Development for version 1.2 of BuddyPress is beginning to wind down and we’re looking at a feature freeze at the end of this month. I’d expect the new version to be released some time at the end of January after a period of beta testing. We’ve got a host of new features to look forward to in this new version and I’d like to give you a glimpse of a few of them.

One of the biggest changes is the activity stream. There has been a lot of focus on making the activity stream far more interactive in 1.2, and to do this we have merged together some of the features in previous versions of BuddyPress. Instead of having to post messages on a group or profile wire, or posting a separate status update, you can now post messages directly to the site wide stream, your profile stream, or a group activity stream. This stops fragmentation of the interface and brings content posting into one unified input box.

One of the benefits of this interactive activity stream is that we can now provide the ability for other members to post direct replies to your updates. In 1.2 the activity stream includes the ability for threaded commenting. This allows for full conversations to take place around activities and makes the activity stream that much more of a two way process.

Another major update in 1.2 is the introduction of a new default theme. We’ve worked hard to produce a theme that will help both end users and developers. The new theme offers a more usable and unified interface with far more personal customization than the previous default. The theme also greatly simplifies the HTML, CSS and Javascript that powers it, allowing for greater ease of customization. If you’re fully invested in the previous default, don’t worry, this theme is not going anywhere and has already been updated to support the new features in 1.2. The new default simply provides a fresh alternative.

If you’re itching to start trying out some of the features in the new version, you can head on over to the BuddyPress Test Drive. The test drive runs the latest development version of BuddyPress and represents the state of the newest version as it currently stands. If you’d like to start working with the development version you can always check out the latest version from our svn code repository. However, remember that until the final version is released code is subject to change.

I hope everyone has a wonderful festive season and an even better new year celebration. 2010 is going to be an exciting year for BuddyPress, I’m looking forward to sharing it with you.