No all-in-one event calendar plug-in for Buddypress?
I am currently setting up and developing a social media site based on WordPress/BuddyPress but can’t find a single event plug-in, that meets our requirements:
1. Users can submit events
2. Integration in the BP Frontend/Profiles
3. Ability for recurring events
4. Usage of custom Post Types and Taxonomies for Events and Locations
5. Ability to show intention to attend (like in Facebook)
6. Ability to invite others (your friends) to an event by BP messages or BP notifications
7. Activity Stream entrys for creating and attending events
8. Sell tickets (preferably integrating mit MarketPress or WooCommerce).
9. Granular Shortcodes and Template-Tags for complete customization of output.
I would gladly pay 500 or even 1,000 dollars for a plug-in that does it all!
I started off with looking at a plug-in, I’ve been using for 4 years now: Events Manager. Its VERY well documented, has loads of shorttags and complies with 1/2/3/4/7/8/9. But it cant invite other users by internal BuddyPress functions and you cant say “I’ll attend” without “buying” a ticket.
Then I came upon Event Espresso. Nice and polished and with some extra features like QR-Code tickets and a mobile app to have a digital check-in. It also exposes all content through a JSON API possibly making a mobile app integration (like with PhoneGap) much easier. It also offers seating plans for variable tickets. But again: no invitation or notification through BuddyPress. No “Attend” and “maybe” buttons like in FB. And no BuddyPress integration, not frontend event submission and unless you have bought a license you cant check, what shortcodes it has to offer. Certainly a more tight-lipped approach to technical support.
For a long time I thought, these are the major players I have to choose among, before I became aware of Events+ by WPMU. Incredibly, it seems to be the only WordPress events plugin mimicking the FB way of showing your intention to attend. The “Attend” and “Maybe” buttons are front and center of this plugin, along with recurring events and a system to buy tickets (integrated with MarketPress). It even allows different ticket prices based on user level/role. But a lousy pre-sales documentation and limited number of shortcodes and again: no internal invitation feature.
I googled again and again, before I found a reference to the original BP events plugin, seemingly abandoned by its (too good not to ne hired by Facebook) developer. This plug-in, was apparently able to invite friends of the event organizer through BuddyPress notifications. It hasnt been developed further since then, it seems, and it came with a peculiar “feature”: all people invited were automatically registered as attending. If everything in life would be so easy 😉
Is this the end of this rant? No, there are more interesting players, targeting the WP events segment. Foremost “The Events Calendar” plug-in, which elegantly integrates ticket sales with WooCommerce, has very clean aesthetics, a lively community to support it and surprise, fails too in the notification and attention departments. It seems to have a rather limited choice of shortcodes and no official Buddypress integration at all, although it seems, as if you can achieve that manually. It’s US centric approach to only use 12h time formats basically excludes it for 85% of the world population.
And then there is Timely, which brings more color into this review. Indeed, it’s author must love colors, since it’s using them all over the place. Category colors, calendar colors etc. Granted, this all can probably be changed by CSS, but the first impression is visual overkill. Besides that it lacks many of the required features.
Just before completing my search I literally stumbled upon a newborn. Seeing the light of day on September 16, Event Calendar & Ticketing and its complementary WooEvents Pro. The plug-in approaches the ticket selling issue from a different side: events ARE products, having full integration with WooCommerce and all its possible extensions. But again: no imvitation feature, no attending without buying a ticket.
So, to my astonishment, there doesnt seem to be a single WordPress plug-in that aloows the event creator (and others) to invite people in the BP community or notify them of the event. Many of the plg-ins mentioned above do provide for external means like E-Mail to inform people about the event. But this really defies, what a social community build on BuddyPress is all about. People should get encouraged to be online and participate, not just glance at the E-mail inboxes. The same with showing your intention to attend, without buying a ticket. This is, what makes FB truly social and BuddyPress (in its current incarnation) more of a publishing and marketing platform for events.
Before I conclude there is one last thing I wanna mention: privacy. None of the events provide a way to make events visible only to friends or to people invited by the organizer. An important oversight, since many users might want to have private birthday party and don’t want to see hundreds of party crashers showing up and creating news headlines like “Police forced to break up mass event at private mansion”.
Usually choice is a wonderful thing, but here, it becomes a nuisance. One is forced to choose between which core features you might be most willing to sacrifice without turning off your client or users. Clearly, there is an opening for a better integrated events plug-in for Buddypress, notwithstanding the crowded field of aspirants. There is also an argument to be made, that this is something, that clearly belongs in the core, with plug-in developers filling the gaps with their luxury features.
If I made a factual mistake here, then I am sorry. Please correct me and provide for documention where to find this particular feature. Because a feature not documented, is practically the same as a non-existent feature!
I hope no one will take the critique personally. All the mentioned plug-ins are fine products by themselves and based on a lot of work, I am very thankful for. It’s just, that I’m flabbergasdted, that there are so blatent omissions in their feature sets.
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