Tips For Upgrading SimplePress Forum For WordPress Correctly

In a recent article here at WP-Blogger, I wrote about the importance of building community and finding a simple solution for integrating a (free) forum on your WordPress site.

Simple:Press Forum was the easiest and also best realized solution to this problem. But now with WordPress version 2.8 looming, some necessary updates had to be made to the plugin, if you can call it that – I think I would rather call it a suite for all that it accomplishes so seamlessly within a WordPress installation. Here are the installation and upgrade instructions depending on your situation.

There is also an important notice at the end of these instructions for those upgrading that handles a small bug in the installation process in some cases.  Please be sure to read this before performing your upgrade.

Also, please be sure to back up your database before performing any of the following actions.  One way to do this is right at your cpanel level, another more efficient way to do this right from within WordPress is to install and use the WP-DBManager.  If you don’t and things go wrong, it’s not my fault, and I can’t help you.

Having said that, the procedure is fairly straightforward and relatively bulletproof; I performed this install and/or upgrade on at least six sites and had no problems.

First Time Installation of SimplePress Forum On Your WordPress Site

UPLOAD: Upload the plugin to your WordPress ‘plugins’ folder. Simple:Press Forum must reside in a folder named ‘simple-forum’ directly inside the ‘plugins’ folder. WordPress 2.7 and 2.8 users may be able to use the automated zip file upload from within the ‘Plugins – Add New’ page. If not, use a standard FTP client for the upload.

ACTIVATE: Once fully uploaded, Simple:Press Forum should appear on your WordPress Plugins page listing. Click on the ‘Activate’ link on the Simple:Press Forum entry.

INSTALL: Unlike most plugins, Simple:Press Forum is not installed when activated. A new ‘Install’ link will appear against the plugin entry – or you can select ‘Install’ from the new Forum menu. Select ‘Install’ to load the Simple:Press Forum installer and click on the start button.

Upgrading From Versions 4.0.0/4.0.1/4.0.2

DEACTIVATE: If you are upgrading from version 4.0.x there is no need to remove the old Simple:Press Forum files or folder unless you plan to use the WordPress 2.7 or 2.8 automated plugin zip file uploader – this tool requires the old files to be removed first. If not using this tool then start by deactivating Version 4.0.x which will prevent users from seeing errors while the new plugin files are being installed.

UPLOAD – ACTIVATE – UPGRADE: Follow the instruction for a ‘First Install’ above. Note however, that the menu item will now be labelled ‘Upgrade’ and not ‘Install’.  Click this button and on the following page, confirm you want to perform the upgrade.  If everything goes as planned you see a pop-up window confirming this that also inludes some notes on the latest revisions.  You can click X to close this window and go back to choosing options for your forum.

If you see an error message appear across the top of your page, read the Important Note below to fix it.  It takes just a second.

Upgrading From Versions 3.X.X

Begin by removing all of the old plugin files. If you are upgrading from ANY version older than 4.0.0 then it is necessary to first remove ALL of the old plugin files. After doing this, follow the instructions above for an Upgrade.

 

IMPORTANT NOTE:

If you perform the upgrade and see a scary line of code appear at the top of your pages talking about an error finding this or the other, it isn’t your mistake.  It is a known bug discovered after the release of this upgrade that appears in some instanced.  To fix it, simply go to your Admin panel, go to the Forum section that now exists as a result of your SimplePress installation, and be sure you are under the  Manage Options section.  This should bring you, by default to the Global settings (if not, the click the Global Tab.)

In the section on the left labelled  WP Admin Pages Access make sure there is an ‘X’ beside the option titled “Block User Access to WP Admin Pages.”  Make sure to click the Update All Options button at the bottom right of this page.

You may see the error one more time, but after that it will be corrected.

Visit the downloads page for Simple:Press Forum for WP to get the files.

About the Author:
Keram is a new media consultant, music producer, actor and writer who opines on SEO at blogging-fool.com and society at theculturepin.com.

Using SimplePress As A One-Stop Community Builder For WordPress

Even as I write this the good people at Automattic are announcing a much-touted integration with Buddypress – a social networking plugin/addon for WordPress.  For a long while I have studied and experimented with transforming WordPress into a full-blown CMS like my much-beloved PHPNuke (now abandoned by its orginal creators) portal at freedom.constantchange.com The Name of the Rose movie full

but the solutions have been daunting or piecemeal.

There are countless articles written about how to integrate a forum into your WordPress blog, some which require WordPress MultiUser (WPMU) some that sort of work but don’t hook in well enough to the existing user base or require extensive modding and hacking to make it feel that way.

Some sites, including the famous power blogger Darren Rowse’s Digital Photography School blog use vBulletin, beautifully integrated by power-designers like Matt Brett Transsiberian video .  But vBulletin costs a grip of cash.

So after testing out a wide variety of forum solutions for WordPress, I finally stumbled upon an easy to install, free and perfectly useful plugin that sets up a phpbb style forum that hooks right in to your site’s existing registered user base and seems, by all appearances and my experiences thus far, to work beautifully.

That solution is Simple:Press.

To get it going, simply do a search for Simplepress from your Admin->Plugins->Add new search line, click install and you are good to go.

Almost.

Once the plugin has installed, you will see a new section in your Admin panel called “Forum”.  At the bottom it will offer you the option to install (again).  Click this and it will perform an extensive database update wherein it populated your databases with all the necessary tables for your new forums.

One of the beautiful things about Simple:Press is that it creates a new page for your Forums automatically.  It also creates a new field in your Posts pages so that any post can be turned into a forum topic.  Nice.

Once installed, you will want to go to your new Forum Admin section and start tweaking things to your liking.  This is actually quite important as the display, function and dynamic of your forums can be changed dramatically (and success or fail) based on your configuration.

Also take note of the Style tab where you can choose from a variety of pre-packaged color and design schemes, one of which will likely blend in with your site quite nicely.  Of course all of this can be further customized with some more advanced under-the-hood tweaking.

After working with the configuration, you will have to create the forums themselves.  This starts with creating a Group which is the top-level category, and then subsequently, the Forum itself.  A little planning is in order here, especially if you have never managed a forum.  The tendency is to make too many groups covering topics that should in fact be forums or even simply topics.

So if you think of Russian Dolls where a small version fits into a larger version, the Group is the top level, for example “General” then the Forums can be broken down into sub-categories like “Food,” “Entertainment,” “Tech,” and then you or your readers will create topics below those:

General->Food->Reviews G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra divx

Forums are an excellent way to build a community in and around you blog and keep people coming back for more.

One of the most important things to realize, however, when you build a successful community around you blog is that you are also building a brand, and that once that brand is being used by the public, it belongs to them as much as much as it does to you and with that comes greater responsibility.

For now, rest assured that Simple:Press is an easy and effective way to keep the conversation going at your blog into the wee hours, to nurture new relationships and to transform WordPress into a truly useful content management system, and more importantly, a community.

Download Simple:Press Forum for WordPress now.

About the Author:
Keram is a new media consultant, music producer, actor and writer who opines on SEO at blogging-fool.com and society at theculturepin.com.  Listen to his podcast at KeramCast.com