Buddypress needs to STOP supporting bbPress
bbPress has always been the bastard stepchild of Automattic. After the failure of Talkpress (http://talkpress.com/) to generate income it is become even more apparent bbPress will never get any love. Automattic does little or nothing to support it or develop it. It’s only kept alive by a dwindling number of true believers. bbPress is a great concept, but it doesn’t go beyond that. I believe BP is the future of CMS. It has already surpassed the compatibilities of bbPress. This will become more and more apparent as things progress. I think BP needs to start work on their own forum platform and cut lose bbPress once and for all.
bbPress as a component of BP is weaksauce, I would agree. But it is a non-trivial project to write a fully-featured forums app/component. I would support native forums functionality in BP, definitely, especially if it let us do more with it, but I suspect given the lack of focus on that functionality here and in BP itself, that we’re not very likely to see it anytime soon, if at all.
I’d love to be proved wrong. BP with a robust forums component, native to the app, with an admin interface and plugin support — I shiver with pleasure at the very thought.
Don’ get me wrong, I understand why BP uses bbPress. It is currently the best solution. I just hope 2 years from now we are still not looking for workarounds.
I think that a savvy plugin-author would integrate BP with another opensource platform like phpBB. That way the energies of the phpBB team would be harnessed to BP use.
It’s kind of like horses and a wagon. phpBB is the horse and BP is the wagon. There’s no need to breed, grow, and train a horse from birth for your wagon. Just buy one that someone else has raised and hitch it to your wagon.
But all of that is much easier said than done. @dennis_h, are you a coder?
Isn’t BuddyPress just using bbPress as a core foundation for its group forums? So rather than supporting bbPress, isn’t BuddyPress using bbPress?
Also, I disagree that bbPress is just a concept, seeing that development has restarted again.
I have used bbPress in the past as a wordpress forum since its easy to change and easy to template when you know how to make templates for wordpress. Other than simplepress forums and phpBB which are a pain to change cause of the new learning curve and phpBB is almost not integratable with wordpress.
I’m working on a solution to intergrate bbPress with BuddyPress, dropping the group forums (I hate those).
@Xevo, I totally support your prerogative to “hate” group forums. I find it interesting though. IMO, putting forums into groups was BP’s stroke of genius. When you run a community (and I’d argue, a bbPress install does not a community make. It’s just a collection of discussions by users who can’t interact in many other ways beyond crude messaging), if you don’t group things by their contextual nature eg topic or theme, then you needlessly force the community to pour through everything to consume and engage what they want. I for one, can’t stand browsing through the old fashioned bb’s to find or keep up on information. So having a forum in each group allows me to to that and the extensible nature of groups turns them into much more than a discussion container.
Don’t get me wrong, the recent release of bp.org’s new theme/organization blew it in terms of usability, organization and understanding of how people create and consume information on a topic/s they care about.
Groups forums are KEY and they absolutely need to have a way of creating multiple topics in each forum as well rather than just a running list of recent discussions.
But what is also 100% key is to have non-group forums as well from same install. That way you can have a traditional forum in addition to group forums which totally makes sense because when you have 100′s of groups it’s impossible to keep track of where things are at like in a traditional forum, so you want to have a balance of both.
Also 100% key is the ability to favorite forum threads. A basic and totally necessary feature to make the current set up slightly more manageable.
has any of you tried to work more with simple press instead? i’m sure not everyone will agree, but there are quite a few appealing function of simple press as an ‘easy’ alternative to bbpress. because it is all in a page, there must be some clever way of writing plugin which allows to call a specific subforum link?
it has been a very long time since i’ve looked at phpbb, but integration with wp never seemed easy with that one!
I find it a bit annoying that the developers are so hesitant to speak on the matter, as it’s clearly a reappearing debate. Should that be interpreted as indecision, still?
Last I heard, bbPress was going to be rewritten into a native WordPress plug-in, taking advantage of custom pages and all that jazz. mmMMMm, smooth. Probably a year away though?
In my comments on this subject I tend to be a tad too negative towards BuddyPress. In truth, it provides me with all the *essentials* right here and now, I just feel it could be quite a bit better, without all too much effort.
I’m not sure as to which developers you’re referring? There are only three core developers that work on BuddyPress and two of them are volunteers like the rest of us non-core developers. Andy, as the only core BP developer that is employed by Automattic, is charged with working on BuddyPress. He does not necessarily have any additional information–than can be googled–on what Automatic plans to do with bbPress.
