BuddyPress in 2015 – my review

At the beginning of the year, there was a trend to write “in review” posts. Rather than blog, I emailed a group of close friends with my thoughts on how we (BuddyPress) did. Now that a bit of time has passed, I’m posting it here verbatim:

Hello friends,

I hope you’re all having a good holiday season and I wish you and your families all the very best for 2016! I hope to try to see as many of you as possible in 2016.

I write to share my thoughts about how BuddyPress did last year and highlight our successes because, let’s face it, we’re not always great at celebrating the effort we all put into each BuddyPress. The beginning of a new year is the perfect time for a moment of reflection.

People sometimes try to understand why I contribute to this one project and sincerely ask, “what is it about BuddyPress that keeps you interested?” Consider the question. It’s pretty hard for me to reply with a snappy soundbite because I appreciate most the intangible benefits.

You are the best group of people I’ve ever worked with. I’ve had the privilege of working with some great companies and other great people, but I value our relationships more because our connections have grown freely and organically, rather than because of the circumstance of being paid to work together. You are my friends before you are my team mates or colleagues, and no other foundation is stronger.

I’m delighted with all of the contributions you make, and what that does to BuddyPress. Each contribution, no matter how — apparently — trivial, is a course correction for the project towards its dream of becoming more than the sum of its parts.

In 2015, we achieved 3 major and 12 minor releases, introducing fantastic new features such as member types with directory support, easy post type integration with the Activity Stream, vast amounts of improvements to caching and performance, drag-and-drop profile picture uploads, companion stylesheets for 4 WordPress core themes, private message inbox starring, cover images, member type-specific profile fields, TinyMCE for profile fields, vast accessibility improvements, and countless other features to make BuddyPress better for site administrators and developers.

In 2015, we were lucky enough to have BuddyPress represented with presentations at 8 WordCamps (Buenos Aires, Cantabria, East Troy, London, Lyon, Paris, Pune, USA) and had 2 full-day conferences of our own (BuddyCamps Brighton and Miami). Contributor Days are becoming more popular at established WordCamps, and BuddyPress is increasingly welcome at these. I couldn’t find out at how many Contributor Days someone contributed to BuddyPress, but I personally remember great results from those at WordCamps Europe and London.

In 2015, our community forums had 3773 topics posted (10.3/day) and 10,701 replies (29.3/day). Our codex received 31 new articles (0.6/week), and 49 were updated (0.94/week). These numbers are incredibly impressive, given the problems we had with spammers on the codex earlier in the year, and are because of the priceless contributors we have.

I’m delighted that 2015 saw a resurgence in commercial BuddyPress plugins and themes. In the early years of the project, there was a lot of activity in this space, but in recent years — with a handful of valuable exceptions, like BuddyDEV.com and ThemeForest.net — it’s been comparatively quiet. Themekraft.com and buddyboss.com have made new and innovative plugins and themes available, and I’ve been extremely impressed by the quality and execution of their ideas.

People sometimes tell me that they’ve used BuddyPress to build a successful site for a client, or to build a presence for their own “real life” community. In these moments, I’m always very proud of what we’ve empowered people to achieve.

I write to say a heartfelt “thank you” for making my 2015 a great year, and look very much forward to working with you, having fun with you, and getting to know you better, this 2016.

BuddyPress, WordPress

Emails in BuddyPress 2.5

Back in March 2009, I released my first-ever plugin for BuddyPress. BuddyPress was my gateway drug to WordPress, so it’s pretty much the first experience I had with writing PHP and working with WordPress. That plugin was Welcome Pack:

Welcome Pack is a BuddyPress plugin that enhances the new user experience. When a user registers on your site, Welcome Pack lets you automatically send them a friend or group invitation, a Welcome Message, and it can redirect them to a Start Page. You can also customise the emails sent by BuddyPress so that they match your site’s brand, in plain text or rich HTML versions.

With retrospect, adding customisable emails to Welcome Pack is what killed my interest in that plugin. It was such a lengthy, painful slog to get the customisation working and nicely implemented (I picked the wrong approach), that when it was finally done, so was I! I moved onto Achievements, but I still had a dream of giving BuddyPress better emails.

Seven years later, that dream has finally come true. BuddyPress 2.5 (now in beta) features high-quality, customisable HTML emails, and I couldn’t be prouder of how its turned out. Here’s what it looks like:

In a nutshell, we moved emails into a custom post type (BuddyPress’ first!) with a supporting taxonomy (BuddyPress’ second!), devised a HTML email template with Customiser integration, and wrote a new API to manage how we represent emails internally and how we send them (goodbye, wp_mail!).

I’ll write another post detailing the technicial changes, but you can learn a lot by looking at Trac ticket #6592. I hope people running BuddyPress-powered sites enjoy the new email features as much as we did building them.


BuddyPress, WordPress

WordPress developer’s guide to BuddyPress

Here’s the scenario: you build WordPress-powered sites for a living, or maybe for free, or even just as a hobby. Someone asks you to build their next site using a feature or two from BuddyPress. “Sure, no problem”, you say. In the privacy of your head, you’re thinking “I haven’t used BuddyPress before, but it’s meant to be a pretty nifty plugin — how hard can it be?”

A few months ago, I started working for Human Made. We help people build really robust, creative, enterprise-scale sites. While Human Made have several developers with really impressive BuddyPress development experience, I naturally look over outgoing proposals or roadmaps for those projects that might use BuddyPress to check it’s a good fit, and to help inform the project roadmap.

As we begin to ramp up work on sites powered by BuddyPress, it’s very likely that some Humans will work with BuddyPress for the first time! I think that’s REALLY exciting! As I started to write some tips from my colleagues on getting started with BuddyPress development, I figured I’d blog it publicly so others (hopefully) find it useful. So, without further ado…

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“Appreciate the people around you”

Came across a moving post on Reddit from someone I’ve never met, who has a nice tie:

We care so much about the health and integrity of our body that until death, we don’t notice that the body is nothing more than a box – a parcel for delivering our personality, thoughts, beliefs and intentions to this world. If there is nothing in this box that can change the world, then it doesn’t matter if it disappears. I believe that we all have potential, but it also takes a lot of courage to realize it.

mylasttie, /r/GetMotivated