Welcome to Press This, the WordPress community podcast from WMR. Each episode features guests from around the community and discussions of the largest issues facing WordPress developers. The following is a transcription of the original recording.
Powered by RedCircle
Doc Pop: You’re listening to Press This, a WordPress community podcast on WMR. Each week we spotlight members of that WordPress community. I’m your host, Doc Pop. I support the WordPress community through my role at WP Engine and my contributions over on TorqueMag.io. You can subscribe to Press This on RedCircle, iTunes, Spotify, or your favorite podcasting app. You can also download episodes directly from WMR.fm.
Social media has changed a lot over the years. WordPress has changed a lot over the years. When I think back on some of my earliest web memories, though, it comes back to forums. And this all kind of ties into a product called BuddyPress, which has been around in the WordPress space for a long time.
If you’ve been in WordPress for as long as many of us have, you’ve probably heard of it. BuddyPress is a powerful community plugin for WordPress that takes your site from a blog into, I think of it as a forum. It’s got all these features, online community, profiles, activity streams, notifications. It really turns your WordPress install into a community hub, and I feel like that’s Important now, as some of us are leaving some social networks and exploring others, I think it’s nice for us to think about owning these communities again and what that could mean and how WordPress could power that.
So today we’re talking to iMath, the lead developer on BuddyPress, and David Cavins a BuddyPress core developer, about what is happening with BuddyPress. And I’m going to say it. I don’t know if this is official, but I’m going to say what’s happening with BuddyPress 2. So stay tuned for more on that.
But first let’s kick off. I just want to know more about you guys. iMath, why don’t you tell me about how you got into WordPress?
iMath: Oh, I got into WordPress 15 years ago, it was WordPress 2.7 Coltrane, with a brand new administration. I think it was the first version with this new administration. And I started building plugins for my company, I had a project to build a community about ideas, organized around ideas, to pick the good ideas that are in use into the company. So for the intranet, the project was to build this community, and I met BuddyPress, first as a user then as a contributor, I built some patches and I met with the other guys of the team and it was a great time with Boone, John James Jacoby, we had Paul Gibbs and David.
DP: And David, how did you get into WordPress?
David Cavins: Well, I was working for a public library here in Missouri and we needed a blog site. Essentially, we had a site that we were treating like a blog. This was a million years ago. And the static site updates were not that fun using Dreamweaver. So, somebody suggested we look into WordPress and I got involved with the development of that new site. And so, it powered a lot of ideas then, once we got the first site going. You see the possibilities everywhere once you are used to a tool. And so I developed many more WordPress sites after that, and got involved with BuddyPress later on when a group I was working with called me out of the blue and said, “what do you think about this BuddyPress? We need some community features so that our members can communicate with each other on our new site.”
And so I looked at BuddyPress and it’s kind of an amazing tool. And the more you dug into it, the more you realize that you could find ways to contribute and offer some new ideas to the project.
DP: And David, why don’t you just go on and tell us what is BuddyPress?
DC: Well, BuddyPress is a lot of things to a lot of people and it’s it’s a community add-on to a WordPress site. So it takes your WordPress site and adds a lot of membership capabilities. Some of the membership capabilities are the ability to moderate members as they come in the door, by having membership requests or using invitations to invite members that you can curate your membership list. Other important things are activity lists, where you can communicate with each other, messages to communicate between members.
The groups component, which was probably the original thing that I got involved with in BuddyPress, is extremely powerful, where certain members of your site can form interest groups or whatever you want to use groups for, and do work within a subsection of your site, within groups.
And of course, BuddyPress has a lot of add ons or, other plugins that build on top of BuddyPress. So, when I say it’s a lot of things to a lot of people, people have really expanded and used it to do some amazing and wonderful things, using custom code or expanding on the BuddyPress plugin with other plugins, or just using some of the simple pieces like, they have a site and they want to manage memberships. And so they use just the membership component of BuddyPress.
