On Thursday, Boone Gorges of the Automattic team announced that the initial beta version of BuddyPress 1.8 is now available to the public. “Ladies and gentlemen, start your testing engines: BuddyPress 1.8-beta1 is ready for a lap around the track,” Gorges wrote. “If you develop BuddyPress themes or plugins, or if you run a BP-powered community site, now is the time to start testing the next major version of BuddyPress in your development environments. BP 1.8 will feature a large number of fixes and enhancements. For the full list, see the 1.8 milestone in Trac.”
The BuddyPress Concept
Originally conceived in 2008, BuddyPress was officially launched in May 2009 to serve as an open source method for networking. Some of the common uses that BuddyPress has been used for since its inception are for creating a social network for school campuses, internal communication within a company, product marketing and connecting with individuals who share a common interest or hobby. The BuddyPress plugin can be easily customized to include only the features and modules that your website needs. Once you have configured its settings, your WordPress theme will automatically adjust without having to manually go into the Editor and work with code. The newest beta version along with previous full releases can be downloaded for free from BuddyPress.org.
What’s New In This Release?
Gorges (pictured) outlined the features that have been added to this beta version of BuddyPress 1.8 by saying that “BP_Group_Extension has been largely rewritten, with the goal of making Group Extension plugins faster and more consistent to write. We’ve worked hard to make sure that existing BP_Group_Extension plugins will continue to work as before, but we encourage you to verify your own plugins. In the upcoming days, I’ll be writing updated Codex documentation for the Group Extension API, so you can see how the new features in BP 1.8 will make writing group extension plugins radically simpler. Watch bpdevel.wordpress.com for updates. The group administration panels in the Dashboard have seen some improvements – in particular, to the way that the Manage Members section works. Pagination support has been added to the member lists in these panels, as well as the bp_group_has_members() stack that underpins the panels.”
A “detheming” process has been implemented on the bp-legacy stylesheet; removing much of the styling on themes that don’t include native support for BuddyPress. Gorges added that the development team has “introduced a new template hierarchy layer for top-level templates. Similar to WordPress’s template hierarchy, this new feature allows themes to provide top-level template files that are specific to a component or item. For example, if your theme contains a template at groups/index-directory.php, it’ll be used instead of buddypress.php or page.php when viewing the Groups directory.” There are several other enhancements that have been made to BuddyPress 1.8 Beta 1.
BuddyPress is a subsidiary of Automattic – a company founded by WordPress co-creator Matt Mullenweg. If you would like to start using the BuddyPress plugin for your WordPress website, you can download the latest version here.
Upon deciding to use BuddyPress 1.8 Beta 1, it is recommended that developers not run the software on a production site; as it is still in development and needs further tweaking before it is capable of being designated as the default version on your site.
There are also a number of BuddyCamps that coincide with WordCamps across the globe where interested parties can share ideas and brainstorm on how to make the software more effective for its users. The most recent seminar was held a three months ago in Miami, Florida. If you are a developer who would like to get involved in the BuddyPress process, you can do so by joining the BuddyPress Community.