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Can vBulletin be SEAMLESSLY integrated into my site??

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  • Can vBulletin be SEAMLESSLY integrated into my site??

    I want to know if documentation or capability exists for vBulletin to be seamlessly integrated into my site. So far, I haven't seen an example of this with vBulletin or any other forum software.

    What do I mean by "seamless"? Well, my web site already requires users to register for an account. They already have a user ID and password. They are already required to supply certain demographic information about themselves to create an account. Therefore, any forum software should meet these requirements:
    • Users should log in once to access both my site and its forum.
    • When a user changes his password on my site, it should also change in the forum.
    • When a user creates an account on my site, an account should be transparently created for the forum as well. That is, my PHP code needs to know how to inject the approprate records into the forum's data table. Alternately, the forum's table for storing user account data needs to accomodate the fields I require on my site.
    • When my site deletes a user account for inactivity, it should be deleted from the forum.
    If the requiremens above can be met only by modifying the vBulletin source code, how are upgrades handled? If my requirements result in code modifications that Jelsoft can't support, what do I get for my license fee?

    Thanks for your attention.
    -Alex
    Last edited by amatulic; Mon 16 Jul '07, 12:36pm.

  • #2
    There are a few hacks at www.vbulletin.org that do this (non vb page) that require you to log in etc.

    Not sure if thats what you want .

    Comment


    • #3
      What CMS are you using? I think there are integration for mambo/joomla and others. As MAD said above, look at vbulletin.org and see if one is available for your CMS.

      If the requiremens above can be met only by modifying the vBulletin source code, how are upgrades handled? If my requirements result in code modifications that Jelsoft can't support, what do I get for my license fee?
      vBulletin uses "products/plugins" instead of code modification for most hacks. All you have to do is import the product and do the template edits if necessary. And if it causes problems, all you have to do is uninstall the product. It's much simpler than any forum software I have used.

      Good luck.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by ---MAD--- View Post
        There are a few hacks at www.vbulletin.org that do this (non vb page) that require you to log in etc.

        Not sure if thats what you want .
        Thanks, but I didn't find anything there that looks like what I needed. I also wanted to know what happens to support if vBulletin requires modification to work as I describe. Do mods invalidate the license? If I modify something and Jelsoft updates it, how do I manage the changes?

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by amatulic View Post
          Thanks, but I didn't find anything there that looks like what I needed. I also wanted to know what happens to support if vBulletin requires modification to work as I describe. Do mods invalidate the license? If I modify something and Jelsoft updates it, how do I manage the changes?
          Mods do not invalidate the license or support, but...Jelsoft will not support the mod. So if there is a problem the first thing they will say is "turn off all mods..." and if the problem goes away it isn't their problem (fair enough).

          In certain updates, templates need to be "reverted" or scripts replaced completely. In this case you will need to re-install your mods and they may or may not still work.

          Hope this helps.
          World War Two Zone

          JLK Hosting - non-oversold Virtuozzo VPS solutions - specializing in vBulletin and nginx hosting

          Comment


          • #6
            It's hard to do. The template engine is absolutely atrocious and documentation on actually using the API is sparse, most tutorials are written by users of vbulletin.org and there is hardly any support for that sort of stuff by the vbulletin.com team. I figured when it said vBulletin came with technical support that they'd be able to answer questions on how to hack certain stuff (or at least explain where to look in the code to make modifications)... support on built-in features is next to useless for me.

            If vBulletin included a better template and plugin system I would wholeheartedly recommend it for your use. But honest to god, if you are going to do anything more than change a color scheme it is not satisfactory for what you are trying to do. Some of the design choices are questionable as well, such as storing templates and plugin code in the database instead of writing it to flat files and taking advantage of caching software the server might have such as Zend Optimizer.

            If you are running a custom CMS like I am, it might be to your advantage to write your own software or check out an open source solution and mod it up. I don't know what I'm going to do with my license to be honest, the templating system has proven itself to be a ***** to work with (it doesn't support logic besides basic if functions with a set of functions you can use...) and the lack of actual support for what I am trying to do with the software is disheartening.

