Monthly Archives: April 2016

Choosing a Good Forum Software

The Evolution of Internet Forums
The earliest Internet forums were like newsgroups, where people posted comments on someone else’s reply. The modern ones, like you know, are more sophisticated and offer a large variety of features.
Forums are one of the best places online for sharing information, exchanging thoughts, discussing problems, getting help and troubleshooting advice. These are the only places where even extremists can communicate with each other without any bloodshed. From a social point of view, forums are very useful for building a community of people interested in a particular domain. Business owners can also deploy forums where their employees can have discussions about work and the challenges that they are facing. So, if you don’t know anything about forums, read this Buzzle article to know how to choose a forum software.

Selecting a forum software is not very tough if you know what you are looking for. It all depends on what you need. It’s like comparing Windows with Mac OS. Each has its own upsides and downsides. There isn’t a single best forum software. So, before choosing a forum software, you should ask yourself the following questions.
▶ Can it import the contents from my previous forum?
If you are already running a forum and simply want to migrate to a new forum having better performance and more features, then this is the most important question that you should ask to the support staff of the new forum software. Many developers help their clients to migrate to their software. Some software can also import data and settings from different versions of software from different companies.
Good luck to you, if you are ignoring this point!
If you are an IT pro, then you should try to find about the complications involved in migrating from one forum software to the other. You should also research what others using the same platform as yours are using for deploying forums. If you are lucky, then you might find solutions to all of your future problems.
▶ How well does it support customizations?
Almost all popular forum software allow you to customize the way the forum looks. It involves changing background color, font customizations, adding a custom logo, changing footer links, etc. Some software also support emoticons and custom URL structure by default. You should also check if it allows users to customize their profiles with images and GIF avatars, quotes, links, etc. Forum users are very emotional about their profiles and avatars. You better take this seriously.
▶ What type of comments system is best for your community? Threaded or flat?
In forums, the discussions are in the form of posts (comments). So, you need to have some kind of system in place which can differentiate between replies to the topic, or replies to some particular post. There are 2 major kinds of comment systems in place for achieving this:

i.Threaded Comments: In this system, the replies are sorted according to their time of posting and indenting. For e.g.: If User A replies to a comment posted by User B, then his comment will appear just below the comment of User B, slightly indented towards the right irrespective to its posting time. This system is very efficient for smaller communities where people post short replies. Things can soon get messy if a lot of people post long replies to a single comment.
ii.Flat Comments: It sorts comments according to their posting time, and also allows the users to quote someone’s reply while replying back. This is especially good for very large communities. Its main downside is that original commenter won’t know if someone has replied to his comment, but this is usually ignored because in large communities people usually check all the pages of a thread while looking for the required information.

▶ How good is it for SEO?
All the latest forum software allow the content to be indexed by search engines. They are all search engine-friendly. It’s just that some are very good for SEO and some are just okay. You can find this information by reading the reviews of forum software.
▶ Does it permit the users to subscribe to a particular thread?
The forum software should prompt the commenter if he wants to be notified of all comments to the thread by email. Many users find this very useful as it allows them to stay updated with all of information right in their mailbox.
▶ Does it support social media integration and single sign-on?
You should check if the users of your forum would like to share the comments that they post via social networks. You can also reduce the hassle of signing up to your forum by enabling single sign-on (signing-in using social accounts) if your software supports it.
▶ Does it have support for gamification?
Gamification is the greatest way of encouraging people to post good comments and participate in the community. The software should have options for assigning badges, promoting the users’ ability to include links/GIFs in signature, etc.
▶ What kind of permissions and roles can you set?
You should also be able to set permissions for which user is able to view which content. For e.g.: You might want to let the web crawlers index your content but not let a user browse through the content without signing up. You should also be able to put bans in place and give more privileges to some users based on their role and reputation in the community.
▶ Does it have a mobile-friendly design?
These days, people browse the web more often from their mobiles and tablets than using their laptops and desktop computers. It would be better if your forum has a mobile-friendly, i.e., responsive design. Responsive designs can adjust themselves to any screen size and resolutions, thus improving the user experience greatly.
▶ Does it have any form of built-in web analytics?
You can always use traditional web analytics tools like Google Analytics and Clicky, but the data provided by them is not relevant for a forum admin. Many forum software like Vanilla have an built-in analytics tool not only providing data in the form of page views, visits, visits per user, and time on site, but also in the form of number of new users, active users, contributing users, discussions, comments and users per discussions. These insights are highly valuable while formulating a new growth strategy.
▶ Where are the ad slots?
If you plan to earn some money from the forum, then you should always look for those software which have ad slots in prominent spots and support scripts from popular advertising networks. The code should also be easily customizable to add scripts in various other places.
▶ What are the moderation tools like?
The forum software should support inline moderation tools. The moderators should be able to ban and warn users. They should also be able to edit/delete and set some thread/discussions as sticky. A good forum software should also allow the users to report a comment as spammy/racist/inflammatory.

