I am working with a company that I am paying to develop my website. I am not a webmaster or developer myself, ok? So I may not quite put things "right" in technical terms and for that, I apologize...
My website is about 3/5's of the way completed. One of the last remaining but very big and important pieces is to include a forum -- and it has become a very big problem.
The developers now tell me they can not make any forum software work as I want it to work within my website. The developers have tried to use vBulletin and phpBB and, they tell me, have spent a great deal of time looking at and trying other forum softwares. They refer to trying to proceed further on the forum part of my website as a great big time sink, though they say they will come back to this issue after they've gotten everything else completed.
The website will be, when it goes live, a member-based site for the exclusive use of folk who belong to our organization. It is not an intranet. I am hoping you may have some better answers or direction you can give me for pursuit of information than what these developers are giving to me, and that you might be able to help me, please.
The website is being done in php, uses CSS, and it uses MySql databases.
(1) There are "headers" and "footers" that, per my requirements, appear at the top and bottom of every single page on my website. I have this requirement because I want design consistency, and want the site's brand identification and navigation to be always easily accessible for the site's users (who are not at all technical themselves). But, the developers are telling me that it is not possible to make any forum software work between these headers and footers. That none of the forum softwares they have looked at or have tried to implement will work within the header and footer framework.
Do you know of any websites or forum software you could refer me to where forums DO work within a parent website's headers and footers? Such that no matter what page within the forum I'd be on, there would still be the "parent" site's headers and footers displayed at the page top and bottom? If so, would you please tell me of those site addresses if they are available for viewing? If you have positive experience doing this kind of thing, would you let me know please?
(2) The developers tell me that all of the forum softwares they look at have their own databases and there is no way (that they can figure out so far) for these databases to "talk" to one another. That the "parent" website databases can not populate the forum's databases so that, for members who are already logged on to the main or parent site, transition between the parent site and the forum part of the website is seamless.
I would like folk who are logged on to the site to be able to use the forum without having to register for, and log in and out of the forum part. And, of course, for folk who are not logged on to the "parent" site to be unable to log on to the forum part. Is this "seamlessness" between website and forum possible, do you know? Do you know any examples of such sites you could refer me to, by chance?
(3) I would like for members to be able to specify keywords that, if used in posts within the forums, would -- on their control page on the parent website -- link to those posts in the forum so they can get into the conversation and offer their expertise. The developers tell me now that there is no way for this information (the links) to be passed between the forum software and the parent website's software. Does this seem correct?
(4) THE only piece of forum software that I want to have working is the forum piece. Other aspects of the "parent" website already have messaging and member search and email and other capabilities, and for very good security reasons I do not want to repeat those features via the forum software or to include them. I just (?? "just" ??) want to use the forum part of the software. But the developers are telling me that it is not possible on any forum software to disable or cut out code that is ancillary to the forum part... Are you aware of any forum software that DOES allow installing or using just the forum part of things? If so, would you tell me of that software please?
Again, I really really hope you may be able to help me with this problem. If I have not provided enough information for you to understand the problem(s) then please let me know and I will do my best to give better details. I can also ask the developers for some information but, because I am not technically adept with this stuff myself, can't promise to accurately translate but, will do my best.
Thank you so very much! I look forward to hearing from you!!