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Deploying a new forum and adding a theme (for everyone)*

422422 Developer MVP
edited August 2013 in Tutorials

Do not edit any of your vanilla files, without getting to grips on how Vanilla works. It really can be deployed quite easily, and within a minute or two.

This explanation is based on people who OWN their own domain , and are setting a forum up in a folder, thats let call it "forum" for the sake of simplicity.

  1. you have your domain, and it is called www.xyz.com
  2. you know how to ftp files ( transfer files to and from your domain )
  3. you know how to create folders on your domain, and how to give various folders/files different permissions.
  4. you have a brief understanding of mysql, or at least use a proprietary suite like cPanel to create a database.
  5. you wish to deploy a NEW theme for your NEW forum.

Ok so lets get started.

You have this really cool domain, shes called xyz.com and you really would like to get people on your site using social software, of which Vanilla is a precursor.

So, nip onto Vanilla and grab yourself a download of the latest stable build. It comes under DOWNLOADS, a bright green button at the top of this page. You download the forum software, and it arrives in a zip file.

Do not upload that zip file to your server

So now using an unzip utility, unzip your new forum, locally ( menaing on your computer ). It will be a folder called something like, vanilla-core-2-0-18-4.zip ( example )

So now you have this folder that is unzipped, lets double click her and open her up..

Inside we see a folder called vanilla. Woohoo we are getting there ;) ok. the next step is tricky...

go to your website via ftp, I use SmartFTP. and you will see your root folders , so perhaps look for the folder that says public_html open it, by clicking once, and you should see ALL the contents of this folder ( we are still in ftp ) here , some use filezilla.. but basicaly all the same.

Now we need to create a NEW folder, usually you can do this by right clicking and select New Folder.
So do that and call it, forum

with me so far ?

Now double click / open that brand new folder called , forum. And inside it.. bugger its empty. Lets put some stuff in it.

Go to your desktop, and within that opened zip folder ( yep the vanilla-core-2-0-18-4 ) once, and inside that we have the folder called Vanilla >> open that folder and you should see:

9 folders and 6 files.

Like this:


Select all of these files, i use right click select all. Then select COPY

Now back on your FTP ( yep your web domain ) in that OPEN folder called forum.

Click Paste !

Still with me ?

Ok cool... go and make yourself a coffee, as the process takes a few minutes, theres a few meg of files...

Personally, I would recommend not touching ANYTHING whilst the transfer is in progress.

Once complete... so everything is uploaded.

You need to change permissions on some folders.

Here is what you do, in your new forum folder you will see 3 folders:

  1. cache
  2. conf
  3. uploads

right click these ( individually if you want ) and select properties ( by the way we are still in FTP here )
in the properties selector box, select change permissions, and choose 777. This is called chmod.

Basically we are telling these folders who can write stuff to them ) but to be honest we dont really care, cos we wanna get this bloody forum going.


but wait.. now we need to CREATE a db.

I can only comment on the way I do stuff... goto your website: so www.xyz.com/cpanel

Log in and create new database.

Lets call that database , forum

Once done, we need to assign a user to that db, so create a user, and give them admin permissions to administer the new database called forum.

Make a note of USER NAME and PASSWORD !!!!


We are almost done.

Now visit your website, www.xyz.com/forum

You will be prompted with a Vanilla Installer screen, if you see red warnings .. you did not set folder permissions correctly for those 3 files I mentioned.

If you see a shiney blue page, with lots of input boxes, wooohooo lets go.

These are what you need to put in the input fields ( as an example )

  1. database host > localhost
  2. databasename > something_forum

( the something is usually always the user login name for ftp ) so if yours is bob, lets call it bob_forum

  1. databse user > something_admin ( see above explanation )
  2. database password > whatever your pass was when you created the database
  3. application title > Bobs Forum or whatever you want
  4. admin username > admin or whatever tickles your fancy
  5. and 8. the password for this admin guy ( pick whatever you want )

** 6 , 7 and 8 ** are required for you to login ! and administer your new forum

Hit the BUTTON ... close your eyes.. and you should see the DASHBOARD ! which is your back end adminstation centre.

Click VIEW SITE ( top button on left ) i wish this opened in new tab as default by the way.

Voila theres your new forum !!! Woohoooo

To deploy a new theme !

Easy AS ! Learn this step quickly...

There are many free themes available on Vanilla, so go grab one. Lets say we download a theme called stargate

download the new theme ( make sure it works with your version )

unzip the theme ( locally )

open it. and you should see something like, a new folder called: stargate

copy that folder ( yep right click, and select copy )

Go back to your FTP.

in the main FORUm folder you created is a folder called themes

Open themes folder, and if its a brand new install, you should see some folders in there called:

  1. default
  2. mobile
  3. embed

Paste the FOLDER you copied ( called stargate ) into here..

wait a minute or so ( most themes ae under 1 meg )

When its done, goto your dashboard. which would be something like:


In the left hand pane, click on Themes

you should see 4 themes now,

  1. default
  2. embed
  3. mobile
  4. stargate

click the stargate theme, select it .

Now go back to your forum www.xyz.com/forum

Voila new theme deployed !

Editing !

Lets say you want to edit this theme, then just navigate via ftp to :


open the custom.css file in your fave editor, and this is the file you edit to make changes to your new theme !

Easy Peasy Lemon Squeazy



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