Is BuddyPress a sensible choice for a larger social site?
On my research of possible underpinnings for a site we are intending to build I came across BuddyPress, and I’m considering it as a viable alternative to Drupal, which would have been my first choice.
We would need the commonplace components of a social site like user profiles with custom fields, image galleries (does BP have these already ?? – I saw some mention of it in the 1.0 roadmap but haven’t yet located them in the demo site), private messaging, a forum and even more
Nevertheless, the recent discussion over at wpmu.org about WP MU being discontinued and the low development activity on WP MU in general made me think if BuddyPress is built on a rather fragile padding.
Is it considered sensible to build a professional grade community upon a BP foundation yet? I am aware of GigaOM Pro et al. but still need a clue of how much in-house development and sysadmining work they do to keep BP afloat.
Don’t believe the hyperbole around “WordPress MU being discontinued”. It is simply merging with WordPress and all the features will be provided under that version. The misinformation on the internet about this is ridiculous.
BuddyPress does not yet have image galleries, this will come in the next version. Mark Jaquith developed GigaOm, so perhaps you can ping him to find out more.
To add further credence to the healthy, continued existence of WordPress Mu and the strength and solidity of BuddyPress, 8 months ago I went through the same investigation, searching out the strongest, best supported, most flexible open-source based platform with which to build out a very large social network. I decided that WPMU + BuddyPress was the solution for me.
Since that time, I’ve fully immersed myself in both platforms, even becoming a moderator on theses forums (as you can see). Over that 8 month period, WPMU and BP have become even stronger, have improved in numerous ways. They are both at the stage where I am now very confident in their foundation. My project is now a go and I am currently feverishly working on building my platform. I hope to be rolling out a beta of my “professional grade community” by the first of the new year.
So do not worry about the future of WPMU or BuddyPress. The future is strong, bright, and healthy.
“low development activity on WP MU in general” – the WPMU folks have been on fire lately, not sure what slow dev universe you speak of. I second Jeff’s comments.
As for some of the features you speak of, a simple cruise through Andy’s http://testbp.org would answer those questions. Compared to the mind-numbing admin work required for Drupal and Joomla, BP is a joy. Of course, if you don’t want to do any work under the hood, go with Ning and have your entire experience dictated to you.
@js I would be glad to see a glimpse of your project ?
Also, consider that because BuddyPress uses WordPressMU which is compatible with most of the normal WordPress plugins out there, you have an existing free library of pretailored website features and upgrades that jump-start your development time.
On a large scale, using plugins like HyperDB and donncha’s cache plugin can help manage server load… Consider that wordpress.com uses a codebase very similar to WPMU to manage millions of users and blogs and activity, and it’s easy to see that WordPress is capable of handling a ton of pages and data… BuddyPress also now powers the http://profiles.wordpress.org pages too, so you can see how it handles tens of thousands of users there as well.
Thanks, guys! You are very helpful. May I still drill a bit deeper?
the WPMU folks have been on fire lately, not sure what slow dev universe you speak of
I was under the impression that a significant fraction of all commits from the sole committer are simply merges from wp.org’s trunk or tiny bug fixes. Care to share any pointers to other signs of activity, perhaps a road map of sorts?
Of course, if you don’t want to do any work under the hood…
Oh, I’m not that naive but rather looking for war stories from real life BP admins to help me gauge the resource requirements. Setting up a test site for a fistful of dummy users did not really help in this guesstimation.
@candydate, i have a similar reflexion and my first choice is Drupal (+ plugins) to create that “community site i dream off”.
I discovered BP very recently, i’m not an expert but my reflexions tell me now that :
– I will be able to do all i want with drupal with many plugins and customization
– i will be able to do all i want with BP with less plugins and customization
Just because the core features i want (friends, groups, networks, wall, …) are in BP and not in Drupal.
Maybe you should create your roadmap v1.0, 2.0, …. and just compare what feature comes naturaly with each solution.
About the WP/WPMU/BP discussion, i’m not afraid of that, i just look at the popularity of WP
and how excited the community is about BP.
