BuddyPress 1.7.2 is now available. This maintenance and security release fixes several MySQL injection possibilities reported by Glyn Wintle from dxw.com, and a few other issues we caught after 1.7.1 was released last month. 1.7.2 is a recommended upgrade for all installations running BP 1.5+.
BuddyPress 1.7.1 is now available. This is a maintenance release, which fixes a number of bugs reported since version 1.7 came out earlier this month. For complete details on what’s changed in BP 1.7.1, see the Trac milestone or the 1.7.1 changelog in the BuddyPress Codex.
1.7.1 is a recommended upgrade for all installations running BP 1.5+. Download it today from the wordpress.org plugin repository, or from the Plugins page in your WordPress Dashboard. Questions or comments about the release? Visit our support forums or our bugtracker.
BuddyPress 1.7 “Totonno” has arrived, and it’s our best version yet!
What’s New in 1.7
BuddyPress 1.7 is a major feature release, containing hundreds of bugfixes and dozens of new features. We’ll show off a few of our favorites below. Want to see a full changelog for 1.7? Check it out on the Codex.
BuddyPress’s social features add new kinds of content to your WordPress site: groups, profiles, and so on. Until now, displaying that content has required building or finding a BP-compatible theme – one of the biggest hurdles to using BuddyPress. Version 1.7 makes this a thing of the past. Using a feature we call “theme compatibility”, BuddyPress can display its content within the context of any WordPress theme – no modifications required. Here are a few screenshots showing BP running on a few popular themes:
Not satisfied with the way it looks out of the box? Not a problem. BuddyPress still provides a sophisticated, modular templating system, which you can easily customize in your own theme. Theme developers and designers can learn much more about theme compat on the BuddyPress codex.
If you’ve run a BuddyPress-powered community site, you know that groups are a powerful way for members to connect. But there’s been no way for site administrators to manage groups. BP 1.7 introduces a brand new set of Group Administration panels on your WordPress Dashboard. Now BP admins can bulk-delete groups, edit group settings, and manage group membership without ever leaving wp-admin.
A Better Installation Experience
BuddyPress makes it easy to add social features to your site, and BP 1.7 streamlines the process more than ever. We’ve removed the installation wizard in favor of a totally automated setup – just hit Activate, and we’ll handle the rest. On new installations, only the Activity and Extended Profiles components are activated, helping you to start small and grow your community features bit by bit. And, following in WordPress’s footsteps, we’ve added About and Credits screens, helping you to get up to date on the BuddyPress project.
BuddyPress 1.7 is codenamed “Totonno”, after the legendary Brooklyn pizza joint. Totonno’s is just a few blocks from the Cyclone and the Coney Island boardwalk, and there’s no better end to a lovely spring day than to indulge in what may be the world’s greatest pepperoni pie. With spring finally coming to Brooklyn, we think it’s appropriate to honor a pizza institution with what we think will be a watershed BuddyPress release.
The BuddyPress Community Rocks
Hundreds of developers, designers, and community volunteers have put thousands of hours into this version of BuddyPress. When you use BP, you’re standing on their shoulders. The following individuals contributed patches during the 1.7 release cycle:
aesqe, apeatling, borkweb, calin, chouf1, chrisclayton, cnorris23, ddean, DennisSmolek, Dianakc, dontdream, empireoflight, enej, ethitter, fanquake, gmax21, hnla, humanshell, imath, Jacek, jag1989, jbobich, jkudish, jpsb, karmatosed, MacPresss, magnus78, markjaquith, Maty, mercime, michael.ecklund, modemlooper, nacin, netweb, rogercoathup, sboisvert, sbrajesh, slaFFik, steve7777, tiraeth, will_c, wpdennis, xt4v.
Do you have questions about the latest BuddyPress release? Check out the BuddyPress Codex – our growing collection of official documentation – and especially the pages in the 1.7 category. Volunteers are also standing by in our active support and discussion forums. If you’ve found a bug in BuddyPress, or if you want to contribute code to the next release, our development home is buddypress.trac.wordpress.org
You might not be able to make it to Coney Island this summer, but we think that BuddyPress 1.7 “Totonno” is (almost) just as good. Download it today from the wordpress.org plugin repository, or from your WordPress Dashboard.
This post is by Jay Collier of The Compass LLC. Jay has been a consultant to the Maine Department of Education for the past 2 years, during which time, he proposed, built, and is continuously improving MaineLearning.net, a professional collaboration community and learning resource directory for Maine educators.
