WPMU

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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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WordPressMu version 2.7.1 beta1 is now available. Released on April 2, this marks an important landmark for its companion BuddyPress.

BuddyPress has rested on RC1 waiting for changes to the core WordPress Mu application. According to core developer Andy Peatling’s blog post of February 11, the release of BuddyPress stable has been predicated upon the release of a new version of WPMu that includes integrated site-wide plugin support.

Whether this version includes such a feature is not entirely clear, but a survey of the changes from trunk at r1648 to branches/2.7 at r1715 reveals six plug-in related files that have been created or changed. The inclusion of wp-admin/wpmu-sitewide-plugins.php makes me optimistic.

WPMu developer Donncha indicated that the current beta version is pretty stable. My experience with WPMu is that the time between beta and release is typically on the order of days or a couple weeks.

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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 recently came across CommentPress. It’s a WordPress plugin that allows readers to comment on a post paragraph by paragraph. CommentPress looks like a very promising collaboration tool. CommentPress is on the cusp of a major upgrade from version 1.4.1 to 2.0. We will look at features in the current version, and preview Version 2.0.

Currently, CommentPress is a WP theme. Install it and activate it.

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The resultant main page includes a table of contents on the left side, a “page” that you can customize in the center, and some widgets on the right. The meat of this comes when you clink a link to one of the posts.

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Each paragraph has a “speech bubble” to the right of it. Click on that and you can view all the other comments on that paragraph. Comments can even be threaded. Whether or not there are comments already, there is a text field for entering comments.

As it stands, CommentPress works well. Yet the developers plan on giving it even greater flexibility with version 2.0 due out in a couple weeks. I had trouble with the beta on my server, so I can only write about what I have seen and read on their site.

Rather than just a theme, the new version will include 3 plugins and a theme that can work independently so you only use the components you need. You will be able to use it with most WordPress themes. The comment box can be dragged and dropped to any location on the page. There are also enhancements that improve CommentPress’s ability to work with changed text in the posts. I also understand that it will be more flexible in working with other widgets and plugins.

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CommentPress’s potential in education and in other areas is great. The ability to annotate and critique text paragraph by paragraph make it much easier to focus a response to a given segment of text. It would work well for peer editing of student writing. Teachers could post a segment of text for students to read allowing them to respond to the text and other comments. I have installed CommentPress to facilitate discussion of our school’s web publishing policy.

I look forward to working with a new version of CommentPress, but I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it as it is today. As a bonus, the current version works with WPMU, and I hope the newer version will as well.

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