HomePHP Page 5 - Talking The Talk (A phpBB Primer)
An Open Forum - PHP
Looking for a full-featured message board to add interactivity to your site, or to communicate with your customers or users? Look no further than phpBB, a robust, open-source PHP implementation that is both easy to use and simple to administer. This introductory tutorial discusses the process of installing, configuring and using phpBB, explaining how to create discussion forums, add users, assign moderators and administrators, and post and search for messages.
phpBB allows you to create an unlimited number of discussion forums, and organize them into an unlimited number of categories. Obviously, such power should be used with restraint, and an effort should be made to organize your forums into distinct categories that are easily accessible to the users.
Continuing the example begun a few pages ago, my task was to create two categories of discussion forums, one for Windows hosts and the other for UNIX hosts. Each of these categories would contain forums dealing with specialized aspects of the hosting plan, such as email management, FTP, scripting languages, databases and so on. The place to go next, therefore, is the "Forum Administration" section, and the "Management" component within it.
By default, as you can see above, phpBB sets up a single category containing a single discussion forum. This is useful for testing purposes; however, when you're setting it up in a live environment, you will probably want to delete it using the controls provided.
You should then use the "Create New Category" command to add new categories to the system,
and then use the "Create New Forum" command to add forums within these categories. phpBB will allow you to define some variables for the forum: its name, description (make this as clear as you can, since it will be displayed below the forum name in the main index), its category, and whether old posts should automatically be removed. Here's an example of what this might look like:
Once you save the configuration, the new forum should appear (under the appropriate category) in the main "Forum Administration" page.
Once all your forums have been created, the next step is to decide who can post to each forum. phpBB supports a number of different access levels for each forum, accessible via the "Permissions" components of the "Forum Administration" section: "public" (unregistered users may post), "registered" (only registered users may post), "private" (only selected users may post) and "moderators" (only moderators may post). Forum access levels should be carefully selected keeping in mind the goals of the forum and the type of users expected.
In the example above, the hosting company was not interested in creating public forums, as even casual visitors would be able to post to these. Rather, they wanted the forums restricted to registered users, so that each post would be tagged with an audit trail. Based on this requirement, I altered access levels for all the forums created thus far to "registered".
When you're done, you can go back to the "Forum Administration" main page to see a list of all the forums created thus far - mine looked something like this:
This is also a good time to back up the database, so that the system can be reinstalled from scratch if needed. Go to the "Backup Database" component within the "General Administration" section, and start the backup.
The output (which may take a minute or two) of this operation will be a single SQL file containing the SQL commands needed to recreate the forums from scratch. You should keep a copy of this in a safe place, so that you don't need to go through the process of forum creation above again.