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I have a nature site with several interactive areas plus LOTS of static HTML pages. The site has been grossly neglected for a while but has been around a long time and still gets lots of traffic. The way handled the interactive parts of the site in the past was to use html forms and simple perl scripts to take what the user inputs and send it to a text file....where I would have to copy and paste this into static HTML pages. I am very unhappy with this setup....no search features, hard to keep updated in a timely way, and very very time consuming. I've been reading about php and I would like to find some preexisting php scripts to greatly improve the interactive parts of this site.
Here are some of the interactive areas I want on the site:
1. General discussion forums
2. A special discussion board to swap seeds...
3. a recipe swap to submit camping recipes, herb recipes, etc...
4. a place for them to submit original nature poetry, etc...
5. a "pals" area kinda like a penpal or personals area but a little different....I want a person to be able to sign up by filling out a form and selecting what nature interests they have (such as camping, star gazing, hiking, bird watching, etc)...whether they'd like to exchange trips, if they have pets, etc, etc....in other words there would be a lot of check boxes and radio buttons and fields to fill in.... I was doing this before using the primitve form to perl script to text file to cut and pasting....YUK...and the users couldn't do searches on other members who had signed up.
6. and several other interactive areas like this....plus I'd like to add ecards...
Now, I've been reading and reading and the only thing I know for sure is I want to use PHP. For the discussion boards and seed swap, I was thinking about using either phpBB (seems like the most people recommended this) or Invision Power Board (IPB) - the second most recommended....and they're FREE and seem to have a lot of mods/hacks (to use lingo I'm just learning).....and other form scripts to handle the other stuff.....HOWEVER, here's the main problem.....I don't want my users to have to register SEPERATELY at each section of the website....and I want some good search features.....so I started looking seriously at phpNuke and other "portals".....but then when I try to find the modules I need for each project, I can't find them....especially the pals section.....AND I don't think the discussion boards is as good (right?).....and it seems these have been more for sites that want to build themselves from the ground up around the portal software...and I don't want to as much of my site is static HTML pages and I want to keep it that way (one main reason because of search engine spidering)....
OK....so not being a php programmer or someone who has ever tried to even modify a php script...I want to ask some "dumb" questions here....
1. Would it be possible to modify the registration page of phpBB to make it be the sign-up page for the pals section also.....to link those right off the bat? What would it take to add the advance search feature (so for example someone could search for a person between 20-30 who likes star gazing, canoeing, and bird watching) if I did it this way?
2. If I install the phpBB can I put the seed exchange forum on a totally separate page from all the other forums....can you have more than one specially formated pages into your forums?
3. If someone submits a nature poem one day and later comes back, how can I let them use the same username and password to participate in the discussion forums or submit a recipe, etc? Can I have them actually fill out the same pals form (actually the modified phpBB registration form maybe) to submit their poem.
4. Can I use totally different scripts for all these sections and just have one MASTER script that lets them register....and then add this somehow to all the other scripts.....can someone make a recommendation on a script.
5. Is it possible to have a php script spit out a STATIC webpage.....for example, if one submits a recipe, I'd like it better if the script could just automatically spit out a static webpage (if it could still be searched somehow).
Ok, I hoped I explained this well enough. I'd really appreciate any help and advice. Thanks.
Also, posting the same message in multiple forums won't get your question answered any quicker - just stick with the forum that is best suited to the question.
I can't answer your technical questions, but I can relate to your situation, and I think you have too many questions in one post for the allowable hope of charity to answer .. let me offer this perspective:
1. As a developer/website owner (same thing), I would look for a PHP person to hack this stuff around for me - I'd look at scriptlance or your favorite job bidding forum.
2. I would get one or several cheap accounts with the cpanel-type hosts that give you everything (loads of mysql databases, all the latest sourceforge developments, with an installer to set them all up, phpMyadmin to tune the databases, etc .. for a few bucks per month) try L40.net (one I'm currently using to make or break a few tests).
3. Turn your person loose on the possibilities, for less than a couple of hundred dollars I'm sure you could figure out all of the things you want to know.
4. Consolidate the results, learn directly from your programmer all the answers to your questions - after all, most requirements are custom.
I say all this because I think you have the desire to learn php, and also the desire to get some things done for your site, and the two don't have to go together, they can have separate timelines.
this is my perspective only, it stems from not having the time to tunnel focus, have to administer instead - your mileage may vary