Hello - I am a newcomer to this forum (referred by HappyGeek) and am utterly unable to find an answer to the following question, despite the hours I have spent parsing through posts on forums, exchanging e-mails w/kind souls more knowledgeable than myself, etc.
I am in the process of developing a wesbite using Macromedia/Adobe Studio 8, in particular Dreamweaver 8, Flash Pro 8, and Fireworks 8 (all of which I am also in the process of attempting to learn, simultaneously!).
My site will be subscription-based, i.e. some content will be viewable to the public at large, while paying members will have access to the following:
forums, where they are able to post, reply, send other members private messages, e-mail one-another, and receive e-mail notifications at their personal e-mail address of responses to their posts, or about forums of interest (much like this site)
instant messaging - i.e. the ability for members to "meet" online and chat live one-on-one. I had initially wanted to add a live community chat feature but was told this opens up yet another can of worms, and right now, I have a pantry-full of cans with worms busting out, so I can do w/o the community chat feature, and even the private IM feature, if necessary
their own 'space', i.e. a pre-determined amount of space where members can post whatever they like (subject to posting rules), e.g. their pics, poetry, writings, musings, perhaps eventually sound bytes, video clips, etc. - so I suppose this would qualify as a "blog" feature, tho all postings will be subject to prior review before being published to the site - incidentally, this member space will not sold as web space per se, 'cause I am certainly not going to get into the web host reseller business (God forbid!), but rather I will have certain templates members can use to set up their space (e.g. pics at top, at bottom, columns for text, etc.), and then they can make changes, depending on what they want to do in terms of content, subject, again, to space restrictions, formatting requirements, posting rules, etc.
membership/authorization software - I need the ability to create memberships, w/all the typical administrator rights and privileges, i.e. tracking members' activities (some content will be reserved for teens, and strictly viewable by teens - I will obtain parents' consent before teens can sign up - and I need to do everything possible to ensure no pedophiles try to view/access teen areas, and likewise, teens will not be able to view/access adult areas - teens will not have IM feature, just forums and their sapce, and I may prohibit posting of pics of themselves, just to protect the kids), banning members by IP, username or other criteria for violations - I also need to be able to link to a payment gateway, e.g. PayPal or Authorize.net, to process membership payments, and to have automatic renewal/expiration notices sent out to members, with suspension of member access until payment is received, etc.
Of course, my start-up budget is next to nil, so I unfortunately cannot afford to purchase the commercial software licenses that are out there, and I actually haven't found any that can do all the above (the closest is ExpressionEngine w/forum module add-on, but I contacted their owners and they would prohibit my blog feature - no problem, their license fee is totally prohiitive anyway!)
I was referred to the Open Source site, have tried several scripts, and after many many hours of research, believe I have found the forum/IM/PM OS software: Beehive.
As for the membership/secure software, I thought I found exactly what I was looking for in "OpenCrypt", read through the whole blasted description of every feature, was overjoyed (it includes the payment gateway and integration of payment status w/web access), only to realize, at the very end, that it costs $112.50/year plus $35/year thereafter.
I probably could swing about $150, but what I cannot swing is $150 for each of the above feautures, and would really prefer a one-time license fee, w/the option -- not the oblgiation -- to upgrade yearly.
I also understand that, as wonderful as all the OS scripts are, one needs more than a modicum of computer programming knowledge to make them "work together".
Here are my assumptions/questions (if I haven't put everyone to sleep, by now):
1. Assuming I do obtain a membership software package (either freeware, shareware, or low license fee), which permits me to have integrated payment gateway, restrict access to the content on my site, and that software is PHP based, and assuming I use an OS blog script, and an OS forum program like beehive, and the script and forum programs are also PHP based, how do I go about making sure that, once members log in from the home page, they are not asked to reinput their username/password to access their private space/blog area, or the forum area, etc?
2. Am I correct in concluding that, in order to use free, OS software, I am going to have to either become a computer programmer to integrate the various PHP-based scripts or hire someone to do so, and that the only way I won't have to do either of those is to purchase a commercial product?
3. ANY recommendations about how to set up this blasted site w/o losing my mind altogether (and let's face it, I'm nearly there already), would be IMMENSELY appreciated.:mrgreen:
By the way - I realize everyone's time is precious, and tho many of you are wonderful souls giving freely of your time and talent, I am willing to barter my knowledge of contracts in exchange for your knowledge of computer programming.:lol:
And to anyone who has actually made it to the end of this post: THANK YOU.