            That's not to say the software is bad. vBulletin is probably the best forum package you can get, if you want... vBulletin. Weird way of explaining things, but if you are trying to make vBulletin be anything but stock vBulletin be prepared for a world of hurt. Unfortunately, I'm already loaded with programming projects or I would spend some time and write my own forum system. The whole reason I bought vBulletin is so I could rely on someone else to actually fix bugs and write functionality; I figured the templating and plugin system would be satisfactory enough to mod it to my liking. To tell the truth, it really isn't

            I'm probably staying with the software, however. Studying it has proven rather tedious, but not as tedious as writing my own software. If I had a whole month in which I could just sit down 24/7 and write code, I would build my own forum software that does exactly what I want. Until then, I guess I'll just mod up vBulletin. I plan on rewriting the whole layout to stop using redundant markup (that will take maybe 3 days at max, but I need to figure out how to use PHP in my templates for my own purposes before I can start on that), I'll probably release my results to the community afterwards.

            Anyway, I wouldn't have typed this huge post if your problem didn't sound like mine. If you want a vBulletin, and want it to function and look like all the other vBulletins on the internet, go ahead. It's good, solid software. If you run a site where the expectations are a little higher, consider writing your own stuff or expect to spend a year and a half studying the code on your own because there sure as HELL isn't any worthwhile documentation on how to actually do stuff. (Unless you consider a PHPDoc dump worthwhile...)

            edit: No offense to any of the developers here. You all made a good product. I'm just a very picky person, especially when it comes to software as that is what I do for a living.

            Comment


            • #7
              If I get you correctly you have built your own cms, and now want to integrate it to vBulletin. Well the easiest way to do what you want would be moving the information of your users to the vBulletin user table, and then just make your users update their profiles (get their psswds etc). Then you would have to modify your login system, which is simple, you just have to use the same password encryption that vBulletin uses, and of course you could use the forums registration system now. To seamlessly integrat your site, with any forum, you will need to use the forum's user table.

              As for the session & cookies, I remain woefully ignorant as to how vBulletin manages that. But I have learned that you can always look at the documentation. Or if you are a mere mortal (like me), you can approach the staff (submit a new support ticket) and they'll explain you some stuff (do not expect them to write you a hack tho...).
              Last edited by wilhelm32; Thu 27 Jul '06, 5:43pm.

              Comment


              • #8
                Here it is a year later, and I want to thank everyone for their responses. I need to make the following points:
                • I'm not using any CMS. I use hand-coded php/mySQL with the smarty template engine, a shell account and a text editor. I looked at mambo and others, but I don't know what I'd use it for.
                • My site already requires log-in. Here is the functionality I am looking for in a forum package. Basically I need bridge functions:
                  • When a new user registers on my site, the user is transparently registered on vbulletin too. For this I would need vBulletin to provide some sort of bridge functionality, such as a function called, say, vb_register_newuser(data_array), where data_array contains the minimum user data needed to complete a registration. My own registration script would call vb_register_newuser() to force vBulletin to create the necessary user data in its tables.
                  • When an existing user logs into my site, I would need another bridge function, say, vb_login_user(id, password) that my script can call to log the user into the forum.
                  • When a user logs off my site, a vb_logoff(id) function would be useful to transparently log off vBulletin.
                  • When a user changes his password on my site, I'd need a bridge function my script can call, to change the user's vBulletin password at the same time.
                  • It would also be nice to display to the user some forum status messages outside the forum, on other pages on my site (new posts in a subscribed thread, new private message, etc).
                • Basically, what I need is to be able to modifiy vBulletin's critical user data such as email, phone number, password, etc. from my own scripts. The user shouldn't have access to these functions in vBulletin, although I'd like to keep available the other user account features (private messages, avatars, etc.).
                I have seen sites that have their forums well-integrated like this, but very few. I definitely don't want to slap on a forum and have my users log in twice. I also have plenty of other coding to do on my own site without spending an inordinate amount of time modifying the forum software. Any suggestions are welcome.

