If you haven’t heard the word, there is a fury of activity going on at this very moment in the WordPress community. For the first time in over 8 years, the core development team is not working on the next version of WordPress, but rather on an initiative that’s been dubbed “3.org.”

3.org is a very appropriately named project that is focused on building and polishing the surrounding elements of WordPress rather than on WordPress itself. Part of this initiative is the conversion of bbPress from a standalone platform into a neat little WordPress plugin. I’ve volunteered to lead that initiative, and wanted to take a moment to explain what that means for BuddyPress, bbPress, and what you can expect for the next few months.

Since BuddyPress 1.1, bbPress has come bundled in the package to help make the installation as smooth and easy as possible. Through a little bit of massaging we successfully integrated bbPress into a dedicated forum component to allow for group discussion, and we included a central discussion directory to help put all of these topics in one easy place. All of these ideas were great on paper but have had mixed feedback and results in practice. Making bbPress a standalone plugin will help allow for more customizable installations which is great news for anyone that’s currently using BuddyPress for the forum component, or has been holding off because of the complexity of it all.

Our goal with me giving some attention to the bbPress plugin project is to keep it tightly integrated with BuddyPress, but have them act totally independently or alone if necessary. This means in a future version of BuddyPress, bbPress will no longer come packaged in the download, and both plugins will be aware of each other being activated. When that happens, additional features will be available to you to help create the kind of community that you’d like to have, instead of forcing forums to be tucked away into BuddyPress discussion groups.

The end result will be two plugins working harmoniously together, to easily enable setups where bbPress forums can be created for any other kind of object, component, or plugin. This is particularly awesome for BuddyPress developers because it will allow them to internally extend bbPress to fit the specific needs of their own custom BuddyPress components as they see fit.

With all this going on, the loose expectation is for BuddyPress 1.2.6 to roll out asap with a few bug fixes and maybe even a small new enhancement or two, with 1.3 to follow by the end of the year. bbPress 1.2 (the plugin) should be stable enough to start testing as soon as September 15 (give or take a few days and/or missing features) with a full release due around the same time as BuddyPress 1.3.