DCForum Administration User's Guide

DCForum offers a comprehensive administration tools to help you effectively manage your discussion forum. This user's guide assumes that you have already successfully installed DCForum on your web site. If you have not yet installed DCForum, please refer to readme.txt and install_*.txt files and install it now.

Table of Contents

  1. Getting started...
  2. Post-installation configuration
  3. Setting up conferences and forums
  4. Managing user accounts
  5. Managing conferences and forums
  6. Managing private forums
  7. Managing topics and messages
  8. Using special administration feature
  9. Using data utilities
  10. Using other misc utilities
  11. Functions

1. Getting started...

DCForum administration utility is a browser-based program that will help you setup and maintain your discussion forum. It includes many functions listed in the Functions section.

After the installation, you must do the following to complete forum setup:

  1. Set up forum title, time, date, and other options
  2. Create conferences
  3. Create forums
  4. Customize interface
Please read carefully section 2 and 3 on "Post-installation configuration" and "Setting up conferences and forums". Other sections can be used as a reference.

2. Post-installation configuration

After the initial installation, the first step in setting up your forum is to specify the forum title, time/date, security settings and other forum options. You can modify these setting by clicking on the "Forum Settings" link in the DCAdmin's menu.

Forum Title and Time Settings

Forum Security Settings

Forum Color and Font Settings

Note:The forum color and font setting can only control the tables and menu outputs. For a more advanced customization, you'll need to modify dcforum.htmlt template file. See "Customizing Forum Layout".

Forum Options

3.  Setting up conferences and forums

Once forum options are set, the next step in creating discussion forum is to create conferences and forums. There are couple of things that you should think about before you start creating them.

Creating A Conference

  1. From DCAdmin menu, choose "Create New Conference".
  2. Enter conference name.
  3. Enter conference Description.
  4. Select conference status. If "off", all the forums belonging to this conference will not display in the lobby.
  5. Click on "Submit" button.

Note: If you have conferences that contain no forums, then they will not appear in the conference listings.

After you've created all the conferences, we next need to create forums.

Creating A Forum

  1. From DCAdmin menu, choose "Create New Forum".
  2. Select a conference - this conference is where this new forum will belong.
  3. Enter forum name.
  4. Enter forum Description.
  5. Select forum moderator(s).
  6. Select forum type.
  7. Select form mode.
  8. Select forum status. If "Not Active", this forum will not
  9. Click on "Submit" button.

Congratulations! You have now setup DCForum for your web site. Now, let's customize your forum layout.

Customizing Forum Layout

DCForum program uses a single template file to generate all it's output. This template file, dcforum.htmlt, is simply an HTML file with special tags that are used by the program to generate the output. Hence, editing this one file can change the whole look of your discussion forum. In addition, DCF2000 allows you to use different template files for each forum.

Modifying dcforum.htmlt

  1. From your /cgi-bin/dcforum directory, download dcforum.htmlt file to your local PC or workstation. Please remember to use ASCII mode of file transfer when you FTP this file.
  2. Open dcforum.htmlt in your favorite, plain text editor. For example, use notepad or homesite (https://www.homesite.com).
  3. Modify dcforum.htmlt as you like. Just remember not to remove the following DCF tags:
  4. Edit email link on the bottom of the template file.
  5. Save and upload this file to /cgi-bin/dcforum directory.
Note that if you want to display a banner on every page, you can include the banner tag in this template file.

Multiple template file

You can specify different template file for each forum simply by creating different dcforum.htmlt file and then uploading it to /htdocs/dcforum/forum directory.
  1. Edit dcforum.htmlt template file as directed in "Modifying dcforum.htmlt" section.
  2. Instead of uploading dcforum.htmlt to the /cgi-bin/dcforum directory, upload it to /htdocs/dcforum/forum_name where forum_name is the directory name of the forum in question.

4. Managing user accounts

DCForum administration utility features a comprehensive user account management system. Two functions are available in the administration menu: create new account and manage user accounts.

Creating New User Account

In general, you turn "ON" the "Allow user registration" option in the forum settings. This allows users to register themselves. At times, however, you many want to create user accounts yourself. In this case, you can use this option.
  1. From DCAdmin menu, choose "Create New Account".
  2. Enter username.
  3. Enter password twice.
  4. Select user group.
  5. Enter all other additional fields.
  6. Select user account status.
  7. Click on "Submit" button.

User Manager

User manager allow you to effectively manage your users. It allows you to activate, deactivate, remove, and modify user accounts.

