FUDforum includes numerous features. This chapter will briefly overview some of those features to give you an idea about the capabilities of FUDforum.
FUDforum supports a fully functional spell checker, that if enabled would allow forum users to spell check their messages before posting.
The spell checker utilizes PHP's Pspell library and supports multiple languages.
FUDforum contains a fully customizable templating system, that allows you to completely customize the the look and feel of your forum. For optimal performance the templates are compiled, so you do not lose any speed as you do in other forums by having a templating system.
The Template Editor can be found inside the administrator control panel.
FUDforum has full i18n support, that allows an easy translation of the forum into a language of your choice. Currently FUDforum is distributed with more than 40 languages, including English, French, German, Swedish, Polish, Turkish, Spanish, Chinese and several others.
FUDforum supports a highly capable permissions system, which can be used to control what forum users can and cannot do. Using this system you can grant special access rights to certain users, block users from seeing and/or accessing certain forum etc.
This system also includes support for "group managers" who have the ability to manage users in the groups they control. This option allows the administrator to delegate responsibility to trustworthy forum members.
The Group Management is done via two control panels. The first control panel is the administrative group manager, which allows administrator(s) to add/remove groups as well as assign group managers and specify what permissions the group managers can assign and/or take away. This control panel also allows the administrator to make groups inherit permissions from other groups, which eliminates the need to specify new permission every time for similar groups.
The second control panel, the user group manager, which allows the group manager(s) and the administrator(s) to add and remove users from a group as well as set permissions for individual users. It can be a accessed via a link available to all Administrators and Group Managers on most forum pages.
The private messaging system supports forwarding, the ability to send a message to multiple users and reply notifications. If allowed by the administrator, the users may also attach one or more files to their private messages. Just like in a mail client the sent messages are stored in a special folder, 'sent', so that the user can easily refer back to them if the need arises. There is also a 'drafts' folder where the user can keep their unfinished messages.
Via the private messaging controls administrator(s) can specify what features the users may use inside their private messages, as well as the amount messages the users can keep in their PM folders.
If permitted by the administrator, users may attach files to their forum and private messages. The amount of files that the user can attach as well as their maximum size can be defined by the administrator on a forum by forum basis via the forum control panel. The ability to attach files to private messages can be defined by the administrator via the private messaging system controls.
In addition to specifying the size and the quantity limits the administrator may also indicate what file types can be attached to the messages using the file attachment control panel. The attached files will be matched against the FUDforum MIME listing so that (1) a proper file icon can be assigned to the file, (2) the file download form can send the proper header to the browser, and (3) the browser can interpret the file properly.
It is also possible to restrict certain users from being able to attach files or only allow certain users to attach files using the group management system.
FUDforum supports a complete polling system, which may enable users to add polls to their messages. Permissions to create and vote on polls is controllable by the admins via the group management system.
Polls contain multiple choice questions, which can be used to gather user opinions on poll issues or questions. The forum tracks the votes and ensures that people cannot vote more then once to prevent ballot stuffing.
The users on the forum have the ability to subscribe to topics and forums. By subscribing to a topic a user will receive an E-mail or ICQ notification about any new posts made inside that topic. The subscription to a forum on the other hand will notify the user of any new topics created in the forum.
To prevent sending multiple notifications the notification system will only notify the user if they have no unread notifications for that particular forum or topic. This is extremely useful for active forums where many messages can be posted in a short period of time causing a massive amount of notifications to be sent to the user about the same content.
Each forum member has access to a personal subscription control panel, which can be used to see what subscriptions they currently have and allow the user to unsubscribe from any of the subscribed to content.
If specified by the administrator, the forum can include the full body of the message in the E-mail notification, so that a user can read and reply to the message directly via their mail client. These notifications come specially formatted, so that they are properly displayed on all e-mail clients, regardless of whether those mail clients support HTML or not.
In addition to the standard way of viewing messages inside the forum, FUDforum supports a tree view, which builds a tree of messages akin to the one used by the newsgroups.
Sample Tree View:
[*] Main Message [-] Reply To: Main Message [+] Reply To: Main Message [+] Reply To: Reply To: Main Message [-] Reply To: Reply To: Reply To: Main Message [-] Another Reply to Main Message
FUDforum includes a full text search that allows users to search the posted messages by entering one or more keywords. The user has the option of limiting the search to a particular forum or category or they can search the entire forum. A user may either limit a search to a particular forum or category or search the entire forum.
The search form allows the user to specify whether to use the strict AND logic, which will find only the messages containing all of the specified keywords. Or to use the more relaxed OR logic, which will find any message that matches at least one of the specified terms in the query.
The search results can be sorted by date, allowing the user to specify whether the most recent messages should be shown first or last.
I-SPY is a neat feature, that if enabled will allow forum users to see what other forum users are doing at this very moment.
The forum also keeps track of the currently online users, an indicator is placed beside each message showing whether the author of the message is currently online or not. This too can be disabled via the global control panel.
BBcode is a series of text formatting tags that allow users to style the text of their messages and signatures. More information about these features as well as the complete list of supported tags can be found here.
