Future of BP
I’m starting to get the feeling that BP is going in the wrong direction. Given all the other community software providers and the level at which they are at, is it me or is BP just not going to be able to compete with all those others that are out there?
I see so many problems with BP just by reading the forums here. Sure BP is in beta but Boonex is ahead of the game by leaps and bounds. Boonex is crap in my opinion but where is BP in all this? I don’t see a forseeable conclusion to all of this considering all the bugs that are in beta, plugins, MU and themes. By the time that it comes out as a live version, it will be behind in the game. I mean really behind in the game. People are creating plugins on a beta version that recently changed in 1.1. All the previous templates wouldn’t really work and the plugins had issues. It’s a combination of new version, MU and the lack of any real direction for this project.
Do I wish it was different? You bet I do. I think BP had a great direction when it first came out but considering how late it is in the game, I don’t think it will be able to catch up.
These are just my thoughts…
I guess we just need to get Automattic to hire a few more guys to be joining the BP-core-development-team.
There are a few very talented guys in the developer community, like Marius, Nicola, etc. (sorry if I missed anyone, I am sure there are many talented guys in this community).
I wonder why these guys have not been invited to join the core-team yet – at least for a limited timeframe…..?
I would be willing to donate my share, for having a few more developers in the BP-core-development-team……just let me know where I should send the money to…..
Don’t be fooled by the forums. Forums for software are always going to be full of people with problems, it’s just the nature of the beast. People who set up BuddyPress and are happy with it don’t post. People only come here when they have a problem.
Generally most of the issues brought up here are user/hosting created. If I see anything that I think is an actual bug, I investigate or ask for it to be added to trac. This is not a high percentage of threads.
BuddyPress is moving forward quite quickly, 1.1 broke a lot of early development because a lot of forward thinking changes were made. This is new software and it can’t be held back right out of the gate to support older code. Most of the plugins that are broken can be fixed with a few function changes.
I can’t speak for any other platforms, but remember, the rabbit never wins the race. Boonex/Dolphin is certainly not without its development problems.
If you’re looking for direction, then the roadmap is a good place to start. Or you can talk in IRC to people who are helping with development: #buddypress-dev on Freenode.
Best of all, start taking bugs and fixing them and submitting patches. If you’re not a developer then consider writing some documentation, or helping out in the forums with experiences. Community is the most important thing.
I can personally attest that their has been significant forward progress over the last eight months. As Andy stated above, the changes that were implemented between 1.0 and 1.1 were made to give BuddyPress a stronger foundation going forward.
I’ve actively used a number of social platforms, and made the decision 8 months ago to get involved in BuddyPress because I felt it had the most potential–even though it was just a little over a year old at the time. I have been very happy with that decision.
I am confident that BuddyPress will continue to evolve and its development continue at the proper pace.
I thought it was funny that you said Boonex was “way out ahead” followed immediately by the comment “Boonex sucks”. LOL.
Andy / Jeff – in line with my latest topic-start in this forum … can you give us a statement on what BuddyPress is supposed to be?
When I first started trying to get it into play, I was led to believe it was a community suite that tagged onto WPMU, but that’s not true. Yes, it’s a community suite, but it completely takes over and dominates WPMU, and that’s not what I wanted at all for this project, where the core function of WPMU had to be dominant.
Now it may be that this position is due to the default BP theme and its layout etc, in which case more themes (that are site-purpose structured, not BP purpose structured, need released) – instead of themes that “look pretty” with BP, we need themes that are for xyz purpose of site, and lots of them – take a lead from the accounting softwares and the business-type templates they provide in their softwares.
Example – themes for clubs, for charities, for communities of e-tailers, or communities of pub and hotel owners – these types of groups want their core site function to be to promote what there club / charity / business does – which is a great use for WPMU, but not if BP takes over and subdues the blogs into oblivion with all the chat and community slap and tickle.
At the end of the day, there is no real business-oriented community software as such. Sure some softwares have been tweaked for it (e.g. LinkedIn) but it would be a great niche for BP+WPMU if the theme developers kept such considerations in mind when designing the templates.
p.s. – how do I demote BP to be a plugin and subservient to WPMU – I still can’t figure it out.
All I can share from personal experience is this: It’s real easy to get lost in all the gloss. About two years ago when I was hunting down low-cost, self-hosted, white label social networking software, I narrowed it down to two choices, Elgg and Dolphin. What I loved about Dolphin was how intuitive and pretty the whole backend was — you could easy drag/drop/rearrange different menu items and easily swap out your pages/columns/widgets. You could even change the sizes of certain page elements with just a few mouse clicks. It was almost like a Square Spaces for social networks. But then came more research. And upon that research, I found that Dolphin has some of the ugliest code ever written. On top of breaking tons of add-ons during upgrades, there also wasn’t (and probably still isnâ€™t) an active support group available — more like a commune of helpless, p/o’ed customers who were all experiencing the same bugs. That’s not to say that it’s useless. I’m sure it works fine for a good handful of users who dumped a lot of money into development. But it became apparent that I needed to look into Elgg instead.
