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 Post Post subject: Aarons Forums
 
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I am making some new forums. They are currently in the design stages and I am not publishing them.

I am not creating the boards as a Techious competitor, merely a demonstration of my programming skill. I am hoping to make the forums redistributable.

The main focus of the forums is on tight security and a super simple interface. I'm even thinking of dropping the Category/Forum/Thread type architecture, and opting for something a bit more simple.

I hope to have it completed and have a .com domain so I can host this forum in the next couple of months.

I want you guys to be my test subjects.

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Thu Mar 20, 2008 8:03 am 
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Sure OK sounds interesting.

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Thu Mar 20, 2008 2:55 pm 
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It will be interesting to watch this. I don't really see how you can drop the standard forum architecture without turning it into a basic chatroom or blog style, though.

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Thu Mar 20, 2008 4:10 pm 
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azcn2503 wrote:
merely a demonstration of my programming skill.


And presumably to demonstrate how much more efficient it is to say, phpBB3?

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Thu Mar 20, 2008 10:38 pm 
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 Post Post subject: Re: Aarons Forums
 
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Yes!

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Fri Mar 21, 2008 1:37 pm 
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The SQL has been created, now it's just the PHP'ing left to do.

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Sun Mar 23, 2008 8:33 pm 
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I just read that in your WLM PSM lol. So is this a sql away from php job or just making sure the database works first.

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Sun Mar 23, 2008 8:38 pm 
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 Post Post subject: Re: Aarons Forums
 
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Teaser

Well, I was going over a database mockup that I made in Excel hundreds of times, making tweaks here and there, adding and removing 'features' without the headache of using the command line interface or even the GUI tools for MySQL. Now that I believe I have pretty much everything to create the forum, I am ready to start making the 'skeleton' (alpha).

I'm hoping to have the forum completed within a couple of weeks now. I'll add the error testing (the flesh / beta), and the graphics (the skin / final), later on.

MySQL looks like this right now:

Image

This is a teaser.

As you can see, there is a user_comment table, this allows for other users to comment on any other user. These comments can be approved by that user and higher-ups if necessary.

A key feature of the forum is that nothing is deleted as standard. Administrators or 'higher-ups' I'll call them, will be able to permanently remove data.

Permissions are, believe it or not, simple. Most of the tables you see in that list probably wouldn't be used in a typical forum.

I had Techious in mind when creating this SQL. It is going to be very simple for an administrator to delegate permissions to a moderator or moderating group, and for that delegate to change or create a permissions set for a certain category or subcategory that they have been made responsible for. Sound good so far?

You can also see that I have categories, subcategories and posts. This is pretty much identical to every other forum out there. This one will be different in that you can omit one of these layers, and instead just go for categories and posts. The posts system on its own is also sufficient enough to be used as a news system and I am investigating the possibility of this as we speak. It may even be possible to have a commenting system on posts; for announcements and such, or in a fully fledged category, subcategory, post type forum.

If you have any suggestions... please let me know!

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Last edited by azcn2503 on Tue Mar 25, 2008 12:13 am, edited 1 time in total.

Sun Mar 23, 2008 8:48 pm 
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 Post Post subject: Re: Aarons Forums
 
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Permissions and Security

OK, so a little bit more on security...

I'm not testing on a secure server at the moment, so I guess I can't say that data transferred between pages is secure. But obviously this will be fixed when I get the server.

Passwords are not passwords but passhashes. A password can never be revealed.

Usernames have something called a userhash that changes every single time it is accessed, changed etc... Why is this even relevant? It's to prevent cookie hijacking. If a user sets a cookie and the userhash doesn't look right to the server it will just reject it. It's pretty cool. It means that the server sets 2 cookies on the client-side, and these cookies must then correspond in order to work. I'd say that it is impossible to hack.

There are a lot of permissions... what you see in the screenshot above are just the tables, but you should see the fields in those tables... talk about extensive... like phpBB3, I am allowing administrative users to set permissions on pretty much everything.

Problem users are going to be easy to filter out. Every action a user makes is logged, so their IP address is logged, the date and time they performed this action is logged, and the type of action they are making is logged, the old values and the new values are logged.

The reporting tool in the admin's control panel is going to be very easy to use. It will be easy to run a report to find out if there is a problem user, constantly registering new usernames from the same IP address, or even from different IP addresses but in quick successions. It will be easy to find out users that are trying to break the secure cookie system because even these IP addresses are logged. These IP addresses can trace back to known IP addresses used by users, even if they logged in to the website once from that IP address 3 years ago.

