Installing WordPress

Last week I posted about Picking a Blog Platform on some of the process that lead to me moving to WordPress. This time I thought I’d share some notes on the install and customization process so far. This is on a Windows 2003 server running IIS 6.

I’m assuming here that if you decide to try this you know how to create a web site, point your DNS to your web server, etc. If not…enjoy learning, or go with a hosted solution. Seriously, it’s doable and not nearly as bad as you might think.

WordPress (WP) is built using PHP, so I started by looking at what I needed to install on Windows to support it. After some research I found that IIS will run it if you install FastCGI, which is provided by Microsoft. That in turn lead me to the Web Platform Installer which let me install FastCGI, MySQL, and WordPress, all from the same set up wizard. Very very nice. Prompted me for passwords for the database, and then launched WP.

With WP running, I needed to start adding some plugins and find a theme. Themes (a sophisticated skin) let you change the look and feel very easily. Just find a theme (usually free, but you can pay), download it, and then upload to the server via the WP admin tools. I’m currently using one called Blue Station.

For plugins I had a head start, the great blog series by Brent Ozar. The plugin model is just like the themes, download a zip, upload via WP, and then click the provided link to do whatever configuration the plug requires/offers. I took most of his advice, and right now I have installed:

  • Akismet for spam control on comments
  • All in One SEO Pack for…SEO (search engine optimization)(haven’t done much with it yet)
  • Configure SMTP for email. I have an SMTP server, but WP wasn’t working with it and rather than dig, this is an easy work around. Chose the option to use a Gmail account, just to try it. Works nice.
  • Feedburner Feedsmith. Supposed to make sure all URL’s point to Feedburner, disabled for now because it was only putting an extract in the RSS instead of the full post I prefer.
  • Google Analyticator puts Google Analytics code in your pages. It’s just a few fines of Javascript, but this is easy and convenient.
  • Google XML Sitemaps to create a sitemap, try to make sure all my content is picked up by Google. Probably would anyway, but doesn’t cost much to do. Install and forget.
  • MobilePress.makes the blog look good on a cell phone (at least on my Blackberry) with no effort on my part. Just install.

In addition, I setup a Google Analytics account for long term tracking, and a Feedburner account. There are a lot of options for tweeting blog posts, but it’s now baked into Feedburner so i went with that. I also set up a Google Webmaster account and verified ownership. Together that should give me a pretty good view of the blog.

I did run into a few problems:

  • The SMTP one I think I could have figured out, but the fix was clean and useful.
  • WP supports ‘pretty’ urls, but they don’t work (or I couldn’t get it to work) on IIS 6. I’ll upgrade to Win 2008 & IIS 7 eventually, but didn’t want to do that just for this, so found a moderately ugly hack that puts some code in a 404 (page missing) page.
  • Scheduled posts aren’t released on schedule. For now I’m having to run the ‘cron’ page once a day. Looks like it’s fixed in the 2.9.1 release, but if not I’ll just set a job to run it a couple times a day. Annoying, but not serious.
  • There is a checkbox to save my credentials when I log in to the admin tools, but it doesn’t seem to work (could be WP, IE, or whatever – haven’t looked yet)

I still need to set up a job to backup mySQL. I’ll look at a few more themes after I think about what I want to show on the front page, and maybe try a few more plugins. Bottom line is that it runs pretty well on Windows and didn’t take a lot of work to get it running.

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