Now, Elgg does everything it says right out of the box 100% and we had instant love affair — http://www.michaelkuhlmann.com/category/elgg-vs-buddypress/. The whole installation took me about 10 minutes and there wasnâ€™t a single problemâ€¦ until I tried to re-design it. It was virtually impossible creating an entirely different layout. In fact, I have yet to see an Elgg-powered site that looks completely custom-made like the BuddyPress-powered VW TDI Truth & Dare site. Again, Iâ€™m sure Elgg fulfills the needs of many of its users â€“ and probably a lot more so than Dolphin â€“ but when it came to theming the software, it just fell a bit short. Although I could see how it could seem *ahead of the game* with its ease of use and dragâ€™nâ€™drop capabilities, it really isnâ€™t compared to BP.
So BP came right along just as I finished *theming* — I should actually just say â€œcolorizingâ€ â€“ my Elgg installation. Immediately, I dumped Elgg and switched to BP. I had seen what Andy did with ChickSpeak several months before the BP/Automattic venture was announced, so it looked quite promising. Then, the first release came out. First, I had trouble installing WPMU. Next, I had trouble installing BP. Following that, I couldnâ€™t figure out how to get forums up and running. I sounded just like Mythailife â€“ frustrated to the core. But I also remembered what an amazing difference a few months of development did to WordPress going from version 2.3 to 2.7, so I decided to stick around.
Up until now, I can easily say that BP has made strides in development. Out of the dozens of forums that Iâ€™ve visited, BP has *consistently* given the most support to its users in a timely fashion â€“ FOR FREE. I have to stress the complimentary tech support part, because a lot of people tend to demand an answer to every single question immediately after theyâ€™ve posted their question, which is ridiculous. And if that speaks to you, hereâ€™s what you are getting â€“ again â€“ FOR FREE:
- A social networking system built on top of one of the best open source publishing systems, which means youâ€™re also inheriting tons of great functionalities like WordTube/MapPress/eCommerce/Facebook Connect
- Loads of documentation including WordPress for Dummies and the upcoming book BuddyPress for Dummies (books are not free, of course, but they do count towards documentation)
- Support forums, development roadmaps and overall project transparency
- Ability to customize/theme BP exactly the way you want it to appear
- Dozens of available plugins
- Did I mention that this is built on WordPress?
If you donâ€™t have the luxury of time to wait for support-related questions or still feel like this project is lagging AND you have deep pockets, thereâ€™s always Crowdfusion and Anahita. Otherwise, donâ€™t get lost in the gloss, because BuddyPress is the next-best-thing to come out of the Automattic vault.
@gaz: Yes, with the default theme you get a main navigation bar that focuses on BuddyPress features (Members, Groups, Forums). So in that sense, BuddyPress “takes over”. But there’s also the “Blog” link which links to your WPMU main blog. WPMU is nothing more than Posts and Pages. So it’s all still there.
But yes, the main navigation is BuddyPress-focused when using the default theme. However, that is easily changed. Simply create a child theme with a custom header.php file. Your navigation could then be… Blog, About, Products, Contact, Customer Care… whatever you wish. Perhaps those BuddyPress links (Members, Groups, Forums) would be either in a separate navigation bar (like the bottom bar on Facebook) or maybe subsections of a “Community” menu. Or what have you. It’s all very do-able.
Unfortunately… you are also correct that there are very few custom themes right now. And no purpose-specific themes. BuddyPress is too new. So your choices are to either a) roll up your sleeves and be prepared to do a ton of learning and research or b) hire someone.
And Site Architecture is critical of course. It seems like you have a good idea of what you want to do but you’ve started out by taking a default BuddyPress install and working backwards from there. A good sanity check (if you haven’t already done so) is to sit down and sketch out exactly what you want… what sections… what navigation bars… what functionality… etc. Draw it all out (again, if you haven’t already). Then work from there.
I think you’ve made the right choice. It’ll just require some work. WordPress and BuddyPress are so much more flexible and better supported than the other open source alternatives. It’s worth the effort.
just to clarify:
I do LOVE BuddyPress and I am 100% confident that this is the “next big thing” !
There are a few bugs but this should not stop us to support this great software and improve it as a community.
Unfortunately, I am too dumb to be a programmer, but I am trying to help and sitting for hours at testbp.org in order to find some bugs…..and report it in the TRAC-ticket-system (which is a really great tool to track and see how the development of BP-software is continuing to improve).
The BP-development is all in all very visible – which is a great and honest way (other software companies rather try to hide their bugs…).
Just keep up the great work guys !
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