                -Alex
                Last edited by amatulic; Mon 16 Jul '07, 12:06pm.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Amatulic:

                  My friend, you and I are looking for EXACTLY the same thing! As we speak, I am researching the cookie/session functionality of the message board to determine the best way to proceed with (as you called it) "spoofing" sessions between the sites.

                  At this time, it appears totally do-able, though surely a challenge. I'll let you know how it goes.

                  -Steven
                  Spillsheet.com

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by King Internet View Post
                    It's hard to do. The template engine is absolutely atrocious and documentation on actually using the API is sparse, most tutorials are written by users of vbulletin.org and there is hardly any support for that sort of stuff by the vbulletin.com team. I figured when it said vBulletin came with technical support that they'd be able to answer questions on how to hack certain stuff (or at least explain where to look in the code to make modifications)... support on built-in features is next to useless for me.

                    If vBulletin included a better template and plugin system I would wholeheartedly recommend it for your use. But honest to god, if you are going to do anything more than change a color scheme it is not satisfactory for what you are trying to do. Some of the design choices are questionable as well, such as storing templates and plugin code in the database instead of writing it to flat files and taking advantage of caching software the server might have such as Zend Optimizer.

                    If you are running a custom CMS like I am, it might be to your advantage to write your own software or check out an open source solution and mod it up. I don't know what I'm going to do with my license to be honest, the templating system has proven itself to be a ***** to work with (it doesn't support logic besides basic if functions with a set of functions you can use...) and the lack of actual support for what I am trying to do with the software is disheartening.

                    That's not to say the software is bad. vBulletin is probably the best forum package you can get, if you want... vBulletin. Weird way of explaining things, but if you are trying to make vBulletin be anything but stock vBulletin be prepared for a world of hurt. Unfortunately, I'm already loaded with programming projects or I would spend some time and write my own forum system. The whole reason I bought vBulletin is so I could rely on someone else to actually fix bugs and write functionality; I figured the templating and plugin system would be satisfactory enough to mod it to my liking. To tell the truth, it really isn't

                    I'm probably staying with the software, however. Studying it has proven rather tedious, but not as tedious as writing my own software. If I had a whole month in which I could just sit down 24/7 and write code, I would build my own forum software that does exactly what I want. Until then, I guess I'll just mod up vBulletin. I plan on rewriting the whole layout to stop using redundant markup (that will take maybe 3 days at max, but I need to figure out how to use PHP in my templates for my own purposes before I can start on that), I'll probably release my results to the community afterwards.

                    Anyway, I wouldn't have typed this huge post if your problem didn't sound like mine. If you want a vBulletin, and want it to function and look like all the other vBulletins on the internet, go ahead. It's good, solid software. If you run a site where the expectations are a little higher, consider writing your own stuff or expect to spend a year and a half studying the code on your own because there sure as HELL isn't any worthwhile documentation on how to actually do stuff. (Unless you consider a PHPDoc dump worthwhile...)

                    edit: No offense to any of the developers here. You all made a good product. I'm just a very picky person, especially when it comes to software as that is what I do for a living.
                    If you've got a pre-made site and want to integrate vB into that, then yes i agree it is a *****. however, if you're building your site around vBulletin, which is what most users do, then vBulletin is the most powerfull (forum) software you can get.

                    While i haven't used the plug-in system myself (the last vB i used was 3.0.x or something) it is very understandable that you won't get support unless you disable them. 90% of the time most problems can be fixed by turning a mod off, if a dev or mod is trying to help you, you can't expect them to know the exact code of the exact mod you're having problems with.

                    That said, if you're having problems non-mod related i always found that the vB staff (and members) are always willing to help you above and beyond what they are required to do.

                    As for the templates, i always found them a lot easier than any other product i've ever used. I've used ample CMS's, forums, scripts etc and i've found that by far the vB template system is the easiest and clearest to use.

