Using PHP and IIS to Create a Discussion Forum

Creating The Access Database

Create a Microsoft Access database called forum with the following table structure:

Field Name Data Type
code AutoNumber
parentcode Number
title Text
description Text
uname Text
email Text

The field called code is a unique, autonumber field, which will identify each thread in the discussion forum. Parentcode will represent the ID of the parent thread for the current thread (if any), and will be 0 for all new threads. Title, description, uname and email fields are used to save more information on each thread. This structure gives us the flexibility to create a tree structure of thread and child threads, which can span n levels deep.

To create a DSN for this database, click Start -> Settings -> Control Panel -> Administrative Tools and double click on the Data Sources (ODBC) icon:

Click the system DSN tab then click add. Select the Microsoft Access driver (*.mdb), enter "forum" as the data source name and select the database you have just created as the database. Click Ok to create this DSN.

Note: Your database must not be open in Access when you try and create the DSN or you will receive an error.

Creating The PHP Files

We need to create two PHP files (forum.php and node.php) to make our discussion forum work. Save the files shown below into your C:\INETPUB\WWWROOT folder.

Here's the code for first PHP file (forum.php):

// This is the DSN we have create for our database
$connect = odbc_connect("forum", "root", "");
Discussion Forum using PHP/Access under IIS<BR>
<A HREF='node.php?node=0'>Post New Message</A>

shownode(0); // display all the main threads

// This function is a recursive function which shall display all the branches
// and sub branches of the threads
function shownode($nodecode)
   global $connect; // using the global variable for connection
   // Get a list of all the sub nodes which specific parentcode
   $noderesult = odbc_exec($connect,"select * from forum where parentcode = $nodecode");
   echo "<UL type='disc'>";
   while(odbc_fetch_row($noderesult)) // get all the rows
       $code = odbc_result($noderesult,"code");
       $title = odbc_result($noderesult,"title");
       $uname = odbc_result($noderesult,"uname");
       $email = odbc_result($noderesult,"email");
       echo "<LI>";
       echo "<A HREF='node.php?node=$code'> $title </A>";
       echo "-- by ($uname) $email<BR>";
   echo "</UL>";

Here's the code for the second PHP file (node.php) file:

$connect = odbc_connect("forum", "root", "");
if(isset($submit)) // check if submitted button is clicked
   // insert the record in the database
   $resultupdate=odbc_exec($connect,"insert into forum
   (parentcode,title,description,uname,email) VALUES
   header("location:forum.php"); // open forum.php file to display the thread
<CENTER>Post to Discussion Forum using PHP/Access under IIS</CENTER>
if ( $node != 0 )
   // Displaying the details of the thread
   echo "<HR>";
   $noderesult = odbc_exec($connect,"select * from forum where code = $node");
   $title = odbc_result($noderesult,"title");
   $description = odbc_result($noderesult,"description");
   $uname = odbc_result($noderesult,"uname");
   $email = odbc_result($noderesult,"email");
   echo "$title by ($uname) $email<BR>";
   echo "$description <BR><HR>";
<!-- Form to enter the message -->
<FORM method='post'>
Name : <INPUT TYPE=TEXT NAME=postname> <BR>
E-Mail : <INPUT TYPE=TEXT NAME=email> <BR>
Title : <INPUT TYPE=TEXT NAME=title VALUE = '' size=50> <BR>
Description : <BR> <TEXTAREA name=description rows=10 cols=45></TEXTAREA>
<!-- we need a hidden field to store the node -->
<INPUT TYPE=hidden NAME=node value='<? echo $node;?>'> <BR>
<INPUT type=submit name=submit value='Post Message'>

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About the author

Jayesh Jain

Jayesh Jain New Zealand

Jayesh Jain is working as a Business Analyst in Auckland, New Zealand. He has several years of n-Tier development experience in developing interactive client solutions. He has a passion for Web ...

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