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CMS Review - PHP Nuke

Today we are going to review the PHP-Nuke Content Management System (CMS). PHP-Nuke is best used for a community website, or a website focused on different information (including articles, guides, etc.) that users can interact with.

Simply put the main focus of PHP-Nuke is to manage your web site's pages through the use of modules. There are many different modules available, and as PHP-Nuke is open source many people create thier own module and release them (there is also a new feature on the PHP Nuke Website, where users can sell custom modules).

In this article we will dive deep into PHP-Nuke and explore some of the various features available in this free Content Management System.

Before we continue on the requirements for setting up PHP Nuke should be stated. Firstly you will need some type of web server (Apache is recommended), along with some time of SQL database (MySQL is standard and best used with PHP Nuke), you will also need a PHP version of at least 4.

For this article we will assume you are using a shared hosting account with FTP enabled, although if you have an Apache server on your computer the same steps are used. Below is a summary of the installation instructions as stated on the PHP Nuke website, if you already have nuke installed you can skip this section.

First of all you are going to need to download a version of PHP-Nuke, you can download the latest version on the official web site. Now if you are using a shared hosting account you will need to unzip the PHP-Nuke package, and upload via FTP to your server. You can put PHP Nuke inside your document root or create a directory such as 'nuke' if you only wish to use PHP Nuke for a sub area of your web site.

If your server is on a UNIX of Linux platform (shared hosting most likely is, if unsure ask your host), you will need to edit the file permissions. I will not go into detail here but, files will be set to chmod '644' and directories will be set to '755'.

You will now need to create the appropriate database structure for PHP Nuke, the easiest way to do this that requires little MySQL knowledge is to use the PHP Nuke database creation package file, nukesql.php.

Now before we dive into working with your newly installed PHP Nuke site you just need to edit the config file. You will need to enter your MySQL database information, it should be easy to see where to enter the information via the comments in the file.

We now go to the Home page created by PHP Nuke, and there is a little message there with a link to create a superuser (an admin with all the admin powers, is referred to as a superadmin). After the user is created login to the admin page ( using your newly created superadmin: god with the password 'password' (you should change theses immediately, and remember to use a complicated alpha-numerical password).

You now have a PHP Nuke website setup and ready with a superadmin account setup for you. You might now want to check out the following sections on the official PHP-Nuke website to get some basic concepts on your new content management system:

* The Add-Ons download section. Here you can browse the different categories for add-ons that may interest you.
* The Themes download section. Choose a different theme to make you PHP Nuke website more attractive.
* Questions. A selection of questions and answers relating to PHP-Nuke.

PHP-Nuke comes built in with a statistics module, it shows some basic stats of your website such as the number of registered users or the the number of posts made. But also shows a breakdown of what operating system and internet browser you visitors have used.

Probably the module you are likely to use first, is the pre-installed News module. Using this you can add news items under different categories and this news is sorted on the front page of your website by date. There is also a great archiving feature which allows for easy indexing by search engines and users. You can see an example of the news module on the front page of your PHP-Nuke installation, the news items are edited via the admin page. Users are also able to submit news which is moderated by admins and decided upon whether it will be added to the website.

Built into PHP Nuke is also a surveys module. Using the admin control panel you can create new polls which can be answered by visitors to your website. When a new survey is created the previous survey is then sent to an archive where the results (in graph form) are browsable.

The different modules are usually positioned on the left and right side of the page, and the order along with which modules are active is set using the admin panel on the modules page.

Finally is our review on the PHP-Nuke content management system. For an overall look we would rate PHP Nuke 6/10, it is coded well and looks professional but the entire them is missing the whole Web 2.0 look. For features and modules we give a rating of 7/10 as there are many different features and add-ons available to make the site perform specific activities. For an overall review of PHP Nuke we give a rating of 5/10 as you have to create special skins (themes) for PHP-Nuke and it is hard to incorporate it into an existing web site.

If you are interested in learning more on PHP-Nuke along with documentation and how-tos then please feel free to visit the official PHP-Nuke web site.
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