bbPress is a Forum software created by the same people who created WordPress. It is one of the more popular Forum software for those who wants to incorporate a Forum within their site. Since it is something that was created by the developers of WordPress, it is will be safe to say that bbPress should be compatible with any WordPress Theme, including the Catalyst.
However, having said that, with the Catalyst Theme, users might have to do some minor customization and make some compromization if they want bbPress to blend into the Theme like it is part of the design.
Not About Using bbPress
Please be reminded that I do not use bbPress as I do not run any Forums here or anywhere else nor do I have any intentions to in the immediate future. As such, I will not be writing about using bbPress, like how to configure it or anything related with it as I have totally no experience with this.
This post will only be about how you can use bbPress with the Catalyst Theme.
Integrating bbPress With The Catalyst Theme
Frankly, once you have downloaded and activated the bbPress plugin, you will find that the Catalyst Theme accepts this plugin without any fuss, conflicts or errors. This is good as it mean it will work with the Theme. The only problem is since the Catalyst is coded with so many different options, we will have to adjust those Catalyst Options so that bbPress appears presentable.
This is especially true if you are already using a customized Catalyst Theme. Depending on how your blog or site looks, you might need to create a custom layout for your Homepage and other pages to accommodate whatever you need that are not required in the Forums page.
Fortunately, with the Catalyst Theme, customizing individual pages is easy. I will not be dwelling into this as each user has their own preferences. Though the Forum page created by bbPress will have the same look as the rest of your Theme as it uses one of the default Templates, there might be stuffs in your Homepage or post page sidebars that you do not want appearing in the Forums.
So use your imagination and creativity to come up with your best solution.
bbPress Uses the Catalyst General Archive Template
When the bbPress plugin is installed, it automatically creates a new directory or page and places the Forums into that directory. As the Catalyst Theme has not been coded with bbPress in mind, you will not be able to see the page appearing anywhere in the Catalyst. To access the Forums you will have to type – http://yourdomain.com/forums.
What you see will look like this.
That is because bbPress has placed the Forum in the Theme using the Catalyst General Archive Template layout. By default, the Archive Contents is set to appear as Excerpts in the Catalyst Theme and WordPress excerpts when used, strips all html tags thus causing the Forum Topics to appear all jumbled up.
To overcome this, go to Catalyst – Core Options – Content – Post Options – Archive Content Type, change the option to Full Content. Save and after refreshing your Forums page, you should see the Forum Topics appearing as it should.
Displaying The Forum Link In Your Catalyst NavBar
Since the Forum is not a page created by you within your Theme, it will not show up anywhere as a link. You have to manually create a link for your visitors to access the Forum. To do so, the best way will be to create a customized navigation menu.
Under Appearance – Menus, create a Custom Link to the Forum and add that to the Menu. Then in Catalyst – Core Options – Navbar, choose Custom for the Navbar you want to use.
After changing both these areas, you should have a very presentable and professional looking Forum page. The rest of the customization will be up to you to decide.
An Alternative Method Of Creating A Forum Page
If you want to avoid messing with your layout, you can always manually create a new directory within your WordPress installation. Install WordPress into that directory then use that solely for your Forum. Though it is possible, I have not tested this with bbPress, but I know it works if you use BuddyPress, another popular Forum software also from the creators of WordPress.
Check out the video demonstration below. Honestly, I feel this is a better alternative. All you need to do is to install Catalyst to the new WordPress installation, then export all your present settings to the new setup to make it look similar to your Theme. Then you can configure BuddyPress to your liking without screwing up your existing layout.