Simple:Press Forum Enhancements

Q2A Update

I no longer support or recommend Simple:Press. Please search here for Question2Answer if you want a forum for your hosted WordPress website.

The Simple:Press forum plugin is one of the most comprehensive and customisable plugins available for WordPress.

Is that enough for me?

Oh, no! I have to push just that little bit further.

It started some time ago, when I wanted to include a hyperlink in a forum description. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the HTML held up fine in the forum, and links, bold text and other markups were easy to add.

I was less happy when I went back to the Admin pages to make other changes – the HTML screwed up the Admin display, and could not be edited. However, it could easily be re-typed, or edited directly in the database through phpMyAdmin, so, I left things as they were. For a while.

I was tempted to raise this with the support guys at Simple:Press. They have always been extremely responsive, and their own forum is a fine example of the best in technical support. However, a new version was in the late stages of the release process, so I thought I would wait until after it’s release.

A few days later, I had the bright idea of including some AdSense in the description. I was certain that the Simple:Press forum description was no match for the AdSense javascript code. However, I remembered how I had used the Enzymes plugin in the past to make adding AdSense code to posts very easy.

WordPress Enzymes Plugin

As good as Enzymes is, I find I can do the same things and more with the Pods CMS plugin. See the WordPress Pods Blog for more.

This is a fascinating plugin that allows so many ways of manipulating your content that it deserves (and probably needs) a series of articles to do it justice.

In it’s very simple form, it allows you to store data in standard WordPress Custom Fields and refer to them wherever you want.

I’ll cover Enzymes in more detail later. For the forum description, all you need to do is to store the HTML for your description in a Custom Field, and it is easy to display, and easy to edit.

Simple:Press Forum Description Enhancement

As the forum installs it’s own WordPress page, this is the ideal spot to store the HTML code for the description. If you are not too good at typing in HTML direct, then use the normal WYSIWYG page editor, click the HTML tab, then copy the code into an appropriately named Custom Field. Enzymes can use multiword field names, but I find it much easier to use a simple field name like ForumNameDesc.

On this site I might have FormDesc and FunctionDesc, but almost anything goes. For the moment, I am using plain text descriptions for the forum on this site, so let me show you a real world example using a site I set up this week.

In this case, I wanted an image in the description. This is a group description, but the procedure works exactly the same for a forum description.

With the image uploaded to your site (or the URL to another location), you first edit the forum page, adding a custom field.

WordPress Custom Field

WordPress Custom Field

Note that the image tag is very simple, and would normally include title, alt, height, and width attributes. Also, the image can be combined with other text – in fact anything that you can include on a normal page or post.

Then, in the forums settings use the Enzymes reference code:

Simple:Press Forum Description

Simple:Press Forum Description

I’ll describe Enzymes syntax in another article, but you can see how straightforward this is.

The finished result shows the image in all it’s glory:

Ian Dury Forum

Ian Dury Forum

So that is how easy it is to enhance Simple:Press forum descriptions with images, AdSense, or any other fancy formatting you like.

Just one more thing before I finish…

Final Simple:Press Forum Enhancement

You may have noticed that there is a heading to the forum. This is nothing unusual – Simple:Press forum output is shown on a normal WordPress page, and you can precede it with whatever introductory text you like. Normally, this will include styling from your site theme, but on the forum page, you can borrow styling from the Simple:Press skin. On that page, I used the following code:

Simple:Press Skinned Forum Page Header

Simple:Press Skinned Forum Page Header

If you have any questions about these, or any other, WordPress plugins, please ask in the website support forum.