BuddyPress is very modular, so it’s not a thing that when you install it, you get this behemoth that you have to use every piece of. You can install it and choose one or two pieces to use if that’s what you want to do. Or you can go whole hog and have groups and messages and all that sort of thing
DP: And iMath, let’s get to the big thing that’s happening, I think you were saying this week, there’s going to be massive changes to BuddyPress. Can you tell us about what’s new.
iMath: Yes. It began three or four months ago. We’re working on BuddyPress 12.0, and BuddyPress 12.0 will completely change the way we are building URLs and we are routing the URLs for, let’s say—since the beginning we were using a custom URL parser and now we finally comply with the WordPress Rewrite API.
It’s an important step for us because it will open new opportunities for some of our features all around, mainly around blocks and community, let’s say community, into modifying the community into the site editor. I don’t know if it makes sense, but that’s the idea. And the rewrite, complying with the WordPress Rewrite API is very important. Also for me, I’m French, and I will finally be able to have a URL in French. That wasn’t possible so far with BuddyPress. So you will be able to customize every part of every BuddyPress URL, so it’s a very important change and it has a lot of benefits, but it’s a big thing because it’s a massive change. We need a plugin that is adding a dependency to BuddyPress to update to this new way of building URL and analyzing URLs. So we’ve put some compatibility mechanisms in place and it’s a lot of work since we started with David because we are not only building 12.0, we’re also building a compatibility plugin to make sure every user will be able to carry on using their specific configuration with a very old plugin, maybe but they can update, use the compatibility plugin and have no problem.
But our goal is to make this plugin use a new BP Rewrites API, because it is a very important step for the future of BuddyPress, it’s like the first step. That’s why David was talking about BuddyPress 2.0.
DP: Well, let’s, pause here. And when we come back, we will pick up on BuddyPress 12, the next version of BuddyPress. It’s going to be fixing some of these 10 year-old issues with URLs. So stay tuned for more with me and David and iMath talking about BuddyPress and WordPress. Stay tuned for more.
DP: Welcome back to Press This, a WordPress community podcast. I’m your host, Doc Pop. Today, I’m talking to iMath, a lead developer on BuddyPress, and David Cavins, the BuddyPress core developer. And we’re talking about some of these big changes that are happening after a long time. It sounds like the changes that are happening in 12.0 of BuddyPress are, as has been said before, a new version of BuddyPress I like this quote here from David, “BuddyPress 12 is replacing the transmission in the car.” David, what is the biggest change you’re most excited about that’ll come from BuddyPress 12?
DC: The rewrites is the biggest change, but it will allow us to do so many new things as a result of it. Also in BuddyPress 12, something we were able to add, relatively straightforwardly, is the ability to make a community, a private community. Previously, protecting community content was extremely difficult because of the way the plugin was structured and loaded.
But with the new Rewrite API at the core of everything, making the private community feature was relatively straightforward. And so in 12.0, we actually have the first iteration of a private community capability built directly into BuddyPress 2. So if you check the box, all of your BuddyPress areas will be only accessible to logged in users and not users of the public web, for instance.
So it’s a huge change that would have been very difficult to do before the Rewrite API. But after the Rewrite API, it was a very straightforward change. And that’s the kind of advanced management kind of work that we’re looking forward to with the new API in place.
DP: Yeah. I feel like that’s interesting. There’s a lot of issues that y’all were unable to address and it all comes down to this thing that probably no one wanted to do, which was the overhaul of the transmission as used in your analogy there. And iMath, I kind of want to get some stats from you just to give a little more perspective on BuddyPress. I know it’s been around for a long while. Can you give our listeners an idea of like how long BuddyPress has been around and how many installs you think there are? Maybe even if you have one, maybe even an example of a large install that’s currently in use.
iMath: Yes, the statistics we have are the statistics we can see on the WordPress plugins page. Today, it shows we have 100,000 active installs. But we were at 200, a few, like a few months ago, and I think we are just a bit under The range is 200 and then 100, we are probably a bit under 200. BuddyPress is there for 15 years. A bit more than 15 years. Our birthday was on March 25 this year, and we celebrated it with a new BuddyPress add-on to manage media the BuddyPress way. It’s called BP Attachments. It’s available on the WordPress plugin directory.
