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Plugin Review: Simple:Press Forum

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January 4th, 2009
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Weekly Plugin Review, WordPress Plugins

We’re kicking of our plugin review process with a feature rich plugin labeled Simple:Press Forum. This was also the first plugin review request that we received.

So what is Simple:Press?

Simple:Press is a feature rich forum plugin for WordPress. It fully integrates into your WP based site utilizing the same user records and database and displaying on a single WP page. It is fully customizable and comes with a number of skins and sets of icons to get your started. Current users have shown it to be fully scalable whether your site membership numbers the tens or the thousands.

Through it’s powerful and flexible permissions system it is suitable for those who wish to run private, specialist forums with invited members but is equally able to accommodate open, public forums that allow guest posting.

Also included is a Private Messaging sub-system, the ability to link blog posts with forum topics, the capability to extend the forum display with custom code, a number of template tags for use outside of the forums, extensive online help that explains every option and full language support.

Features:

  • Fully integrated with WordPress user registrations and logins
  • Creates ‘pretty/SEO friendly’ permalinks
  • Underpinned by a powerful user and permission system
  • Can create private forums
  • Forums can be ‘Members Only’ or can allow for Guests
  • Private Messaging system
  • Admins can allow for post moderation (approval)
  • Built in Search tool
  • Fully customizable skins and icons
  • Most rendering functions are ‘pluggable’
  • Member Profile updating – users can change own passwords
  • Choice of Editors (RTE, HTML, bbCODE)
  • Options Signatures, Signature Image, Avatars, and Rankings
  • A variety of Template Tags – recent posts etc
  • Programmable Hooks for user extension
  • Optional Spam Prevention tools
  • Optional Cookies to track Guests and Members
  • Fully Localized for language support
  • Optional and various RSS feeds and email subscription to topics
  • Various display options to suit your needs and theme
  • An Admin toolset to perform many tasks from within the forum itself
  • Blog Posts and Forum Topics can be linked
  • Support for the Democracy Polls plugin
  • Support for the Gravatars 2 plugin
  • Forum Statistics – including who is online
  • Complete uninstall/removal option
  • Support for the All In One SEO Pack Plugin (Browser title bar)
  • View Admins New Post Queue from ALL views with ‘Quick Reply’
  • Right-to-left language support in the TinyMCE editor
  • Topic Status Tracking
  • Custom Smileys
  • RTE Toolbar Customization
  • Pre-registration Policy display option
  • Post Ratings
  • Add Custom Profile data items
  • ‘Watched’ topics
  • Multiple forum Admins
  • Members List

Demo

A live demo of the forum is the Support Forum for the plugin itself on the developers’ site.

Our Review

Simple:Press forum is a staunch competitor of bbPress. Looking at the features and from the demo, it seems like Simple:Press has a lot more to offer than bbPress.

Installation of the plugin is extremely simple. You install it just like you would any other WordPress plugin. Upload the entire folder (2.2MB) to your plugins folder of your blog and activate the plugin. The forum has an inbuilt installation program.

You can then use the administration interface of the forum to create new forums.

Improvements?

As for the plugin, one feature could be the ability to install it on a separate domain as in the case with bbPress.

Looking beyond the plugin, one thing we advocate is a well kept plugin page. Simple:Press does well in this respect as it has its very own domain and support system.

What I would love to see is a detailed installation page with screenshots. As well as detailed tutorials and documentation on using and customizing the forum.

 

Are you a user of Simple:Press Forum? What has been your experience with the same? Why did you choose this plugin over other full-fledged forums? What features would you like to see added / improved / removed?

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Responses

 

Comments

  1. Michael Duvinak (1 comments.) says:

    I just installed it over the weekend and am still working to set it up. One tip: while I wasn’t exactly happy with the forum being squeezed onto a page with the blog’s sidebar still intact, I did find a page on the plugin’s home page that gives instructions on how to remove the sidebar so the forum stretches out a little more: Creating a WordPress Page Template.

  2. Jomark Osabel (1 comments.) says:

    the plugin works great for my site (on my sig). I still have to update with the latest version though.

  3. fred (1 comments.) says:

    Yuk what an ugly looking forum design!

    • emuturi says:

      I totally agree with Fred that the forum design appears clunky and visually unappealing. It must require considerable coding to make it more attractive. That’s too bad as it sounds like a good alternative to bbpress.

      • the_guv (1 comments.) says:

        it’s written in tables .. now that is really ugly.

        have to say, currently converting vpsbible.com’s forum to bbpress, because that I can style soooo much more easily using their css.

  4. hpguru (1 comments.) says:

    I think that bbPress is best forum to WordPress.

  5. Mr Papa (1 comments.) says:

    Hey, Ajay, Mr Papa here form Simple:Press Forum – thanks for the Review! Nice words indeed…

    Good point on the installation page – will add it to our to do list.

