Out of the box, WordPress is a highly versatile, powerful and feature rich CMS. Add to that, the seemingly endless professionally developed themes and their huge library of powerful plugins, and you now have the potential to build anything you could ever possibly conceive without limitations?
WP does have its limits – What if you did want to take things further and develop an all singing all dancing social network site that has the potential to rival Facebook (I maybe pushing things there) or, on a smaller scale, build an in-house corporate social community/network and communication tool… Enter BuddyPress.
This post has been written to give beginners a basic insight and starting point into using Buddypress, and to highlight the free and fabulous WP themes that it offers.
What is Buddypress?
With its package of eight powerful plugins BuddyPress extends upon the integral functional elements of WordPress MU and standard WordPress, with each plugin offering a different and powerful function. You could use all of them and build a fully functional social network, or you could select which components you prefer and extend the basic functionality of your WPMU installation.
Buddypress Download Package
The Buddypress download package contains the following plugins and components:
- Extended Profiles: This component allows site admins to create specific profile fields for site members to fill in.
- Private Messaging: BuddyPress private messaging works like internal site email. Members can message people on their friends list as well as forward and reply to received messages.
- Friends: Members of a BuddyPress enabled installation can be connected together by one member adding another as a “friend” and then the other member accepting the friendship request.
- Groups: Groups in BuddyPress are a gathering of members, wires posts and forum topics.
- Activity Streams: Activity streams aggregate all activity across a BuddyPress installation, as well as allowing members to post short updates.
- Blog Tracking: Allowing multiple blogs and multiple users per blog is a key feature to WordPress MU. BuddyPress preserves this functionality.
- Forums: The forums component allows groups to create and manage their own bbPress forum. Group members can post and reply to topics all from within the group’s page.
Buddypress Dowloads, Demos and Docs
Beyond the eight core plugins that BuddyPress offers there are, just like the basic WordPress, over a hundred (107 to be precise) plugins that you can download and install to extend even further, you can view them and download them here: Buddypress Plugins.
Beginner’s Guide to Installing BuddyPress
BuddyPress recently had a change in its theming architecture and is now utilizing child themes. The installation process remains quite simple, and this tutorial with guiding you through the basics of getting BuddyPress up and running.
Super Easy 10-Step WordPress MU Installation Guide
These installation instructions are broken down into 10 easy to follow simple steps. You will find that installing WPMU is as easy, if not easier, than installing single-user WordPress, you won’t even have to edit the config file at all.
Setting Up Buddypress Locally
This tutorial comes directly from the Buddypress Codex, Firstly it will take you through the steps for successfully installing WPMU and then takes you through the relatively easy steps for installing each Buddypress component individually and how to enable or disable each plugin as required.
Creating A Social Network: Installing BuddyPress
Buddymatic is a highly extensible Theme Framework for WordPress & WP MU blogs including BuddyPress enabled home and member blogs. This framework features 13 widget-ready areas, drop-down menus, grid-based layout samples, plugin integration, shortcodes for your footer, & a whole lot more. BuddyPress functionality is integrated into the framework and activated when BuddyPress is detected. It includes two basic BuddyPress ready child themes: Coffee with Friends by Daisy Olsen and a Buddymatic Sample Child Theme ready for customization.