| December 14, 2010 2:12 am

Roman Forum

Note: Still working on the book.

For quite some time, I’ve wanted to add forums to my website.  Forums are great way to interact with your readership or to provide community support for projects.  (This is particularly important for me as I get ready to release a new version of Time Drive and an alpha of LyX-Outline.)

Every time I try to find the perfect forums software, though, I usually come away somewhat disillusioned.

This isn’t because there aren’t great platforms out there, or that they are difficult to install and administrate.  Quite the contrary, actually.  The problem is that most of the forum plugins available for WordPress (the content management system that runs my site) are ugly.

I know that design aesthetics are a personal thing.   I also know that one person’s trash is another person’s art.  But for a quasi-business website, I would like to have professional looking and attractive forums.  I want them to match the appearance of my website, I would like the headers and backgrounds to use my stylesheet, and it would be nice if the visual hierarchy were established via typography.

Are these such unrealistic desires?

Every time I look, though, I fail to find a forum plugin that meets my needs and satisfies my tastes.  There are some that come close, but as math instructors have told me since grade school, “Close is still wrong.”  Life usually doesn’t offer partial credit.

This last round, I got so frustrated that I decided to create a somewhat custom solution. (Action born of frustration is becoming a theme in my work.)  Truly, if you want something that matches your vision, you really need to do it yourself.  And I have.  After a month of work, you can find my now-functioning forums at www.oak-tree.us/mingle-forum.

For those too lazy to click on the link, here’s a preview.

Oak-Tree.us Forums

Oak-Tree.us Forums - Grid

While there are several goodies lurking below the surface, here are the most important features:

  • The forum is a stand-alone plugin for WordPress.
  • The user database is integrated with the website database.  (This means that when people are registered for the website, they are also registered for the forums.)
  • There is a notification system.  Users receive an email (or RSS item) when a response to one of their threads is posted.
  • The administration panel integrates with the WordPress dashboard.
  • The stylesheet uses the website headings and typographical hierarchy.
  • The plugin allows skins.

Most of these features come from forking Mingle forums, a WordPress plugin.  But there are also some significant changes to the way in which the forum integrates with the website and a completely rewritten/designed the header and footer.  (In the case of the footer, I simply got rid of it.)

In the near future, I’m going to make a few additional changes.  I’d like for the plugin to use a WordPress template instead of hard coding the layout.  I’d also like to add a preferences pane.  In the meantime, though, I thought I would post the files in the hope that they are useful.  Enjoy!

The project is licensed under the GPL.

Downloads

Somewhat Simple Forums (version 0.1).  WordPress plugin forked from Mingle forums.  In includes several typographical enhancements.

Installation

To install:

  1. Download the archive file.
  2. Go to Plugins > New > Upload.  From there, find the .zip file on your hard drive and upload to your server.
  3. Activate the plugin.

After the plugin has been activated:

  1. Create a new page for your forum.
  2. Turn the comments off.
  3. Paste the command [mingleforum] onto the page.
  4. Add categories and forums to the database.

Comments

One Response to “Somewhat Simple Forums (A Mingle Forums Fork)”

Wedding Invitations wrote a comment on March 2, 2016

Excellent site full of information thank you.

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