How to Install Semiologic Pro

Installing Semiologic Pro involves a simple five step process.

  1. Use your host’s one-click install to set up WordPress on your site
  2. Upload the Semiologic Pro files using your favorite FTP software
  3. Change a few file permissions on your server
  4. Run the WordPress installer if necessary
  5. Enter your Semiologic API Key

If you’ve no server, or if yours doesn’t comply with the WordPress server requirements, consider using one of the recommended WordPress hosts.

If your host does not offer WordPress as a one-click install, skip the first step below, and upload your wp-config.php file along with the Semiologic Pro files.

If you’re installing Semiologic Pro on top of an existing WordPress site, skip the first step below, and activate the Semiologic theme when you’re done with the permission changes.

1. Set up WordPress using your host’s one-click install

Many linux hosts deliver WordPress as a one-click install from their control panel. This spares you the hassle of creating a database and a wp-config.php file each time you set up a new site.

The location of this one-click installer differs from one host to the next:

  • On Dreamhost, browse to Goodies / One-click installs
  • On CPanel hosts, browse to Fantastico (typically a smiley face button)

The interface varies, but the underlying concepts are the same, so we’ll stick to Dreamhost in what follows.

Upon browsing to the one-click installer, a form will prompt you for information related to your new site.

Fill in this information and proceed. The server will take it from there and get the installation done within a few minutes.

When the one-click installation robot is done, you should see either of an already working WordPress blog, or a screen that prompts to you finish the WordPress blog upon browsing to your site’s url.

2. Upload Semiologic Pro to your site

After downloading and uncompressing the archive from the Semiologic members area, browse to the wordpress folder to visualize its contents:

The files in the wordpress folder include:

  • The latest version of WordPress with a handful of fixes
  • The Semiologic theme in its Pro version
  • A collection of carefully selected WordPress plugins

We’ll want to upload these files to your newly created site.

Open your FTP software and log into your site.

In the local panel, browse to the wordpress folder. In the remote panel, browse to the site’s folder.

The site’s folder varies from a host to the next, and will typically be one of:

  • public_html, htdocs, www, or wwwroot
  • a folder named after your domain, e.g. or yourdomain
  • the folder you’re already in if none of the above applies

Be sure to check with your host if you’re having difficulties locating your site’s folder.

Assuming WordPress is installed already, you should see folders named wp-admin, wp-content, wp-includes, and a bunch of files whose names start with wp-.

You’re ready to start uploading when both panels are displaying these files and folders.

Select the Semiologic Pro files and start the upload.

When prompted because a file already exists, opt to overwrite them all.

Now is the time to make yourself a coffee or walk your dog. Uploading several megs spread over 1,500+ files easily takes 10 minutes on a DSL link. By the same token, note that ftp problems occur every now and then: If anything seem weird (see troubleshooting), consider reuploading the files.

3. Change file permissions

This third step will enable you to use some of Semiologic Pro’s more advanced features, including file uploads, fancy urls, and google sitemaps.

The following files and folders need to be writable by the server:

  • wp-content/
  • wp-config.php
  • .htaccess

If you don’t see any .htaccess file, rename the .htaccess-sample file on the server to create it. Refer to the troubleshooting section below if you can see neither of the .htaccess and the .htaccess-sample files.

How you change a file’s permission on the server will depend on your FTP software. Typically, you’ll want to right click the file’s name in the remote panel, and select either of Properties or Permissions or CHMOD.

This will open a dialogue box. Add write permissions to those who don’t have any, and proceed.

The following folders should be readable, writable and executable by all (chmod 777).

  • wp-content/

The following files should be readable and writable by all, and executable by none (chmod 666):

  • wp-config.php
  • .htaccess

For Fantastico users only

Delete the fantversion.php file in your site’s folder. Doing so will let fantastico know you’ll be updating your site without fantastico.

4. Run the WordPress installer and start blogging

In the event the one-click installation robot merely copied the WordPress files to your site, it’s time to run the WordPress installer. (Ignore this step if your site doesn’t show the screen shot below.)

Follow the run install.php link and follow each step. You’ll eventually be prompted for a site name and an admin email.

Enter the details, proceed, and you’re done.

Visiting your site will now trigger the Semiologic Pro autoinstall wizard, which cleans up the junk created by WordPress (first post, blogroll) and configures your site for SEO and usability best practices.

In particular, it will activate the Semiologic theme, activate a couple of plugins, configure the fancy url structure, add a few widgets to your sidebars, and so on.

To log into your site, browse to:

5. Enter your Semiologic API Key

Once in your site’s admin area, browse Presentation / API Key. Doing so will let you take advantage of periodic documentation updates, and automated site upgrades (Wizards / Upgrade).

After doing so, hop to your Dashboard if you’re new to Semiologic Pro. The “More Info” link to the top right will help you get started with the software.

Happy blogging!


I see a memory limit exceeded error message

Your server has hit the php memory limit. Please double check that your server complies with the WordPress server requirements.

I see an error message other than memory limit exceeded

FTP problems sometimes occur during uploads involving large numbers of files.

Consider changing FTP software in case you’re using Filezilla, Smart FTP, or Dreamweaver’s built-in FTP feature. They tend to manage FTP timeouts very poorly. WS_FTP (recommended), CuteFTP and Transmit (for Mac users) do a much better job at this.

Then, re-upload the files and the problem should go away. If not, highlight the error to your host in the rare case the server is missing an apache module.

I see a blank screen

This means either of that your server hit the php memory limit, or that it is not displaying error messages.

Either way, double check that your server complies with the WordPress server requirements.

I cannot change permissions on my server

This usually means you’re using a Windows server, and that you didn’t check that your server complies with the WordPress server requirements before starting.

I cannot see a .htaccess file or a .htaccess-sample file

Some servers conveniently list hidden files even when not prompted to. Others do not… When this is the case, you need to configure your ftp software to do so.

In your FTP software’s options, identify the one that allows to display hidden files. How it is called and where it is located greatly differs from an ftp software to the next.

  • On some software, you’ll find a checkbox labeled something along the lines of “Display hidden files” or “Display all files”
  • On other software, you’ll find an option that lets you override the LIST ftp command. Replace it with: LIST -a
  • On yet other software, it’s a menu item. In particular, when using Transmit, it’s at View / Show Hidden Files.

On WS_FTP, you need to right click the site’s name in the site manager. Select Properties, browse to Start Up, and add -a to the remote file mask.

Don’t forget to refresh the remote panel of your FTP software once you’ve toggled the setting.

If all else fails, you can also browse up one level and make your site’s folder writable by the server. WordPress will then create the .htaccess file automatically when you enable fancy urls.