Elgg

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I recently created another BuddyPress test site and I am pleased with how much the procedure has been simplified. I blogged about the difficulty in the past, so it is only fair that I note vast improvements.

I never fully succeeded installing BP the first time I tried. It involved a long process of manually uploading a variety of files and opening them to edit the code in numerous places, then testing and adjusting. I was able to install BP itself, but I never quite got the forum component bbPress (then in Alpha) to work as it should. Trying again several months later (about a year ago), I succeeded and noted that it had been simplified to to a 13 step process still involving moving files and editing code.

Now BP can be installed entirely from WordPressMu and even plain WordPress entirely through the backend. There is no longer a need to use ftp at all or edit a single line of code. Simply install WP or WPMu then install BP through the plugin installer. One no longer must use ftp to manually move themes to the appropriate folder. Next activate one of the BP themes installed with the package through the Appearance menu. All that is left is activating bbPress by going to BuddyPress–>Forum Set up and basically turn it on.

BuddyPress is now installable to even those with few tech skills. Most shared hosting services with control panels have point and click WordPress installers. Now that WP and WPMu have merged, one could convert a standard installation to WPMu, but that still requires some mucking with code. If one needed the multi-blog functionality, it is probably easier to manually install WPMu than make the conversion. I’m sure that will change with time.

BuddyPress has joined Elgg as a viable replacement for proprietary solutions such as NING. I look forward to revisiting both and reporting my experiences.

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WPMu was just updated to a long awaited Version 2.7.1 which has, in turn, triggered events in the BuddyPress realm. The new WPMu version offers a number of important improvements making it a significant improvement. As a consequence, BuddyPress has finally been able to release Version 1.o.

Upgrading from WPMu 2.7 to 2.7.1 was a cinch. First make up your files and database , then simply click the upgrade notification and the new files load. Upon upgrading , the first thing you will notice that the horizontal on the top of the admin page has disappeared. The controversial feature is now an optional plugin.

This upgrade goes yet further in polishing and un-cluttering the administrative interface. Plugin management is much improved and can be handled through the backend rather than the prior ftp for mu plugins and the backend for the wp plugins.

I’m going to start from scratch on my WPMu/BuddyPress installation soon and look forward to renewing my BuddyPress and Elgg comparisons.

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Elgg co-founder Ben Werdmuller has left Curverider as of April 15.  On his blog he refers to Team Elgg positively calling them, “…a first-class team of brilliantly intelligent, creative peope.” When asked why he left Elgg, he replied, “I’ve got some other ideas I’d like to persue. Nothing sinister.”

Ben intimates that he has some exciting new projects and will have announcements later in the year. In fact Ben sent an interesting Tweet implying that he will have he has much to say when he is back from his travels. Hopefully it will be a hint of things to come.

I wish Ben well and look forward to hearing about his new projects. Additionally, I want to thank him for all the work and inspiration he has provided developing Elgg.

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One feature I didn’t see when testing beta Elgg 1.5 is the admin’s ability to set default widgets in both user profiles and dashboards. These tools, included in the Elgg 1.5 “full” package. Elgg adopters have asked for this feature since the initial release and there have been plugins that provided such functionality, but had to be configured by code.

The new functionality gives admins the ability to place default widgets in one of three columns in a format nearly identical to that the users see when they configure their widgets.

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This feature allows administrators to provide new visitors with configured profiles and dashboards  rather than the blank pages that many thought were confusing and unfriendly to new users.

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Elgg 1.5 has been released by Curverider. Over the past few days, Elgg’s revisions to their Subversion repository had slowed as they put the finishing touches on the new release. 

Elgg 1.5 is available as a package or from the subversion repository. This development means that I will return to my comparisons of Elgg and BuddyPress. It also signals developers, including myself, to update Elgg themes and plugins.

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