And it’s another direction we are taking, making a more distinct add-on, we call it an add-on, from BuddyPress core. And the idea is to shrink BuddyPress moving optional components like activity, etc., as independent plugins, and leaving people to install what they really need. It’s already, as David says, very modular, but it’s another step into this direction. And to give you a big example, the biggest, I think example of BuddyPress capabilities to manage a community, I will take the WordPress community because uh, if you go on profiles.wordpress.org this is BuddyPress that is powering this website, this community, where that’s where you get all your badge. And if you contribute to BuddyPress, you get a BuddyPress badge on your profile. And your story, you can say a word about your story, et cetera, your interest. So it’s using the profile API. It’s also using groups to manage some rights, what the user can do, so it’s an interesting usage by the way and that’s I think the biggest WordPress site that is using BuddyPress, and we are very proud of it
DP: Yeah, that’s cool. We’ve all been using BuddyPress, I might not have realized it. I didn’t even realize it, but it totally makes sense. Of course it’s BuddyPress. And, you know, the changes that are happening, it sounds like they’re going to make these add-ons that third parties are creating for BuddyPress, it sounds like they’re going to be easier to work with. It sounds like it’s going to be a really nice, clean overhaul. But I’m wondering for folks who currently have BuddyPress installed, what is this going to mean for them?
iMath: To upgrade to 12.0?
DP: Yeah. Is there any big step that they’re going to have to take? Is it, you know, likely to cause breakage on their site or?
iMath: For anything uh, I’m managing risks, so we worked very hard with David about this part. The risks of upgrading to BuddyPress 12.0, according to the WordPress configuration I have was probably very old, some very old BuddyPress plugin. So the first advice would be before upgrading to BuddyPress 12.0, if you are using BuddyPress plugins that are not maintained by the BuddyPress core team, activate the BP Classic plugin and everything will go smooth.
DC: So yeah, what BP Classic does is it provides the backward compatibility that we need to ensure that plugins that are not yet updated to use the new Rewrites API and potentially old template packs and things like that will continue to work. As Mathieu says, the risk is there that the upgrade could cause some incompatibilities on your site, but the fix is to install and activate the BP Classic. So, essentially, you’ll be getting a lot of the new features of 12, but it will be backing up and making sure that you’re not breaking your existing plugin.
DP: I’m definitely getting vibes of the Classic Editor plugin from..
iMath: [Laughter] Yes, we took inspiration. We first started by building a BP Rewrites plugin on the WordPress plugin directory. And the goal was. Please help us develop BP Rewrites, the BP Rewrites API, and we’ll make it a smooth change. We’ll get used to it, et cetera. The problem is nobody really contributed to the BP Rewrites API, and it’s an important step for us to keep on moving forward.
So we took the other way around, and said, okay, we’re going to put backwards compatibility into a plugin, and we will move into the core.
DP: All right, well, I feel like that’s another good spot for us to take a quick break. And when we come back, we are going to talk about BuddyVerse, which am super excited the main reason I wanted to get y’all on here is to tell me about this, uh, exciting project. So, stay tuned for more after the short break. We’ll be right back.
Welcome back to Press This, a WordPress Community Podcast. Today we’re talking to iMath and David Cavins from BuddyPress, who have been telling us about BuddyPress 12.0, also known, as I called it, BuddyPress 2, but that’s not the name, it’s BuddyPress 12, but a big overhaul. And I hinted right at the last break that there is some federation coming to BuddyPress, or at least as I understand it, that’s going to be happening. iMath, why don’t you tell me about the plans for for federating BuddyPress sites? I’d like to hear about that.
iMath: Yes. It’s good to write a dream down, and say, we want to reach this. The main interest in WordPress is you own your community. You are the one that is in control. You’re not relying on some social network. You are building your own social network.
So it’s a very important advantage. We need to make people understand, really communicate about this advantage. And that’s why we are a bit changing how we are uh, our purpose. You can get together in BuddyPress, in WordPress, and with your own way of organizing your community. And the idea is that we are thinking about BuddyPress when we want to organize some people. And the idea was what can BuddyPress do for someone like me who has a WordPress site, a blog, where I’m writing some posts, but I want to be in contact with other people like me that are using their blogs, etc.?
