AB Forum Howto

It is recommended to Install Sample Content during the first installation just to familiarize yourself with the functionality, tools and options. It can be deleted later prior to a fresh start of the forum.

AFTER INSTALLATION

If you don't want to moderate every single post and reply and approve them before publishing, go to Forum > Settings and enable option All submitted forum posts approved by default. This way all new posts and replies will be automatically approved and shown. You can then selectively moderate and disable those required.

Allow Forum Post File Attachments for admin users. Setting the Allow Users to Add Attachments will provide file upload functionality fo rnon-admin users at front end as well. Number of Attached Files is how many files are allowed for each post. Only first PHP upload_max_filesize limit of files can be uploaded at a time, the rest will be ignored regardless of Number of Attached Files value. Max Size of Each Attached File or PHP upload_max_filesize value whichever is less. Total Max Size of All Attached Files or PHP post_max_size value whichever is less.

You can choose the front end editor option: either plain text or rich text. Or you can allow only the site admin to make posts and replies in rich text. Please realize that giving users the ability to save forum posts and replies in rich text will consume much higher database server space and reduce the site processing speed. Use rich text if you understand the consequences.

Switching the editor from plain text to rich text poses no risks. However as rich text has HTML tags, switching back to plain text will leave all those HTML tags in the texts. You can switch back to rich text again any time unless you convert rich text to plain, then all tags, images, formatting etc. will be lost. Converting rich text to plain can potentially and occasionally leave some artifacts, i.e. there is no guarantee this operation will be 100 % successful. This operation cannot be undone. Back up your database prior to the conversion just in case you change your mind later and want to restore the previous state.

There are three options for the front end rich text editor: simple, full and for admin. The simple editor will have the bare minium functionality for users, the full editor will have all rich text editor functionality for users enabled in the Dashboard > System & Settings > Basics > Rich Text Editor. Note: the site admin will always have the full functionality with any of the three selected.

Note, the package doesn't provide functionality to automatically register users or to automatically add registered users to the Forum User group. Users which are not approved and not in the Forum User group can't apply to become a forum user or make forum posts or replies nor do they have access to the forum Account > My Forum page. To allow logged-in users to apply for forum user, they have to be added to the Forum User group first, this can be done in Dashboard > Members > select users > Items Selected > Add to Group > Add the users below to Group(s) > Forum User > Add.

FORUM USER PERMISSIONS AND FUNCTIONALITY

GENERAL

- DELETE meand deleting from database
- APPROVE makes posts and replies invisible to standard users, Moderators can still view and edit them in Account, if auto approval in not enabled new posts and replies will not show until approved by Moderator or Admin, Moderators can see them in Account
- LOCK makes posts and related replies unediteble to standard users, no new replies can be added
- STICK highlights forum post and keeps it stuck at the top of the list
- FLAG puts a visible red flag on a post or reply to highlight them if users deems their content inappropriate, to remove the post or reply they have to be withdrawn
- NEW highlights newly made posts and replies, after ACKNOWLEDGING them the NEW light bulb disapears, good for moderators to distinguish new items in the list
- SUBSCRIBE lets you receive notifications in case of new activity (new replies) in posts
- Editing of posts and replies can be done in Dashboard and Account > My Forum

ADMIN

- Admin is a Forum God and can do anything permitted by concrete5
- ONLY Admin can delete forum posts and replies and ONLY in Dashboard
- All Forum functionality and settings can be configured by Admin in Dashboard > Forum > Settings
-
Admin can make forum posts and replies New again, change post topic, define sticky period and message, define locked message, regenerate post page
- Admin functionality in available in Dashboard, Account and front end (except for deleting)
- Admin can edit all posts and replies
- Posts and replies made by Admin are approved automatically regardless of Settings
- Admin can assing users Moderator rights in Dashboard > Forum > Users

MODERATOR

- Moderator has nearly the same functionality as Admin except for the following: no deleting, no access to Dashboard, cannot define sticky and locked messages and periods
- Moderator functionality is available in Account and front end
- Moderator can edit all posts and replies in Account
- Moderator can change post topic, if changed it will be automatically shown under the corresponding topic in the list

USER

- User can edit ONLY their own posts and replies in Account
- User can subscribe to any post which can be viewed in Account but cannot be edited
- User can only change post title, content and attachments and reply content and attachments
- User own replies are highlighted in light green color to distinguish them in the list
- A new post or reply made by user will not show in the list unless the auto approval setting is enabled in Settings. When auto approval is enabled, the page will automatically refresh a few seconds after the new posts and replies are posted without errors.

SUBSCRIPTIONS AND NOTIFICATIONS

Notifications functionality can be configured in Dashboard > Forum > Settings > Notifications.

Site Subscriptions and Notifications allows site notifications functionality for subscribed users when new activity (new replies) occurs for the subscribed given posts. Autosubscribe Users will automatically subscribe them to their newly made forum posts and to forum posts they add replies to. If not selected users can choose to enable autosubscription in Account > My Forum > Edit Forum Account.

Email Notifications to Subscribed Users will send emails to all users subscribed to the post when new activity occurs, the mail will come from the address given in Email to Send Notifications from.

New Forum Post Notifications to Admin will also send new forum post notification to Admin to the given email address in Email to Send Notifications to.

New Reply Notifications to Admin will also send emails to the given Email to Send Notifications to address when new replies are added on site.

When a new post is made, a green light bulb icon will be shown in the Forum Post List for the first 10 min, the new post notification is sent out. If a user then adds a reply to the post, he will be automatically subscribed to the parent post if the auto subscription setting is enabled, and new reply notifications will be sent out.

