Using bbPress 2.0

Fancy having a forum on your website? Then bbPress is one of the top choices available for WordPress.

Simply by activating bbPress 2.0, any standard WordPress theme is suddenly capable of having support forums, user profiles, topic tags, and custom topic views. Your users are able to mark topics as favorites to read them later, and can subscribe to be notified via email to topic replies, so they never miss out on the conversation.

bbPress 2.0 comes with Akismet and BuddyPress functionalities baked-in, so if you’re already using either plugin, no additional configuration is required.

It is the official WordPress forum plugin, however documentation is very sparse. While implementing the forum on one of our clients’ sites, I came across a number of resources and tips that I will share with you today.

Installing bbPress

How to install and setup bbPress Forum

bbPress Shortcodes Directory

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lB2Oodx2GJw

Theming bbPress

After installing bbPress, the next step is to start configuring it to display well within your theme. bbPress ships with its own theme, which you will find in ‘wp-content/plugins/bbpress/themes/’.

The forums will by default display on the url www.yoursite.com/forums/. If you prefer having another slug you can change it from the bbPress settings page.

You can also use a page of choice by inserting the forum index shortcode into that page.

You will then have to copy all the files from bbPress theme’s into your own theme. Make sure you don’t overwrite your theme’s functions.php file, but add the functions in bbPress functions.php into the functions.php of your site’s theme.

Installing add-on Plugins

The bbPress plugin doesn’t include everything you need for a full-featured forum. It was designed to be as simple as possible, which follows the WordPress philosophy. As usual, things can be extended as much as you like by adding plugins. Here are a few which I recommend:

  • GD bbPress Attachments
  • bbPress Threaded Replies
  • bbPress Search Widget
  • bbPress No Admin
  • bbPress Moderation
  • Dashboard Forum Activity
  • bbP Signature
  • bbPress Notify
  • bbPress Admin Bar Additions
  • bbPress Digest
  • Search bbPress

Creating new Forums and Topics

Once you’ve got everything in place, you can start creating Forums, and Topics which reside in the Forums. This can be done from the dashboard itself.

Forums

When you create a forum, you can select some forum attributes:

Type (Forum/Category)

Category forums are great for ‘grouping’ a bunch of forums together. Also a category forum cannot contain it’s own posts, hence no ‘add topic’ box to the category forum page.

More info about organising forums can be found in this article from Serverpress.

Status (Open/Closed)

Not much to explain here, the forum can either be open to new posts and topics, or closed and maintained just for reference.

Visibility (Public/Private/Hidden)

When set to public, every site visitor can see the contents of the forum.

When set to private, only registered users can see the contents of the forum.

When set to hidden, no user will see the contents of the forum.

Sticky Topics

When creating a topic as an administrator, you can choose whether a post is Normal, Sticky, or Super Sticky.

Sticky sticks a topic to the top of the forum it belongs in.
Super-sticky sticks a topic to the top of all forums.

Other Helpful Stuff

I recently wanted to moderate new WordPress users when they register, I’ve used the Pie Register plugin for that. I require users to login before being able to use the forum. Once they register, I receive an email with their details and can decide whether to approve them as users or not. With this plugin you can also add custom fields when registering. So apart from letting the users select a user and enter their email, I also used custom fields to ask them for the reason they wish to join the forum. Pie Register is a really neat plugin for doing these customisations.

You can check whether a user is logged in or not using the is_user_logged_in() function, for example”

Styling

For some quick forum styling reference, you can check out the Skeleton responsive theme from Simplethemes, which has inbuilt styling for bbPress, and is really nice.

Links:

http://serverpress.com/news/getting-started-with-bbpress-2-0/

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About Jean Galea

Jean Galea is a WordPress developer, entrepreneur and padel player. He is the founder of WP Mayor, the plugins WP RSS Aggregator and EDD Bookings, as well as the Mastermind.fm podcast. His personal blog can be found at jeangalea.com.

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