Social Squared by Lightning Tools: Fully featured and Well Done Forums Tool

Written by John Chapman. Posted in Social & Mobile Workplace

review5 (Rating: 5 out of 5)

Social Squared by Lightning Tools is a wonderful product. It is easy to use, manage, setup, and apply updates. I have also had great interactions with their customer service folks and they are top notch. The only con to this product is no built-in SharePoint Search integration. Searching the forums requires the user to go to the Forum and use the search function there, the SharePoint Search indexer does not see the forum content.

However, with that said, the following work-arounds are all viable options to integrating SharePoint search when working with this product:

A) If the forum is on a anonymously-accessible page (not requiring authentication to view the page), you can add that page as a regular Web page to the SharePoint Search content sources rather than as a SharePoint page. This tells the indexer to treat URLs and such like Google would rather than looking for SharePoint content.

B) Create a simple Web part to add to the Search page of your SharePoint site that acts like the Bing or other federated search web parts do. So that when someone searches on the SharePoint Search Center site, you have a web part on the right that displays the search results of the forum in addition to the normal results.

C) Use FAST Search Server and have it index the databases of the forums.

Pros

  • Full featured forums (wysiwyg, email notifications, rss, moderation, etc).
  • SQL storage (doesn't rely on the SharePoint data storage layer, which is a very good thing not to do)
  • Easy to use for all users
  • Easy to moderate and setup forums
  • Easy to setup and apply updates
  • Great customer service from vendor

Bottom Line

Overall, Social Squared by Lightning Tools is the best and most full-featured forum add-on available for SharePoint 2007 and 2010.

Version Reviewed 1.0.0.8 

 
John Chapman
Author: John ChapmanWebsite: http://www.sharepointjohn.com
John is a SharePoint Developer in Denver, Colorado. He develops solutions using SharePoint, ASP.NET, C#, JavaScript, jQuery, SQL, etc., and thrives on the challenge of writing code to overcome the impossible, annoying, or otherwise difficult obstacles.