Community Server Quickly

By Anand Narayanaswamy
  • Instant online access to over 7,500+ books and videos
  • Constantly updated with 100+ new titles each month
  • Breadth and depth in over 1,000+ technologies
  1. Introducing Community Server

About this book

Community Server is Telligent System's award-winning solution for quickly and easily enabling online communities. It includes a suite of integrated applications, such as blogs, discussion forums, photo sharing, file sharing, email lists, newsgroups, and more, which together can help you create your community presence. Community Server is the trusted solution for many organizations ranging from Microsoft and Dell to Conde Nast and Match.com, and powers massive communities like the Microsoft ASP.NET forums (www.asp.net/forums) and the XBOX forums (forums.xbox.com). You can learn more about Community Server, and see it in action, at http://www.communityserver.org.

Written in a clear and concise manner, this book will guide you through the installation, administration, customization, and deployment of a Community Server solution. With the help of this book you will be able to start using your Community Server site within minutes of its installation. The book kicks off with a brief overview of Community Server, its various editions and licensing options, and installation procedures and then delves deep into the creation and management of blogs, forums, photo galleries, file galleries, and more.

The book also explores the different ways you can customize your Community Server site along with coverage of various add-ons and modules. You will also learn how to manage your Community Server license and other related settings.  Towards the end, the book provides an overview of the various steps required to deploy Community Server to a hosting server.

Publication date:
November 2006
Publisher
Packt
Pages
304
ISBN
9781847190871

 

Chapter 1. Introducing Community Server

In this chapter, we will provide a brief overview of Community Server and also examine the applications included with it. We will further explore the evolution of Community Server including a comparison with DotNetNuke (DNN). Towards the end of the chapter, we will discuss the various editions and licensing options available for Community Server and also provide a sneak preview of some of the key features of upcoming Community Server 3.0.

What is Community Server?

Community Server (CS) is a web-based application completely built with Microsoft's .NET Framework. It is rendered on the browser as an aspx file. Community Server is currently serving millions of websites across the World Wide Web.

Note

aspx is the standard extension for web pages developed using ASP.NET.

Note

The official website of Community Server is http://www.communityserver.org

Community Server provides a facility to create and manage applications such as blogs, forums, photo galleries, file galleries, reader, and roller from within a single interface. They can be customized as per your requirements.

Note

Community Server uses a single registration system so you only need to register once to work with all applications provided by it.

You can choose which application is to be displayed on the home page by clicking on the Applications link under the Settings section by selecting the Administration link on the Dashboard. For instance, you can enable blogs and forums and disable other applications, so that your end users will be able to access only blogs and forums from the site. In the same way, you can enable or disable other applications depending upon your requirements. Let us examine each one of the applications included within Community Server in detail.

Blog

A blog or a weblog is an online diary. It can be maintained either daily, weekly, or monthly, as per the convenience of the user who manages it. The first blog was started in 1994 and the term weblog was coined by Jorn Barger on December 17, 1997. A blog could focus on a particular subject such as technology, politics, local and international news, or could just contain random musings. Each post on a blog is classified as separate entry, and old blog posts are automatically archived and are available for reading at any time as long as the blog is active on the World Wide Web. A blog post comprises text, images, links to other blogs or web pages, and other media relevant to your blog. Moreover, people use blogs to post articles and related news, such as about their vacation trips, awards, and much more.

Community Server includes an application for the creation and administration of blogs as shown in the following screenshot:

We will examine more about the creation and management of blogs in Chapter 3.

Forums

A forum is a web-based application used for holding discussions regarding a wide range of topics relevant to the site. The evolution of forums dates back to 1995 when dial-up bulletin boards were popular. Basically, technology, computer games, and health are popular areas for forum themes, but there are forums for a huge number of different topics such as for discussing the features of specific software, programming languages, upcoming events, user-groups discussions, and much more. You should note that a forum relates to a specific topic. Forums are also commonly referred to as message boards, discussion boards, discussion forums, discussion groups, or bulletin boards. Community Server includes an application for the creation, management, and administration of forums as shown in screenshot below:

We will examine more about the creation and management of forums in Chapter 4.

