While much of the buzz has been around the latest release of WordPress 3.9 and its cool new features, many may have not noticed that BuddyPress 2.0 quietly arrived this past week.
Personally, I’m a big fan of BuddyPress and plan on integrating it into this site in the next redesign.
However, many folks I’ve spoken to have been reluctant to use it since it was lacking some features inherent in alternative solutions – or – simply was a moving target – or – a performance hog. To those nay-sayers, take a look at the BuddyPress 2.0.
I get many clients requesting features such as social networking or community activity streams, and I always recommend BuddyPress (especially if they’re already using WordPress).
Site owners are constantly trying to fulfill use cases for universities, companies, or communities formed around a mutual interest on specific topic.
Given that we’re moving considerably to a more social web, BuddyPress has a bright future ahead.
Let’s review some highlights of the latest version of BuddyPress.
BuddyPress 2.0 retires bp-forums
That’s right – the forums are now separated. This shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone given that in a recent survey, nearly 95% of BuddyPress users that use forums have stated that they use the bbPress 2.x plugin.
The removal of bb-press is not a serious issue for most users since bp-forums had been stagnant for quite some time, and was mostly hidden from the user interface. It makes sense to eliminate forums from BuddyPress to keep the social networking plugin lean and focused on core enhancements.
For legacy users, it should not be difficult to upgrade and leverage both plugins in their current state. If you’re starting a new site, consider this a new beginning.
BuddyPress 2.0 enables Profile Editing From WP-Admin
The new release has several new features that simplify and centralize common administrative tasks. Examples include:
- Profile Editing – the latest version sports a new “Extended Profile” tab into the Dashboard > Users interface, where you can manage profile data, avatars, user status, and more.
- Spam User Management – similar to how Akismet blocks spam for your articles’ comments, BuddyPress 2.0 gets better at fighting spam users from invading your activity stream.
- User Management – Site owners will appreciate a list of signups that have not yet been activated, as well as the ability to perform useful tasks such as manual account activation and resending activation emails.
Though some of this was possible before, it required additional plugins along with some fingers-crossed hope to make it work together. Now, it’s all baked into the core plugin. Brilliant!
Performance Improvements / Query Optimization
Administrators of fast growing networks reported that with earlier versions of BuddyPress they had serious issues with the performance. Within the latest release, developers focused specifically on the queries that caused these bottlenecks and the improvements are quite noticeable.
We’ve streamlined some of the most common problematic queries – such as those in the Members and Activity directories – to shave up to 95% of the query time off of certain individual queries.
The release post offers some figures related to the load time / speed improvements. As noted, these improvements will be much more significant on larger websites.
User Signup Management
After the signup process, BuddyPress users are required to verify and activate their account by email.
But sometimes verification emails can miss the target and end up to the spam folder or can be accidentally deleted, which can lead to an unpleasant situation where members could not finish the signup process. With BuddyPress 2.0, administrators can track the status of pending accounts help new members that are experiencing difficulties to finish the signup process.
Administrator can even activate the account for them or resend the activation email if needed. In the past, such functionality was available using third-party plugins, however those are no longer necessary since it’s all built-in.
Activity Stream Enhancements
The most important and visible feature of a social network is its activity feed. In 2.0, there are two awesome enhancements that are noteworthy:
- Cross-Streaming – OK, I made up that term, but it’s really one of the new features. BuddyPress activity streams now include blog comment activity, and vice versa. When you post a comment related to a blog post, it shows up on the activity stream. This deserves some kudos!
- Load New Activity – Is your activity stream very active? A new feature prompts the user to load new activity similar to how Facebook provides a mechanism to notify the user of New Stories.
Up until now, each individual profile data field was accompanied by a rivacy field. With people getting more and more interested in securing their information, robust privacy settings are becoming quite important. Many people argued that profile data and its visibility settings should be divided in a two separate menus.
In that case, logical place for visibility and privacy setting is the “Settings” menu. In BuddyPres 2.0, field data and field privacy options will be separated, with visibility info transferred to Settings page.
There are more gems baked into 2.0, so have a look at the development log or take it for a test drive.I think the release of BuddyPress 2.0 is a critical milestone for the plugin, and we’re going to start seeing more sites running their communities using this platform.
Thank You BP Team!
In closing, I just want to take a minute to thank all the contributors (listed at bottom of linked article) to BuddyPress who really don’t get enough credit for moving this project forward.
I know that BP sometimes gets lost in the shadows of WordPress, and here’s hoping that will not be the case anymore. Thank you BP team and contributors!
Comment below on how you plan on using the all new BuddyPress!