Edit : Google trends about ‘drupal social’ vs buddypress : http://www.google.fr/trends?q=drupal+social%2C+buddypress&ctab=0&geo=all&date=all&sort=0
Here’s Andy’s announcement post about the just-released BuddyPress version 1.1. I think it speaks volumes about the current state and future health of the WPMU + BP community.
@bobblegom I am BP all the way but shouldn’t you compare Google Trends on “drupal” vs “buddypress” not “drupal social” ?
I run a BP community of USMA alumni and not only is it stable but they generally love it. I am more of a hack than true coder and I have had no issues. It is def a serious professional grade tool. The ease of customization alone (I have many friends who run Drupal sites and it’s always fun to hear them defend the arcane way Drupal does things.
WP and BP have a lot of growth ahead and they are by no means perfect but the openness and willingness to change and grow is evident (just see any IRC chat with all the developers)
Happy to answer more specific questions on resource requirements and what you were not able to learn from your dummy site.
I think the comparison, in that case, would be wordpress vs. drupal, and then drupal social vs. buddypress…
This is an interesting topic, one that concerns me too because I have been looking at the various options out there. I must say that BP is still somewhat in its infancy, I have been waiting for another project to open up their codebase namely Anahita Social engine, but maybe its me I just don’t like it when things get built on top of eachother and that project appears to be built on top of Joomla. BP is also built on WPMU and I am still trying to see if that will be a good or bad thing.
What concerns me is when things get built on top of eachother that it opens up security holes. WordPress itself has had its fair share of vulnerabilities but has proven to be a good platform so I having something built on top of that is something I am ok to live with.
Something I have been looking at is Community Engine which a Ruby on Rails (ROR) based community engine as the name says. Anyone got any experience with that?
It will take you 3 months to do in Drupal what you could in 3 weeks in WPMU/BuddyPress. I’ve been there and am never looking back. If I do look back at my Drupal project I get shivers and I used to develop for Drupal, namely was part in creating the friendlist plugin (amongst others) if you are familiar with Drupal.
Forget about Joomla if you are worried about security holes, they are the worst of the pack.
I’d say that the most important factor for me is that Andy P is an employee at Automattic. That means BP has got support from Automattic and the blessings needed to have a safe relationship between WP and BP. WP is extremely strong and BP should stand nicely in that giants shoulders.
That’s one of the things that made my decision.
I took a hard look at Elgg for the site I’m setting up at the minute. I actually started the site with Elgg, but switched over to BP in the end. Elgg, as a standalone social network engine, might be the perfect choice for some people, but the learning curve is a lot steeper than with WP, especially if you already have some WP experience.
And the fact that WP and WPMU are gonna be merged means that WP as a whole is gonna be a lot stronger. And you just need to look at how many users/blogs WP.com can handle, so with the correct server setup your BP site has no limits scaling wise.
I’ve been at this for 2+ years now, doing a social niche site. Started back in August of 2007. I had always wanted to create a niche community site, but didn’t know where to go. I found WPMU first and started my community on it. WPMU alone was a great platform. I plugged and patched and mangled together to the best of my ability a “community” site. When I look back on my beginnings and site launch, it wasn’t pretty, but mostly functional. I had friends, mail, blogs, blah blah blah… I had heard about buddypress when it barely had a site, but it was never really polished enough. I think it was recommended to me by andrea over in the WPMU forums. It wasn’t polished enough at the time in it’s infancy, so I looked at Elgg and just didn’t like it either. Even the install process was clunky so I stayed the course with WPMU. I remember the second time I came upon buddypress and was like WOW, this is everything I was looking for. I couldn’t wait until launch day of 1.0.
With as little coding skills as I have (you would laugh if you saw my component code), I have been able to manage and run a VPS with buddypress for almost a year now. I love how buddypress started, the members, and Andy (in a non gay way, lol). I’m trying to slowly build my community (around 140 active) and then really expand away from the default look of buddypress, which I actually happen to love.
So, is it a good enough for a professional grade community? I would say Y-E-S!
Take a look at how fast testbp.org is with 12,229 “active” members. A lot of activity on that site and it’s still cooking!
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