Photo Gallery

A gallery is a term used for storing some kind of information. A photo gallery, as the name suggests, stores photos. In olden days, they were stored as hard copy volumes spanned into several albums. With the evolution of technology, people started storing them on the World Wide Web. Community Server includes an application for the creation, management, and administration of a photo gallery as shown in the screenshot below:

File Gallery

A file gallery is similar to the photo gallery that we discussed above, with the difference that files are stored inside the file gallery instead of images as in the photo gallery. With Community Server, you can create a file gallery (see the screenshot overleaf) within minutes by following a few simple instructions.

We will examine more about the creation and management of galleries in Chapter 5.

Reader and Roller

The functionality of reader and roller has been completely overhauled in Community Server 2.1. You will notice significant changes in its working if you currently use any of the previous versions of Community Server.

Reader enables you to display the posts from different blogs using Really Simple Syndication (RSS) feeds. It shows the posts together with the relevant links in a grid as shown in the following screenshot. Each registered member of the site can manage his or her own reader provided that the necessary permissions are given by the site administrator.

Many people blog everyday with lots of interesting content on a wide range of topics. You can easily display all those external posts in your blog using Community Server and this functionality is termed roller. Roller makes use of RSS feeds but the contents are populated inside the relevant blog to which the feed has been added. This feature is popularly called Content Mirroring.

We will examine more about the creation and management of reader and roller in Chapter 6.

 

What is Community Server?


Community Server (CS) is a web-based application completely built with Microsoft's .NET Framework. It is rendered on the browser as an aspx file. Community Server is currently serving millions of websites across the World Wide Web.

Note

aspx is the standard extension for web pages developed using ASP.NET.

Note

The official website of Community Server is http://www.communityserver.org

Community Server provides a facility to create and manage applications such as blogs, forums, photo galleries, file galleries, reader, and roller from within a single interface. They can be customized as per your requirements.

Note

Community Server uses a single registration system so you only need to register once to work with all applications provided by it.

You can choose which application is to be displayed on the home page by clicking on the Applications link under the Settings section by selecting the Administration link on the Dashboard. For instance, you can enable blogs and forums and disable other applications, so that your end users will be able to access only blogs and forums from the site. In the same way, you can enable or disable other applications depending upon your requirements. Let us examine each one of the applications included within Community Server in detail.

Blog

A blog or a weblog is an online diary. It can be maintained either daily, weekly, or monthly, as per the convenience of the user who manages it. The first blog was started in 1994 and the term weblog was coined by Jorn Barger on December 17, 1997. A blog could focus on a particular subject such as technology, politics, local and international news, or could just contain random musings. Each post on a blog is classified as separate entry, and old blog posts are automatically archived and are available for reading at any time as long as the blog is active on the World Wide Web. A blog post comprises text, images, links to other blogs or web pages, and other media relevant to your blog. Moreover, people use blogs to post articles and related news, such as about their vacation trips, awards, and much more.

Community Server includes an application for the creation and administration of blogs as shown in the following screenshot:

We will examine more about the creation and management of blogs in Chapter 3.

Forums

A forum is a web-based application used for holding discussions regarding a wide range of topics relevant to the site. The evolution of forums dates back to 1995 when dial-up bulletin boards were popular. Basically, technology, computer games, and health are popular areas for forum themes, but there are forums for a huge number of different topics such as for discussing the features of specific software, programming languages, upcoming events, user-groups discussions, and much more. You should note that a forum relates to a specific topic. Forums are also commonly referred to as message boards, discussion boards, discussion forums, discussion groups, or bulletin boards. Community Server includes an application for the creation, management, and administration of forums as shown in screenshot below:

We will examine more about the creation and management of forums in Chapter 4.

Photo Gallery

A gallery is a term used for storing some kind of information. A photo gallery, as the name suggests, stores photos. In olden days, they were stored as hard copy volumes spanned into several albums. With the evolution of technology, people started storing them on the World Wide Web. Community Server includes an application for the creation, management, and administration of a photo gallery as shown in the screenshot below:

File Gallery

A file gallery is similar to the photo gallery that we discussed above, with the difference that files are stored inside the file gallery instead of images as in the photo gallery. With Community Server, you can create a file gallery (see the screenshot overleaf) within minutes by following a few simple instructions.

