FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

When can I expect the next release?
Why does it look so ugly in my Internet Explorer?
How can I create password-protected forums?
Why is there no “ignore users” feature?
Why are there no user ranks?
What is RSS?
Why do the RSS feeds contain links with “&” in them?
Why is there no Jabber notification available?
I have disabled cookies. Now why do I get logged out after a while?
Can I use a flash animation as my board logo?
Why don’t I use a version managment system?
What are dereferers and why do I need them?
How can I edit translation files?
Why does UNB cause so many E_NOTICE messages?

When can I expect the next release?
See the roadmap for scheduled features and release dates. I try to keep it up-to-date.
Why does it look so ugly in my Internet Explorer?
This forum, especially since version 1.6, makes use of rather advanced web technologies like CSS 2.1 (and partial CSS 3), PNG alpha channel transparency, JavaScript, DOM and XML/XHTML to give it that modern and functional look. This requires a modern browser like there are several available today, amongst others Mozilla Firefox, Opera and Mac OS X’ Safari. Some older browsers still widely distributed, like Microsoft Internet Explorer, don’t sufficiently support all of these features and may thus show web pages incorrectly or behave unexpectedly. I take reasonable effort to make Internet Explorer show something at all but if you want to see the pages in their full beauty, you should really consider to switch to another web browser. I do my job keeping with established standards without which the web would terribly break, now it’s time for Microsoft to do theirs as well.
It is generally possible for webmasters to use a more simple board design that may look better on older browsers, when there are some available, or to create one themselves.
How can I create password-protected forums?
You cannot create forums that require an explicit password to be entered for access. Instead, you should use the powerful user access management to grant access to certain forums or categories for a user or user group. For example, you can create a new user group that should have access to the forum you want to protect from the public, enter appropriate access rules in the ACL editor and assign all users to this new group that you want to gain access to the forum. Please check the Access rights management section for further details and common examples.
Why is there no “ignore users” feature?
I don’t like ignoring anybody. I believe ignoring users is not an appropriate solution to what you might want it for. If a posting should be removed or a user banned because of offending contents or you have personal differences with the author, you should do so instead of just hiding it for yourself or find an agreement with the author. Moderators may help you with this. And after all, you take the user you ignore any chance to apologise for or correct what he said.
Why are there no user ranks?
To be honest – I think user ranks are the most senseless thing that was ever invented on a bulletin board. Those ranks tell nothing about the posts quality or experience the particular user has, they only map his number of posts to groups with the same name and put an artificial icon besides it. All this does is making users create even more posts, useful or not, only to get a higher rank. It is part of my philosophy to create an easy-to-use and not overloaded software, so you’re not going to see such a useless feature here.
What is RSS?
An RSS feed is an XML file that contains news articles or their summaries and is published on a website. Feed reader programmes can fetch this file and display its news items in a readable manner. Thus the user doesn’t need to visit the same web pages again and again but can be informed about new topics and postings by their feed reader.
Why do the RSS feeds contain links with “&” in them?
This is required by the XML specification and absolutely OK. Any of the symbols “<”, “>” and “&” must be replaced by their XML entities if they are to be used literally and not in their function as a control character. If your RSS parser has problems with those links, it is broken and does not respect the XML specification, which RSS is based on. Using bare “&” would be illegal and cause any feed validator to report the feed broken.
Why is there no Jabber notification available?
The administrator must have configured the board’s Jabber account and you need to enter your JID in your profile.
I have disabled cookies. Now why do I get logged out after a while?
(TODO: is this correct at all?) You will automatically be logged out after an idle time of 30 minutes in any case. You only won't notice because immediately after the timeout logout, the script gives you the chance to re-login with the cookie that it has set at login time. If you don’t provide any, it obviously cannot log you back in.
TODO: http://newsboard.unclassified.de/334
Why don’t I use a version managment system?
I don’t need one. A version management system like CVS or SubVersion is good for a team of developers working on the same code at the same time. I’m the only developer of UNB, I work with a normal plaintext editor (nothing PHP specific other than syntax highlighting) or an even more simple web editor and I tend to edit many files concurrently so I’d have too much overhead with it. I release development snapshots when I have finished a new feature or the board code is in an overall useable condition.
What are dereferers and why do I need them?
When you follow a link to another website, the web server you’re navigating to will receive the URL you came from as the so-called “referer”. This is primarily good for statistics analysis so that you can see where your visitors actually come from or what pages link to your site. There is generally no bad at this – except when the linking URL contains sensitive data, in this case the session ID. This identifier can under some circumstances be used to impersonate you in the forum system which should generally be avoided for security reasons. The only way to hide the session ID from the target server is to insert an ‘anonymiser’ page in the link sequence, called the dereferer: The posting that contains the external link will first point to the dereferer page and the forum software will take care that this link does not contain the session ID in its URL. The dereferer page will then link to the actual target which cannot access the session ID anymore because it wasn’t there in the previous URL. From version 1.6 on the dereferer is only used when it is required.
How can I edit translation files?
There’s a development documentation page about this topic.
Why does UNB cause so many E_NOTICE messages?
PHP offers several levels of error reporting. It can be entirely disabled, limited to real errors and include warnings. For a couple of PHP versions, it can even be extended to include notices. These are no real errors nor warnings, instead they’re simply informative messages that tell you what you shouldn’t have done, but doing so in spite changes nothing at the reliability of the code in the first place. Notices are generated for example when accessing an unset array element, which is actually a well-defined action compared to good old C. If something isn’t set, it’s null (unless it can be passed through URL parameters and register_globals is enabled, but this is – carefully and reasonably considered – another category of problem), and this is a well-defined value in PHP that you can work with. And obviously PHP implements its own checks to see if an array element is defined, in this case, and reacts accordingly on it, all in the natively compiled PHP core. Why should I add my own custom check for this situation in an interpreted language that is orders of magnitude slower? This does not only impose additional load on the server (that is worth nothing), it also makes the code considerably harder to read at some places. We should not forget that PHP is a scripting language that offers many comfortable ways to express things without much hassle, like automatic type conversion etc. Imagine writing a web application of this scale in plain C... It would take all the fun out of it. So long story short: I know that UNB generates E_NOTICE “messages” (I wouldn’t dare to call them “errors”, in spite of the “E_” in front of them) and I won’t change anything about that. The fact that there are notices doesn’t generally change anything about the code quality and I recommend setting PHP 4.0.6’s optimised (and up to current PHP’s distribution) predefinition of the php.ini setting error_reporting = E_ALL & ~E_NOTICE for any web server. And let’s not forget, error message display is generally disabled on a productive machine, right?
© 2003–2017 by Yves Goergen web1@unclassified.de
Content last updated on 2006-07-15 22:40 UTC
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