Hicknhack Students Forum

When I started studying in 1998, we had the opportunity to get bonus point for solving math homework. We started collaborating with each other and soon realized that our faculty does not provide an online platform to do this. The Forum was supposed to change that fact. It is still online attracts over 1000 visitors every day.


In 2000, after my civil service, my friend "aprok" and I started to create the web forum. We promoted it really hard and now it is the most used forum for computer science students, with 100 to 300 messages each day. During exam preparation periods, you can get answers to your questions in minutes.
The initial version was written in Perl and used text files to store the posted messages. Before publishing I rewrote it, to use additional summary files to enhance speed and also introduced a simple custom server page generation language. Even though the computer science faculty had a good fileserver for that time, the response time suffered from the large amount of file accesses.
The final version now uses an Apache webserver plugin. The plugin converts all incoming requests into an xml structure and runs some XSL-transformations to generate the final xhtml page. The xslt processor (libxslt) is expanded to allow Mysql database access.


Summer 2000 The name "HicknHack" was found. The first forum experiments were conducted. aprok wrote an initial version, messages could be posted, but it did not reach production quality.
Oct. 2000 Finally the first version was published. It contained mainly static pages with relevant links for each course of the 1st and 3rd semester, a timetable and the forum.
You can still take a look at the forum messages from that time.
Dec. 2000 The first time the end of the forum project was announced. But even after fatal prediction the forum took up more and more momentum. We started to promote the forum in before every lecture, we had a support forum running.
Mar. 2001 The redevelopment started. Someone who called himself cbguy wrote some nice mockups for a new design. This layout was further refined by ead and finally used for the new forum.
Oct. 2001 The project reached a stable stage and the new forum was released to the public. (See this forum message) The new system got some minor additions over time, but the overall user experience remained until today.
All plans to expand the system as a central platform for all students of the computer science students in Dresden failed, as we never got more support than being tolerated by the authorities.
July 2004 I installed and skinned a MediaWiki system to better support mathematical expressions and conserve more long time information. See this message for the introduction of the TudWiki.