Recently, Matt Mullenweg has been fending off questions about bbPress, the popular open source, free forum platform. This past weekend at WordCamp Denver, and last month at WordCamp Las Vegas, audience members begged for an update on the status of bbPress. He joked in Denver that he felt he was being stalked by bbPress fans.
In a way, he is – from several directions.
bbPress was developed by Matt in the early days of WordPress, at a time when forums held their own and blogs were still new online publishing platforms. The assumption was that bbPress and WordPress would easily integrate since they were designed by the same person(s). Unfortunately, they didn’t play well together at first.
As the WordPress forums grew with bbPress under the hood, bbPress was tested to it’s full capacity, leading to a variety of customizations and tweaking to accommodate the growth and evolution of WordPress into a world-wide acclaimed blogging platform. With that growth out pacing bbPress development of the platform for the public, frustration within the WordPress Community also grew. This was highlighted recently by long time WordPress Support Forums volunteer, MichaelH, who reminded the WordPress Community, developers, and staff that the support forums need improvement to keep up with the demand upon the forums and the volunteers and staff who run them, requesting they improve the functionality of bbPress.
There is a lot to be said for a program technically not out of beta development that is capable of handling the sheer massive volume of traffic and forum posts every day for two of the most popular blogging platforms in the world, WordPress and WordPress.com, but more needs to be done to help it meet that demand.
From the user perspective, bbPress has been too silent too long in development. More and more bloggers want to add a forum to their blogs, and naturally turn to the sister product of WordPress, bbPress.
For those using WordPress and bbPress forums, the hassle of merging the two is frustrating and tedious. They want bbPress to recognize that WordPress is installed and automatically configure the two to work together seamlessly.
Those dependent upon bbPress for their forums long for a few feature improvements, more bbPress Plugins, and improvements in bbPress documentation.
With recent announcements from the bbPress blog and forums, it looks like all parties will begin to see some light at the end of the tunnel.
Within the last few months, a lot of activity is going on around the popular forum program. Matt admitted that he’s ignored bbPress development over the past few years, but this year, with renewed energy from developers like Sam Bauer, bbPress is revitalized with two new bbPress releases and improvements for integrating WordPressMU and bbPress.
While there are instructions on integrating bbPress into WordPress in the bbPress documentation, Bauer recently produced a video how to on integrating a bbPress Forum with your self-installed WordPress for WordPress.tv. He also worked with long time WordPress developer Michael Adams to produce the bbPress Integration WordPress Plugin which integrates bbPress into a WordPress blog for logins and user access, all controlled through the WordPress Administration Panels.
The close ties between the WordPress official sites and the bbPress forums for WordPress and WordPress.com users, and the demand by WordPress users for such integration, has brought about the development of a wide range of WordPress Plugins to make the process easier and improve functionality.
Some popular bbPress Plugins include the bbPress Live WordPress Plugin integrates bbPress forum live posts within WordPress blog, the Add bbPress Default Role WordPress Plugin which automatically adds WordPress users a bbPress role of member when registering with the WordPress blog, and the bbPress Admin WordPress Plugin adds administration features from bbPress admin to WordPress Administration Panels.
Last year, Justin Tadlock asked the bbPress community to help him bring some “sexy” to bbPress with a variety of bbPress Themes, opening up the design potential for bbPress users, just as WordPress Themes has done for WordPress blogs. Forums don’t have to be boring looking, so why not. However, currently, outside of the bbPress forums and searches, there isn’t a single repository for bbPress Themes nor announcements except for fan sites.
With this new invested interest in bbPress, expect to hear a lot more about various bbPress Plugins and Themes. I’ve highlighted some more interesting bbPress Plugins and bbPress forum usages below.
Who Uses bbPress?
bbPress Showcase keeps a list of bbPress users and forums around the world and have put together a Top 100 bbPress Forums showcase list based upon number of posts, users, and user votes as their favorites. It is an interesting collection and mishmash of different forum types and topics.
The top 5 bbPress Forums are:
- Greedy or Needy Forum
- WordPress Support Forums
- Kletsen (Netherlands)
- Forums unBlog.fr (France)
- Daily Kitten Chat Forum
When it comes to handling volumes of content, the Top 100 bbPress Forums list showcases Greedy or Needy Forum with 949,229 posts and WordPress Support Forums with 844,685. That’s a huge amount of data.
If you sort the list by number of users, though I’m not sure where the statistics come from, the top six bbPress forums are:
- India WordPress.com Forums (5,404,781)
- Spanish WordPress.com Forums (5,404,781)
- WordPress.com Forums (4,978,224)
- WordPress Support Forums (WordPress Support Forums (886,152)
- WordPressMU Forums (886,152)
- bbPress support forums (707,374)
It’s fairly likely that the number of users on the WordPress Support Forum and WordPressMU Forums are tied together, as are the India and Spanish WordPress.com forums, which accounts for the matching numbers, and with the age of the WordPress.org forum, you would expect to find a lot more users. Either way, the number of users for these is incredible, showing what bbPress is truly capable of.
