TL;DR – Discourse Subscriptions allows site owners to sell recurring and one-time purchase subscriptions that grant access to a group on a Discourse instance.
Discourse Subscriptions supports the following features:
- A credit card payment page.
- A settings page to manage Stripe configuration.
- Administration to create, update and view products, plans and subscriptions.
- Setting the user group associated with the subscription.
- Setting if the plan is recurring or one-time.
- Cancelling a subscription from admin.
- Adds and removes users from user groups when subscriptions are created or deleted.
- Allows the user to cancel their subscription in their user profile.
- Webhooks that update your website when an event occurs on Stripe.
- Subscription - Subscriptions are a recurring payment plan which allow you to control access to content on your community. When a subscription is created or deleted, a user is added or removed from the user group you associate with your subscription plan. A subscription is made up of a product and plans.
- Product - A product in Stripe’s terms is what you’re selling. A product can contain one or more plans.
- Plan - A plan contains a price, recurring cycle, and associates with a group to which your subscribers gain access.
Be very careful to keep your Stripe private keys safe and secure at all times.
If you were to shut down your instance of Discourse, uninstall this plugin or your site were to go offline, Stripe will continue to bill your customers for your service until the subscription is cancelled.
- Install & enable the plugin
- Add your Stripe keys (public, secret, webhook secret) under Admin > Plugin > Settings
- Create a group for your subscribers to join via purchase
- Create a product and plan under Admin > Plugins > Subscriptions
Set up your Payment Gateway.
Firstly, you’ll need an account with the Stripe payment gateway. To get started, you can set up an account in test mode and see how it all works without making any real transactions or having to set up a bank account. There is no test mode toggle in the plugin; instead, be sure to use your developer keys (they begin with
Set up Webhooks and Events in your Stripe account
Webhooks are required to make subscription cancellations work fully. Be sure you have them configured correctly.
Once you have an account on Stripe, you’ll need to tell Stripe your website’s address so it can notify you about certain transactions. You can enter this in your Stripe dashboard under Endpoints > URL.
[your server address]/s/hooks – where [your server address] is the URL of your Discourse install.
You’ll also need to tell Stripe which events it should notify you about via the webhook URL.
Currently, Discourse Subscriptions responds to the following events:
Add the Stripe API and Webhook keys to your plugin settings
Stripe needs to be authorized to communicate with your website. To do this, it publishes a pair of private and public API keys and a signing secret for your web hooks.
To authorize webhooks, add the API keys and webhook secret from Stripe to your settings page (under Developers).
Adding production keys will make live payments. If you plan to test, be sure to switch to
View test datamode and get
sk_testkeys under Developers.
In your Stripe account settings, see:
Add these keys under the appropriate settings in Admin > Settings > Plugins.
Set up your User Groups in Discourse
When a user successfully subscribes to your Discourse application, after their credit card transaction has been processed, they are added to a User Group. By assigning users to a User Group, you can manage what your users have access to on your website. User groups are a core functionality of Discourse and this plugin does nothing with them except add and remove users from the group you associated with your Plan.
Create one or more products with plans.
Under Admin > Plugins > Subscriptions, click add a new Product. Once you have a product saved, you can add plans to it. Keep in mind that the pricing and billing intervals of plans cannot be changed once you create them. This is to avoid confusion around subscription management.
If you take a look at your Stripe Dashboard, you’ll see all those products and plans are listed. Discourse Subscriptions does not create them locally. They are created in Stripe.
Test with these credit card numbers:
- 4242 4242 4242 4242
- 4111 1111 1111 1111 (no authentication required)
- 4000 0027 6000 3184 (authentication required)
For more test card numbers: Testing
/s and enter a few test transactions.
Once you’re ready to go live, change your API and webhook secret keys to production keys. You will need to create new products and plans in live mode.
Do be aware that if recurring payments fail to process for any reason (expired credit card, etc.), users will still have access to the group as the plugin does not currently handle this itself. To have Stripe automatically cancel subscriptions, set your Manage failed payments settings similar to the below image.
If you were running this plugin prior to 2020-05-22T05:00:00Z, you may need to import subscriptions created by the plugin using the rake task
rake subscriptions:import. This will pull products from Stripe, let you choose which to import, and subsequently import the related subscriptions to your site.