Easy installers for PHP scripts
I tried out FUDforum last night, after Rasmus Lerdorf recommended it in a comment on Jeremy Zawodny’s blog. Feature wise, it’s pretty impressive but still doesn’t quite do it for me—I want something that’s trivial to integrate with an existing authentication system and outputs valid HTML (or XHTML) out of the box. Rasmus says it’s the only board he’s seen that doesn’t have obvious security holes though so it’s probably worth checking out if you need to set up a forum of that kind.
That said, what impressed me about FUDforum more than anything else was the installation process. The forum is distributed as a zipped archive, but when you extract it the only file you need to copy to your web server is a single 4.5 MB file called “install.php”. You drop that in to a web facing directory and access it from your browser. It then steps you through the rest of the install, telling you which directories to chmod 777 so that the installation process can access them, asking for your database settings and automatically creating all of the scripts, database tables and configuration files it needs to run. It even refuses to let you in to the admin panel at the end until you’ve deleted the install.php file from the server. Pretty slick.
Of course, the need to chmod anything 777 in a shared hosting environment is a little bit worrying, but that’s been a common problem with server side web development for as long as I can remember.