MaineLearning.net is built on WordPress and BuddyPress, using a highly-curated set of plugins and themes. In the following report, Jay outlines Maine’s use of BuddyPress as part of its continuing innovations in K-12 education.
- The Maine School and Library Network, initiated in 1996, provides Internet access to all schools and libraries in Maine.
- The one-to-one laptop program, established by law in 2001, provides laptops to every 7th and 8th grader in the state, while school districts fund laptops for an additional 50% of high school students.
- A high-speed network backbone, bringing gigabit ethernet to rural communities, was completed in 2012. The goal was to provide inexpensive connectivity to last-mile providers: for-profit corporations, not-for-profit organizations, cooperatives, and municipalities.
- In 2012, Maine passed legislation for proficiency-based high school diplomas. Starting in 2017, rather than receiving passing grades in a standardized series of courses in order to graduate, many high school students will be able to receive a diploma by demonstrating proficiency in a variety of ways, from traditional tests to portfolios, performance, exhibitions and projects … and at their own pace. Schools will be allowed to eliminate age-based classes altogether.
- And more.
Online community of practice
To support this transition to learner-centered and proficiency-based learning, commissioner Stephen Bowen charged the Department of Education with developing an online community of practice (OCOP) “where teachers, school leaders, curriculum coordinators and others can share best practices – lesson plans, rubrics, curriculum materials and professional development opportunities.” The charge:
Build a professional learning community platform to help educators engage in conversation, share innovative ideas, discover and curate useful resources, document successful practices, and apply them in their own classrooms and schools.
Support and sustain continuity between in-person meetings and professional development opportunities. Help new constituents get up to speed and become valuable, active partners in learning communities.
Model an interdisciplinary, continuous-learning community approach that can be implemented at schools and districts across the state.
Connect teachers, administrators, parents, and taxpayers so they can discuss important educational policy issues.
So, in the summer of 2011, we developed a digital strategy, built a demonstration site in less than a month and drafted policies for user-generated content. Initial funding was earmarked in November 2011, the initiative was integrated into the Department’s strategic plan in January 2012, and the version 2.0 production site went live in February 2012. During the following months, the Department approved 21 practice groups with 250 active members.
From day one, we wanted the platform to support increasing levels of engagement, from initial observations (“lurking,” in the positive sense) all the way through to moderating and leading practice teams.
Although the OCOP would be launched quietly and was limited to Department-approved practice groups and members during 2012, from the start all group conversations were intended to be visible to the world: a virtual version of the fishbowl model of collaboration.
We wanted members to be able to receive activity notifications immediately or via daily or weekly digests. We wanted visitors to be able to follow any group by subscribing to its feed via the Blogtrottr service.
Then, after implementing the collaboration features, the next phase would be a learning resources directory, which would contain recommendations (via URL) for:
- Digital learning objects, such as content, multimedia, applications, lesson plans, and syllabi that can be used anytime, on any device, in any setting, at home and in classrooms, and through self-directed study and professional development initiatives, and
- Digital learning opportunities, including classes, courses, workshops and professional development sessions and that provide live interaction between, and among, students and teachers, learning coaches and community mentors
Whereas there already countless global resource repositories — containing both free and “premium” objects — when we began, there were no registries that organized links to resources based on Maine-specific needs and standards, and no single repository contained links to local Maine learning resources: expanded learning opportunities, service-learning projects, and community mentoring opportunities. Our Resource Directory was created to do just that.
Laying the foundations
From the start, our goal was to deliver a minimal viable product to demonstrate potential, and then to rapidly iterate while adding functions requested by our early users. Our first step was to identify the platform that could be quickly configured to support familiar kinds of online collaboration — forums, document sharing, wiki pages, blog posts, and status updates — while being able to support our vision of the ideal future platform.
So, we pulled together all of the requests we’d received from DOE staff and constituents (including features from a series of previous projects) and created a detailed list of criteria, for which we made an initial evaluation using the NGT ranking technique. (See tabs along the bottom of the spreadsheet for details.)
Since we knew we wanted to create a framework that could be easily replicated by school districts and other learning organizations and jurisdictions, and at low cost, we started with the open-source frameworks supported by our state’s IT office: Drupal and WordPress. We determined that both platforms were viable, and chose WordPress because it could be easily configured by non-technologists. The BuddyPress environment was critical to meeting our defined criteria.