If another user, not the one who made the original post, adds a reply to the post, greennew message icons will be displayed for post creator and all subscribed users to indicate new reply has been added. When the post creator or subscriber visits either the corresponding forum post page on front end or the post or reply editing page in Account, the notification clears as the post and replies are deemed to have been read.

The subscriptions and notifications functionality uses the database to keep track of the users and when they visit the Forum pages. The two tables store the forum post IDs and the forum user IDs. The tables can grow over time and if you wish to clear them, you can do that by clicking the Clear Notifications and Clear Subscriptions buttons in Settings.

HOW TO ADD A USER IN DASHBOARD

Assuming a user is registered on the web site, it can be made a forum user in the Forum > Users > Add Forum User. Select the Site User you want to make a Forum user. You can view all registered users and their usernames in Dashboard > Members. Don't forget to select the Active option - this makes the forum user approved to use the Forum. The user can also be made active or not active in the users list with the Activate/Deactivate button.

Thus, once made active, the user can use the Forum functionality. Making the user active automatically adds them to the Forum User group. Making a user not active, removes them from the group.

If you want to make a trusted user to be a forum moderator, this option can be set either in editing the user or with the Make/Remove Moderator button. The moderator can Approve/Withdraw forum posts, make posts sticky for 1 week or locked - no replies can be made. The moderator cannot delete forum posts or edit them. Only the site administrator (admin) can do that in the Dashboard > Forum.

There is an option in Settings to add all users from Forum User group to the Forum users. First, add all required users to the Forum User group in Dashboard > Members > select users > Items Selected > Add to Group > Add the users below to Group(s) > select Forum User > Add. Second, add all the selected users to the Forum users by clicking on Add All Users from Group in Forum > Users.

HOW TO ADD A FORUM POST IN DASHBOARD

Go to Dashboard > Forum > Add Forum Post. If option All submitted forum posts approved by default was set in Settings, all posts (new or edited) will have the Approved option set too - this makes the post to be approved and shown on the web site on the Forum page.

Setting the Sticky option will stick the post at the top of the forum post list and highlight it when viewing it. You can optionally set the Sticky Until date until which the post will appear sticky, otherwise it will remain sticky until this option is removed. You can optionally write a short Sticky Note to say why the post is sticky.

Setting the Locked option will disable replies to the post and highlight it when viewing it. You can optionally write a short Locked Note to say why the post is locked.

You can Add Message (or reply) to the post with the '+' button. Press the Show message link to open a text field to enter your message.

When the post has replies you can view and edit each after pressing the Show message link. All changes will be saved after saving the post itself. You can also Approve/Refuse messages. When refused, the message will not be shown on the forum page. Approving it will show it. Alternatively, you can delete th emessage altogether. Approve/Refuse and Delete are done instantly, no pst saving is required.

You can also make forum posts Sticky, Locked or Approve/Withdraw them in the forum post list.

Attachments are allowed only with file extensions defined in Dashboard > System & Settings > Files > File Extensions to Accept. The max number of files is either the Number of Attached Files in Forum > Settings > File Upload Defaults or PHP upload_max_filesize whichever is less.

HOW TO ADD A FORUM POST ON SITE

Assuming the main forum page is Forum, if the user is logged in and is a forum user, a new forum post can be made either on the Forum page or on a page belonging to a chosen Forum Topic by pressing the New Forum Post button. After the post is submitted, the page will refresh in 5 sec. If the post is automatically approved it should appear in the list under the Original Post. If it needs to be approved by a moderator or administrator, it will be shown after it's made approved.

To prevent robot post submissions, new posts can only be submitted after 60 sec from the previous post submission.

Note, only the site administrator can edit or delete forum posts and messages, a normal forum user can't do that after the submission.

A forum post reply can be made on the forum post page by pressing the Reply to Thread button. Again, after the reply submission, the page will refresh in 5 sec. If the message is automatically approved it should appear in the list under the Replies. If it needs to be approved by a moderator or administrator, it will be shown after it's made approved.

Replies too can only be submitted every 60 sec.

Attachments are allowed only with file extensions defined in Dashboard > System & Settings > Files > File Extensions to Accept. The max number of files is either the Number of Attached Files in Forum > Settings > File Upload Defaults or PHP upload_max_filesize whichever is less.

MY FORUM USER ACCOUNT

When logged in to the site and assuming the user belongs to the Forum User group, the user can apply to become a Forum User with the Apply for Forum Account button. Once approved, logged in forum users can view their own and subscribed to forum posts on the Account > My Forum page.

FORUM INTEGRATION

A newly installed Forum creates a page for forum posts called 'Forum' with a handle 'forum'. You can change the page handle or move it anywhere on your site. In this case all forum pages will have to be regenerated in Forum > Settings > Regenerate Forum Post Pages without loss of data to be sure all forum posts refer to the new page name or location.

If you want to use one of your existing pages for the Forum, you can add a Forum Post List block to the page. First, change the Page to Publish Forum Post Pages Under in Forum > Settings for the required page and save the settings. Second, go to the page and add the Forum Post List block. Third, regenerate all Regenerate Forum Post Pages in Settings. You can add the block as the first step, it's just going to be empty until you change Page to Publish Forum Post Pages Under and Regenerate Forum Post Pages.

ENABLE THEME IN ACCOUNT

Although this is not part of the package, in case you use concrete5 version which does not have themed Account pages (e.g. v8.4*), you can enable your theme for the Account > My Forum by editing the application/config/app.php file and adding this:

return [
    'theme_paths' => array(
        '/account' => 'elemental',
        '/account/*' => 'elemental',
    ),
];

where the 'elemental' theme handle can be changed for any other theme's. If you on the other hand do not want themed My Forum pages, you can change the theme handle for VIEW_CORE_THEME string.