Build Your Own Social Network with BuddyPress
I have been eagerly watching the development of this project for quite some time now, so I am pleased to share the release of BuddyPress 1.0 with all the readers of this blog.
As we all know, over the last few years, social networks like Facebook and MySpace have completely reshaped the experience that people expect to have when they get on the Internet. As a result of these social networks, not only do people expect to be able to interact with the content they are looking at, but they also expect to be able to interact with other people.
Because of these expectations, if you want to help increase the loyalty of the visitors who come to your web site, it is quite useful to give them the opportunity to interact with each other. Unfortunately, up to this point, while there is great open source software for creating a blog, web site or both, getting your own social network off the ground was quite a bit more difficult.
Fortunately, BuddyPress is looking to do for social networks what WordPress did for blogging. In a nutshell, BuddyPress (which is an official sister project of WordPress) “will extend WordPress MU and bring social networking features to a new or existing installation.”
The great thing about BuddyPress is that it is actually a collection of plugins and themes that works with WordPress MU. Therefore, the level of customization that BuddyPress offers is quite significant. To begin with, while BuddyPress has a default theme (just like every regular installation of WordPress), all of the elements of BuddyPress can be themed to match the existing style of a WordPress installation.
Next, while it is possible to use the entire collection of BuddyPress elements to create a brand new social network, the thing that I think most of you will really like is that you can take specific elements from the BuddyPress collection and use them to increase the level of social interaction possible with an existing blog or web site.
Although this is the first public release of BuddyPress, it is already packed with features. Current features of BuddyPress include the following: extended profiles, private messaging, friends, groups, The Wire (which is a place where friends and other members can come along and post messages to a specific piece of content within a BuddyPress installation), activity streams, blog tracking and forums. Throughout the course of 2009, the BuddyPress team is also planning on releasing Status Updates (in the middle of the year) and Photo Albums (towards the end of the year).
Although the release of 1.0 just took place last week, if any of you have had a chance to play around with this version of BuddyPress (or any of the pre-release versions), let us know about your experience in the comments below!