I’ve been re-working my Achievements plugin for some time now and, with the invaluable aid of some amazing testers, it is getting closer to a beta release. Achievements will require a minimum of WordPress 3.0.1 and BuddyPress 1.2.6, and it will work on both regular and multisite variants of WordPress. In the next few weeks, I will be launching a dedicated site for Achievements. In addition to explaining why every BuddyPress-powered website should use Achievements, it will contain screencasts, walkthroughs, developer and site admin documentation, as well as support options (both free and premium).
Enough pitch! As with any software that is still in development, certain sections of it are more finalised and robust than others. I’m excited to share with you the following screenshots of these more finished sections, and I look forward to reading your comments here, by email, or on Twitter.
Once the plugin is installed and activated, it will integrate itself fully into the default BuddyPress theme. All of Achievement’s pages and settings are controlled in the user-facing parts of the site, and each has a separate WordPress capability. This lets you use a plugin like Role Scoper to give certain users to access to specific pages. For example, you could let certain users edit Achievements, but not add or delete them.
WordPress comes with a sample blog post and comment to give new users something to view and edit, to teach them how to use the dashboard. The first version of the Achievements plugin took a similar approach and came with ~20 Achievements. Unlike WordPress, to add more, you had to know how to code, read the documentation and be a master of voodoo. Not awesome.
To encourage creativity and to allow true customisation, Achievements will come with easy to use Create and Edit screens. You don’t need to know how to code, or read the documentation, or know voodoo. Awesome!
Achievements has been built to appear visually similar to BuddyPress Groups. In the same way that each Group has its own set of pages, an Achievement has its own set of pages.
Common to each Achievement page, there is a universal header consisting of the Achievement’s name, type, points value and assorted meta information; i.e. if the current user has “unlocked” this Achievement and how many people in total have unlocked it.
Change Picture page
After creating an Achievement, you’ll want to customise its picture. You can choose any image in your WordPress Media Library. If you’re considering using Achievements on your site, I suggest that you plan ahead and design your pictures now, as the visual branding is critical. Get those crayons out!
Achievements makes use of the Media Library as it’s built in to every WordPress install, and it removes a lot of potential code duplication and handling of file uploads. It also enables you to keep taking advantage of plugins that enhance the Media Library; for example, W3 Total Cache‘s CDN support and WP Smush.it, which automatically strips unnecessary information from each image, resulting in smaller file sizes.
The Directory page matches BuddyPress’ Members and Groups list, with filters to show all Achievements and only those which the user has unlocked. A recent usability enhancement for admins, invoked by moving your mouse over each item, are quick links to that Achievement’s edit, change picture and delete pages. It’s made my day-to-day development much easier.
Everyone likes widgets, and so far, Achievements has three; a leaderboard, recent Achievements and all available Achievements.
The leaderboard is a very common concept, and is a great way of ranking the users who participate most on your site.
The recent Achievements widget displays the pictures of the user’s most recently unlocked Achievement. The idea is to bring your Achievements’ branding into the rest of your site.
The available Achievements widget lists all of the active Achievements on your site, just like the Directory. Why? Built with WordPress multisite in mind, you can configure certain Achievements to trigger only from actions on specific sites. You can drop this widget into your sites so that your users can discover what’s available; a great way to encourage people to visit all of your sites.
The most frequently asked question: what’s the release date?