Last weekend San Francisco hosted another successful WordCamp which saw BuddyPress creator Andy Peatling of Vancouver present the social netoworking site to this large group of WordPress enthusiasts. I had the chance to touch base with Andy, who is currently still down in California, in order to learn more about BuddyPress:
What is your involvement with BuddyPress? I’m a lead developer on the project, but BuddyPress is open source, so anyone is more than welcome to help out. We’ve had a lot of people help with testing, code donations and bug fixes so far.
I was fortunate enough to be supported by Automattic back in March, so I’m able to work on BuddyPress 100% of the time.
What is BuddyPress? BuddyPress is a set of WordPress MU specific plugins, each plugin adding a distinct new social networking feature. Think of BuddyPress as a “social network in a box”, where users can set up and create their own internal or niche social network based on WordPress.
BuddyPress components can all be installed together, or you can install only the components you want. That essentially means you can add social features to a blogging network without turning it into a fully featured social network.
What was Automattic’s motivation for starting this project? I started the project on the side when I was working as a freelancer. The guys at Automattic love to see cool new things done with WordPress, so they were just happy to support the project and to see where it might lead.
What are some of its unique features? It’s a social platform built on WordPress, I think that is a great feature. It’s built on something familiar to a lot of people, so hopefully people will feel at home using it.
The ability to add and remove components as you see fit I think is fairly unique. If you didn’t want private messaging for example, you could just remove it without any trouble. None of the components will rely on one another, however some components enhance the functionality of others.
What do you hope BuddyPress will be able to achieve? Who knows? We just need to concentrate on getting the project to version 1.0 and see what the community comes up with. That’s the great thing about the WordPress community, there are so many talented people out there who can do amazing things. Hopefully BuddyPress will give them further opportunity to apply those talents.
Who can join BuddyPress? BuddyPress isn’t a single social network, so it’s not as case of who can join. It’s a platform, so it’s more a case of who can use it. Of course anyone can and will be able to download it. Right now you can get hold of pre-release copies of some of the plugins at: http://trac.buddypress.org/wiki/installing-buddypress or you can test-drive it without installing at: http://testdrivewpmu.com
The first completed version is due at the end of the year, so there is still a lot of time and work to go. The plugins in their current state should give people a taste of what to expect.