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phpFoX Review: My Impression | By: Socialnetworker

This community software review will talk about phpFox. The software is intended to create a community web-site with video, mp3 upload, photo gallery features, comments and chats. The software has several features in its main package with price 300 USD. Also there are a lot of features which are being sold separately. Not a bad solution as of yet. phpFox comes with a web-based installer which, as the company states, will install the software automatically, even if you’re a novice. However the company charges 49 USD for the installation, if you want them do it for you. Professional Installation I think that installation can’t be professional or non-professional. If you fail to install, the software will not work. And if you’ve successfully completed the installation, your site should work. Otherwise you can state that the installer is created incorrectly. So, let’s continue phpFox review.

  • System requirements.
  •   Server Requirements
    • Web Server - Apache, IIS, CGI, FastCGI or ISAPI
    • Operating System - Solaris, Linux, BSD, Windows or Mac
    • PHP Version - Minimum - 4.3.3
    • MySQL Version - Minimum - 4.1
    • GD complied with your PHP Build - Yes
    • SendMail - Yes
    • PHP safe mode - OFF
    • PHP memory_limit - 32M
    • Minimum Web Space - 15 mb
    With the above listed requirements you'll be able to use the features of phpFox except of Video and Music modules. If you want to use Video and Music too, besides of the above list your server should have the following: Optional Requirements The requirements listed below are only required if you decide to use one of the following optional modules.
    • Video Module
      • FFmpeg
      • FFmpeg-PHP
      • Mplayer + Mencoder
      • flv2tool
      • Libogg + Libvorbis
      • LAME MP3 Encoder
      • PHP file_uploads - 1
      • PHP post_max_size - 100M
      • PHP max_input_time - -1
      • PHP upload_max_filesize - 100M
    • Music Module
      • PHP file_uploads - 1
      • PHP post_max_size - 40M
      • PHP max_input_time - -1
      • PHP upload_max_filesize - 38M
    • Subscription System
      • PHP CURL - Yes
    • Short URL
      • mod_rewrite (Apache)
    It will be really hard to find a cheap hosting account with all the above listed requirements. Will need either VPS or a dedicated server. However phpFox offers hosting services and the price is pretty good. So, the problem is solved.

  • License types.
  • There are 2 license types available: Full License - Includes 6 months of Free Upgrades and Support. – 300 USD – One Time Fee. Monthly License - Includes Free Upgrades and Support – 39,95 USD per month. phpFox is being installed on the hosting account of the customer. The company states that the source is unencrypted, but there is no information concerning the licensing. What kind of key or license file does the software use when it's completely open source? And how does the company keep secure the licensing technology? I haven't seen any fully open source commercial software so far. This is just my thought, I don't state that phpFox is encrypted. I just think that if the company states that the software is fully open source, they should explain – how the key or license file works. Also will have to pay 75 USD if you want to remove the copyright of phpFox.

  • Features.
  • phpFox has all the major and popular features of community sites. However I would like to mention 2 features which I think are necessary for a community site – videochat and phone features. phpFox doesn't have those features in the main package and doesn't offer them as add-ons as well. I think that this is a big disadvantage. Now let’s test drive phpFox for this community software review.

  • Design/layout.
  • phpFox uses a simple CSS based template, pretty few graphical files:   The homepage has 3 Ad Spaces (top, middle right and bottom) which will let you post banners there and earn with them. However the ADS can be in code only. No possibility to add graphical ads, in case you're not familiar with HTML. I wish they had a liquid layout. Don't like the layouts for 800x600 resolution only. A lot of empty space if you're using, for example, 1024x768 resolution. What’s the use of “Login” link here if there is already a login form on the homepage of the web-site?: Why is the Username field larger than Password? Those are minor things but they affect the full view of the software and the level of its implementation.  

  • Registration process.
  • Let's register at phpFox demo site and see how it works. Nothing extraordinary at the registration process. Everything is OK here: Just one note. Would be better to load the list of the cities in the chosen country. phpFox already uses AJAX at the registration process (checks the username availability). Think they could add the city loading too.   The look of the site after logging in: Not bad, there are even hints for the menu items. OK. Let this community software review continue.

  • Admin Control Panel
  •   Admin panel of phpFox has the following look:   The index page shows full statistics of regisred users, uploaded media content and even voted forums. Through admin CP you are able to manage the existing pages and menu items and add new pages with menu items. Pretty comfortable and well performed. Also you can add custom table fields – textarea or dropdown. It’s a pity that it isn’t possible to add checkboxes or radiobuttons. A grammatically incorrect statement: There are (0) messages in your inbox
    There are (1) messages in your inbox It is possible to show different statements depending on the quantity of messages in the inbox.

  • Custom modules and designs.
  • There is a part on phpFox web-site where you can purchase additional mods for your site or templates. However the company doesn't offer custom design development services. This could be a problem for you if you want to have a unique site and aren't familiar with programming. Here what I got when I went to the Custom Design section of the web-site: The most part of the modules which are being sold are created by the customers, not by phpFox. That's why those mods come without any warranty or support from the end of phpFox.

  • Support.
  • phpFox provides its customers with 6 month technical help and support. Will have to pay 49,95 USD to extend the support and updates for 6 months. The most concerning thing with phpFox is the support. There is no live support chat availalbe on the web-site, just a ticketing system. Support is available Monday-Friday. What should a customer do when some features in his site stop working Friday evening? Wait till Monday mornig and lose prospective users? Support is the most important thing for open source solutions of such kind. Even any simple change of the server configuration will cause problems which should be fixed by programmers. It's a pity when your site stops working and there's nobody to fix it, when you've paid for that support.  

    In this community software review I've tried to show phpFox in facts. Just information taken from the web-site of phpFox and the demo site. I think that phpFox should have a more colorful and more professional design. Also the customers will need custom templates which they can't get at the moment – the web-site of the company shows that the service us unavailable. It is not clear how the software works with the license files. phpFox says that the source is fully open, but doesn't say how the source can work with license files if everything is open. This can be confusing. Some very popular community features, like videochat and phone are not available in this solution. This is the end of phpFox review.  

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