Come on, we all love forums. There’s not a reader somewhere in here that isn’t a member of at least one forum community dedicated to some esoteric hobby, be it about writing stories or making music bands. I got myself a membership to 5 forum groups and some I won’t mention.
Not that the ones I won’t mention is illegal or anything... wait yes, it’s illegal. Note to self, delete YouTube account as soon as-, whoops, not yet.
What if you can build yourself a forum community?
I mean other than a joined blog group or opening an account with a free forum service. I was talking about from the server up. The hard way. The folder-and-files way.
There are various open source systems built in ASP or PHP that are free to download so that you can customize right down to the coding, like vBulletin, InvisionBoards and phpBB3.
The advantage of installing your own forum instead of signing up for a free one is that you can control the inner resources, like board style, graphical, extra features (once you get the hang of it), having your own server name and most of all, NO ADS!
If you’re a high-tech programmer person, with your own web server and your large database and your $$$-a-month service, all this would probably bore you to death because this tutorial is aimed mostly for baby Netizens. But do read on and tell me which part I might have missed because I ain’t no a getting-high tech *burp* prongs-grammer.
Step 01: Get a hosting server.
Aaaah, but not just any hosting servers. You’ll need the ones that have support like ASP, PHP, MSSQL or MySQL, so to speak.
There are hundreds and hundreds of freebies out there, like Yahoo or x10hosting or Wordpress or just click this damn link and you’ll get what I mean.
For this tutorial, let’s go with an old favourite of mine, Zymic Webmaster Resources and team it with a forum system that’s easy to get used to, phpBB3.
*Note: For me, Zymic’s biggest drawback is that its browser upload is painfully tedious (see their tutorial).
Sign in an account.
Step 02: Make an SQL database.
You got to have a place to store all your forum messages and this is where SQL databases come into play. It’s not that hard really. Zymic here offers MySQL so let’s refer the steps to that.
*Note: It helps if your hosting server’s MySQL has phpMYAdmin support though, as in the future when you gain experience and if you ever need to extend your database manually.
You have to create a database name and a database admin’s username.
Match the pair of them together. Commit both names and the password to memory as you’ll need them during forum installation.
Step 03: Upload all them files.
Heh. Patience is virtue.
It’s advisable to make a folder named ‘forums’ in your File Manager and upload all the phpBB3 files in there. That way, you can use your direct web address for other things. Like a home page or a web content site.
Download the latest phpBB3 forum zip file from the main site.
Unzip it and place the files and folders into your forums folder.
Aiyo, Zymic, so very little uploads-lah... Luckily they have an FTP tutorial.
Step 04: Open the Install.php page.
Okay! Upload everything? Even the kitchen_sink.exe? No? Well, that’s okay because there is no kitchen_sink.exe anyway.
When all files have been uploaded, this is the easier part but you have to pay attention. Open a new browser window and go to the install folder of your forum system. That’s where you’ll find the install page.
Here’s an example of my forum’s install page.
If you’ve uploaded everything, this is the page you would see.
Oooooo... Check out that new forum smell.
Click the ‘INSTALL’ tab on the top left corner. Most of the features that might be available for the forum you won’t need to consider since the system will check it for you.
So all you need is just follow the steps and fill in the blanks. Start install then.
There might be some red stuff, noting unavailability, depending on your hosting server. As long as the requirement is only optional, you’ll be fine.
Remember that MySQL database you made in Step 02?
Add them in the install’s Database settings.
Between their next steps, the install system will tell if you got a successful connect or you haven’t. The other steps will follow like any usual sign-in mode. There are most places you can leave blank unless you’re sure you know what it means.
Yay, you got a forum!
This is the confirmation page. You can tell because it’s got the big freaking ‘Congratulations’ sign, like you’ve won the lottery or something. But it’s not over yet. Click the LOGIN button.
Hey, what’s that red bar doing in my Administrator Control Panel?
Your final step is to go back to your Zymic File Manager. Don’t worry; you won’t need to upload anything more (hahaha!). Just go to your ‘install’ folder and delete/rename it, whichever way.
Personally, I’d just rename it. It may take up quite a space in my hosting server but if I should ever need to reset and re-install my forum system, I really don’t want to have to upload them files again.
Looky! It’s my forum up and running!
Now that you’re a budding administrator, I’ll show you how to operate your forum. An administrator is as different as a moderator and as different as an ordinary member. How different? For starters, an administrator has all the 3 kinds of control panels.
phpBB3 official reference guide
Zymic Webmaster Resources