▶ Does it support tagging users?
All forum software support personal messages. The latest ones enable users to tag others, just like Twitter. This can be a very useful feature if you are planning to make a community for troubleshooting problems.
▶ What protection does it have against spam bots?
Just like a website, a forum can also get easily flooded with spam comments. Many software come with in-built anti-spam features which can detect spam. It should also allow the admin to block sign-ups from a range of flagged IP addresses and email ids. Many communities add no-follow attribute to all external links. This helps them in maintaining their ranking in search engines, even if someone replies with a link to a bad website. The software should also have some comment limit in place for new members along with proper flood control.

These are not all but some of the most important questions whose answers will help you in selecting a forum software especially tailored for your needs.

Become a Good Web Developer

The beautifully structured web pages and applications that you use on the Internet are all made available by the design effort of some very creative web developers. Designing web pages and providing functionality through them is an art and if you are planning to join this art troupe, there are a lot of skills that you need to master before you start expressing yourself on the canvas of the world wide web.

Who is a Web Developer?

The web page you see in front of your eyes is an example of the kind of work web developers engage in. Creating, publishing and maintaining aesthetically appealing web pages which provide desired functionality and interactive ability for the users worldwide, through client and server side coding, is the developer’s job. It’s a field where the newest developments become part of history within a few months as better options are brought in. To be a developer is to constantly learn new things and try out new things to create web pages that achieve the desired functionality.

How to Become a Web Developer?

Web developers can be broadly classified into two groups – client side and server side. A web page actually resides on a ‘server’ computer, where it is hosted and made available for viewing for people, 24×7. Whenever you type in the address of a web page in your web browser, a request is sent to the server, which then serves it to the client computer. The web browser reads the code from the server and renders it to display the web page. A client side programmer works on the client side rendering of the page on the web browser, while a server side programmer works on providing the server side functionality that makes availability and functionality of web pages possible. Here are the most important steps.

Learn CSS to Render Beautiful Web Pages
Cascaded style sheets (CSS) is a more specialized language used in rendering the formatting of the web page to create web pages with aesthetic beauty. CSS mastery is an essential part of the training course to become a web developer. CSS works with HTML, XHTML and XML to create elegant web pages.

Master HTML & Web Designing
The Hypertext Markup Language is the most basic thing you need to learn to create a web page. It is the language which is understood by the web browser to display web content in a specific manner. You need to be fluent in writing HTML code to be able to create basic web pages. It’s an extremely simple language to learn and you will surely enjoy working with it. There are plenty of online HTML tutorials and books to help you out. Later you may also dabble into XHTML and XML which are more advanced markup languages.

Learn to Handle Server Side Databases
If you want to have a thorough mastery over all aspects of web development, you need to learn SQL (Simple Query Language) and learn to use database management systems like MySQL that are used in web designing. You may also need to learn Oracle database administration in context of web technologies. You may also need to master advanced technologies like AJAX later as your preparation advances.

Learn Server Side Scripting With PHP, ASP .Net & Java EE
Client side scripting can provide very limited functionality and to deliver special functionality like the one required for hosting a site offering email facility, you require server side scripting. To be able to do that, you have to master PHP, ASP.NET, and JavaEE or at least acquire expertise in any one of the four.

A mastery of Java and Java based server side technologies is essential. You will need to learn basic VBscript too, if you plan to do any serious server side scripting on the .NET platform. Learning to handle server software like Apache and server operating systems like Unix and Linux is also necessary, if you want to double up as a web administrator for the pages you create.

Learn Javascript to Create Interactive Web Pages
All the functionality you see on web pages like handling of forms, online calculators, etc., is made possible by the use of Javascript, a scripting language exclusively developed to provide functionality in web pages. Learning Javascript is essential as it can be used to directly interact with the user.

Get Certified For Web Technologies & Apply for a Job
As you must have realized by now, there is a lot that you need to learn, to even get the basics of web development. A degree in computer science, followed by certification in one of the advanced web technologies like ASP .Net or PHP will provide you with credentials that may help you gain a job in businesses specializing in web development. At least four to five years of experience in using and implementing various web technologies is needed, before you can even call yourself a web developer!

Start right now with the learning process and take your first step in learning HTML, then get a hang of Javascript, play around with both for a while before you go into serious server side scripting in PHP. Keep coding to create elegant web pages, that provide sublime functionality. Keep browsing the web and check out new experiments of master web developers, ponder upon the way in which they must have achieved the desired functionality and try to learn from them.

Keep updating your skill base with the newest developments like AJAX which can provide extreme power to create even better web pages. Keep experimenting, learning coding and spinning your new ‘web’ pages, to get better at it. Sooner or later as you get better at what you do, with experience, opportunities for employment and projects will walk towards you. Here’s me wishing you with all the very best in becoming a web developer who will add more beautiful pages to the world wide web, that enrich its ever-increasing store of information and facilities. In the process, you will empower millions of Internet users with knowledge and means to stay connected with the world.

