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SimpleReviewer - PHP Scripts for Categorized Reviews

A set of PHP scripts which create a web interface for entering a categorized list of articles. This can be used to create a database of "reviews", for example, restaurant reviews of restaurants where you live.

Download the SimpleReviewer ZIP Archive.


I've had several instances where I wanted to create a database of articles and then publish them on-line. For example, I want to do a "listener's guide" to modern music composers. Or a restaurant guide to Annapolis. Or a neighborhood guide to the St. Marks (NYC) neighborhood.

But in order to do it right, my articles (or reviews) should be sorted into a nice set of categorized lists (for example, restaurants -> chinese, italian, american, fancy, etc.) and this was always complicated. Doing it in HTML took forever and was a pain to maintain. And nothing on the web seemed to do what I wanted - they were either to simple (like a blog) or too complicated.

So, welcome to SimpleReviewer! It's really easy to install, and then once installed you can add new articles with just a few clicks. And it comes with a couple of nice features: you can easily create hierarchically categorized lists, and you can also reorder your reviews and categories. And all of this can be done through a simple web interface.

See an example of SimpleReviewer in action at http://www.pnelsoncomposer.com/guides/annapolis.


Installation is in five parts:

  1. Decompress the files from the ZIP archive. You should have a SimpleReviewer folder which contains myguide (a subfolder that holds all of the software), TableDefinitions.sql (for creating the tables in your mysql database), and a README.txt file.

  2. Move the myguide folder into your web directory, somewhere (you may rename it if you wish)

  3. Create MD5 signatures for your two passwords. The first should be an internal password (used internally for cookie encryption and validation), and the second should be the login password for anyone who wants to edit your reviews... including you.

    Note: If you want to skip this step (until later), you can use the default login password (which is "test"), and just skip to next step.

    To create an MD5 signature, execute the "md5.php" script in your browser:


    The script will prompt you to enter a password. Enter something and clock on Submit. The MD5 signature will be displayed. Write this down (or cut and paste it somewhere).

    Do this twice, once for the internal password, and once for the login password. You will need these MD5 signatures when you modify the "settings.php" file.

  4. Open the settings.php file and modify it for your particular database and system requirements.

    The "settings.php" file contains parameters for database server, user, and password, as well as textual items such as the title of your guide (various forms), and the initial introductory text.

    Documentation of the specific setting values can be found in the "settings.php" file itself.

  5. Create the tables.

    In order to create the tables, you will need to open up the mysql administration tool, for example using a tool such as "phpmyadmin". And then you will need to execute the SQL which is contained in the "TableDefinitions.sql" file.

    In phpmyadmin, this can be done with the following steps:

    1. Open up phpmyadmin for your database server
    2. Click on "Databases"
    3. Click on the name of the database where you wish to store all of the information for your guide.
    4. Click on "SQL"
    5. Cut and paste the SQL from "TableDefinitions.sql" into the SQL box provided.
    6. Click on "Go".
After you have completed the four parts, you should be able to browse to "myguide" in your web browser, as in:


Find the [login] button (in the categories frame on the left), login using the login password you created above, and then start creating categories and articles!

Modifying SimpleReviewer for your own "look and feel"

If you want to modify how SimpleReviewer renders HTML pages, there are really only four files to edit:

HomeReview.php - The initial category page displayed when first opening up the guide.

ShowCat.php - Displays all of the contents of a category, including its subcategories and reviews.

functions.php - Contains many utility functions needed by SimpleReviewer. The only function you should need to modify is show_child_cats(), which displays the list of sub-categories inside the ShowCat.php and HomeReview.php files.

Categories.php - Displays the hierarchy of categories in the leftmost frame.

All of the other files are used for various editing functions and are not shown to end-users.

System Requirements

You will need a web server which can run PHP scripts and has mysql. SimpleReviewer should work with most versions, but has been specifically tested with:


This program and its software is freeware. It can be used by anyone for any purpose whatsoever.

I am, however, posting this software in the hopes that it will drive more traffic to my website. So, if you want to help me out, then please link to http://www.pnelsoncomposer.com. The link to the SimpleReviewer software can be found at: http://www.pnelsoncomposer.com/software/SimpleReviewer.html.

Thanks! Paul