This is a guide for Vanilla with our free Wordpress plugin.
The Vanilla Forums WordPress plugin
First, you’ll need the free Vanilla Forums plugin for WordPress.
After downloading the plugin, installation is easy. Just follow these steps:
- Upload the vanilla-forums folder to /wp-content/plugins/
- Activate the plugin through the Plugins menu in WordPress
After the installation, the Vanilla Forum option will be in your WordPress admin menu:
Let’s learn about the various features.
Setting up your WordPress plugin
The first thing to do is “validate” your community. This allows our WordPress plugin to access your community’s data to use with widgets (more on widgets in a moment).
To start the setup, go to the menu item in the plugin:
Now add your community URL and press validate:
If you have an issue here, it’s related to where you host your WordPress install. The following checklist addresses some common causes of this error:
- The forum is not actually located at the url you used. Recheck the address.
- The DNS isn’t updated.
- You pointed at an embedded page instead of the actual forum.
- Does the PHP have cURL enabled? Just having cURL isn’t enough. It needs to be in the copy of php actually running web requests. If you’re not sure, contact your WordPress host.
- Did you modify the template improperly? It’s possible that cURL can’t process the pages.
Still having trouble? No worries. If you can’t solve the error it won’t impact your ability to use the plugin. It just means you can’t use the widgets included in the Vanilla Forums plugin.
But if you still run into issues and know your WordPress host is not the cause, contact our support team or your dedicated Customer Success Manager for one-on-one assistance.
Using Vanilla Comments
“Comments” are the most common integration on any website, which is why WordPress offers a basic tool for commenting, out-of-the-box.
There are also many companies that offer somewhat customizable solutions, such as Disqus. But beware the fine print. The customer data is not owned by you, and your visitors are being subjected to advertising, potentially about your competitor's products.
Vanilla takes a different approach. All our plans offer a commenting solution, but it also integrates with your existing community and login system.
What does that mean? It means that when a visitor adds a comment to a blog post or any other piece of content, it not only appears on your WordPress site. Our robust plugin also creates a corresponding discussion in your Vanilla community in the category of your choice.
Here’s an example:
Ready to claim the same for your blog and community? Then follow these next steps.
In your Vanilla dashboard, go to the technical section. Here you’ll see “Embedding”. Toggle the setting to “on”.
Next, let’s enable this functionality on your WordPress site. Once you’ve uploaded and enabled our plugin, select “Comment Integration” from the Vanilla Forum menu.
You’ll be presented with following screen. Go ahead and make modifications as you like. Maybe you’d like to create a “Blog Comments” category in your community, or match your blog and community categories. Just make sure you spell them the same way.
That’s it! Now your blog visitors can comment on either your blog or community and the content will show up in both places.
Note: The comment plugin will not work with private communities. Are you using WordPress for your blog, or do you need to move to a different system? Don’t fret. You can use our Universal Embed Comment code. Learn more here.
Using Vanilla WordPress widgets
As soon as you complete the setup and validate your community address, a few Vanilla tools become available in your WordPress Widget menu:
Vanilla Discussions widget
- This widget displays recent discussions in your Vanilla Forum on your WordPress site.
- This widget displays recent activity in your Vanilla forum, like user registrations or status updates.
Vanilla Activity widget
- This widget displays a list of users who’ve recently been active on your Vanilla forum.
- You can define how many discussions to show and filter specific discussion categories.
Vanilla Users widget
- You can define how many activities to show and filter activities from users in specific roles, like administrator activity, for example.
- You can define how many users to show.
These out-of-the-box widgets read information from your Vanilla community and adds it to various areas on your WordPress site, wherever the widgets are enabled.
Note : these widgets only work with publicly-accessible Vanilla communities.
Vanilla & WordPress Single Sign-On
The most powerful way to use Vanilla’s Wordpress plugin is with the Single Sign-On option.
This allows you to connect WordPress membership levels to content in the community. You can even use it to charge users for access to both WordPress and Vanilla Forum content by simply sharing membership connections between the two systems.
Getting started with SSO
To setup SSO, click the Single Sign-On menu item to get to the following screen. Now copy the values in these fields into the SSO settings on your Vanilla jsConnect configuration page.
- Enable: If you check this, users to your Vanilla Forum will sign in through your WordPress login page.
- Secret: Click “Generate” to create a secret key.
- Client ID: This is can be any numeric value or text value you set. Make sure it has no spaces or non-alphanumeric characters. Use dashes (-) to separate words.
- Other Information for Vanilla: These are values generated automatically by WordPress that you must copy to your Vanilla install. This information lets Vanilla know how to process your members.
Getting information from jsConnect
Keeping WordPress open, login into your Vanilla Forum dashboard in another tab or window. In the Membership menu group, click the dashboard menu item “jsConnect”. Click “Add Connection”.
The first step on the jsConnect screen is to enter the ClientID and Secret from your WordPress install into the appropriate fields.
Now copy the URL values from the backend of your WordPress install and paste them into your Vanilla Forum jsConnect configuration form. These are the:
- Authentication URL
- Sign-In URL
- Registration URL
- Leave the Sign-Out URL blank
You’re almost done. Here are some additional options to consider in your Vanilla Forums backend:
- “This is trusted connection and can sync roles & permissions”
- This setting ensures that roles and permissions sync properly between the two systems. To make this work, you need to confirm that the WordPress and Vanilla username groups are the same.
- For example, in WordPress you may have Author or Subscriber roles. You should create these user groups in your Vanilla install as well. You can do this by clicking on “Roles & Permissions” in the Vanilla Forums backend and then on “add role”.
- Note: Any user created in the forum prior to jsconnect will not be synced.
- “Make this connection your default signin method”
- This setting forces people signing into your Vanilla Forum to go through your WordPress login screen. Check this so the SSO can work as intended through your WordPress login page.
- Advanced section
- This allows you to control the hash method and test the connection to ensure it’s working.
Changing the Registration Type
The final step is to change the way users register with your site. To do this, go to the User menu in the dashboard and select “registration”. If you’re using SSO, change the method to the “Connect” option.
We’ve left this setting for last because it’s only necessary if you choose to embed your Vanilla community in a WordPress page.
While we do offer it as an option, we strongly suggest that you send people directly to the subdomain of your community instead, by adding a link to your WordPress menu navigation.
Why? Mostly because it’s better for your SEO. You do like having good SEO, right? Then don’t embed it, if you can avoid it.
Transition to Vanilla Comments
Vanilla doesn’t have access to your WordPress comments, so simply turning off WP’s comments and turning on Vanilla’s would hide all your existing comments. There are 3 ways to go about remedying this.
The first is to import all your WordPress comments to Vanilla. You will need need the XML export from your WordPress Dashboard to do this. VanillaForums.com clients may request this as an additional service via support or their sales representative.
The second is to edit your WordPress template manually to show WordPress comments on posts published before the date of your switchover, and Vanilla comments after the date of your switchover. This would require some elementary PHP. “ The third option is to disable all new WordPress commenting, and manually add Vanilla Comments embed code in the template after WordPress. You’d also want to remove WordPress’s “empty state” message for when there are no comments. This would have the effect of showing all old WordPress comments, followed by any new Vanilla comments, and then the Vanilla commenting box. Obviously this option is a little more complex, so I’d only do it if your comfort level with WordPress template editing is fairly high.
Vanilla Forums blog