The first time we’ve been talking about, it was in 2017, it was in Paris. Paris was the city that hosted WordCamp Europe at this time. And I was talking with a friend of mine and he said, but what is doing BuddyPress? If I install BuddyPress, can I talk to other WordPress sites? And I said, “Oh yes, that’s a great idea.” And since then, I had always had this idea in mind, but the problem is how can we do that? And I wrote the dream down on the post where we explain why we are changing our purpose because that’s an objective.
We’ll try to reach it. But to reach it, we need a lot more contributors, and I think, as a first step, we will get help by seeing how we can integrate with the ActivityPub plugin that is available on the WordPress plugins directory and see if there is an API or some some hooks we can hook to to make some BuddyPress thing.
And I think we can be helpful for people using WordPress as their main central place on the internet and I’m thinking about the profile page we can easily build with BuddyPress. I was the, I think, the madman at the beginning having a BuddyPress on a second site. I was alone and I have activated BuddyPress and I was using it for the profile capability actually.
iMath: The BuddyVerse is, we are using BuddyPress for our own, for one people, but getting in touch with other people having BuddyPress, in another site. That’s the idea.
DP: So that’s exciting and you’re saying “dream,” so that’s setting expectations for people. This isn’t coming out in BuddyPress 12. Um, it’d be BuddyPress 12. 0.1. [Laughter] We’ll have the, no, but you’re talking about maybe using ActivityPub for something to power this or the matrix standard. I would love it if you guys use ActivityPub.
I chatted with Matthias Pfefferle a few weeks ago about ActivityPub and WordPress. And I feel like I would love to see more usage in there, more crossover of just learning how to use WordPress as your hub and ActivityPub to power these things. And, you know, ideally, I would have my identity, which is associated with like Mastodon or whatever, but ideally I’d be able to go in and comment on a BuddyPress thing or follow a BuddyPress thing or join a community or follow the community from Mastodon or whatever. I feel like there’s so much potential there. So this is an exciting thing, and it’s kind of hard to maybe figure out what exactly it is yet. And it’s obviously in the future.
I sure hope that something comes from that. Cause I would love to see even deeper connection between, you know, the Fediverse and WordPress.
iMath: Yes. It’s beginning to be a reality. I think WordPress.com has made some steps into this area. I’ve read it a few days ago. When I wrote the post, I was like, we missed the opportunity to have private community when people needed it. Small business want to make a community to a private community, and we were not able to do that. And I’ve read this into the feedback we got. When I wrote the post, there was all this thing with regular social network or media, social media, let’s say. And I was like, we need to be, well not tomorrow, but one day a serious alternative to these media. And uh, I left all of them. So, I’m concentrating on the fediverse.
DP: And on that note, I think it’s time for us to wrap up. I really enjoyed chatting with y’all today. iMath, can you tell folks where they can find you or be able to reach you if they have any questions about what you’re working on?
iMath: Sure there’s many places, but the main place is imathi.eu,
I M A T H I E U.
DP: And David, how can folks follow you, or reach out to you if they have any questions?
DC: Probably the easiest way is via Slack. Honestly I’m, I’m on the BuddyPress channel at Slack and, also you can reach me via various support channels on the WordPress.org site as well.
iMath: Now you can find me on Slack also,yes,
DP: And of course, if you want to learn more about BuddyPress, BuddyPress.org is the place to go to find out more about that. As of recording, the release candidate is not out yet, but when you hear this episode, it’s probably getting really close. So be sure to check BuddyPress.org, and if you have an install, look into the BuddyPress Classic, to help you maintain that.
iMath: Thank you, thank you.
DP: On that note, I’m going to wrap up this episode, iMath and David, thank you so much for joining us. You have been listening to Press This, a WordPress community podcast. We air new episodes each Tuesday, so stay tuned for more. And we are soon going to be talking to Amber Hinds about the Equalize Digital Accessibility Checker. So stay tuned for that episode.
Thanks for listening to Press This, a WordPress community podcast on WMR. You can follow my adventures on Twitter at @theTorqueMag, that’s @theTorqueMag, and you can subscribe to Press This on RedCircle, iTunes, Spotify, or your favorite podcasting app, as well as download directly from WMR.fm. You can also find transcribed versions of these episodes on TorqueMag.io.
Again, I’m your host, Dr. Popular. I support the WordPress community through my role at WP Engine, and I love spotlighting members of that community each and every week on Press This.