downloaded a new Christmas theme.
11. Logged into SMF admin control panel, added new theme. Finally at 14 minutes. (I'm a slow web browserer!)
Yes, in answer to your question, I live in Phoenix. Central Phoenix.
So SMF is that easy huh? And there really is no database programming? So PHP and mySQL don't live on my Mac, they're in the server? What is WHM? This sounds ridiculously easy from what I am hearing, like something a total novice like me could actually do???? Is SMF the best choice for me?
there are a bajillion forums using SMF and a robust developer community of people making themes & add ons.
The one I made in 9 minutes (plus 4 more for the xmas theme....) is at beaksandbones.com
A "live one" is available at azbbqa.com/smf
They can be skinned to look like anything!
Google 'SMF' and visit the simplemachines forum.
Is that the best one for you ? Who knows! Everyone here has one that they like. PhpBB2, invisionpb, vbulletin, etc... try them out for yourself and you will eventually find one that you like better than the rest.
WHM is "Web Host Manager". When you get a reseller, vps, or dedicated server youwill end up using a control panel to manage the domains you host. WHM is one of those control panels (others are Plesk, H-Sphere, DirectAdmin, etc..)
It is also installed on the web server and administered by the reseller using their browser. You use it to add a domain to your server and to set the "plan" specifications for each account. (diskspace, bandwidth, #of email accounts, etc...)