How to create a forum

Hi,

I am writing a forum in c#, .net 2.0 framework.  I have all the basic functionalities done, but I

am trying to create a professional looking forum, so I have the following questions:

1) I see that some nicely done forums allow you to reply to not just the original message but any

message, and then display all the related messages together, and use indentation to separate the

1st level replies from the second level replies, etc.  Can someone show me the algorithm?  I am

sure the implementation is pretty straight forward once the algorithm is figured out.

Right now, I have two tables:

FORUM_MESSAGES:

ID      PARENT_MSG_ID      FORUM_ID      CREATED_DT      ACTIVE_FL      REPLY_CNT      NICKNAME      

EMAIL      SUBJECT      MESSAGE
                  
FORUM:

ID      FORUM_NAME      ACTIVE_FL      CREATED_DT

Right now I only have message that don't have a PARENT_MSG_ID as parent messages, but in a good

forum, you should be able to allow messages that are both parent to a set of messages as well as

being a child to another message.

2) I have always wondered how people can make their forums look so nice visually, can someone

give me some pointers as well? This is what I have so far:

http://www.jiazhouren.com/forum1lam/forum_view.aspx?fid=1&fname=Forum+Sinaca

Thanks,

Mike Lam                                                      
mmingfeilam1Asked:
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mrichmonCommented:
Most people don't.  Instead they grab a pre-packaged one that allows the look to be customized.  Most are written in PHP because there are so many free PHP ones that allow the look to make it seem like a different forum, but really is running the same code.

Note you can intstall php on your server along with .net

Anyway as to making it look nice.  They use CSS (cascading stylesheets).
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mmingfeilam1Author Commented:
Thanks,

So are you saying that one can have a website consisting of both .net and php pages and they will run well together?  Is there an example of such site you can show me?  

I have heard a lot of good things about PHP, but I stayed with .NET since I am more familiar with it.  
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mrichmonCommented:
Sure.  They will run fine.  In fact I know sites that run just the forum in PHP and the rest of the site in another language.

I don't know any off the top of my head (the few I knew off the top of my head were for things like games and have recently gone away as the online games have changed...)

But it is not hard to do.  Have the main portion of the site .NET, but just the forum pages (even a separate directory if you want) be PHP.
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mmingfeilam1Author Commented:
sounds good.  a lot of my friends have asked me to switch from .net to php.  aside from the obvious pricing difference, what do you think of .net vs php in terms of developement speed, ease of maintainence, and overall performance?  

i am a windows guys, so if I were to work with php and mysql server, it will be in a windows environment.  are there any major bugs with the windows version of the php engine?
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mrichmonCommented:
I use .NET not PHP.  BUt I will use thiings like this which are already programmed and ready to go like a plug in to an otherwise .NET website.

There are no problems with PHP in a windows environemnt. that I know of.  Of course I only use it for forums code and not for the rest of my code...
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