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.
With the release of BuddyPress 1.7 just a few days ago, and with almost 1.5 million downloads behind us, I wanted to take the time to remind everyone about what’s gone into improving BuddyPress recently, and to reassure everyone that it’s okay to update.
In the early days of BuddyPress, things were in flux. Andy and I were furiously building components and features, deprecating code, refactoring the way things worked, and generally tearing up the codebase over and over again. It helped us build a great foundation, but it made updating to the next version a scary and frustrating experience. To those that remember those days, I apologize; to everyone else, I’m sorry you missed out on the fun.
Whenever your WordPress installation checks to see if BuddyPress needs an update, the WordPress.org Extend API remembers the current version of BuddyPress that you’re running. This is how we know (with relative accuracy) approximately how many of what versions are out in the wild, and it’s also how we generated the pinwheel below, taken from the Stats page from WordPress.org Extend:
Despite the pretty colors, this pie chart is actually a little scary. There are so many old and outdated installations of BuddyPress out there, not taking advantage of the neat new features, and not running the most stable and secure code available. The irony is, this is largely our fault.
These days, BuddyPress is a 1 click update in your WordPress dashboard, and we’ve built a bunch of API’s that allow third party plugin developers to write plugins that won’t break when BuddyPress needs an update. We’ve spent a large part of the past 2 years reinforcing the foundation we invested in, so that no one needs to be afraid to update BuddyPress ever again.
Starting with BuddyPress 1.8, the core team will be focusing our efforts on including automated tests with each enhancement and critical bug fix, to help ensure that each future release gets more stable than the release before it. Boone Gorges and Paul Gibbs both donated huge amounts of labor building a test suite that is already committed into our development branch, just days after BuddyPress 1.7 was packaged up. Their dedication towards making BuddyPress stable and amazing for everyone is unwavering, and their contributions are truly awesome.
If you’re running an old version of BuddyPress, I urge you to check out and update to BuddyPress 1.7. It’s the culmination of thousands of hours of effort, and is the most stable, secure, and performant version of BuddyPress yet. Help us change that pinwheel into more of a Pac-Man or a circle.
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.
Today the BuddyPress team would like to tell you a bit about BuddyPress 1.7, release candidate 1.
BuddyPress 1.7 is going to be one of our most exciting releases to date. It comes packaged with the same theme compatibility that was introduced in bbPress 2.0, which means that BuddyPress will now work out-of-the-box with a majority of the WordPress themes available today.
We’ve also fixed a bunch of annoyances, and smoothed out the installation and update experiences, to provide users and site-admins with a less intimidating introduction into building a community with BuddyPress.
Because of the hugeness of 1.7′s features and changes, we’ve spent a little extra time rigorously testing it with various types of themes and installations, to make it a worry-free update from BuddyPress 1.5 or later. The beta-testing phase has gone well, and uncovered only a few loose-ends that needed tying.
BuddyPress 1.6.5 is now available. It’s the fifth minor release to the 1.6 branch, and is a recommended update for all previous versions of BuddyPress.
1.6.5 fixes 1 security issue potentially allowing access to the ‘delete-account’ Settings screen for users that should not normally have that privilege. This bug was reported and researched by Rob Begic, and fixed by the BuddyPress core team.
Download 1.6.5 or visit Dashboard → Updates in your administration area to update now.
Tuesday’s getting even more terrific as we announce the second beta of BuddyPress 1.7!
Building on a solid first beta, beta 2 has a number of bug fixes and improvements, mainly around the theme compatibility and admin screens. For those of you interested in a changelog between beta 1 and 2, check out this report in Trac.
Now’s the time to test your themes and plugins, and let us know if you find anything unexpected happening. If you think you’ve found a bug, please report it on the BuddyPress Core Trac.
BuddyCamp is a mini-conference before WordCamp Miami. It’s happening on April 5th at the University of Miami, Life Science & Technology Park. As you can guess from the name, BuddyCamp Miami is a conference focused on BuddyPress. If you want to learn more about BuddyPress and walk away as a power user, meet many of the team behind the project, and share your knowledge with other enthusiasts, then BuddyCamp is perfect for you!
Tickets are strictly limited, so if you’re near Miami and love BuddyPress, don’t hesitate; get your ticket today! See you there!
Today the BuddyPress team is excited to announce the first beta of BuddyPress 1.7.
BuddyPress 1.7 is likely to be our most revolutionary release to date. With it will come full theme compatibility with almost all existing WordPress themes, making it easier than ever to get your community up and running quickly. For those of you looking for a complete changelog, check out the 1.7 milestone in trac.
From now until 1.7 is released, we will be periodically merging our ongoing development into the WordPress.org plugin repository. If you’re just starting your first BuddyPress site, we encourage you to start with the 1.7 beta rather than 1.6.4, so that you’re familiar with what’s coming rather than what’s passed.
Now’s the time to report some feedback and let us know if you find anything unexpected happening. We are on course to release BuddyPress 1.7 in the first half of March.
If you think you found a bug, please report it on the BuddyPress Core Trac. If you find a security vulnerability, please be discrete and let us know privately using one of the methods posted on the WordPress contact page.
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