So, even when a new forum category or subcategory is made, the IP address is logged, the user making that new set of data is logged, and of course the date and time of the transaction is logged. This is the same with posts.

Perma-delete's are going to be pretty spectacular also... Just don't ask how they are going to be spectacular, I just know they are, I have something in my head right now...

Any more questions or suggestions?

Update:
After some cookie testing today, I can confirm that the cookies actually work! I was surprised at first, I really didn't think that this method would work. Probably a bit too secure. At least now I can definitely be sure that nobody will be imitating somebody else.

Code:
new cookie set, aaron_forum_userid = 1
new cookie set, aaron_forum_userhash = c046175ed8c5c7bdd8393bed03c7f7b5
user_changelog updated, userhash updated from 404272906316abe70930f9dbd5d66df3 to c046175ed8c5c7bdd8393bed03c7f7b5
user updated, userhash updated to c046175ed8c5c7bdd8393bed03c7f7b5


And here's a screenshot:

Image

I think that this is the first time I have wrote about 30 lines of PHP and the website didn't break. In fact, everything work perfectly first time! This is probably as a result of my very thorough planning.

So far...

It looks like this...

Image

So yes, I'm as far as making sure that the cookies actually work right now. I've not yet settled on a unique (enough) design for the forums. I'm trying to perfect everything just one step at a time.

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Tue Mar 25, 2008 12:04 am 
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 Post Post subject: Re: Aarons Forums
 
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Wow, this is actually looking pretty damn good! I shall be watching this with great interest.

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Tue Mar 25, 2008 6:58 pm 
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Sorry, it's turning in to one of those tl;dr theads, isn't it?

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Tue Mar 25, 2008 7:01 pm 
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What do you mean, TL:DR?

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Tue Mar 25, 2008 7:10 pm 
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TL;DR according to Encyclopaedia Dramatica stands for Too Long; Didn't Read.

LOL!

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Tue Mar 25, 2008 7:12 pm 
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Actually, I did read it, just didn't really know what to say to it. The dual cookie thing looks very interesting, and I like the idea of logging everything with a revertable state.

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Tue Mar 25, 2008 7:16 pm 
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From what I make of it, he's inventing a new breed of forum type all by himself. :shock:

What I want to know is, how come no one else has done anything like this before with it being so super secure etc?

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Tue Mar 25, 2008 7:34 pm 
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Not really, it's like most forums, except with new features. Just like phpBB keeps getting new features kinda thing, he's just beating them to it.

The security features are interesting, and I think very imaginative. As for the permanent backups/change logs, makers of big forums probably considert hem a waste of space.

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Tue Mar 25, 2008 8:21 pm 
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Yes, and that's the reason why I am trying to find a balance...

Between SQL data and file data.

It's possible to store image data in an SQL database, but most hosts restrict database sizes much smaller than the actual available file storage space... so, most hosts will say something like 150MB SQL database, and 1.5GB file storage. So obviously it's a better choice to store image and file data in files and folders rather than an SQL database. Still, I'd like administrators to choose in case this isn't true.

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Tue Mar 25, 2008 8:33 pm 
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I wasn't aware you could store images in SQL, does it have any benefits?

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Tue Mar 25, 2008 9:22 pm 
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Only that it's easier to pull out image data from an SQL database than it is to pull out image data from a directory. It's also more secure since you can't 'browse' a database.

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Tue Mar 25, 2008 10:19 pm 
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Ah, OK, that makes sense. Would be interesting to see an implementation of this.

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Tue Mar 25, 2008 11:35 pm 
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Skillers wrote:
Ah, OK, that makes sense. Would be interesting to see an implementation of this.


Unfortunately, it's slightly more difficult to get image data in to the database in the first place!

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Wed Mar 26, 2008 6:51 am 
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That's what I was initially wondering about. Can it create a table and copy the image code across?

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Wed Mar 26, 2008 4:24 pm 
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Pretty much anything is possible, it's just down to how much I apply myself, and how much space is available on the SQL.

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Wed Mar 26, 2008 8:03 pm 
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Ah, I see. Didn't realise SQL was that flexible.

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Wed Mar 26, 2008 10:22 pm 
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Hey guys, I made some progress on this today. I did it during my lunch break at work! So obviously I didn't manage to do loads. I restructured my files and made the whole layout a bit more dynamic, easier for other developers to mod and skin etc., or at least I think so...

I'll upload some screenshots tonight of the progress that has been made.

Currently, I'm working on something called UPM. This is currently top secret and I cannot reveal it to anybody!

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Mon Mar 31, 2008 3:48 pm 
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