5. Managing conferences and forums

Even after your discussion forum is up and running, you may still need to manage existing conferences and forums. You use the conference and forum manager to manage this task.

Modify Conference

  1. From DCAdmin menu, choose "Modify Conference" and click on the "Submit" button.
  2. From the dialog menu, select the conference that you want to modify and then click on "Submit" button.
  3. Edit conference information you want to modify.
  4. Click on "Submit" button.

Reorder Conferences

  1. From DCAdmin menu, choose "Reorder Conferences" and click on the "Submit" button.
  2. In the conference listing, number the conference in the order that you which to display. Be careful not to specify duplicate number!!!
  3. Carefully preview the conference ordering and make sure there are no duplicate numbers.
  4. Click on "Submit" button.

Remove Conference

  1. From DCAdmin menu, choose "Remove Conference" and click on the "Submit" button.
  2. From the dialog menu, select the conference that you want to remove and then click on "Submit" button.

Modify Forum

  1. From DCAdmin menu, choose "Modify Forum" and click on the "Submit" button.
  2. From the dialog menu, select the forum that you want to modify and then click on "Submit" button.
  3. Edit forum information you want to modify.
  4. Click on "Submit" button.

Reorder Forums

  1. From DCAdmin menu, choose "Reorder Forums" and click on the "Submit" button.
  2. In the conference listing, number the forum in the order that you which to display. Be careful not to specify duplicate number!!!
  3. Carefully preview the forum ordering and make sure there are no duplicate numbers.
  4. Click on "Submit" button.

Remove Forum

NOTE: Removing a forum deletes all the messages and topics posted in that forum. This is not a reversible process.
  1. From DCAdmin menu, choose "Remove Forum" and click on the "Submit" button.
  2. From the dialog menu, select the forum that you want to remove and then click on "Submit" button.

6. Managing private forums

Private forums are exclusive in that the administrator or the moderator of each private forum must grant access to users. The user access is managed using the Private forum user manager. In order for a user to have access to a private forum:
  1. The user must have "member" user group - if the user belong to "normal" user group, then you must promote this user to "member" user group using the User Manager. See "Managing user accounts" on how to accomplish this task.
  2. The administrator or the moderator must use private forum user manager to grant access.

Granting access to all "member" users

  1. Click on User Manager in the Private Forum Manager.
  2. Select a forum.
  3. Click on "Allow All Members" button.

Granting access to selective "member" users

  1. Click on User Manager in the Private Forum Manager.
  2. Select a forum.
  3. Click on "Add/Remove Users" button to display all member users. Note: Users must have "member" user group to appear in this list.
  4. From the list of users, choose users you want to grant access.
  5. Click on "Submit" button.

7. Managing topics and messages

The board manager is used to manage topics and messages. The available functions are:

Unqueue messages

  1. Select "Unqueue Messages" from the board manager.
  2. Select a forum from the list of available moderated forums. If "In Queue" field displays "0", then there is no message in the queue.
  3. Click on "Submit" button to bring up all messages in the queue.
  4. Preview each message and select "unqueue" if you want to post the message. Likewise, select "delete" if you want to remove the message. Not selecting other option will leave the message in the queue.
  5. Click on "Submit" to unqueue and delete messages.

Lock threads

  1. Select "Lock Threads" from the board manager.
  2. Select a forum from the list of available forums.
  3. Click on "Submit" button to list topics
  4. Select topics you wish to make read-only.
  5. Click on "Submit" to lock selected threads.

Unlock threads

  1. Select "Unlock Threads" from the board manager.
  2. Select a forum from the list of available forums.
  3. Click on "Submit" button to list topics
  4. Select topics you wish to unlock.
  5. Click on "Submit" to unlock selected threads.

Archive threads

  1. Select "Archive Threads" from the board manager.
  2. Select a forum from the list of available forums.
  3. Click on "Submit" button to list topics
  4. Select topics you wish to archive.
  5. Click on "Submit" to archive selected threads.

Move threads

  1. Select "Move Threads" from the board manager.
  2. Select a forum from the list of available forums. The threads you select from this forum will be moved to another forum that you select later.
  3. Click on "Submit" button to list topics.
  4. From "Move to Which Forum?" dropdown menu, select the destination forum.
  5. Select topics you wish to move.
  6. Click on "Submit" to move selected threads.

Remove threads

  1. Select "Remove Threads" from the board manager.
  2. Select a forum from the list of available forums.
  3. Click on "Submit" button to list topics.
  4. Select topics you wish to remove.
  5. Click on "Submit" to remove selected threads.