Building on WordPress and BuddyPress
We started with minimal resources — 40% of my time, external hosting services, and about 40 hours for back-end administration and quality control for plugin code for the first 9 months. We contracted with SiteGround for cloud VPS hosting and with BuddyPress developer Boone Gorges for back-end support. Boone set up a public GitHub repository and configured our server for the Git development workflow. I installed MAMP, Gas Mask, and GitHub for Mac on my own machine for local development.
Since I am a strategist (rather than a back-end developer), I found it quite easy to implement desired features by finding and evaluating WordPress plugins, installing, activating, and testing them on my local machine, and, if acceptable, pushing them to the current development branch at GitHub, all without needing coding experience. When needed, I asked Boone to provide recommendations, check for PHP errors, and add site-specific code to meet our needs. He would then push to production.
Configuration and theming
To get started, I installed WordPress multisite (using subdirectories rather than subdomains) and installed BuddyPress on the main site. I chose to use the BuddyPress default theme for the main site and the Genesis framework for subsites; all customizations were to child themes. I made continuous interface tweaks via the Custom CSS plugin, and for each periodic push from development to production, I moved those changes into each theme’s styles.css file for versioning.
Here are some of the key plugins we’re currently using with WP 3.4 and BP 1.6. Most of these are perennials that have been maintained through many core software updates, and across multiple projects.
- Allow Multiple Accounts
- Gravity Forms (premium)
- Gravity Forms + Custom Post Types
- Network Privacy
- TurboCSV (premium)
- Types and WP-Views (now WP-Toolset, premium)
- User Switching
- WP Optimize
- WP Super Cache
Authoring and back-end
- Admin Menu Editor
- Broken Link Checker
- Enable Media Replace
- Events Manager
- Post Type Switcher
- Resize at Upload
- TinyMCE Advanced
- BP Group Documents
- BP Group Management
- BP Group Organizer
- BuddyPress Docs
- BuddyPress Edit Group Slug
- BuddyPress Group Email
- BuddyPress Moderation
- Invite Anyone
Integration with external services
- Learning Registry Display Widget
Interface and navigation
- Autolink URI
- Custom CSS Manager (moving into Jet Pack)
- External Links
- Hide Broken Shortcodes
- No Page Comment
- Query Multiple Taxonomies
- Theme Test Drive
- WP Page-Navi
Of course, our use of these plugins is always provisional; I continue to evaluate alternatives that will meet our requirements even better. Indeed, we are already in the process of replacing some of these plugins with alternatives.
We added a number of code snippets to the functions file for minor customizations:
- We added navigation buttons to activity stream items
- We changed the default member avatar
- We loaded common site-specific CSS styles into TinyMCE drop-down menus
- We adapted Helen Hou’s implementation of the Chosen multi-select list styling to simplify back-end metaboxes for multiple taxonomies
A note on custom content types, fields, and taxonomies
For the Learning Resources Directory, I needed to create and maintain custom post types, field groups, and taxonomies to support a rather complex data structure for metadata for our learning standards: the Maine Learning Results and Common Core State Standards.
After having tried nearly every plugin option (and combination), I settled on WP Types & Views (now called WP-Toolset), which allowed me to rapidly prototype and improve data structures. Then, I used Gravity Forms to create front-end forms to prompt educators to organize and classify their recommended resources.
This work has only just begun, but WP-Toolset has provided all the features we’ve needed; indeed it can be compared favorably with the Blocks, Views, Panes, and Panels modules and functions for Drupal. Indeed, I’ll be experimenting with WP-Toolset’s CRED feature to more easily integration between front-end forms and structured data.
The online community of practice has now been fully-functional since March, 2012. Since then, the Department has approved 21 practice groups with 250 members; the more active groups have included: the Digital Learning Advisory Group, the Cross Discipline Literacy Network (and its 10 subgroups), the Maine Arts Education Leaders cohort, and the Digital Citizenship in Schools discussion group. We recently added a space for service-learning coordinators and practitioners, and maintain a list of group and membership requests.
The learning resources directory has been tested by a variety of educators, with continuous improvements based on user feedback. The Arts Education cohort is developing a peer review process for those who ask for review of their submissions. Wikipedia-style ratings will be implemented next.
Currently, program direction, platform administration, and community stewardship functions are being performed by myself (Jay Collier) and our back-end developer, Boone Gorges (core software developer for the collaboration software).
We’ve now been live for almost one year. As we approach the end of our current funding and contract cycles, the state of Maine has been working to sustain MaineLearning.net.
- The Department of Education has been planning to initiate a public communications campaign and is seeking funding to fund program leadership and community stewardship through the next level of service, including those potential enhancements listed below.