@dennis_h, amen, preach it brother!
Yes, forums are very useful and popular, but they are just another way of displaying a conversation. The basic building blocks for blogs, forums or social networks are the same:
If you want a traditional forum view, you could probably create that in your theme.
There is no reason to bolt an external forum script on to Buddypress, with its own database tables etc. It only creates synchronization problems and confusion for the end user.
I have argued this before here and elsewhere.
Before I’m annotated as the Gospel of Everything Anti Forum let me say I love the current forums. I also believe Forums inside Groups is the best way to go (although more work needs to be done illustrating the logic to members).
I believe bbPress development is dead and BP should take the core and develop it to suite BP. Waiting for bbPress to implement features and hope they fit with BP is a incredibly bad way to develop a core need of BP. A break in the family tree is needed. BP has a far more engaged development community than bbPress. Allowing bbPress development dictate BP development is a recipe for…. well just read the bbPress forums.
I think Buddypress need some kinds of forums for detailed discussions. I don’t think it needs BBPress. The Activity Stream has nearly everything to replace BBPress. The only thing is missing is the ability to choose if you want to post an “Update” or an “Discussion” (or Forum Post, or whatever you want to name it). If you decide to post a discussion an input field will be added to title your certain discussion. By doing so all Discussions could be listed in a classic “Forum View”. Because it is all build with the Activity Stream technology users can reply from within the Activity Stream, have nested comments and all the great plugins that are developed to work with the Activity Streams.
I did a conceptual mockup 4 month ago and posted it on trac. I still think this is basically a great idea:
Trac Ticket: http://trac.buddypress.org/ticket/1559
@21cdb (“The only thing is missing is the ability to choose if you want to post an “Update” or an “Discussion” (or Forum Post, or whatever you want to name it).”)
You could achieve that using categories and some if/else PHP. I did something like that in my P2 group blogs, that I use instead of forums. WordPress 3.0 will apparently have custom post types that will make this easier.
I think Buddypress need some kinds of forums for detailed discussions. I don’t think it needs BBPress. The Activity Stream has nearly everything to replace BBPress. … Because it is all build with the Activity Stream technology users can reply from within the Activity Stream, have nested comments and all the great plugins that are developed to work with the Activity Streams.
FWIW – I’m going to attempt this now… hopefully conning @r-a-y into helping (i need someone smarter ) I’m 99.1% sure it can be done
rich – What do you think is the advantage of rewriting the forums on the activity stream as opposed to with custom post types? I can think of a couple reasons to go either way, but I’m curious to know what you think.
@boonebgorges Let me read up on custom post types more, I haven’t given it much thought to be honest. A quick glance seems it seems BP activity stream took some steroids, had a fun night, and mated with WP posts. (even seems in a futuristic sense that the activity stream could utilize custom post types as the backbone?). So that may throw a kink into my original thinking about using the activity stream.
Given that… Simplistic reasoning. Basically @21cdb and @r-a-y have mentioned some finer points which I agree with. The hang-ups I have with bbPress is how much “dumbing down” occurs within the BuddyPress wrapper and some of the minor issues that others experience. IMHO – the activity stream IS the backbone of BuddyPress – in the forums context the information is already duplicated (recording the activity, updating on topic post edits) and the fragmentation of conversation is very confusing. We already have the biz functions for recording, replying (+ for nested), pagination, hooks, add-ons, etc
Boone – I can think of many reasons to use custom post_types for the forums setup. Really bbpress in its current bp iteration adds nothing to the mix that can’t be achieved with post_types. In the end the forums are just posts styled differently than normal blog posts. I’ve built a basic post_type forum setup already and the further I continue with it the more excited I get about the possibilities. I currently have no idea how to tie it into bp groups, but guess I’ll figure that part out down the road.
Custom post types seem better to me in most ways. They have the full force of WP behind them, which means that things like attachments, media, and all sorts of other plugins will just work. The theming architecture is very well established, since it just uses the regular WP post loop. And you’d have the full admin power of the WP Dashboard for managing posts and replies.
The advantages of embedding forums in the activity stream vs custom post types? For one thing, the metadata attached to custom post types does not include things like group ids. I’d have to look into it a little more, but it seems to me that you’d probably have to do more lookups in order to get all the necessary information out of the post table than you do for the optimized activity table for this reason. And it certainly does seem more BP-centric to put things in the activity stream.
