Our second, more complex example allows users to post messages in a browser-based threaded discussion forum. The granddaddy of all discussion lists, Usenet, allows the Internet community to share its views on literally thousands of topics, ranging from C programming to The X-Files. A more focused list, run by RevealNet at http://www.revealnet.com, is geared to PL/SQL developers.
The system presented here is based loosely on the forums run by the online version of InfoWorld computer magazine (http://www.infoworld.com). Each week, the editors at InfoWorld select a number of topical issues in the computer industry for its readers to discuss. These forums allow registered users to express their opinions on both the forum topic and the posts from other readers. Figure 8.8 shows the user interface for the discussion forum we’ll develop in this section.
Figure 8-8. A typical discussion list
A vibrant internal discussion forum is a great way for users and developers to communicate simply and efficiently. For example, a forum about an IS application provides users with the ability to report bugs (e.g., “the total dollars on this report should be double-underlined”) and suggest new, potentially interesting ideas (“It’d be cool if we could click on the client number and get an AR report”). Monitoring these discussions can help you design better systems and establish ...