To Frame, or not to Frame: I have a three choices here. I can either set up a three (maybe even 4 or 5) frame panel for the forum and make the forum look very much like Outlook Express, or I can emulate the whole thing with tables, or I can stick to the single pages for each part of the forum as it is now.
Frames will allow me to stuff just about everything on one convenient page and allow the setup of the forum to have a familiar e-mail-program type of appearance. I currently don’t have any frames anywhere on my site. When I first put up my site in 1997, frames were out of the question as many browsers back then didn’t handle them properly. But here it is 7 years later, and few browsers today have a problem with them.
Tables can be made to look almost the same as frames. But they are more complicated to implement and don’t change over as nicely since the whole page must be refreshed for any little change. XHTML can be used instead of tables (I still use a bit of it in my Blog) but it has the same many of the same problems as tables.
The single pages might still be the answer, since it would be the format that is more familiar to most online Forum users. In order to allow the Forum to be used by myself or those wanting an e-mail-like interface, I will be setting up RSS feeds for the Forum and each main category in the Forum. Then any News Aggregator can keep up to new posts in the Forum. Unlike this Blog, for which I have to manually run a program to update the feed, I am sure I can get the Forum to update the feed automatically whenever a message is posted. This would be possible because the pages of the Forum are generated at runtime using ASP on the server.