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CSG FAQ

Q: How do I create a web-based message board on the department web server?

A locally customized version of the WWWBoard message board system is available and can be used in conjunction with the CS CGI server. In order to use this system, you must first set up your account for CGI script usage. Note that you may want to do this under a class account if this is for a particular CS class you are teaching. Once you have this set up, you can create your WWWBoard system by simply running "makewwwboard". This is a frontend script that will ask you several questions and set things up based on your responses.

Once the board is created, you will accesss it using a URL of the form:

http://www.cs.indiana.edu/cgi-pub/USER/NAME/wwwboard/index.cgi
where USER is the username of the account under which the board was created and NAME was the directory name you entered when running makewwwboard. There is also a corresponding administrator url of the form:

https://www.cs.indiana.edu/cgi-pub/USER/NAME/wwwadmin/wwwadmin.cgi
You can use this url to remove messages from the message board. The exact URLs particular to your message board are displayed when you run makewwwboard. If you selected the secure https access method during the setup of the message board, the above message board URL will use https instead of http. The administration URL will always use https since it relies on authentication to restrict access to the administrative functions.

This system consists of the following components in the selected directory:

  • wwwboard - Contains the cgi scripts and html files used to display and post messages.
  • wwwadmin - Contains the cgi scripts and html files used for list administration.
  • messages - Contains the posted messages and associated data files.
  • base.css - A stylesheet that controls the appearance of web pages.
  • home - Contains the files associated with the optional homepage feature. This feature lets you include the message board as part of a larger cgi-based homepage setup. You have the option to include this feature when you run makewwwboard.

Once you have things set up, there is additional customization you can do:

  • If you selected 'https' secure list access, you can edit the .htaccess file in the top level message board directory. Initially, this file is either configured to allow access to any IU user or to only allow access to the creator of the list, depending on the options you chose when running makewwwboard. If you chose not to give access to all IU users, you will need to add users to the "require user" line. Please see the corresponding FAQ entry for more information.
  • Initially, only the creator of the message board will have administrator access. You can add additional administrators by modifying wwwadmin/.htaccess.
  • There is a stylesheet that can be customized to alter the appearance of the web pages. This file is named base.css.
  • There are various configuration options in wwwboard/wwwboard.cgi that you can change. Search for "Configure Options" in this script for more information.
  • If you elected to use the homepage feature when you created the message board, the correspoding homepage will need to be customized by editing home/index.html.

When you run makewwwboard, you have the option of using http or https. If you choose http and do not set up any type of authentication, the message board will be wide open and can be read or posted to by anyone in the world. To restrict access to the message board, you can select the secure https method of access which will result in the creation of .htaccess files that restrict access via network ID by default. However, you can use the message board in conjunction with any of the standard web-based access control mechanisms (by hostname/domain, with a password, and via network ID). Simply create the appropriate .htaccess files in the top-level message board directory.

Finally, you may want to check out the FAQ entry explaining how to set up an RSS feed for your message board.

We wish to thank Kent Dybvig and Oscar Waddell for their invaluable help in improving and customizing the original WWWBoard system.




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