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Is Vanilla the right tool for this job?

edited January 2007 in Vanilla 1.0 Help
I have a very specific application - I'm creating a "message board" for a website for a 50th (high school) Class Reunion. My demographic is 67+ years old, and from a small, primarily blue-collar, Midwestern town. The majority of them will not be very computer-savvy and many of them will be downright technophobic. Anything beyond e-mail will be intimidating for a lot of them, so I need to keep this as simple, minimal and e-mail-like as possible. Even so, I still want it to have a rich feature set. Many of these people haven't seen or communicated with each other in decades. They have a lot of catching up to do, so I expect this message-board will get a LOT of use. I think once they get the hang of it, they'll start having some fun with it, using some of the more advanced features I plan to include. At first I was just going to write something from scratch, but I don't have time for that. So I started looking at punbb and phorum, but they'd need way too much modification. Next I looked at some guestbook scripts but they were all too basic. The author of one of the more advanced guestbook scripts pointed me toward Vanilla. I want to create something that's very lean/streamlined. There is a single, central focus here - the Class Reunion. So I don't need multiple categories or subcategories, and if there's only one category, there's no need for a category index page. And really, I can get by with a single, broad discussion - "Hello Classmates!" Now I don't need a discussion list page either, so I may as well take them directly to the discussion page. So, essentially, there could be as few as 3, maybe 4 pages - the main page, a login page, a contact page (for sending e-mail without exposing the e-ddresses) and maybe a preferences page where they could upload an avatar and set certain basic options. (Technically, I could do this with one page, redisplaying it based on the POST data, which is what I would have done if I had time to write it myself.) The reason I'm posting all this is to see if maybe someone has already done something similar. (I don't want to reinvent the wheel if I don't have to.) Assuming no one has, I also thought maybe others might find this an interesting project and maybe have some suggestions - especially for existing mods or hacks that might help implement the features and behaviors using blocks of prewritten code. Lastly, I'm wondering if anyone else might have a need for this. If so, I'd be happy to post my code and make it available. ~ edited to reflect Vanilla paradigm/terminology


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    Here is a full list of the features I want to incorporate. Some of them are totally standard features for any forum, but I'll list them all anyway in the interest of providing a complete overview of what I'm trying to achieve... 1. A simple login page. New users will be directed to the login page when they click "reply" or "post a message" and a long-expiration cookie will keep them from ever having to login again. Registrations will be accepted immediately (without e-mail confirmation, etc.), so this is actually more of a registration page, but it will function as a one-time login page. 2. Really good spam protection. Without confirmed registrations, I'll need it. 3. User moderation of objectionable messages/spam using "Report message" buttons. Once it's been reported by 3 (<- user configurable) unique users, the post disappears. 4. A very simple reply/new message form, with a minimum of buttons, fields, etc. A WYSIWYG editor would be nice, but if I can't do that, I'll just eliminate text formatting altogether. 5. E-mail icons that link to a contact form, allowing them to e-mail each other without displaying e-ddresses where they can be harvested. 6. A very simple reply/new message form, with a minimum of buttons, fields, etc. 7. Picture uploads (They have to be able to show off pics of their grandkids and the new RV!) 8. Option to highlight or only display new messages since last visit - either via css, using coloration or via php, adding a filter to the display query. 9. Display a conversation (created using "reply to this message" buttons yielding "In Reply To" and "Replies to this message: 1 2 3 4..." links.) Again, this could be via css highlighting, or php/sql filtering. 10. E-mail notifications of new comments (possibly with a user preference setting to "only notify me when someone replies to my comments".) 11. Smilies 12. Avatars - both stock and uploadable. If you've come this far, thanks for taking the time to read all this! :) Any ideas or suggestions will be very much appreciated.
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    I think Vanilla will meet every item you listed. You should download it and test it locally if you can. It is simple to use and there are a lot of add-ons to help you extend the basics. You probably won't need hardly any of these.
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    1. thats already done
    6. Currently there is a text box and a Add your commment button(Disable Whispers as it is a Nice, but new concept.)
    7. Account pictures extension
    9. Could you elaborate
    10. if your host supports SMTP this will be done already
    11. Vanillacons extension
    12. hmm Account pics features uploadable and i am sure it wouldn't be too hard to make stock photos also.

    I would suggest installing a copy of vanilla and checking it out because it is obvious you haven't
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    No, I haven't installed vanilla yet - wanted to see if it was likely to meet my needs (without a huge amount of modification) before doing so. Elaborating on 9... 1. User posts a message 2. Another user clicks on "Reply to this message" and posts a reply 3. Other uses reply to the original message 4. Users reply to one or more of the replies (to the original message) Then... 1. User clicks on "Show THIS conversation" 2A. Original message and replies to it (and replies to replies) are shown with a special background color, or... 2B. Only the original message and replies to it (and replies to replies) are shown. 3. User clicks "Back to Main page" and all messages are displayed again. It's kind of like threaded messaging, but without nesting.
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    hmmm I don't really think that would be possibly, and probably unnecessary, I Guess you could use one of these Quote extensions that 'they' are working on that would suit your need i think

    Over all i think that Vanilla would be PERFECT for this forum yo are making, not only because of the elegant simplicity but also the extensibility.
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    With 9 are you talking about a threaded type discussion system? Because vanilla doesnt support that and personally i think it unnecessarily complicates things....
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    Personally, I hate threaded forums - but it is very much a personal preference thing ;)
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    #9 _is_ a threaded type discussion, but not in the usual sense. (Personally, I hate them, too.) The messages would not be nested, nor even arranged any differently (wrt chronology). They would simply be A. colored differently or B. the only messages shown after a filter is applied in sql. And even then, _only if_ the user chooses to do so. The use case for (and rationale behind) this would be when a user posts a message, comes back a couple days later and finds 50+ new messages. But they don't want to read all of them - just the ones directly related to them. So, using a list of the messages they've posted, they click on one of their messages, then click "Show THIS conversation". The behavior I'm leaning toward after that is the sql filter method. I suspect this would be of little use to most; this sort of behavior is typically handled via multiple topics within multiple forums. But that assumes a reasonably tech-savvy demographic. :)
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    In my opinion, you are unintentionally taking away simplicity (adding complexity) in the name of simplicity. Most seniors and technophobes I know are happier with something as simple as new posts (of any type) just having a red number. Anyway, why not just have them use the 'Participated Discussions' link from the Discussion Filter add-on?
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    no hes saying that in a discussion show related post. this would probably screw up the flow of messages and would be confusing, It seems like you are trying to have multiple discussions within a single discussion. If there a new think to talk about they they should start a new discussion.
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    Yeah...I'm sure you'd be better with multiple discussions than one big messy one..?
This discussion has been closed.