Last year I was working on a new membership feature for my church’s website (actually, I’m still working on it) that would help to facilitate interaction among the churchgoers throughout the week. Being a hard core developer, I rolled up my sleeves and started working through how I would handle discussions, notifications, user profiles, and the like. After spending a few weeks of weekends and evenings hacking on it I decided to check and see what kind of prebuilt solution for this kind of application might already exist (yes this is the problem with developers: code now – research later).
Oh… hai BuddyPress
As you probably already know, it didn’t take long searching for WordPress social platforms for me to come across a fairly popular plugin called BuddyPress, perhaps you’ve heard about it.
At first I was skeptical. How could a plugin really do all the things that BuddyPress does let alone do them well? Also, as a Web Engineer for 10up at the time, I figured that I had my finger on the WordPress pulse pretty well. If this was a reputable plugin with the popularity that it appeared to have, how did I not know about?
Well, I was pretty humbled and pretty impressed. I installed it on the site and started working on customizing (I told you I’m a developer, right?).
It’s been several months since discovering BuddyPress, but I am still excited by it and feel like I have an amazing new tool now that I have to share with others.
So What Exactly is BuddyPress?
BuddyPress is a fully functional, out of the box social network solution for WordPress. Some of the features that it offers are:
- Extended WordPress user profiles
- Private messaging between members
- Activity streams
- Groups (Public and Private)
- And more!
BuddyPress is built in such a way that you can enable any of it’s features independent of each other.
Now, just because BuddyPress works out of the box doesn’t mean that it will meet your social network needs out of the box. But that’s ok because BuddyPress is built by some of the best minds in the WordPress community. It makes good use of PHP object oriented program (much like WordPress does) so it is very easy to extend and customize. The only issue that I have with BuddyPress so far is that it’s documentation leaves a lot to be desired.
Why I am so excited about BuddyPress
I love to build applications with WordPress. Blogging sites are ok (no offense bloggers), but I prefer to work on projects that go beyond data consumption and actually invite the reader to participate. There is a lot of potential and untapped power in BuddyPress and I am really excited to find it!