Coming soon: web-based support forums

I’ve been on the prowl for a suitable web-based replacement for my newsgroups for quite a while, and after testing pretty much every forums package on the market, I’ve decided that the latest version of InstantForum.NET is the best one out there. I’m still testing the software, but if all goes well I plan to offer web-based support forums very soon.

Now, I realize that some people (including myself, btw) prefer the efficient, threaded discussions that newsgroups offer. However, I’m running into more and more customers who are behind corporate firewalls which block them from accessing newsgroups, so the switch really is necessary.

And because web-based forums store their messages in a database, it’s far easier to archive messages for searching and provide features such as RSS feeds. They’re also simpler to moderate, and they’re certainly more customizable.

If you’d like to try out the forums before they go live, feel free to test them by following this link. Note that this is only for testing, though – messages posted now will most likely be removed once the forums go live.

10 thoughts on “Coming soon: web-based support forums

  1. I know this is probably all too late, but I have to make this comment.
    Nick, I don’t really understand why you’re insisting on ASP. You can very easily implement php and MySQL on Windows, and phpBB does have the advantage of having a very easy-to-add MOD that allows those who don’t like web-based fora to subscribe to a daily or weekly email digest. If they wish to respond to a thread, the email contains links to the forum, which they can do at their leisure.
    It’s not an NNTP connection, but my users are very, very happy with it.
    phpBB is free, as is the MySQL and the php ISAPI add-on for IIS. And it’s extraordinarily stable, and easy to administer. The URL I added to this comment is the address of one of my phpBB forums, and I can send an example of the e-mails it sends out, if you like.

  2. Peter, I’ve used phpBB and agree it’s very nice. However, my site is already based on ASP/SQL Server, so I didn’t want a PHP/MySQL solution.
    Plus, an ASP.NET-based forums package enables me to start learning more about .NET, which will obviously be important for any Windows developer to know.

  3. “Server Requirements: Internet Information Services 5.1 or above”

    This single line hurts my eyes; really Nick, if you’re into Standards, W3C, XML, XHTML, CSS, blah blah blah, do a favor for yourself and forget about IIS as your HTTP Server. Use Apache and you won’t regret it. The reason for my words?, easy:
    IIS performance is a joke (benchmark ANY Apache recent server, 2.0.4x, against IIS 6).
    IIS security (from 4 to 6) is … mmm … another joke (guess which server is the prefered – almost the only one – to hack it and guess why Microsoft released specific tools to “try to solve” their security problems).
    Apache IS the 100% standards compliant HTTP server right now … why are you developing tools like TopStyle that creates standard code and you’re using a HTTP server that BREAKS the meaning of the word “standard”?¿
    Do what you want but I think that developing tools that validate code/follow W3C standards, blah, blah, blah and using as the same time something like IIS is, at least here, hypocrite.

  4. I tried the link and got:
    Server Error in ‘/instantforum34’ Application.
    General network error. Check your network documentation.
    Description: An unhandled exception occurred during the execution of the current web request. Please review the stack trace for more information about the error and where it originated in the code.
    Exception Details: System.Data.SqlClient.SqlException: General network error. Check your network documentation.
    Source Error:
    An unhandled exception was generated during the execution of the current web request. Information regarding the origin and location of the exception can be identified using the exception stack trace below.
    Stack Trace:
    [SqlException: General network error. Check your network documentation.]
    System.Data.SqlClient.SqlCommand.ExecuteReader(CommandBehavior cmdBehavior, RunBehavior runBehavior, Boolean returnStream) +723
    System.Data.SqlClient.SqlCommand.ExecuteNonQuery() +196
    System.Data.SqlClient.SqlInternalConnection.Activate(Boolean isInTransaction) +329
    System.Data.SqlClient.SqlConnection.Open() +384
    InstantASP.InstantForum.Logic.AddMemberToActivityTable(Int32 intUserID)
    InstantASP.InstantForum.WebSite.Global.Session_OnStart(Object Sender, EventArgs E)
    System.Web.SessionState.SessionStateModule.CompleteAcquireState() +525
    System.Web.SessionState.SessionStateModule.BeginAcquireState(Object source, EventArgs e, AsyncCallback cb, Object extraData) +698
    System.Web.AsyncEventExecutionStep.System.Web.HttpApplication+IExecutionStep.Execute() +66
    System.Web.HttpApplication.ExecuteStep(IExecutionStep step, Boolean& completedSynchronously) +173
    Version Information: Microsoft .NET Framework Version:1.1.4322.573; ASP.NET Version:1.1.4322.573

  5. John, I’m still tweaking the forums, so you may see some errors every now and then. It should be working now, though.

  6. i really wonder why people pay money for stuff they can have as opensource.
    i think paying for good software is good. i’m doing this myself. but before i pay i look for OSS alternatives or at least freeware. you dont always need the payware especially if sometimes commercial software gets out performed by OSS.
    just my pi cents.

  7. If there was an OSS forums package that fit my needs, I’d be using it. I looked at OSS forums and I looked at payware forums, and in the end felt that the payware package better suited me.

  8. Searching, Researching, and FeedDemon

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