I am happy to announce that I am currently working on a niche-less forum community for creators, builders, learners, and dreamers. It’s not in any way connected or related to this site or in any of my other sites. Let’s just call it another web project that I’m working on to add to my small collective, as well as building up a place where current friends, old friends, new friends, and future friends would just come, gather together in this place, and meet people with common interests of some sort, share what we love, maybe learn from them. You know, just a little online hangout for everyone. More (non-technical) info about this project is here in my personal blog.
With this particular entry, I’m going to mention the technical aspect of the forum, the specs, some features, etc., why I decided to use this forum script, so on and so forth. The forum will be open when I’ve got enough basic features and concepts done and ready to go (content, features, etc.).
I fell in love with the Discourse and NodeBB forum scripts after visiting some support forums using them. They were not just flat and free-flowing, (in comparison to “table-based” forums like phpBB or SMF) but they look very compact, very fresh, very clean, and of course, very mobile-friendly. You can still visit the forum through your phone or your tablet without pinching or scrolling too much from one corner to the next or from side to side. And because of its fresh and open look, everything just flows and convenient and easy to the eyes to the users. The theme customization is also easy and minimal as well.
I haven’t seen anyone opening a small scale niche-less or fan-based forum using this kind of forum style. For the WDC, I am using an open source PHP-based forum script called Flarum. The reason why I chose a forum script that isn’t quite in its stable stages yet are the following:
- Flarum is the free version of Discourse and NodeBB. While Discourse requires you to know some basic Ruby and NodeBB requires you to know some basic node.js to run and customize them, Flarum was built in PHP and the Laravel Framework, which is I’m slightly more familiar with.
- The developers advise against anyone with using Flarum in production because it’s still in early beta stages and that there is more likely to have more bugs. However, the WDC is a personal, non-profit forum community project that it’s also perfect for me to catch bugs and report them via GitHub, Gitter chat, or through their support forums.
- Just contributing to an open source project is a good addition to my resume and portfolio. I may not have any knowledge of PHP programming, but just reporting the bugs to them in plain English is more than enough help for the developers behind the project.
- In a way, it’s somewhat a good time to learn a few basics of PHP and learning a PHP framework like Laravel. There are other popular ones like CodeIgniter and CakePHP, but Laravel became the chosen framework.
For the time being, the installation and maintenance of Flarum had a bit of a learning curve for those who may not be too keen with some essential web development tools. For instance, your web server requires SSH/Telnet access and that your server needs to have Composer 1 installed also. I contacted my host’s tech support and stated that the cPanel installed in the hosting package was outdated, and they happily upgraded it to the latest version. The latest version of the cPanel has Composer automatically installed, so it was a lot easier, rather than having them install Composer on its own.
Because I can’t seem to access the SSH command line on cPanel, I am using a third-party program installed on my laptop called PuTTY. I already know the basics of the command line, so I treated it as with any other terminal like the CMDer console emulator and followed the installation instructions. The forum itself is very vanilla, and that they left off the key features in a typical forum on purpose so that you as the owner/developer behind the forum community has total control in regards to features. This will also keep the forum’s blazingly fast speed time as you keep on adding and activating an extension or two to have more enhancement.
I provided optional registration and login for all users to come and participate in the WDC. Members have the option of creating their account or use their existing Twitter, GitHub, Steam, and Discord accounts if they have any. If you don’t create a separate account for the forum and use any one of your social media accounts supported, you won’t be able to use any custom avatars, but the avatars you use for those mentioned social media accounts. I have all four accounts, but I decided to create my own account, simply because I’m the admin of the forum. 😂
Flarum supports both BBCode and Markdown. This is where my Markdown tutorial comes in handy, or if you are used to hanging out on Discord and other chat programs like Gitter and Slack (and in some cases, WordPress and other blogging platforms), you’ll need to use your hard-earned Markdown knowledge and use them to style your posts in the forum. I also installed a WYSIWYG editor based on Markdown for those who aren’t familiar with it or BBCode. It also has emojis, custom social profiles, 2 and a whole lot more. You’ll just have to wait and see.
Last, but not least, the footer. As you can see, you don’t see anything like powered by Flarum or anything else related to the forum script because it was meant to be that way. The forum is open source, very vanilla, and it is extensible, so you can add a custom footer there if you like. You can credit Flarum for the script, but it seems that everything is open. 3
As I end this entry, I am currently writing the Terms and Conditions section of the forum, as well as posting link banners/buttons for those who want to link us. Then after that, the forum will be ready for its launch.
Excited for this? You know I am. 😆