Spring Forward Web Design
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Forums are a way to organize questions on a particular topic. We will next add a Forum to our Joomla website so folks can ask questions about the articles or about web design and development in general. There are 10 Forum options on the Joomla Extension Directory. We are going to add the “Kunena” Forum because it is highly compatible, not only with Joomla, but also with several other popular Joomla extensions such as Community Builder and JomSocial. It also has an excellent Documentation area and a very active support community.
First, you should read about and review documentation and demo on the JED page: http://extensions.joomla.org/extensions/communication/forum/7256#action
When you have a reasonable understanding of what to expect, then click on Download to go to the Kunena Installation Page: http://joomlacode.org/gf/project/kunena/frs/
Click on com_kunena_v1.5.11_stable to download to your C drive
Click on OK. The file size is 1.0 MB.
Then from your Joomla Administrator Control Panel, go to Extensions > Install to install the component. Installed using Firefox browser and worked even on slow speed server and internet connection. Then go to Components > Kunena Forum
Configuration of Kunena First click on the Configuration button or menu item. This brings up the Configuration-Edit page:
In the Basics section, change the board name to the name of your website, change the email address to your website email address, and increase the Session Lifetime to 3600 seconds (one hour). In the FRONT END section, change the “Default Kunena Page” to CATEGORIES. Then scroll down to the Security Section and change the Spam protection system from No to Yes to enable captcha.
Scroll down to the Files Section. Add pdf to file types allowed and increase allowed file size to 200 KB:
Once you have adjusted all of the settings to what you would like, then click on SAVE at the top of the Configuration page to return to the Kunena Control Panel.
Kunena Sections and Categories and Sub-categories
In a similar way to Joomla 1.5, where articles are organized within categories and categories are organized within sections, Kunena discussion topics (also called threads) are organized within categories and these categories are organized within sections. Before you can post or create a new topic you must first define a category for it and, before you can create a category, you must create a section. Unlike Joomla, however, sections and categories are managed from the one place: Forum Administration, which is in Components > Kunena. Next click on Forum Administration. Note that the Forum comes with three categories already set up:
Kunena categories are not Joomla categories. Every Kunena category has an own ID which is useful if you want to assign a unique image to a specific category. (if you wanted to assign specific images to a category whose Cat-ID=5 you would upload a set of them named 5_notlogin.gif, 5_on.gif and 5_off.gif into ../images/fbfiles/category_images/ on your website). When a new discussion topic is created by you or a viewer, it can be assigned to any existing category by clicking on the category the creator of the post wants the thread to be placed under. But it is up to you as the Administrator to establish the actual categories. For example, we will create separate categories for Joomla and Wordpress questions:
To add a new category, click on the NEW button:
We will create a new category called Joomla Questions and place it in the Spring Forward Web Design Section. Fill in the Name, Description and Forum header of a new forum which you would like displayed in the Main Forum. Under Security and Access, click on EVERYBODY. Also set Review Posts to YES. Then click SAVE to return to the Kunena Control Panel. Then select your new website and click on PUBLISH to publish it. You can also change the settings on the Welcome Mat and Suggestion Box categories simply by clicking on them.
Kunena uses Sections as Parent Elements which contain the categories. As such, Kunena sections themselves have no parents while Kunena categories always have a Section as a Parent or container. Also you cannot write a post or new thread to a Section. You can only write a post to a category which is inside of a section (or to a sub-category or child board inside of a category).
To create a new section, go to Components> Kunena Forum > Kunena Forum Administration. Click on the New button just as if you were creating a new category. We will create a new section called Joomla Websites by leaving the Parent field set for “Top Level Category” (meaning that Joomla Websites has no parent and therefore is a section and not a category):
Note that sections do not show text you place in the Forum Header Field. Then click on SAVE to save this new section. Once we have this section, we can click on the category Joomla Questions to place it under the Joomla Websites Section. In a similar way, we will create sections for Google Websites, Wordpress Websites, Moodle Websites and Dreamweaver websites. So that posts can be made to these sections, we will also place categories in each section. Make sure that all categories are set for “everyone” for public access and that all are published.
ADDING A FORUM MENU ITEM
Now that we have our Forum set up, we will add a Menu Item to the Main Menu so that folks can reach the Forum page. Go to Menus > Main Menu and click on NEW.
Under the Menu Item Type, click on KUNENA FORUM
Then type in the title of the Forum Menu Item (such as the word FORUM) then click on SAVE to return to the Menu Item Manager. Next click on Preview to open the front end of your website and click on Forum to reach your forum page. By default, the only topic lists is in the Welcome Mat section and it says “Welcome to Kunena”.
To add your own Welcome to My Page thread, first go to the My Profiles page and add your own Profile Info and Avatar. Then click on the CATEGORIES TAB to reach the Main Forum page:
Click on the Welcome Mat Category to reach the Welcome Mat topics. Then click on NEW THREAD to add a new topic:
For Subject, type in “Welcome to my Website Forum!”
Then fill in some text to help the reader understand how to post questions to your forum:. Then click Submit. Click on your new forum topic to view it:
Now that you have your own welcome mat topic, we next need to delete the Kunena Welcome Mat Topic. From the Categories Tab page, click on Welcome Mat to reach this category.
Then click on Welcome to Kunena! To open this topic. On this page, there are several DELETE buttons… be careful which one you click! You would not want to delete the entire Welcome Mat category. Instead, look for the DELETE button which is in the lower right corner of the Welcome to Kunena Topic Box:
Click on Delete. This will bring up a page warning you that you are about to delete this topic. Click on the SUBMIT button at the bottom of the page. Now there is only your own topic in the Welcome Mat category.
Click on LOG OUT to leave the Forum. USING CSS TO CHANGE THE APPEARANCE OF YOUR FORUM Next click on Edit CSS File Menu Item. This takes you directly to the Kunena CSS file where you can edit almost any aspect of the appearance of your forum:
For example, the Background color #8CABC8 is similar to #8AC which is a light blue. The (text) color #000000 is black. Scroll down to view the entire CSS sheet. This is a very detailed and well organized CSS sheet which helps if you want to make changes to the appearance of your forum. We won’t make any changes on this right now, but it is good to know what your options are.
Another option is to simply use a different color of template to change the appearance of your forum. This option is discussed in greater detail on the Kunena website. They also provide a list of a couple dozen templates to choose from if you would rather do that then make your own changes to the Kunena CSS sheet.
This is our finished forum:
Forums are a great way to build a social network on an educational website as everyone is invited to post questions and and add topics on any subject they want. Another format is to post short articles to which viewers can ask questions and provide comments, but to which they cannot add their own articles without you adding them to the list of permitted posters. This format is called a blog and is used primarily for informational websites. Wordpress is the most popular Content Management System for creating a blog. It is so popular that, at the moment, Joomla does not offer a single free extension capable of offering the same set of features as Wordpress. Our next article will therefore focus on how to create a Wordpress blog and then link the Wordpress Page(s) to your Joomla website.