Had the opportunity to hear 1st hand from Boone Georges about the exciting BuddyPress 1.5 update. Wanted to share my thoughts and notes as an update to a post I wrote (one of my most popular ever) earlier this year comparing BuddyPress and Drupal Commons.
In short, it’s really exciting for 3 reasons (Boone had more):
- About 800 closed tickets
- No more overwhelming debug messages
- Awesome new theme you’d be proud to use as is
- BuddyPress 1.5 is cleaned up for developers. My interpretation: now we’ll start to see some innovation around BuddyPress
- BuddyPress 1.5 is committed to being a well-behaved WordPress citizen. All those debug messages, and more… fixed. Now it’s even easier to use in a real-world situation which means people like me can go whole hog without feeling like we’ll have a lot of annoying work on the back end.
- The BuddyPress team is taking themselves seriously, and committing to a longer term roadmap and release schedule. Maybe I’ve inferred this, but if it’s true, it means we can depend more on BuddyPress growing with the times, and that’s the most amazing news of all!
From here on, you’re getting my raw notes from Boone’s presentation. In no particular order.
BuddyBar is now integrated with the WP Admin Bar. I think it’s so important to be well-behaved in the WordPress world, and I’m glad to see more consistency here.
The settings page is available right from the start, and doesn’t do all the behind-the-scenes stuff that left you wondering if the install was all going to be OK. I’ve installed the beta since the other night, and I’ll say it’s really easy to get going.
By the way, Boone shared a best practice for implementing… no need to turn everything on right at front. Start simple – maybe with just user profiles and an activity stream. Let your users/community get familiar with that behavior before introducing them to the overwhelming full feature set that BuddyPress offers.
Custom profile fields have been overhauled making them easier to use. The fields are still stored in custom tables and hopefully in the next release everything will move to custom post types.
BuddyPress pages are now real pages and therefore work just like any others. Want to default your home page to your site’s activity stream. Just pick it on the settings page. Want to change menus and where they link. Works so easily with the new WordPress menu system and these “regular” pages you won’t believe it.
As I mentioned above, the default theme has been totally redone. It’s pretty. Personally, I think this is really important because often users are put off by ugly technology that works great. Even when we say “we’re just getting started, don’t look at how ugly it is for now.” Personally, I
like love Headway’s drag-and-drop theme framework (and they’re coming out with some new awesomeness on their own – check out their 3.0 videos). Headway has a BuddyPress plugin to make integration and theme creation much easier. (Headway also works with Gravity Forms very easily, which also works with BuddyPress extended profile information… you can see where I’m going with this, right? It’s like the gold standard of cool.)
Lots of changes to the core to make it easier for developers. Enough said. I can’t wait to see the innovation this enables.
Full PHP documentation and inline documented code for all refactored stuff. Along with commitments to keep BuddyPress updated regularly, there’s also the goal of going back and (slowly) updating the documentation for existing stuff as well, so this will improve even more over time.
Standards support is much stronger.
Another best practice Boone shared to help avoid sign-up spam. Change the page-slug for your register page (so that it’s not register). Duh, good idea!
A final best practice… the Friends bit in a small community doesn’t really add value. All friending does is let you add friends to your activity stream. In a small community, where everyone is watching everything, you can turn this part off without losing much functionality.
(August 22, 2011) A final note. For those looking to move from an earlier version, I found this list of plug-ins that have been (and are being) tested for BuddyPress v1.5 compatibility. It seems the community has committed to testing every single plugin for compatibility. Awesome.
(August 26, 2011) And, wpnyc.org has posted video of Boone’s BuddyPress 1.5 presentation on the community site.