I think the decision should largely be made on the basis of a discussion that was started here about six months ago but kind of died off: what is the role of the activity stream? There is a real advantage to making all content types stored in the same way, whether it be in post types or in the activity stream – that much is clear to anyone who’s done BP development. The activity stream increasingly seems like a good option. But my worry is that if you push everything into the activity stream, you end up needlessly reproducing a lot of functionality that already exists in WP post types.
@Anointed Please do share your forum post type when you think it’s presentable. I’d love to see how you’ve set it up. I haven’t tried it myself, but just thinking about it I imagine it wouldn’t be too complex – most of the work would be done in the front-end theming and P2-style posting interface.
I’m in agreement with Rich because the activity stream is the main component in BP, so why not utilize it? (btw, sorry for not getting back to you, Rich!).
Custom post types are powerful; the next iteration of bbPress as a WordPress plugin will be powered in some way by custom post types, but that is still a long way out. You’d then have to factor in how this will all work with BP (more development time). I haven’t looked too much into custom post types yet, but aren’t custom posts still stored under wp_posts? If so, not great.
I’m going to be collaborating with Rich (Boone, you want to jump in?) to utilize the activity stream component into a dumbed-down version of a forum. It won’t be as feature-rich as bbPress et al., but it will be compatible with existing and future activity stream plugins, which to me, makes this worthwhile.
I’d be happy to jump in and provide what help I can. Are you guys developing in a shared repo? PM me the creds
No repo yet (we’re still mobilizing!), but ping Rich on etivite.com.
Thinking in architectural terms, this makes a lot of sense — certainly more sense than Franken-bbPress does. If BP were to get a richly-featured, native, extensible replacement for ‘forum’-structured discussion, that would be a good thing.
These days, more than in the past, I worry about the right user-interaction design decisions being made, though, before they get locked in.
activity stream component into a dumbed-down version of a forum. It won’t be as feature-rich as bbPress et al.,
This, especially, worries me. Not to be the parade-rainer, but unless equivalent-functionality can be achieved, with a framework in place for greater extensibility because it’s ‘native’, well…
I don’t know. I think I’m going to have to leave BP alone for a while to wait and see where it heads, which is a bummer after having spent so much time and effort on it. Ah well.
To start with, I have absolutely zero experience with the activity stream. Frankly I am so overwhelmed on the learning curve of everything else that I have not even had the time to think about digging into the activity stream. I only mention this so that if my comments ever seem to be to over the top about using post_types, it is simply because I understand them and their current weaknesses, ‘permalink structures, archive pages, etc’. For my setup, I pretty much only plan on using the activity stream for user-user and user-group communication. More of a wire than an activity stream. Just like on bp.org I found that people just found the addition of activity streams to be confusing. I get much better results using group forums, and heavily relying upon group blogs with the p2 interface.
You are correct though. There really is not all that much heavy lifting needed in the backend for using post_types. Really it’s just a matter of properly creating the post type, adding in the metafields, and setting up the permalinks. The 3.0 system is not complete though. There are a lot of holes in the setup to overcome, but the information is out there on how to get by some of the issues. I’ve done the homework and can help with some of that should you need the information.
Finding the tools and creating my own to help deal with connecting post types to post types, and adding in metadata to taxonomies has taken up most of my time. At the moment I am working out how to modify one post type/taxonomy within the admin panel of another post type.
Currently I am just using a homebrewed theme for my forums post type. I am still in the stage of building a coherent backend and just populating the front end with data. I did look into p2 a few days back, and it looks like the perfect solution to theming forums. Of course a few changes would be needed, but most are pretty simple. I should have much more information available about p2 in the coming weeks.
finally, keep in mind that I do not consider myself a programmer in any real sense of the term. This has been a huge learning experience for me so I work a lot slower than most people would expect. I’m sure you remember the days when it could take you 20 hrs to figure out one simple function, that’s where I am at.
I’d suggest getting talking with Andy Peatling about this and see where he thinks the future of these components will lie; MrMaz would also be a good person to check in with, but Andy’s the queen bee.
I just wanted to mention this is a proof of concept for the most part (as in the activity stream as blog comments i did)… if @andy and @mrmaz can chime in for future plans (though i’m sure 3.0 is bringing more to the table) that would be great. Personally – I want consolidation but the right tool for the job. Maybe back away from the nomenclature of forums – where the activity stream is already holding a discussion and that this proof is just formalizing the view of the activity stream. (hybrid? – something that is more familiar to the average forum user, etc)
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