    Regarding tutorials and customization, just wondering if you looked at the online help in the simple:press forum admin pages. We obviously want to do there more, but it’s a start.

    If anyone has any feature ideas for the future, please feel free to open a ticket in the feature request forum on our site and we will get it into our TRAC system.

    • Ajay (6 comments.) says:

      Hi,

      I did hunt through the forum, but, didn’t have much success. My point is that Simple:Press is an advanced plugin and you should have documentation in place along the lines of Simple Machines, vB etc, so that people don’t think twice about how to install and use the forum.

    • Geoff1859 says:

      I just attempted to install Simple:Press Forum automatically from WP 2.8.4, and got this:

      Installing Plugin from uploaded file: SPF-V404-READ-ME.rtf
      Unpacking the package.
      Incompatible archive PCLZIP_ERR_BAD_FORMAT (-10) : Unable to find End of Central Dir Record signature

      Any suggestions? I’m new to this and simply wish to create a functional discussion forum for use in an Australian university for external students. Is it possible to use WP 2.8.4 for that purpose? I’ve tried to install bbPress and now this problem.

      Geoff

      • Mike says:

        Geoff:

        It looks like you didn’t upload the plugin, you uploaded the plugin’s documentation file. SPF-V404-READ-ME.rtf is a text file … WordPress is complaining because you’ve asked it to install a README file, not the actual plugin.

  6. Kate (3 comments.) says:

    It sounds like a powerful plugin. I think we can install it on a separate domain, just install wordpress on that domain and put the plugin in, activate them.

  7. Brad Mahaffey (1 comments.) says:

    I’m using the plugin at http://zidalgo.com/forums and love it! The biggest drawback I’ve found is styles/templates can be a bit daunting to tackle, since they use WAY to many tables in their base layout.

  8. Mus_ (5 comments.) says:

    so, what’s about bbpress? which one do you think is better?

  9. Patung (6 comments.) says:

    What I would love to see is a detailed installation page with screenshots.

    Not really much to it, you just activate it, then it auto-creates a page in wordpress where the forum will reside.

    I use Simple Press here. BBpress is good but dull as mud out of the box, you need to load it up with a half dozen plugins to make it interesting, so maybe it’s good for use as a support forum but not much else at this stage. Simple Press really does leave it in the dust at the moment and the support is fantastic.

    • Krysler says:

      Hi.. i use simplepress forum too for my site but i can’t get the title in the browser title bar..All that it displays is “Forum”! Can you please help me out.

      • Alistair (3 comments.) says:

        You should really post your question on the Simple Press forum – the creators will then answer!

  10. Louis Kessler (6 comments.) says:

    I looked at Simple Forum in detail, and compared it to bbPress and four other forums: http://www.beholdgenealogy.com/blog/?p=590

    In the end I went back with bbPress, and I described why on this blog post: http://www.beholdgenealogy.com/blog/?p=591

  11. Carlos (1 comments.) says:

    But simple pres is free or no? If i have google adsense on my site, simple press is free?

  12. Verdinand (1 comments.) says:

    Simple Press is very slow..
    But I used it.. Thanks.. :)

  13. Tons0fun (1 comments.) says:

    It’s funnny this post came up today. Spent the last 3 days setting up Simple:Press on our site. Not much on it yet since we are just getting started. I love the tight integration with wordpress. One of the most impressive plug-ins I have ever run across.

  14. Rick says:

    For us, having one set of users instead of two is a real plus over the others that I tried.

    Check out the look of Simple:Press .

  15. ebta (1 comments.) says:

    I’ve using it for few months and works fine, although it rather slow..
    And it fully integrates with my blog..

  16. BabyBusiness (1 comments.) says:

    I love it. Just installed and customized on our blog. I really like the easy install and maintenance. Looking very much forward to having our users use it. I choose it over BBpress for the ease and handy management. Works perfectly with other plugins and f.x. the permalinks are nice.

  17. Alistair - Urban Fly Fisher (2 comments.) says:

    I use it and think it is great – possibly the easiest forum to use for wordpress – I think it looks great just out the box:
    http://urbanflyfisher.com/forum/

  18. Archer (2 comments.) says:

    to slow … a serious contender to bbpress

  19. gestroud says:

    The name of this plugin is misleading. It should be called “Kind Of Challenging To Set Up Properly Since There Are So Many Options:Press.” :-)

    • Alistair @ Urban Fly Fisher (3 comments.) says:

      Not sure what you mean- In its default state it works fine – all the options are easily laid out and simple to understand!

      • gestroud says:

        Yep, you’re absolutely right; it works fine – in its default state. I can’t attest to its other features any more. I had to remove it because it conflicted with some other plugins and caused a white page in my admin area on three sites. Oh well.

