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The evolution of the JK Help Forum

CodingForums.com has been an integral part of JavaScript Kit from one form to the next for over 8 years now. So how did it get started? Which forum programs did we use along the way before settling with what we're using now? Here's a quick scroll down memory lane.

Back in early 1998, when JavaScript Kit didn't even yet have it's own domain name yet, we implemented our very first forum. We were getting many email questions from surfers, many of which were duplicates (inquiring about something similar to another question). Setting up a forum and answering the questions there allowed us to hit many birds with one stone, so to speak. The server at which JavaScript Kit was hosted at at the time did not allow us access to a CGI-BIN, so we had to resort to using a forum service. The one we chose was Inside The Web (now defunct). Like most forum services, the setup process was extremely fast and intuitive, and before you know it, the first JavaScript Kit Help Forum was born, with people pouring in to post questions on their latest JavaScript projects.

In mid 1998, JavaScript Kit moved to a much more robust, powerful server, with full access to all the server resources, including a CGI-BIN. As soon as the resources to host our own forum became available to us, we knew it was time to ditch the forum service and take things over ourselves. Running our own forum gave us infinitely more freedom on the customization/ personalization of the interface, features, layout of the forum etc. After looking around, we rested on the forum program Discus. Developed by a student and professor at Hope College, MI, USA, Discus is a free, solid, and extremely easy to install forum program that carried us through until the end of 1998.

As the forum grew in popularity and into an indispensable part of JavaScript Kit, we were ready to commit to a commercial-strength program with all the goodies one could ask for from a forum program, along with a more intuitive, attractive interface. After spending a month researching the various commercial forum programs out there, we selected InfoPop's CGI/ flat file based "Ultimate Bulletin Board (UBB)" for its features and attractive look and style. UBB served our needs well for close to 3 years, though the problem with flat file based forums is basically a ticking time bomb waiting to explode as the size of the forum and number of messages increased. After 3 years, backing up message posts became a nightmare, and performance started to degrade more and more due to the inherent limitations of flat file systems. Time for yet another overhaul.

In 2002, we made the ultimate decision to just declare "Abandon ship! abandon ship!" as we registered a new domain called CodingForums.com specifically to host the forums section of JavaScript, with a much more robust forum software to boot that is vBulletin. Powered by PHP and mySQL, vBulletin is much more robust than UBB and backing up information for the possible "D" day was a snap too. The enormity of migrating and properly integrating the old posts from UBB to a new forum software was just too much, so we basically left it for dead as we started completely fresh, requiring all existing members to register again and just accept the new blank forum, no questions asked. Well, luckily the new features and ease of use of vBulletin was enough for most members to want to stick around. CodingForums.com is now an indispensable part of JavaScriptKit.com, and a whole new community has been created thanks to it.

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