We will examine more about the creation and management of galleries in Chapter 5.

Reader and Roller

The functionality of reader and roller has been completely overhauled in Community Server 2.1. You will notice significant changes in its working if you currently use any of the previous versions of Community Server.

Reader enables you to display the posts from different blogs using Really Simple Syndication (RSS) feeds. It shows the posts together with the relevant links in a grid as shown in the following screenshot. Each registered member of the site can manage his or her own reader provided that the necessary permissions are given by the site administrator.

Many people blog everyday with lots of interesting content on a wide range of topics. You can easily display all those external posts in your blog using Community Server and this functionality is termed roller. Roller makes use of RSS feeds but the contents are populated inside the relevant blog to which the feed has been added. This feature is popularly called Content Mirroring.

We will examine more about the creation and management of reader and roller in Chapter 6.

 

The Evolution


Microsoft released the first version of an ASP.NET-based forum application (see screenshot below) in 2002. The application was initially developed by Scott Mitchell under the name WebForums.NET in 2001 and later sold to Microsoft with some additional features. It was first deployed at the official website of ASP.NET and can be downloaded from http://asp.net/Forums/Download/Default.aspx?tabindex=0&tabid=1.

Rob Howard and his team of developers were instrumental in the development and management of the application at Microsoft. The forum software is still being used by many websites and is available separately for download from the above- mentioned Uniform Resource Locator (URL) along with its complete source code.

Rob floated his own company named Telligent Systems in 2004. Telligent decided to develop a new forum application with rich features from scratch. This marked the beginning of Community Server. The development team decided to extend the traditional forum application to include blogs, photos, and galleries, which are relevant for developers, business owners, and hobbyists so that they will get all the required functionalities under a single umbrella. This will also avoid the pain of installing multiple applications for the creation and management of blogs, forums, and galleries.

Telligent initially launched a series of builds and finally ended up with 1.0. After getting the feedback from visitors, Telligent launched Community Server 1.1 including more features. With the release of each version, new features such as an improved user interface and the facility to easily customize the software were included. The launch of Community Server 2.0 has been greatly welcomed among developer circles, since it shipped with many more intuitive features than its earlier counterparts. One such notable feature is that of roller. With roller, you can display posts from the blogs maintained by other people.

Note

You can either install a fresh copy of Community Server or can upgrade from any of the earlier versions by following the instructions that are included with the installation package.

Telligent has made exciting improvements to version 2.1 of Community Server and it includes many powerful features including a new functionality called Tagging as shown in the screenshot below:

Moreover, all users can create and manage their own reader and the roller, as functionality has been tightly integrated with blogs.

Note

A complete list of all the features can be explored at: http://communityserver.org/i/features.aspx

Telligent has made exciting promises for the future builds of the product, which include an integrated Content Management System (CMS). We will explore the features included with the upcoming Community Server 3.0 at the end of this chapter.

 

A Comparison with DotNetNuke (DNN)


DotNetNuke, popularly called DNN is a robust ASP.NET based application used to build a complete website.

The official website of DotNetNuke can be accessed at http://www.dotnetnuke.com.

You will find sites powered with DotNetNuke all over the Web. One of the unique features of DotNetNuke is that users can build and customize their site very easily using administration tools provided by the application. Moreover, advanced developers can tweak the source codes and implement their own functionalities. One such classic example of advanced customization is DotNetPanel ( http://www.dotnetpanel.com). It is a powerful hosting control panel for managing Windows 2003 Servers.

DotNetNuke ships with a simple discussion board but it does not contain all the features of Community server. It is not possible to create a blog or photo and file galleries using DotNetNuke. On the other hand, Community Server is mainly used for the creation of blogs, forums, photo and file galleries, reader, and for showcasing external blogs using roller. You can make use of both DotNetNuke and Community Server to create high quality website by taking advantage of the rich features provided by both applications. You can easily deploy them on a single website under two different directories since the technology used by both DotNetNuke and Community Server is ASP.NET. You only require a server that supports ASP.NET and SQL Server 2000 or greater. While DotNetNuke is available free of cost without any restrictions, Community Server is available as both free and paid for versions. The free version of Community Server is called Express and it has certain restrictions for usage. You will learn more about the different editions in the next section of this chapter.