Ways to Become a Good Computer Programmer

You are reading this web page right now because of millions of lines of programming code, written to make the working of the world wide web, the web browser, and your operating system possible. The virtual world of the Internet and the graphic user interface of your operating system, is a product of programming code.

Becoming a programmer is all about learning to solve problems creatively and analytically. Every advanced electronic device has embedded software inside, which makes its working possible. Right from your digital watch, to your smartphone and your computer, embedded programming code, along with the embedded computer chips, make all the functioning of these devices possible. The unsung but well-paid heroes, who put in their logic, in creation of these software programs, are the programmers.

Becoming a Programmer

Know what you are getting into before deciding to become a programmer. What does it mean to become one? It is about creating an algorithm or a sequence of instructions, for the electronic brain of the computer (computer chip) to follow, in order to get a specific task done. To be a programmer is to think for the computer and make automation possible.

Develop Your Analytical Skills
One of the necessary skills is the ability to think on your own and solve problems. You need to train your mind to arrive at a solution to a problem, in the shortest possible way. An attitude to analyze a problem, formulate a strategy, and execute it with precision, to find a solution, is what is needed.

Get a Degree in Computer Programming
For this IT job, although formal education is not necessary, it helps if you have it. You need to score well in your SAT tests, to be able to find a good undergraduate school, that teaches advanced computer science. It is one of the requirements to be a programmer that you get specialized knowledge of computer science, in the form of a postgraduate degree, where you can get access to some of the software programming pundits.

Learn Programming Languages
To solve a problem in computing, you need to develop an algorithm first and then translate it into a machine language for the computer to understand. The algorithm needs to be written in a programming language and then needs to be further converted into a machine level language, which your computer understands through an interpreter program. You need to know more than one computer programming languages, that are used for different purposes.

If your logic is sound, expressing it in any programming language, shouldn’t be a problem. Start with ‘C’ or Python, and then move over to object oriented languages like C++ and Java. You may need to learn newer languages for certain application like Perl or Lisp. You need to practice writing programs in various languages, to get a hang of it. All computer programs, including antivirus software and computer operating systems, began from scratch, as programming code.

Begin a Start-up or Join a Software Company
Once you are qualified enough, you are ready to take on real world computing problems and enter the field of software development. You could either start up your own software company or join one that pays you a big fat salary. What is most important is to expand your skills, through exposure to computing problems of various kinds and on various platforms.

What makes a good programmer is the child-like zest to solve problems and riddles. It requires a creative bent of mind to solve complex problems. If you love solving analytical problems of any kind and enjoy the process of creation, you will love computer programming. I wish you all the very best.

Become a Good Mobile Application Developer

Today, mobile devices have become an important part of our life. The latest mobile devices are changing the way people communicate, do business and access other entertainment and news. They are a great source of entertainment, apart from communication.

To meet the needs of the mobile users, many new and innovative applications are being developed. Nowadays, mobile application developers are highly in demand. The industry is lacking skilled and talented developers. One can become a professional mobile application developer to experience a winning career. To become a mobile application developer one must have a creative mind and necessary technical skills.

• There are a number of mobile application training programs and degrees that features the work in mobile software programming, designing, application development and other domains. One can search online for best online and offline courses available and choose the suitable one.

• One must learn everything about mobile application development by reading books, blogs, and articles. One can even go through the books and blogs written by experienced developers regularly to keep them well-informed and updated. If possible, one can attend a formal or informal training session on mobile application development. One can search on the internet to find about the training programs held in their city.

• Attend conferences and seminars which are dedicated to the upcoming developers. There are some programs where developers can interact with experienced and dedicated developers and learn about cutting-edge technologies.

• The next thing is choosing the right operating system. For example – Google’s Android or Apple’s OS. After choosing the right platform (operating system), learn the programming language and development environment for that operating system.

• Mobile application developers write programs using C, C++, Java, Flash, CSS etc. One can choose from any one of the platforms to work on it.

• There are 5 major mobile platforms like – Android, Apple OS, Symbian, Windows Mobile and Blackberry. Each of the platforms has its own programming language and development environment.

Here are the prerequisites of these leading mobile platforms:

1. Android: The environment is Eclipse and the programming language is Java and Object Oriented concepts.

2. Apple OS: The environment is X-code and the programming language is Objective-C.

3. Symbian: The environment is based on different preferences and the programming language is C++.

4. Blackberry: The environment is Eclipse and the programming language is Java.

• After choosing the suitable operating system, programming language and environment, start building a small application of your own. Don’t focus on building a big application. Try to develop a small, simple and user-friendly application, using your technical skills and creativity.

• Stay in touch with other developers by becoming a member of forum sites. One can discuss with other developers about the latest programming languages and operating systems.

• There are thousands of mobile applications in the App store. To develop a successful application, think of some smart ideas and concentrate on something that is unique and innovative.

• Even if you fail at the first attempt, don’t lose your heart. Keep trying and develop something that is user-friendly and unique.

• Don’t forget to go for testing tools. The developed applications should work on mobile phones, PDAs, and other compatible devices.