  20. krakow (1 comments.) says:

    I have to say I’ve got mixed feelings about simple forum plugin. At the beginning it looked like a perfect solution but it started to generate bugs – current user is listed as online couple of times at the same time, there are problems with jquery – the plugin wa trying to find it in layout directory, and lately after saving a new topic every reload of the page within my forum generates a sprite message saying that a new topis has been saved. All those issues may be caused because I installed the plugin on a very old wordpress installation which was upgraded couple of times. Another of my blogs recently upgraded to 2.7 reported so many errors during installation that I quit trying to install it at all. To sum up – I have a mixed feelings about the plugin – I recon it needs to be tested on wordpress instalation which are not entirely new.

    all the best

    andrzej

  21. Ewen (1 comments.) says:

    Your review was stolen & posted here, uncredited – http://www.realitus.com/wordpr.....forum.html

  22. Robert says:

    Can anyone vouch for the future viability of Simple Press? What happens if the developer moves onto other projects? How many users can the forum script handle? Load times? Speeds? Social networking features?

  23. Ashish (1 comments.) says:

    Is there any email settings..For new registered users password is not sent..

  24. Alexandr (1 comments.) says:

    Do you know where is official site of Simple Press Forum?

  25. trecords (1 comments.) says:

    Hi,
    I am new to wore=dpress form and i think simple press is better. It has very nice looking, js, design. Also features better than bbpress.
    There is onlt one problem that simle press is not promoted as bbpress, it dosn`t has themes, extensions and not widely spoken.

  26. saad (3 comments.) says:

    ummmm, for me the side bar is a problem for a forum page :S how can i remove the sidebar on that page?

  27. Retellect says:

    Hi! Thanks for reviewing simplepress, I wanted a turnkey forum solution for my new website and thanks to your review I doubt I will have any problems. I like how its wrapped in the same place where a normal post would be, looks like I won’t be messing around with any css! Thanks

  28. nora (1 comments.) says:

    Well, I am just almost the slowest person at this stuff. Lets see which forum installation instructions seemed easy…

    Took a look at bbpress….and said…hhuuuuhhh???????????????

    Took a look at phpbb …and said…aahhh…WTF????

    Took a look at simple:press…thought to myself..”Well, this doesnt seem so bad…i might give this install a try.

    I now have installed simple press on two…yes, TWO of my blogs and i love it…and guess what?
    I cant miss something i never had, right? so, so much for php and bb…oh well. I’ll take my boxy looking free forum anyday!!!

    My two cents!

  29. Birch says:

    I tried bbpress, as well as Mingle Forum and a few others. I settled on Simple:Press because it had the best options, and was the simplest to use. I wanted to stretch out the width of the forum also. In some themes you can simply use the ‘sidebar on specific pages’ plug-in (downloadable from wp) but my theme required that I simply create a page template that I named Forum, and chose that as the style for the page I was putting it on.
    I have NO tech skills and have never written any css or anything like that, but I found the simple answer to the problem on the simple-press.com site. You just copy/paste some text that they tell you, save it as a template and voila.. no sidebar.
    The past few days, simple-forum.com has been down. The host that runs their site crashed and their site went down.
    You can, however contact them via twitter if you want to download simple:press right now, without waiting for their site to come back up.http://twitter.com/#!/SimpleForum is their twitter page. They are quick to respond, and a VERY cool thing? version 5 is ready for download now and it has a brand new way of using themes, and the themes look fantastic. Ill be upgrading as soon as they come back online with their site.In the meantime Im quite pleased with the current version. You can take a look at http://divinaturism.com/forum to check out what Ive done with it.
    *cheers!*

  30. Birch (3 comments.) says:

    I must update my comment. Simple Press has recently become a paid plugin. You can download it yes, but for the additional plugins, which in all honesty is what makes it so great (captcha, ratings, watching topics) you MUST purchase a membership. 39.00 for two months or 99 for a year.
    There are, at this time, no other options. A one time fee would be preferred, even if it expired after 30 days. Because honestly, it’s usually just the first few weeks that we tinker a new forum and get it working right.
    Also, this includes their forum. There is no longer a support forum for this plugin unless you are a member. Rather silly, as the forum itself was one of the best ways to see what Simple Press could do. I can no longer in good conscience recommend this forum.
    This is too bad because it was the absolute best I had seen. I was willing to pay a 3.00/month or use Flattr or something for it, but 99 for a year?

  31. ssrony (1 comments.) says:

    Hi Ajay Nice blog,
    Do you like to say, How to remove Simple:Press footer link from SP forum ?

    • Trev says:

      The only thing I don’t like is that everyone who comes to your site has to comment as a Guest. I wish there was a way from them to create even just a small profile that would save their name and password for future posts. If there is that option… I can’t figure it out.

      Also, I downloaded Simple:Press for free just 2 hours ago. The forums are definitely a paid feature (so annoying), but as far as I can see, the actual pluggin is free. Maybe some extra features through the paid version… idk…



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