Remove messages

  1. Select "Remove Messages" from the board manager.
  2. Select a forum from the list of available forums.
  3. Click on "Submit" button to list topics.
  4. Select the topic that contains the messages that you wish to remove.
  5. Click on "Submit" button to list messages in this selected topic.  Please note that the original message cannot be removed.
  6. Preview each message and click on "Select to remove the following message" checkbox if you wish to remove them.
  7. Click on "Submit" to remove selected messages.

8.  Using special administration feature

DCForum includes the following special administration features:

Announcement Manager

Announcement is a read-only message that you can post for forum users to view. If there is an announcement, then "Announcement" link will appear in the LOBBY. Use this feature for posting general messages.

Adding new announcement

  1. Select "Announcement Manager" from the admin functions.
  2. In the "Post announcement" form, complete the subject and message boxes
  3. Click "Submit" button.

Modifying existing announcement

  1. Select "Announcement Manager" from the admin functions.
  2. Select the announcement you wish to modify.
  3. Modify subject and message.
  4. Click "Submit" button.

Removing existing announcement

  1. Select "Announcement Manager" from the admin functions.
  2. Select the announcements you wish to remove.
  3. Click "Submit" button.

Custom Email Manager

You can modify the email messages for the following emails sent by DCForum:

Email registration message

  1. Select "Customize Emails" from the admin functions.
  2. Select "Email registration message".
  3. Click "Submit" button.
  4. Edit'subject and message. Be sure not to alter "USERNAME_PASSWORD".
  5. Click on "Submit" button

Email notification message

  1. Select "Customize Emails" from the admin functions.
  2. Select "Email notification message".
  3. Click "Submit" button.
  4. Edit'subject and message. Be sure not to alter "EMAIL_NOTIFICATION_MESSAGE".
  5. Click on "Submit" button

Account status change email message

  1. Select "Customize Emails" from the admin functions.
  2. Select "Account status change email message".
  3. Click "Submit" button.
  4. Edit'subject and message. Be sure not to alter "ACCOUNT_CHANGE".
  5. Click on "Submit" button

Subscription email message

  1. Select "Customize Emails" from the admin functions.
  2. Select "Subscription email message".
  3. Click "Submit" button.
  4. Edit'subject and message.
  5. Click on "Submit" button

Lost password email message

  1. Select "Customize Emails" from the admin functions.
  2. Select "Lost password email message".
  3. Click "Submit" button.
  4. Edit'subject and message. Be sure not to alter "USERNAME_PASSWORD".
  5. Click on "Submit" button

Sending Email to Forum Users

Using this feature, you can send email to all your users or just to a select group of users.
  1. Choose email recipients by selecting a user group.
  2. Compose your email by entering subject and message.
  3. Click "Submit" button.

Sending Subscriptions

Using this feature, you can send subscriptions to selected users who wish to receive them.
  1. Select "Send Announcement" link from admin functions.

9.Using Data Utilities

DCForum is a very robust and stable program. However, at times, you may still lose data due to server concurrency problems. You can recover most of the data using the data utilities. There DCForum includes the following special data utilities:

Rebuilding Database

DCForum keeps current topics in database.txt file. At time, this file may become corrupted. In this case, use this utility to rebuild it.
  1. Select "Rebuild Database" link from the Data Utilities.
  2. Select a forum and click "Submit" button.
  3. Wait until the utility completes the rebuilding process.

Backup Forum Files

This utility will back up *.txt files in the User_info directory.
  1. Select "Backup Forum Files" link from the Data Utilities.

Recover Forum Files

This utility will allow you to recover any or some *.txt files in User_info directory from the backup copies.
  1. Select "Recover Forum Files" link from the Data Utilities.
  2. Select files you want to recover.
  3. Click "Submit" button.

10. Using other misc utilities

DCForum includes the following misc utilities:

Update Threads

This utility will update all *.html topics from Data/*.txt topic database. If you change dcforum.htmlt template file, run this utility to update the topics.

Remove Session Files

This utility will clean up temporary session files in User_info/Sessions directory that is more than a day old. Run this utility once a while to clean up this directory.

Remove All Session Files

This utility will clean up all session files in User_info/Sessions directory that is more than a day old. In addition to temporary session files, the session files for "Remember My Password" users are removed as well.

Remove Temporary Files

This utility will clean up files in User_info/Temp directory.

11. Functions


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