Tuesday, July 7, 1998


Today's question is of a different sort. I get some interesting email about general Java issues, particular news items, the quote of the day, and more. A lot of it's worth posting. Furthermore, there's obviously interest in a more interactive Cafe au Lait, as the enthusiastic response to the Question of the Day shows.

However, my time is severely constrained and I cannot afford more time to edit, format, and post reader comments.

What I think I need is a simple way to add discussion forums to this site. These would not be generic, ongoing forums on broad issues like comp.lang.java but specific forums related to individual quotes, news items, or questions. For example, this would allow you to discuss Mark Pesce's claim above that Internet tech that doesn't support the Mac is doomed to failure. What I have in mind is very roughly, the sort of discussions that take place at slashdot.org.

Here are my requirements for the forum software I envision, in rough order of priority:

  1. The software must run on Solaris and Apache. Unix and Windows solutions are useless to me.

  2. I have no direct income from this site. Cheap is good, free is better. Anything that crosses into four figures is out of the question.

  3. It must be almost trivial for me to create new forums. I should be able to set up a new forum in less than five minutes, preferably less than one.

  4. I am a firm believer in the value of moderated lists. I should be able to easily edit the forum pages, for instance to delete inappropriate posts.

  5. It should not require root access to install or set up the software. It must not require root access to moderate or edit the forums.

  6. It should use basic HTML and run in web browsers that do not support Java or JavaScript. I generally work on the site on a Mac, and find Java and JavaScript required sites to be nigh-on unusable. I do not have time to debug cross-platform idiosyncracies.

  7. It should not require registration for posting though it may allow it. I hate registration. I can't remember all the passwords I already have.

  8. Threading is not required. Each forum can be its own thread.

If you know of anything that meets these requirements, please send suggestions to me at elharo@ibiblio.org No free books today, but a successful answer will result in a more interesting and fun Cafe au Lait.


I still don't know if there's any forum software that comes close to meeting my requirements. There wer a few suggestions, but so far none of them have panned out. I'm going to do some hunting on this one myself, but so far no one's suggested anything that was actually feasible. If I want this I may have to write it myself. Suggestions are still appreciated.

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Copyright 1998 Elliotte Rusty Harold
Last Modified July 11, 1998