                    This is not me being biased, as i no longer use vB, but when it comes time to use a forum again no doubt i will scope out what's out there at the time, as i always do, and as i always do come to the conclusion that vB is the best.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Bema Jinn View Post
                      If you've got a pre-made site and want to integrate vB into that, then yes i agree it is a *****. however, if you're building your site around vBulletin, which is what most users do, then vBulletin is the most powerfull (forum) software you can get.
                      That's just the problem, for me. For my site, a forum is a nice-to-have add-on to the existing web site. There is no conceivable way I could have used a forum like vBulletin as the central building block of my site.

                      I'd like to use the best forum software possible, but if it's true that it will be "a *****" to integrate, as you say, then I'll probably have to go elsewhere. I noticed, for example, that some bridge software available for SMF contains simple-looking functions for user registration, login, etc. so maybe I could adapt those.

                      All I need is for vBulletin to provide some basic API hooks for use in my ownphp scripts, for managing the critical user account data (user ID, password, email address) and basic operations like register, login, logoff, and delete user.

                      Would someone from vBulletin please respond to this thread?

                      Thanks.
                      -Alex

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I would say that a year ago, the plugin and products system was not well understood and people did not understand datamanagers. Also people were coming from a procedural code base and we were forcing them into a class based engine. This is circa vBulletin 3.5, about the time of your original post.

                        In vBulletin 3.6, the product and plugin system was really beefed up with a lot of new features. People have learned to understand the data managers and how vBulletin works.

                        What I would suggest for "integration" into your site is synchronizing your existing user database with users and make it transparent that they are using two different systems. You can do this with a script that loops through your database and uses the data managers to create records in vBulletin. Probably a couple of dozen lines of code. You can also add a few lines of code that adds new users to the vBulletin database as they register, just using the data managers. The data managers can also handle updating those records transparently.

                        When the users login, you just write the session cookies to their computer (bbuserid and bbpassword) and they can be logged in automatically.

                        The vBulletin API is documented at http://members.vbulletin.com/api so you can look at the different data manager classes. There is an example of using the user data manager in our documentation at http://www.vbulletin.com/docs/html/data_manager_example. Though there are more complete examples at www.vbulletin.org in their articles section.

                        Jelsoft provided vBulletin.org to be a modification community and help those interested in modifying vBulletin. Not all of our support technicians know PHP and it is too costly to support third-party code which we have no control over it. vBulletin.org is believed to be the next best solution.

                        Hopefully as time goes on, external authentication will be easier but new features and functionality are always prioritized by the existing needs of our customers.
                        Translations provided by Google.

                        Wayne Luke
                        The Rabid Badger - a vBulletin Cloud demonstration site.
                        vBulletin 5 API

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          On roughly this subject, I am looking for a forum solution to integrate into my Wordpress blog.

                          Does anyone have any actual site examples where this is done and how hard is it?

                          Thanks!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Thank you Wayne, for the quick and thorough answer. I wasn't aware that the vBulletin codebase underwent a major redesign a year ago when I started this thread.
                            Originally posted by Wayne Luke View Post
                            When the users login, you just write the session cookies to their computer (bbuserid and bbpassword) and they can be logged in automatically.

                            The vBulletin API is documented at http://members.vbulletin.com/api so you can look at the different data manager classes. There is an example of using the user data manager in our documentation at http://www.vbulletin.com/docs/html/data_manager_example. Though there are more complete examples at www.vbulletin.org in their articles section.
                            GREAT! That's what I was looking for: API documentation! Looks like it will do what I need.

                            I can't find documentation on cookies, though. Does vBulletin set one session cookie or multiple ones? Once cookie would make the most sense, accessed in php as $_SESSION['bbuserid'] and $_SESSION['bbpassword']. Also, does the password need to be encrypted somehow?

                            I guess I should ask on vbulletin.org. I had seen the forum there before, but I thought it was the same as the forum here; now I see it isn't.
                            Hopefully as time goes on, external authentication will be easier but new features and functionality are always prioritized by the existing needs of our customers.
                            Well, now that I have seen your reply, I'll likely become a customer with "existing needs."
                            -Alex

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              The API documentation is just a list. It doesn't actually explain anything or give any context for any of the functions and their interrelationships.

                              Comment

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