buddypress

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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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In honor of the release of BuddyPress 1.0, I trashed my previous installation and created a new one from scratch. The new version of BuddyPress requires WordPressMu 2.7.1 and bbPress 1.0 alpha. The process, while simplified, is still out of the reach of many who are accustomed to the standard, upload, create database, and browser based installation.

It process begins with a standard installation of WPMu. Once that is done, you can install the BuddyPress plugins through the backend: Plugins–>Install New. then activate the plugin. That’s not it though as the web based installer cannot place the BuddyPress themes in the correct directory. To do that, one needs to manually move the themes from the plugin directory to theme directory using ftp or a file manager, then activate the themes.

Integrating bbPress remains the hardest part although it too has been simplified to a 13 step process. You can ignore the warnings about salt this and that failing. Just follow the steps. Unlike my previous experiences trying to integrate bbPress, this all worked the first time through. It involves pasting a line of code into the config and moving a file from BuddyPress into bbpress.

Overall, this is a big step in the right direction. Now that the WPMu framework has been updated, I hope to see more progress with the project. There are a lot a capabilities under the hood that are not yet wired up, much as we saw with the initial release of Elgg. A real concern remains in that bbPress is still alpha. BuddyPress needs a solid stable forum.

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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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While visiting the BuddyPress site for fresh news, I encountered a blog post entitled BuddyPress in K12 Education. It appears that BuddyPress is being piloted by the Dearborn, Michigan school district. It’s always great to hear about Open Source adoptions by public K12 ! I could see deploying components of BuddyPress in our school’s existing WPMu installation.

I was disappointed, however, to see that two of the key plugins for making this possible are for pay: Site-wide Privacy Settings and Content Monitoring. It seems to me that privacy settings for blogs should be a basic functionality for Social Networking platforms. I hope that BuddyPress will integrate some form of access/privacy settings that will make it appropriate for K12 in the near term!

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I’ve been examining both Elgg and BuddyPress for use as a social networking platform in the K12 setting. One of things necessary for our school (and probably many others) is that unmoderated content be private.

About three months ago, BuddyPress developer, Andy Peatling, responded on the BuddyPress forum that the initial release of the software would be would be for open networks and that after the release the plan is to introduce privacy settings.

About a month ago,  user josswinn began testing dsader’s More Privacy Options plugin for WPMU, and posted his experiences in both the BP and WPMU forums. By putting More Privacy Options in the mu-plugins folder, blogs can be set to one of five levels of privacy. If an admin sets the primary blog to  “visible only to registered members,” the BuddyPress portion of the installation is locked down nicely.

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This also effectively blocks registration which is desirable for our purposes. Apparently another plugin called Members Only functions similarly, but without the numerous privacy options.

While the pages are blocked, RSS feeds are another issue. In spite hacking dsader’s More Privacy plugin as recommended on these forum posts, I found myself able to access  RSS feeds to material that should have been blocked. Josswin reports the same with Member’s Only as well. I tried using Clifton H. Griffin III’s Disable RSS, but that did not work either.

The More Privacy Options plugin seems to block RSS feeds fine on my other WPMU installation. I am puzzled by the difference. The only solution I see at this point is to delete or rename key RSS files within WPMU. It will be interesting to see if a resolution appears. Otherwise, it might be best to wait until there are privacy settings within BuddyPress itself.

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