Out of curiosity, I checked other WordPress related forums and their numbers were also impressive. They include:
The variety of topics covered by all the different forums on the list is impressive. One that especially caught my eye as a fan is the Floor42: Fans of Douglas Adams.
There are a lot of people using bbPress to run forums on their blogs, though not many sites offering tips, tricks, and techniques for using bbPress. This hasn’t prevented bbPress fans from creating some fascinating forums and bbPress Plugins to help them manage and customize their forums.
bbPress Showcase is one such fan forum for bbPress users and features an extensive list of the bbPress Plugins used on the site such as the modular My Views which allows a variety of modules for customizing informational content like My Views module – Most/Least Views, My Views module – Started/Participated Topics, and My Views module – Polls.
Other bbPress Plugins they list and use on their bbPress forum include:
- Edit History
- bbPress Attachments
- BBcode Buttons Toolbar
- Support forum
- Avatar Upload
- Admin Can Post Anything
- bbPress Polls
- Report Post
- Ignore Member
- Unread Posts
- Post Count Plus – Dynamic Titles, Colors & More!
- Mass Edit – Moderate Posts
- BBcode Lite
- New User Notification Email
- bb Topic Views
- Live Chat
- Mass Delete Members
- Mini Stats
- Subscribe to Topic
- Super Search for bbPress
Looking at the wide range of bbPress Plugins, I was surprised at all the possibilities, and at a loss as there isn’t much on the Plugin Development Center wiki to help bbPress Plugin developers, though it continues to be listed on main resource pages.
The bbPress Plugin Directory is active and does list a variety of Plugins. Some interesting bbPress Plugins I found there included:
- Admin Can Post Anything allows administrators to include any markup in their forum posts.
- Allow Images will allow image tags in forum posts for pngs, gifs, or jpgs.
- Avatar Upload allows easy uploading of Avatars to user Profiles.
- bb-Lightbox2 displays images on current page with lightbox effect.
- bbRatings allows users to rate forum posts.
- bbPress Smilies adds clickable smilies or emoticons to forum post textarea.
- BBcode Buttons adds an easy button toolbar to the forum post textarea for allowing quicktags in BBcode such as links, lists, bold, italic, etc. BBcode must be enabled, such as the BBcode Lite for bbPress.
- BBcode Lite for bbPress is a faster version of the BBcode feature that allows users to mix bbcode and HTML in the same post.
- bbPress Latest Discussion generates lastest discussion list from bbPress Forum into your WordPress blog.
- bbSocialize allows setting and displaying social media profiles in public forum profile.
- bbVideo converts links to known video portals to matching embedded players and supports sharing options and downloading capabilities.
- Google Analitycs for bbPress adds Google Analytics tracking to bbPress forums.
- Hidden Forums hides forums within bbPress.
- Post Edit Look Behind allows viewing of previous posts on the topic when editing the post.
- Private Forums creates private forums within bbPress.
- Private Messaging adds private messages within bbPress forums.
- Simple Onlinelist This plugin displays all users which were online over the past 5 minutes. It can also display when a user was last online on his profile page.
- Terms of Service helps add a policy Page to your bbPress forum.
- Threaded posts creates threaded posts so users can reply to individual forum posts in a thread fashion.
Tips and Techniques for Using bbPress
bbPress Showcase is packed with questions and answers and tips for using bbPress with WordPress and without. A few good tips and techniques listed on their forums include:
- How does a new user upload a gravatar?
- Last Topics in Frontpage Without WordPress
- Universal Login/Profile Link
- Link Freshness to Last Poster (trick)
They also offer the bbPress and WordPress MySQL database table reference to help bbPress webmasters, administrators, and Plugin authors.
Some more articles on bbPress and WordPress integration, usage, and tips include:
- Bava Tuesdays – WordPressMU – bbPress Integration
- Bava Tuesdays – Integrating WordPressMU, BuddyPress, and bbPress
- 20 Top bbPress Plugins for building Powerful Forum
- How to install a new or Custom bbPress Theme?
- Install bbPress Forums: Top 10 Reasons
- How to Integrate WordPress and bbPress in 3 Simple Steps
- How to: Install the Latest Version of bbPress Locally
- Problogger – Using bbPress Forums to Community Power Your WordPress Blog
It’s clear that bbPress has come a long way from its early rough days, and hopefully, it will continue to grow and evolve to become easier to use, especially alongside a WordPress blog.