September 02, 2007

Active Forums 3.7 Review

As many of my regular readers have noticed I have recently migrated from the Core DNN Forum module to the ActiveForums module created by ActiveModules. This article is a full review of the new forum and my overall thoughts regarding the switch and the new features provided by the ActiveForums module.

Installation

Installing ActiveForums was a very easy process. In my case I was simply installing the forums to use as a fresh install because I had a corrupted version of the DNN Forums module and didn't want to risk issues with data migration. When I was given active forums, I simply followed the installation process as with all other modules installing via "Module Definitions" when logged in as host. After adding the module to the page I had to complete the activation process by simply providing my activation code, a very simple process.

For those interested in migrating data from an existing instance of the DNN Forums module, ActiveModules does have a script/utility available to perform the data migrations. Once you have purchased the module you will be given access to the customer message board and information can be obtained there. I have not personally used this utility, however, I have been told that it works very well.

Configuration

As soon as I started to configure the ActiveForums module I started to notice the benefits of this module compared to the DNN Forum. First of all the module does offer a familiar interface and organization for the administration functions. This made it very easy for me to get up and running with minimal researching of the user documentation. The next thing I noticed was that forum security/permissions etc are much easier to understand and work with. See the below screen capture from my installation.

ActiveForums Security Options

As you can see they make it VERY easy to see who can view, edit, create, reply, edit, delete, lock, etc. These permissions can be set per forum group, or individual forum allowing great granularity in your configuration. I also find that this has virtually eliminated any confusion that exists with the DNN module.

As you can see from the security screen capture above you have some additional functionality that is available as well such as "Polls" which can allow you a large amount of flexibility to allow members of your site to contribute to the forums.

From a configuration standpoint there was one other configuration option that I found very useful. ActiveForums has a "Post Filter" functionality that will perform text replacements within the body of posts. By default this is use to allow smilies and some BB Text style replacements. For example :) will insert a smiley face, and you can use the [b] and [/b] tags for bold. Yes, in theory this is functionality that is possible with the DNN forums however, significant setup would be required, ActiveForums provides it by default.

There are many more intersting features and options available with this module, however, for the sake of brevity I am going to move on the review. My recommendation to anyone that is looking to switch to this module is that you take the time to read the users guide to become familiar with all functionality that is available.

Usage

Overall after I finished the configuration of my forums installation I was very happy. Not only was I able to take advantage of the new features right away I was also able to quickly notice the benefits of the switch. With all other infrastructures staying the same on my website I quickly noticed that this module responds much more quickly to postings and other actions, as well as the admin/posting processes are very fast.

Final Thoughts

The only final comments I have regarding this module are that I am not sure why it too me so long to make the switch. Don't get me wrong the DNN core forums is great, and will most likely soon have the same features I simply needed a product that had that functionality now!

Please share any feedback below, if you have any questions feel free to post them below as well.

tags: DNN, Product Review
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