This is actually a lot easier than people think but also has a few booby traps I hope to help you avoid with this guide. Here on GWMAC I wanted to include a forum and after reading a lot of research everyone said it was much easier to simply use a WordPress native plug-in. I tried them all from BBPress along with BuddyPress, Bublaa, and about 5 or 6 more. Don’t get me wrong, they all worked but they all just seemed to be missing something. They just didn’t feel right. They all felt incomplete or lacking. I wanted a full-featured forum that was designed to grow with my site and I knew that to have that level of customization, power,flexibility, and ability to grow with my website I needed to use the excellent and free Simple Machine Forum. Of course the problem with that is that the equally excellent WordPress on which my main Blog site is built doesn’t play well with SMF in the same folder. So what to do?
I decided to create a subdomain called forum.gwmac.com. On Godaddy at least to create a subdomain you must open your hosting Control Panel. On the right you should see this screen. Click on Hosted Domains.
After you click on Hosted Domains it should bring up all of your domains that you are hosting. Click the one on which you wish to add a subdomain. You should then see a screen like the one below. As you can see I created 3 separate subdomains. Mostly out of frustration that I was doing something wrong since I could not install SMF into any of them. (Which reminds me I need to delete the 2 unused ones.) Create as many or as few as you like with any name you choose. Remember these choices will go in front go your main domain name. So in my case it is forum.gwmac.com where forum is the subdomain and gwmac is the main domain name.
To add a subdomain you simply click Add Subdomain button and you will see this screen. Simply type in the name you want to use and click OK. This would work for any type of installation. Perhaps you want a subdomain for a store so may want to install Zen cart and you could use Store as your subdomain.
After I had completed that part I thought it was smooth sailing to install SMF in my newly created subdomain. Boy was I wrong. Normally if you want to install applications like WordPress, SMF, Joomla, Drupal, Zen Cart, and others you simply go to the main Hosting Control panel and select it right from that screen as you can see in the photo below. But if you do that your subdomain will not be available as an install option. Only your top domains are listed as options. Installing normally will not work by this manner because it does not allow you to create a Database name or database password. So instead Click the Show All button under Popular Apps.
After you click Show All you should see this screen
Then Select Simple Machine Forum or any app you want and Install Now. You should see this screen. Only your top domains will be listed in step 1 but do not despair. Your Subdomain will be an option in the final part of the installation in step 3. So in step 1 just choose your main domain.
So in step 1 Choose your main domain that includes the subdomain. In Step 2 You will be asked for a Database Description and Database Password. Do not confuse this with the name and password you will later use to login and admin your SMF site. Make sure and copy and save all names and passwords you use for later use and make sure not to confuse them with your SMF admin name and password. Use whatever name and database password you like. But Godaddy is strict about containing certain letters and symbols.
In the final step (assuming you can create a password that Godaddy will like) you will then be able to choose the subdomain directory you created above. The installation shouldn’t take more than 5 or 10 minutes. After it is complete you can log in and do the initial set up and create boards and categories, themes, etc..to your liking. There are plenty of good guides for setting up SMF but really it is self-explanatory if you just poke around with the menu items.
The final step is how to tie the two websites together so that it is easy for your visitors to go back and forth and it seems like they are only on one website and not two.
On my WordPress main site I simply used a redirect Plugin to point to my new Forum and created a new Page and Menu item on the main toolbar called Forums which links to my SMF site.
I did a similar thing on my SMF site with a Mod called Menu Editor Lite and simply added a new Menu item and directed into my main domain name called GWMAC Home. I also used a similar banner as the header image for both although SMF made me use a slightly narrower image which means I had to leave off my friendly watchdog pal.
Although it is true that SMF and WordPress require separate registrations, I am already using Disqus for my Blog commenting so most users will be able to comment with their Disqus, Facebook, or Google log in credentials without ever needing to register on my blog. So most people will only need to register on my forum once. I tried to integrate a Facebook login with SMF with the Facebook Mod but apparently Facebook has changed some things that make that Mod no longer functional unless you created a Facebook App prior to around April to work with the 1.0 credentials and my Facebook App was has 2.0 credential with no way to revert.
I hope this tutorial will help many other frustrated users out there that either had a difficult time integrating SMF and WordPress to play well together. I also hope it helps out frustrated Godaddy and potentially other web hosting customers that were unable to install SMF, WordPress, or any other app onto your subdomain normally. The screenshots for other hosts may be different but the process could be similar as long as you adapt. The key is you need to create an app database name and password that the simple installation will not allow. For more advanced users I am sure you are shaking your heads and asking why I didn’t simply download and install SMF manually with an FTP client like Cyberduck. Trust me, I tried that way as well but it didn’t work. I am sure there are many other ways people can try but I can vouch for this method and my website is proof. Feel free to donate as well if this guide saved you hours of hair pulling. 😉