A complete discussion regarding DotNetNuke is beyond the scope of this book. You are advised to refer to the books Building Websites with VB.NET and DotNetNuke 3.0 by Daniel N. Egan (ISBN 1‑904811‑27‑2) and Building Websites with VB.NET and DotNetNuke 4 by Daniel N. Egan, Michael A. Washington, and Steve Valenzula (ISBN 1‑904811‑99‑X) published by Packt Publishing.

A complete discussion regarding DotNetNuke is beyond the scope of this book. You are advised to refer to the books Building Websites with VB.NET and DotNetNuke 3.0 by Daniel N. Egan (ISBN 1‑904811‑27‑2) and Building Websites with VB.NET and DotNetNuke 4 by Daniel N. Egan, Michael A. Washington, and Steve Valenzula (ISBN 1‑904811‑99‑X) published by Packt Publishing.

 

Editions and Licensing


Community Server is available in five different editions: Express, Standard, Professional, Enterprise, and Hosted. Each edition is licensed on a per server basis and includes more features than its predecessors.

Note

The latest version of the licensing guide is available for download from the Files section at http://communityserver.org/.

It is possible to upgrade to the higher editions as and when necessary by going through the Upgrade guide available for download from the official website. A brief overview of each edition is given below.

Express

The Express edition is perfect for people who need to get a community up and running on a budget. It is free, but has restrictions on use. However, it can be deployed for commercial purposes.

Standard

The Standard edition is the entry-level commercial platform and unlocks some features not available in the Express edition.

Professional

The Professional edition is targeted at organizations that require many of the capabilities offered by Community Server for running a high-traffic community.

Enterprise

The Enterprise edition unleashes the full potential of Community Server and has been designed for organizations that require all of the capabilities found in Community Server.

Hosted

The Hosted edition enables you to create a professional web community within a few minutes without any need to download Community Server separately. It doesn't require any setup or configuration. The hosted edition is available in three different plans—Standard, Plus, and Platinum. You need to purchase any one of these plans by visiting https://www.communityserver.com/. You will be provided with a special URL in the format http://Domain.communityserver.com, where Domain stands for the name that you gave at the time of registration.

The required disk space and the monthly bandwidth will be provided by Telligent from its servers. This edition is mainly suitable for non-technical people or organizations that want to get a basic Community Server site up and running as quickly as possible without any major effort. Over the coming months Telligent is planning to roll out a number of new capabilities such as integrated email, new themes, as well as a potential free ad-enabled version.

The table given below lists the features included with each edition and also the cost for obtaining each server license:

 

Express

Standard

Professional

Enterprise

Web Sites per server

Unlimited

1

10

Unlimited

Users per license

Unlimited

Unlimited

Unlimited

Unlimited

Forums per license

Unlimited

Unlimited

Unlimited

Unlimited

Blogs per license

Unlimited

Unlimited

Unlimited

Unlimited

Photos per license

Unlimited

Unlimited

Unlimited

Unlimited

Files per site

50

500

Unlimited

Unlimited

RSS Reader (Users)

250

Unlimited

Unlimited

Unlimited

Footer Customization

Not Permitted

Permitted

Permitted

Permitted

Spam Blocker

Included

Included

Included

Included

IP-Banning Add-on

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Member Points System

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Reports

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Web Farm Support

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Single sign-on Authentication Add-ons

No

No

1 Available

All Available

Email Gateway

No

No

25 License

100 License

Enterprise Search

No

Separate Add-on Available

Included

Included

NNTP News Gateway

No

Separate Add-on Available

Separate Add-on Available

100 License

FTP Gateway

No

Separate Add-on Available

Separate Add-on Available

100 License

Microsoft Exchange Connector

No

Separate Add-on Available

Separate Add-on Available

Included

Premier Support (Tier 1)

No

No

No

10 Hours

Peer-to-Peer Support (Through Forums)

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Cost (US Dollars)

Free

$299

$1,499

$9,999

Note

You can purchase a license for the latest version of Community Server at: https://store.telligentsystems.com/

 

What's New in Community Server 3.0 (or Calypso)?


