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Ron Ridley Auto Care Mall

- This is more like a script than an actual program that you need to install. The script for the standard version is free and easily downloaded from the Lilikoi Website. Assuming your server space is set up with the proper directory permissions, Ceilidh can be up and running in less than 15 minutes, even for lesser experienced web designers.

The download is a small 232k zip file (for NT), but may vary in size for other platforms. Once unzipped, simply read the 'read me' file for detailed directions on it's set up. You can be discussing on your own forum within minutes.

User Interface:
- The very first time you post a message to your Forum, you will be prompted to give a new password. This is for your 'Fiddler' Administration Utility. Here you set all of your forums behaviors and edit other users settings. Here you may also set permissions for other users to be supervisors or moderators of your group as well. The look of your forum is completely editable as well. Making the forum look like it belongs on your site is very simply done by using your favorite HTML editor. I tried changing the look with Frontpage 98, Dreamweaver 1.2 and Homesite. I did find that Frontpage does like to mess up the indenting of the posts if you edit the page after posts have been submitted, but came across no problems in setting it up with Frontpage.

Once into the discussion the messages appear as indented threads. A new feature to this is the 'digest' mode of reading the threads. In the 'Digest' mode you can read an entire thread of multiple replies, as one post. I found this to be very handy as a moderator as well. It makes it a lot quicker to scan multiple posts in a very busy discussion with out having to click on each individual message.

As for your site visitors, Ceilidh, is even customizable for them. Users have the option of setting and changing their own settings at any time. Settings such as Text box size in the posting form and whether or not they want responses to their posts e-mail to them as well. Users can also be set to have permission to edit or delete their own posts, even after they have been posted to the server.

All posts and response are in real time for your users, meaning that their posts and replies appear on the forum as soon as they are posted. I found that this is a very popular feature among regular posters. Some problems can also arise from this though. It does leave the discussion open to unsuitable posts, such as vulgar or other type of offending posts. Luckily, Ceilidh has built in ways that this can be avoided or corrected.

The most common, is to have several moderators with permissions to delete posts. The other is to set the forum to full registration, so the first time users post or reply, they have to register and the moderator sets up the account manually. In this way, you always know who can post and you can simply remove any registered users that break your forum rules. Using this method can also be useful on a company Intranet, to leave messages for other staff.

Other features include the ability to add attachments to your posts or replies. You can have your forum accept all types of file attachments or specify certain file types that you will accept. I found on one of the forums I have set up that users do have a lot of fun using the file attachment feature, adding little icons, cartoons or even photos to the end of their posts. Love it!

Another feature that should be mentioned is the option to have entire threads expire at once, rather than individual posts. I really do like this feature as well. It really makes the job as site moderator a whole lot easier.

Cost Value:
- The Standard, single forum version is FREE! This single forum is likely more than enough for most applications. An enhanced version is also available for purchase, based on the number of forums you want to run on one domain. For example: The 1-5 forum enhanced version can be lisenced for $149.00 US. I look forward to getting the Enhanced Version soon, as the price is a steal!

With the features of this great easy to use script, you get more than your money's worth here. After searching for months for an affordable discussion forum application, I am glad to have come across Ceilidh. I still can't believe it's FREE! (Standard Version)

Packaging / manual:
- Packaging: Well, there isn't any. Although for a $10.00 US cost they will ship you a diskette with the script. Otherwise the full program is easily downloaded from the Internet.

- Manual: Again, no manual to speak of. The 'ReadMe" file is very well laid out and informative though. There is a zipped full documentation that is available on the website as well. But the application was simple enough to set up that a manual is really not needed anyway.

If you do run into some troubles, the support right on the website is fantastic. Dr. Richard Hughes, the scripts author, uses his own discussion forum script for support. Simply post your inquiry on the forum and usually within 24 hours you have your answer, both e-mailed directly and posted on the forum. It is also a good idea to read over the support forum before posting. Someone else may have encountered the same problem or had the same question. Many of your questions may already be answered for you already.

On the topic of support, there is another issue that needs to brought up. When requiring some support for Ceilidh, you deal directly with the developer, Dr. Richard Hughes not a fill in techie. I did seem to run into a minor problem when I upgraded to the latest version of the Standard format. The call went out for support, and not only did I get fast, quality support, Dr. Hughes spent an entire weekend working with me to get the problem fixed. Keeping in mind that I didn't pay for this FREE program, I was pleased to the point of amazed at the effort made to help me solve my problem. I have not seen support like this from companies that I have paid to dearly. Dr. Richard Hughes is one class act!

Overall Comments:
- This is simply the best discussion forum script available in it's class and it is always being upgraded. You can not find a better, easier, or affordable way to add a discussion forum to your website.

One more note: Yes, it is year 2000 compliant!

Review ID Number: 372
  Product Details
Lilikoi Software
Review Date: 2001-04-19
Reviewer: Brad Lawryk
Rating: 10 out of 10
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