- The state’s Office of Information Technology has been developing an RFP that will seek external vendors to provide Internet hosting, software management, and back-end development to support the continuous improvement of the platform when the current funding and contracts end this spring.
With sufficient resources, we are considering many potential enhancements, including the following, all of which are possible within the current framework, given additional staffing:
Potential collaboration enhancements
- Allowing open group applications and selecting new groups based upon capacity
- Professional development support, including organic groups for sustained collaboration between webinars, seminars, and workshops
- Active management of resource vetting teams, including rubric development, and credential design (badges)
- Availability of sub-sites (blogs) for every group, upon request
Potential resource directory enhancements
- Statewide promotion for crowdsourced resource sharing
- Simplified resource submission interfaces and predefined search results
- Multiple levels of evaluation options, from thumbs up/down, to multi-question reviews, to peer review workflows
- Exchange of vetting data (paradata) via US DOE Learning Registry and other repositories
- Ingest of pre-existing learning resources, from vetted OERs to professional development objects, to community learning opportunities
Potential administrative initiatives
- Grant applications for funding from regional and national foundations
- Consulting with other jurisdictions that wish to replicate the model
- Contributing lessons learned and custom add-ons back to the open-source community
- Investigating viability of integrating ePortfolio and learning management (ScholarPress) features into the platform
Toward the future of learning
In Education Evolving (PDF) — Maine’s 2012 strategic plan for learning in Maine — Commissioner Bowen worked with educators around the state to define the challenges and opportunities of 21st-century education.
To build on the great work being done in Maine’s schools today, and to move from a century-old model of schooling to a more effective, learner-centered approach in the process, will require a steady focus on a handful of core priorities organized around meeting the individual learning needs of all students …
Such a move won’t take place through the imposition of heavy-handed mandates or one-size-fits-all approaches from Augusta, but by building on the innovative work being done in schools across Maine already and by employing strategies to increase collaboration and sharing of best practices….
As Harvard’s Tony Wagner argues in his book The Global Achievement Gap, teaching has been and continues to be a largely solitary practice providing few opportunities for collaboration and sharing of best practices…
With the advent of the Internet, the sharing of new ideas and new approaches to teaching can be far more readily facilitated. Instructional materials, research on best practices, and even videos of effective instructional methods can be shared instantly across the state and around the world.
Collaborative, learner-centered education is at the heart of Maine’s strategy for transforming learning communities for this new era and MaineLearning.net supports that strategy.
Watch an introduction to Innovations in Maine Learning, including the MaineLearning.net online community of practice and learning resources directory: http://www.slideshare.net/collier/innovations-in-maine-education
Create a BuddyPress-enhanced WordPress theme and submit it to the WordPress Theme repository.
Create a BuddyPress-compatible plugin or bridge an existing WordPress plugin to work in BuddyPress and submit it to the WordPress Plugin repository.
Help others at http://buddypress.org/support/topics/
Web-based IRC client: http://java.freenode.net/
BuddyPress dev chats generally happen every other Wednesday at 19:00 UTC in #buddypress-dev. To find out what time 19:00 UTC is in your country, look here.
The BuddyPress Development Blog is at bpdevel.wordpress.com.
Your team is an all-volunteer crew of hard-working professionals who are passionate about building online communities. We are developers, designers, writers, problem solvers and strategists who are committed in helping you create your social network. Help us help you better by participating and contributing to the BuddyPress project.
Like most website operators, BuddyPress.org collects non-personally-identifying information of the sort that web browsers and servers typically make available, such as the browser type, language preference, referring site, and the date and time of each visitor request. BuddyPress.org’s purpose in collecting non-personally identifying information is to better understand how BuddyPress.org’s visitors use its website. From time to time, BuddyPress.org may release non-personally-identifying information in the aggregate, e.g., by publishing a report on trends in the usage of its website.
BuddyPress.org also collects potentially personally-identifying information like Internet Protocol (IP) addresses. BuddyPress.org does not use such information to identify its visitors, however, and does not disclose such information, other than under the same circumstances that it uses and discloses personally-identifying information, as described below.
Gathering of Personally-Identifying Information
Certain visitors to BuddyPress.org’s websites choose to interact with BuddyPress.org in ways that require BuddyPress.org to gather personally-identifying information. The amount and type of information that BuddyPress.org gathers depends on the nature of the interaction. For example, we ask visitors who use our forums to provide a username and email address. In each case, BuddyPress.org collects such information only insofar as is necessary or appropriate to fulfill the purpose of the visitor’s interaction with BuddyPress.org. BuddyPress.org does not disclose personally-identifying information other than as described below. And visitors can always refuse to supply personally-identifying information, with the caveat that it may prevent them from engaging in certain website-related activities.
