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Summary

In this chapter we've built a forums system from scratch, and we did it by leveraging much of the work done in earlier chapters, and many of the new features in ASP.NET 2.0. This was a further example showing how to integrate the built-in membership and profile systems into a custom module, as well as reusing other pages and controls (such as the RssReader control) developed previously. Our forums module supports multiple subforums, with optional moderation; it lists threads and replies through custom pagination (with different sorting options), offers support for publishing and consuming standard RSS feeds, and extends the user profiles with forum-specific properties. We also created administration features for deleting, editing, approving, moving, and closing threads and posts. This is a fairly complete forums module that should work well with many small to mid-size sites. However, the subject of user forums in general is a big area, and there are many possible options and features that you might want to consider adding to your forums module. Here are a few suggestions to get you started:

There are numerous very complex and complete forums systems for ASP.NET, and many of them are free. You might want to use one of them if the simple forums module presented here doesn't meet your needs, or you might just want to study the others to get ideas for features you might want to add to your own forum module. One of the best, and most feature-rich, forums modules for ASP.NET is the Community Server, available at www.communityserver.org. This is 100% free for non-profit sites, and fairly inexpensive for use on commercial sites. This is the same forums module used by the famous www.asp.net site, Microsoft's official ASP.NET developer site. But don't be too quick to discard the forums module developed in this chapter, because even though it's missing some of the more advanced features, it still has several big benefits, including the fact that it's already integrated with the site's common layout and membership system (while others do not, unless you modify them, as they need to be installed on a separate virtual folder that makes it more difficult to share pieces of the parent site); it uses many of the new features in ASP.NET 2.0; and it is fairly easy to maintain and understand.

In the next chapter we'll implement another common requirement in a modern, full-featured web site: an e-commerce store with support for real-time electronic payments.


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