I looked over a handful of forum programs and bbPress is definitely the cat’s ass. Not only is it well thought out, but there are plugins and themes available just like WordPress.
The actual installation is fairly easy. You’ll copy the bbPress files to the server, enter some info on a config page, then activate the plugins and pick a theme. Sound familiar?
You’ll need to enter the three pieces of info in the WP config file, so open it up or your SiteStats file.
Unzip the file. Go to your site with FileZilla. Open the ‘wp-content’ folder. Copy the "bbpress" folder to the folder.
To set it up, put the address to the bbPress folder in the browser. It should read something like:
When it gets to the setup page:
- The three snippets of info are the three tidbits that went into the top part of the config file. They should also be in your SiteStats file. Carefully paste the three bits into the form. Click on ‘Save database’.
If you don’t have ‘Subscribers’ on your site (that is, anyone can leave comments), you can skip this step.
This step will combine the user databases of your blog site and the forum. If you’re having people register with your blog site before leaving comments, all of them will automatically be members of the forum, using their same password. Conversely, when someone registers with the forum, they’ll automatically be part of the blog site’s user list.
Note: bbPress has a setting where you can tell it what status equals what, like "Admin" equals "Keymaster" and "Subscriber" equals "Member", but it doesn’t work in reverse. So if someone registers with the forum, they’ll be in the blog’s database but their status will be ‘None’ until you bump it up to ‘Subscriber’. There might be a plugin out there that’ll do what bbPress does and automatically give them a specific status.
To integrate the two:
- Click on ‘Add integration settings’ and then ‘Add user database…’
- Click on ‘Save WordPress…’, ‘Go to Step 3′
- Put in the name of the forum. This will probably display in the forum’s banner. You can change it later.
- In the ‘Key Master’ box, if it linked up correctly with the WP database, there should be a drop-down menu to select from. Otherwise, just slap in your forum name.
- Put something like ‘General Talk’ in the bottom box. It just wants a new forum created to get things started with. You can change or delete it later.
Save the settings, then hit the ‘Complete’ button.
If it read your WP user name then it’ll use that password. If you logged in afresh, it’ll generate a password for you. Be sure to paste it in your SiteStats file, along with your forum login name.
Click on the link to go to the forum. Bookmark it for future use. Log in, click on ‘Admin’. This is the main bbPress control panel. Bookmark it for future use.
Click on ‘Forums’. This is how you make main forum topics. If you want them indented from a main forum topic, use the ‘Parent’ menu. You’d also usually make the main forum of one that has indented sub-forums a "category", so people can’t leave comments in it, since it’s a ‘header’, not an actual forum like the sub-forums are.
‘Topics’ is how you manage current topics on the site. Ditto ‘Posts’.
Click on ‘Appearance’ and you should see thumbnails for a handful of themes. Click on a theme, then ‘Visit Site’ at the top of the page to see how it looks in action. There are more themes here.
‘Plugins’ are where the plugins are activated. More on them below.
‘Users’ are the user profiles. If it read the database part correctly, you should see any blog users listed.
‘Tools’ might clear up a few number anomalies down the road.
Click on ‘Settings’.
- The ‘tagline’ may or may not display in the title bar, theme depending.
- Adjust the time zone. Click on ‘Save Changes’ and it’ll refresh the local time displayed on the page.
- Give ‘em 5 minutes to discover some horrendous boo-boo and change it. After that, too bad.
- This might depend on whether the theme puts the Topics before or after the Forums. If they’re before, then 30 entries is going to push the forum section pretty far down the page, so try ’10′. If it’s after the forums and the site’s pretty busy, give it ’50′.
- I’m not sure why pingbacks is off by default. Unless it’s actually a private affair, you would normally want links to be spread around, so flip it on.
- Select ‘Name-based’
- If you’re integrating the two, flip ‘Admin’ to ‘Keymaster’ and ‘Subscriber’ to ‘Member’. Click ‘Save Changes’.
- Further down the page, there are two boxes that need to match two boxes in WordPress’s settings. Open the Dashboard, click on ‘Settings’, then copy & paste the two addresses into the bbPress page. They’ll probably be the same. Click ‘Save Changes’. It’ll probably log you out.
These are included in the bbPress file from this site. Activate the ones you want:
- Akismet — A free spam prevention service, recommended. Click on the link and follow the directions. After it’s activated, an ‘Akismet’ entry will appear in the ‘Settings’ area where you punch in the code they email you.
- BB WYSIWYG Editor — A much better editor
- Human Test — Anti-bot measure during the registration process
- New User Notification — Informs moderator when someone’s registered
- Open In New Window — Opens link in new browser window
- Terms Of Service — A block of text displaying at the bottom of the registration page
- Yearlong Cookies — Apparently there’s some time expiration on cookies (which remember the user’s password) so this extends it
More info on bbPress plugins here.
Images In Comments
If you want to allow the users to post images in their comments, read this.
Linking To The Forum
Assuming you’d rather have the ‘Forum’ link in the sidebar be in the ‘Pages’ section, rather than ‘Blogroll’ or ‘Links’, you’ll want to install the Page Links To plugin.
Whether it opens in a new window or stays in the same is determined by a setting on the ‘Forum’ page you’ll create. It’s part of the ‘Page Links To’ code down at the bottom of the editor. Since it’ll be going to a whole different design, it might be better to have it open in its own window.
These can be tweaked just like WP themes, but the hitch is that there’s no nice Theme Editor in play so you’ll have to (1) use FileZilla and Notepad, and (2) have to rely on Super Finder a lot more than with WP because half of the tweaks will be in the theme files and the other half will be bbPress files. So you’ll need a good search program to sniff out the line you’re looking for.
If something bizarre happens, the first thing you should do is go to ‘Appearances’ and select the default ‘Kakumei’ theme. If that doesn’t fix it, deactivate all of the plugins.
If you’re still having the problem, next up might be to go to the bbPress home site, download the latest version, then upload it to a "forum2" folder (or temporarily rename your original one to something else), then do the install routine again. That’ll give you a ‘pure’ system for your test bed.
If that doesn’t work, it’s time to skedaddle off to the bbPress forum.
Odds & Ends
If you don’t like that "Keymaster" word next to your name in the forum and would rather it say the usual ‘Admin’ or ‘Moderator’, open the ‘functions.bb-capabilities.php’ file in the ‘bb-includes’ folder, search for the "keymaster’, __(‘Keymaster‘)" line and change it.