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[Product] How to use Vanilla Forums with WordPress

Posted by Adrian Speyer on Nov 19, 2013 12:31:41 PM
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WordPress is leading the CMS world, but one thing it lacks is a great way for users to interact over the content you have diligently created. Vanilla Forums offers a solution which not only integrates comments with your community, but makes it possible to embed your community right in your WordPress blog or WordPress site. The following is a guide on how to get started.

Getting The WordPress Plugin

Vanilla Forums has created a free plugin for WordPress.org users. You can download it here. To install the plugin use the following steps:

  1. Upload the vanilla-forums folder to /wp-content/plugins/
  2. Activate the plugin through the 'Plugins' menu in WordPress
  3. Configure the plugin in the WordPress Settings > Vanilla Forum menu

Once installed, you will see the following in your WordPress install

wordpress_menu

Setting Up The Vanilla Plugin For WordPress

To prepare Vanilla Forums for embed, on your WordPress site, fill in the URL for your forum and click save:

validate_vanilla

If you run into issues such as getting the following error: "Couldn't find a Vanilla Forum at this url :/", the issue is most probably related to your WordPress host. The following checklist will help address the common issues for this error:

  1. Forum is actually not at the url you used (recheck the address)
  2. DNS isn't updated
  3. You pointed at an embedded page instead of the actual forum
  4. Does PHP have cURL enabled? (just *having* cURL isn't enough, it needs to be in the copy of php actually running web requests). Not sure contact the host of your WordPress site.
  5. Did you modify the template improperly? It's possible that cURL can't process the pages.

Please note, if you cannot solve the error this will not impact your ability to embed. This means you can't use the widgets included in the Vanilla Forums plugin (which we will go into more detail below).

Embedding Your Forum in WordPress Page

The next step is forum integration.

forum_integarate_menu_steps

The forum page in WordPress is the page in WordPress that you will need to create to place your embedded forum. The forum <embed> code, is what you need to add to this newly created page. So in this case, we have created a page called "forum" in our WordPress Blog and added the embed code with the "text tab". It will like the following:

wordpress_texttab

Once you have clicked save,  head over to your Vanilla Forums Dashboard to complete the process.

Activating Embed in Vanilla Forums Dashboard

You can read detailed steps of Embedding Vanilla Forums on Your Website, but here is a quick checklist to get you started fast:

  • Make sure you are using an embed friendly theme
  • Enable embedding in the Vanilla Forums dashboard under the Forum > Embed Forum
  • Consider looking at advanced settings to allow embedding of your forum only on your WordPress website.

Other features of the Vanilla WordPress Plugin:

The plugin does more than Embed a forum on WordPress site, so lets quickly cover those other features that are available:

Vanilla Forums Comment Integration

Vanilla Forums can replace the default WordPress comment system. This can be used with or without the embed function.

Comment_Integration_WordPress

One of the great features of this plugin is that Vanilla will also create new discussions on any blog post that generates comments, so drives traffic to your forum and your forum can drive traffic to the blog. (You can also see an example working on this blog and our support forum, if you leave a comment).

Widgets

When you enable the plugin, there are also a number of WordPress Widgets that will become available for use in your WordPress site.

widgets_vanilla

Single Sign-On (SSO)

If your WordPress site has a membership component and you want users to share these credentials, the Vanilla Forums plugin lets you connect with Single Sign-on. You can access this from the Single Sign-On tab, which will give you the following screen.

Single_Sign-on_WordPress

For complete documentation on making the connections check out WordPress and Vanilla Forums using SSO.

We hope you found this guide handy and in return you rate us on the plugin page at WordPress.org.

Vanilla Forums offers a cloud based solution that can fully integrate into your WordPress.org website. Try Vanilla Forums Cloud Solution for free for 30-days.

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