A guestbook allows visitors to your site to make a comment about the site and have it appear immediately to any other visitors to your site. Some guestbooks provide a number of questions that visitors can answer so that you can get more specific feedback. A guestmap is a guestbook that asks the question where your visitor is located and allows them to answer graphically by placing a marker of some sort on a map.
A number of sites offer free guestbooks (and in some cases guestmaps) that you can link to your site. These "free" services are hosted on the site that provides the service and the opportunity to integrate the service into your site is limited. Also they are not really free but are paid for by the display of advertising where the revenue from the advertising goes to the service provider and not to you. In some cases you can pay to have the ads removed and to obtain the ability to customize the appearance to more closely match your site but the service itself is still externally hosted on the service providers computer.
If this is all that you need then I recommend that you visit Bravenet and check out the services there. They have both free and paid versions of both guestbooks and guestmaps as well as numerous other similar services that you can link to from your site. I used many of the Bravenet services on this site before I developed my own versions.
If you prefer a guestmap/guestbook that you can run directly on your own site then the one used on this site might meet your needs. The following sections describe how my guestmap works, what you need on your server to be able to run it, and how to configure the script to blend it into your site.
If you click on the guestmap entry in the navigation bar of this site then what you will see depends on which browser you are using.
If you are using a modern browser then clicking on the link will open a new browser window displaying the guestmap where you can scroll to find your current location on the map, click on your location, and place a coloured marker there with your name and a short comment that will be subsequently displayed in a tooltip. If you then scroll back to the top left corner and click on the close link there then that window will close and the guestbook will be displayed in your original browser window complete with a copy of the entry you just added to the guestmap. Email and website links will also be displayed if you entered those details.
If you are using an earlier version of Netscape or Opera then you will get a message saying that your browser doesn't support the guestmap and the guestbook will be displayed.
The guestbook itself is fairly simple and there are much more involved ones available from elsewhere on the internet but I haven't come across any that combine both a guestbook and guestmap into one where any visitor to the site (regardless of which browser they are using) can leave a message.
The guestmap also has an admin function that allows me to modify or delete any entries as necessary.
To be able to use this script you should first Check the Server to ensure that your host supports PHP.
You also need to have support for mySQL as the script uses a database table to store all of the entries that your visitors make. To check this simply check the phpinfo report to find the mySQL entries on the report.
The guestmap can be configured to blend into your site by updating a few values in the config.php file and by placing a copy of your standard template code into head.php, top.php, and bottom.php.
The config file initializes the following fields:
Add any code to be included at the top of the pages that is required to customise the appearance of the pages to match your site to top.php and any code to be included at the bottom of the pages that is required to customise the appearance of the pages to match your site to bottom.php. You can also use guestcnt.php to add any cities that you require on your map.
Install all files onto your server. Those files contained in the img and inc sub-directories should be installed to corresponding sub-directories on the server.
Load the instmap.php page into your browser to create the guestmap table in your database. This file should be deleted after the page has been viewed.
Finally, you can update other pages on your site to link to the guestmap and guestbook. The guest.php file contains code fragments that you can use to do this. There is also code that you can use to provide a link to the admin page. The newwin.js script should be placed in the head section of the page containing the link in order for the map links to work. A choice of image, plain text, image and text, or form button links can be easily created from the supplied code.
Unfortunately, I have to try to fund the running of this web site somehow and so I have decided to charge a nominal amount for server side scripts such as this one. Use the following form to purchase the Felgall Guestmap/Guestbook PHP/mySQL script for just $16.20 USD (Australian residents price is $16.50 AUD including GST). All purchases include 12 months free support including all updates to the script released during that time. If you have a valid discount code then enter it to purchase this script at an even lower price otherwise just leave the discount field blank, select the currency to make your payment and then press the buy now button. The script will be automatically emailed to you as soon as Paypal verifies your payment.
Before you purchase this script you should reread the above information to ensure that the script will work on your server. If you cancel at any point during the payment process, you will be returned to this page.
Please make sure that the email account that you supply to Paypal will accept emails with attached zip files from addresses at felgall.com as otherwise your spam filtering may delete your purchase.
This article written by Stephen Chapman, Felgall Pty Ltd.