Smilies are commonly used codes to represent emotions, such as :-) to indicate happiness. FUDforum has a list of 30 commonly uses smiley codes that will be replaced with image representing the corresponding emotion the author is trying to convey. The administrator can add/edit/delete the supported smilies via the smilies control panel.
Whether or not text codes are replaced with corresponding images can be defined by the administrator on a forum by forum basis. The group management system can also be used to disallow usage of smilies.
If permitted by the administrator, users may choose to associate an avatar image with their posts and messages. Users may upload an image of their choice to the server, specify a URL to an image or selecting a file from their harddrive or choosing an image from the forum's built-in avatar galleries. The avatar images will be displayed beside the user's name on all of user's posts.
In FUDforum the administrator can assign users an unlimited number custom tags that would appear on user's profile and beside user's posts. This feature can be used to indicate any special roles or functions of the user.
Custom tags can be added or removed via the user control panel.
User Ranks are assigned to users based on the number of posts they have made on the forum. These ranks may contain a text and or image indicator showing the user's rank.
The administrator can add, edit, or delete the available user ranks via the rank manager.
In FUDforum the administrator can specify that certain words or strings will be replaced automatically by alternatives provided by the administrator. This is most commonly used to filter inappropriate language that the administrator does not want to allow in the forum.
The administrator can specify the strings that are to be replaced via the replacement control panel, which supports both basic replacement and regex pattern matching.
FUDforum tracks the IP addresses of all users as they submit posts to the forum. Administrators and forum moderators can see the IP address of the author beside each message. In addition, the IP address itself is a link to a URL that will attempt to look up the ISP of the user who submitted the post or message.
FUDforum logs all actions taken by privileged users such as moderators. The action log allows administrator(s) to see time-stamped details of actions that have been taken by users with special privileges. The action log will also show all failed attempts to login to the administrator account.
Message mangling refers to the ability to edit, delete, move and split topics and messages. Administrators may grant message mangling permissions to moderators and other users.
The administrator has an extensive set of tools to block people from the forum. The tools include an IP filter to block access to FUDforum from any IP address or IP address mask.
The e-mail filter blocks all users who's e-mail address matches the mask specified by the administrator. The e-mail filter also prevents new registrations using an e-mail that matches the specified mask.
The Login filter, blocks all users who's login matches the mask specified by the administrator. The login filter also prevents people from registering with a login that matches the specified mask.
If cookies are not enabled on the user's computer, FUDforum will use URL sessions to keep track of the user. This allows use of the forum even if cookies are not supported or allowed on the user's computer.
FUDforum includes tools which will allow the forum to be used to archive newsgroups (NNTP) and mailing lists. In addition, FUDforum allows the administrator to permit forum members to post messages back to a mailing list or a newsgroup. This feature makes FUDforum an ideal access point to newsgroups and mailing lists for those who cannot access those resources directly.
XML feeds can be imported into FUDforum. This opens interesting possibilities like blog-to-forum and forum-to-forum replication of messages.
FUDforum includes an installation wizard that is so easy to use, it will have your forum up and running within minutes. The upgrade process is even easier. Simply download the upgrade pack from the FUDforum website and run the script, which will automatically perform all necessary upgrades from any previous version.
FUDforum has full support for MySQL, Oracle, PostgreSQL and SQLite. The database layer is properly abstracted and new database types can be supported by simply writing a new database driver.
FUDforum can be successfully installed on systems configured with PHP safe_mode enabled and those which may have the register_globals and magic_quotes_gpc parameters turned off.
Despite its many features, FUDforum is still extremely fast. It is probably faster than all the other forum applications that offer similar or even lesser feature sets. FUDforum's excellent performance is the result of highly tuned interfaces to the underlying MySQL, PostgreSQL or SQLite database and highly optimized PHP code.
In most cases, the forum will generate a page in less than one tenth (0.1) of a second.
Security is an often overlooked feature in web based applications. As a result, many web based applications have large security holes that even the most incompetent hacker can exploit, causing a great deal of damage and annoyance.
Considerable care has been taken to ensure that, given the available programming tools, the default installation of FUDforum is designed to offer the greatest possible security. It would be very difficult if not impossible for a curious user or even a hacker to access your sensitive data.
To achieve this level of security, by default FUDforum stores files using the least possible file permissions (0600 for files and 0700 for directories), which allow only the user account under which the web server is running to access FUDforum's files.
|NOTE: On servers that are configured to appropriately switch users for each virtual host (like Apache 2.x) your forum files will be even more secure because they will be accessible by you alone.|
Although you may think that giving a web server ownership of the files is equivalent to allowing access to anyone, that is simply not the case. On a secure server, for example, the administrator should implement a PHP open_basedir limitation to restrict PHP scripts from accessing files in directories not owned by a current virtual host, thus preventing access through PHP to source code and data files of FUDforum.
On a properly configured server, any programs running within the CGI wrapper should not be able to access your files because (if a proper suid interface has been implemented by the server administrator) programs within the CGI wrapper should run as the user who executed them.
Consequently, given a well set up server, the forum's data should be quite secure, even on a shared hosting platform.