Protection of Certain Personally-Identifying Information
BuddyPress.org discloses potentially personally-identifying and personally-identifying information only to those of its employees, contractors, and affiliated organizations that (i) need to know that information in order to process it on BuddyPress.org’s behalf or to provide services available at BuddyPress.org’s websites, and (ii) that have agreed not to disclose it to others. Some of those employees, contractors and affiliated organizations may be located outside of your home country; by using BuddyPress.org’s websites, you consent to the transfer of such information to them. BuddyPress.org will not rent or sell potentially personally-identifying and personally-identifying information to anyone. Other than to its employees, contractors, and affiliated organizations, as described above, BuddyPress.org discloses potentially personally-identifying and personally-identifying information only when required to do so by law, or when BuddyPress.org believes in good faith that disclosure is reasonably necessary to protect the property or rights of BuddyPress.org, third parties, or the public at large. If you send us a request (for example via one of our feedback mechanisms), we reserve the right to publish it in order to help us clarify or respond to your request or to help us support other users. BuddyPress.org takes all measures reasonably necessary to protect against the unauthorized access, use, alteration, or destruction of potentially personally-identifying and personally-identifying information.
BuddyPress.org went through another serious clean-up effort in 2012. It now runs a minimal set of plugins, with an emphasis on supporting the project proper.
BuddyPress.org’s group forums were retired. They were a fun experiment, but largely confusing to users and a moderation nightmare for site staffers. BuddyPress.org also experienced another redesign, taking much inspiration from bbPress.org and shifting focus away from evangelizing and towards supporting and showcasing what a nicely integrated BuddyPress installation can be.
BuddyPress saw both 1.5 and 1.6, with focus on cleaning up the codebase, gently migrating off of bbPress 1.1 for group forums, activity stream administration, performance improvements, and better single and multisite switching support. We also had our very first BuddyCamp in Vancouver, which was an amazing event thanks to Matt, the event organizers, sponsors, and all-of-the-other awesome contributors.
In 2012, we added our 4th core committer, Raymond Hoh. Ray has been a prolific contributor since the early days, and recently stepped up his game where him not having commit access was slowing him down. We also started experimenting with new default themes, codenamed Status, and Turtleshell respectively. Neither has made it directly into core, but TS is showing promise as a great compliment to 1.7 as we roll out theme compatibility in BuddyPress.
In 2013, BuddyPress will likely see:
- Theme compatibility with all WordPress themes.
- Dropping the ability to create new bbPress 1.1 powered group forums, relying solely on bbPress 2.x.
- Notifications being extracted into its own component.
- More wp-admin integration, starting with Groups management.
- Retina all-of-the-things.
- What’s New and Credits pages, ala WordPress core.
- Again, hopefully another prolific core committer.
- A BuddyCamp or two wouldn’t hurt.
2012 has been a great year for the bb’s. The community is really rallying behind bbPress again, and our BuddyPress users are anxiously awaiting the 1.7 release to alleviate all of their theming woes. Overall, I’m very proud about what we were able to accomplish this year, and am excited about what we have planned for 2013.
If you would like to get in contact with the developers of BuddyPress, you have a number of options.
We can’t do email support, because it’s not a good way to help out a lot of people. If you are having any trouble with BuddyPress, the best place to go is the support forums, where a number of people might be able to help you with your problem and others can learn from your troubles, or the Documentation Codex.
Just want to help out? Great! There are many ways to get involved.
If you think you’ve found a security problem in WordPress or BuddyPress, please see the WordPress Security FAQ for information on reporting the problem. (Note: Any non-security messages are ignored and deleted. This includes requests to take down sites or delete posts for legal reasons. WordPress does not have the power to take down or in anyway alter the sites that choose to use it. Please contact the site’s hosting provider.)
Boone, Paul, and I, are excited to announce we’ve promoted r-a-y to be the newest member of the BuddyPress Core team!
r-a-y has been involved with BuddyPress since the early days, and has been one of our strongest forum moderators since the very beginning. He’s been diligently iterating on his core patches and contributions, so we’ve asked him to come aboard the crazy train.
r-a-y’s responsibility for the 1.7 release is taking on the tickets and patches he is already familiar with, chipping away at individual issues until he’s built up the courage to take on full feature development. I suspect it won’t take long.
Congrats r-a-y! Woo woo!