Telligent has already announced plans for the release of Community Server 3.0. The version has been code named as Calypso. It will be mainly targeted towards simplifying common tasks with intuitive wizards, improvement of user interfaces, and adding more help-oriented content. Moreover, Community Server 3.0 will only run on ASP.NET 2.0, unlike Community Server 2.0 which ran on both ASP.NET 1.1 and 2.0.

The key features that are proposed to be included with Community Server 3.0 are listed overleaf.

Chameleon

This is a theme engine that will deliver a simpler way to create themes. It will also include features that will enable users to manage the look/feel of a theme via the Control Panel. The goals are to reduce the number of files involved in skinning a blog and to provide a streamlined non-technical set of tools for easily creating user interfaces.

Morpheus

This is a membership update tool, which will be integrated with the ASP.NET 2.0 membership store. This will allow easier integration with existing user bases and external storage of membership data.

Zion

This is a new centralized file storage system, which will provide more consistent and extensible support for files and attachments in Community Server. In addition, the update to blogs will allow for better image/file support on a per-post basis.

Tallyman

It is the next version of the mail gateway, which will enable anyone, anywhere, including shared hosting and smaller sites, to leverage integrated email and mail list functionality within Community Server.

Telligent is planning to add one more module to Community Server 3.0, which is code-named Mystique. In addition to the above set of new features, Community Server 3.0 also includes an integrated CMS, which will provide knowledge management, content management, and case management functionalities. At the time of writing this book, Calypso is slated for release during the first quarter of 2007.

 

Summary


In this chapter, we have seen a brief overview of Community Server and the applications in it. We also explored the evolution of Community Server, a brief comparison with DotNetNuke, and the various editions of the product and features included with each one of them including pricing information. We also examined the new features included with the upcoming Community Server 3.0.

The next chapter will provide a comprehensive coverage of the various steps involved with the installation of Community Server.

About the Author

  • Anand Narayanaswamy

    Anand Narayanaswamy works as an independent consultant and runs NetAns Technologies (www.netans.com/), which provides web hosting services and is based in Trivandrum, Kerala State, India. He is a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) in Visual C# (https://mvp.support.microsoft.com/profile=a7e62d9a-f4bd-4e18-b673-227e23799581). He works as the full time technical editor lead for ASPAlliance.com (aspalliance.com/author.aspx?uId=38403) and is also a member of ASPAlliance.com Advisory Board. He regularly contributes articles, and book and product reviews to ASPAlliance.com, C-Sharpcorner.com, Developer.com, Codeguru.com, Microsoft Academic Alliance, asp.netPRO print magazine, and asp.netNOW online magazine. Anand has worked as a technical editor for several popular publishers such as Sams, Addison-Wesley Professional, Wrox, and Manning. His technical editing skills helped the authors of Sams Teach Yourself the C# Language in 21 Days, Core C# and .NET, Professional ADO.NET 2, and ASP.NET 2.0 Web Parts in Action to fine tune the content. He has also contributed articles for Microsoft Knowledge Base and delivered podcast shows for Aspnetpodcast.com. He is a moderator for Windows MarketPlace Newsgroups.

    Anand also runs LearnXpress.com (www.learnxpress.com/), Dotnetalbum.com (www.dotnetalbum.com/), CsharpFAQ.com (www.csharpfaq.com/), Computerbookreviews.org (www.computerbookreviews.org/), and DigitalGadget.Info (www.digitalgadget.info/). LearnXpress.com is a featured site at MSDN's Visual C# .NET communities section. He also runs a website for the purpose of this book at www.communityserverbook.com/

    Anand has won several prizes at Community-Credit.com and has been featured as "All Time" contributor at the site. He is one of the founders of Trivandrum Microsoft Usergroup. He regularly blogs under the banner "I type what I feel" at msmvps.com/blogs/anandn/Default.aspx and maintains a personal website at www.visualanand.net/

    Browse publications by this author
Book Title
Access this book, plus 7,500 other titles for FREE
Access now