Justin Tadlock's new forum plugin

So this tweet from @justintadlock caught my eye today.

He’s basically building a new forum plugin as an alternative to bbPress. He cites the following underlying goals for it:

  • Be as lightweight as possible.
  • Offer the bare essentials for running a forum.
  • Focus on tools for developers more than features for users.
  • Allow plugins to extend it for user features.

…which actually sounds a lot like bbPress, at least in its earlier days, but now seems to be heading in a different direction than Justin sees his forum plugin’s future.

I actually have a project that I may test this out with (not WPChat) so will be interested to see how it all turns out. Here’s the GitHub repo if you want to test it too.

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You can see the new plugin in action here - http://themehybrid.com/board/topics

I read Tadlock’s post with interest and I think it sucks that bbPress is moving in a direction that doesn’t suit him. Kudos to him for creating a solution that works best for his situation.

As far as bbPress goes, I have a couple of things to say about the project. It seems like it’s a developers playground built and maintained by developers. (What open source software project isn’t?) I think this is a bad route for it to go because it will always have a very low userbase if it’s a developers playground.

Look at the results of the bbPress 2014 user survey - http://wptavern.com/bbpress-2014-survey-results-show-users-are-still-disappointed-with-lack-of-features and let me know what your conclusions are.

I’ll tell you what mine are. A few people who took the survey had comments like this:

Needs a lot more focus on adding front end features both for users and
mods/admins. There is a serious lack of traditional forum features that
people expect to have, and it really holds bbPress back.

I don’t think bbPress will ever be developed to compete or be on the same stage as modern forum software. It’s in its own little world for developers that like things with no cruft or so called bloat. If bbPress development continues down the road of pleasing developers over users, what’s the point in even using it? Take a look at the following image.

In fact, look at the answers that make up the majority of the question. I for one am not surprised at all by those results. I’ve attended at least one BuddyCamp where I specifically asked about bbPress and the general consensus was that it’s a simple forum solution to WordPress without all the cruft. Well, missing all the cruft has bbPress becoming software not even considered for running or managing a community.

Ultimately, I’d like to see bbPress move towards that middle ground of being most of what folks are looking for out of the box with a great user experience and an easy way to participate in the third-party eco-system surrounding it. What that middle ground is, is highly debatable. However, I think it’s disappointing that so many people won’t even consider bbPress an option due to the lack of features out of the box.

I don’t have all the answers. At the same time, I don’t like the direction bbPress is heading. I’m beginning to think becoming a plugin instead of stand alone software was a big mistake. I was all for it merging with WordPress because I thought it would substantially increase the user base and mind share by piggybacking on WordPress. I don’t think that’s happened and if anything, has made things more confusing for the average user. Not to mention some of the drawbacks to bbPress are due to WordPress.

At any rate, curious to hear thoughts from current, former, or prospecting bbPress users.

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Wow that looks fantastic!

bbPress lacks developers. It’s not about the user features. I don’t know if some of you remember the early days of WordPress. It was not very feature heavy, but anyone with some basic PHP know-how could do some cool stuff with it. WordPress didn’t become the best CMS out there because of its user features. It became the best out there because of its development community made cool stuff with it.

There was a time when the bbPress software was similar. It was very basic, but it had a pretty good developer community growing around it. But, we lost our leadership for the project. BackPress was abandoned. The bbPress community has also been a very hostile community at times in the far past (not sure about now). This was often a result of different opinions on what the software should be.

When I talk with folks within the Theme Hybrid community about bbPress, it’s often a lack of documentation on how to handle the theming side of things that comes up. To me, making it easy for theme authors to create great forum designs is a huge factor. Have you ever looked at how the default bbPress templates are set up? There are 51 templates, which is more than most themes have. Who wants to dig through 51 templates to figure it all out? Of course, users are dissatisfied; they don’t see the potential because not enough theme authors are building with it. I’m sure there are some out there, but outside of custom designs, I’ve never seen an awesome theme design for the bbPress plugin.

I’m mainly responding to Jeff’s assertion that bbPress is a developer’s playground. It’s really not, at least not from a theme developer’s perspective.

But, I don’t want to focus on bbPress here. I think what they’re doing is pretty cool and hope the project continues growing. My goals don’t mesh with bbPress, so that’s not a big deal. Even if no one ever uses my plugin but me, it’s a win because it’ll be a learning tool. The primary goal for my plugin at the moment is building something that’s useful for Theme Hybrid. I think others will find value in that, so we’ll see where it goes.

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Looks really interesting for a simple forum.

I have just installed bbPress for the first time on a site and must admit that I am very disappointed with its lack of features. Up until now I had been using MingleForums which was great but has had some security issues that have not been resolved and the developer now seems to have abandoned it. It was the most like the conventional forums that I have found.

I am certainly going to give Justin’s a try but it is a pity it is still an alpha as the site I need it for is due to go live in 2 weeks so will have to suffer bbPress.

This does look promising! I’m wondering if anyone has an idea as to when it might be ready-ish for testing/use on a live site? I’m currently investigating forum options for a WP client and they’re insistent that the forum itself lives within their WP install. So far this looks to be my best option…

I haven’t set any definite time table yet. I hope to have a 1.0 release out this year though. I’m taking a pretty casual approach to the development of the plugin. For me, it’s all about having a good forum plugin for Theme Hybrid. So, I’m mostly going to work on the first version as I need things. You can see it working here.

But, the fastest way for me to get to a 1.0 release is for others to be involved in the project. Add bug reports and feature requests on GitHub.

Thanks, Justin. I’d love to play around with this, but it’s tough to see how the login/account creation/respond functionality works without becoming a club member, which I unfortunately am not :). As I type that, I figure you would have a pretty simple solution for that, though!

Anyway, I’ll see if I’m able to install it locally from the github repo and contribute as soon as I can. Thanks!