How To Create An Instant Community With bbPress

I’m sure most of you have heard of bbPress, the side project from Automattic that never seemed to get as much attention as their flagship product WordPress .

bbPress always marketed itself as ‘forum software with a twist’, but the reality was very different. In reality, it was one of the most basic forum scripts available and lacked what many forum owners would call basic features. Updates were sporadic at best and due to very few people using it, the support community for people who did use it was never great (a few good developers seemed to provide all the support).

When I launched my WordPress blog about a year or so I tested out several forum scripts. For years I had used vBulletin, which most people recognise as the most advanced forum script available, though I felt a strange sort of duty to use bbPress due to it’s close association with the WordPress platform. One of the advantages of using bbPress was that I could use the same user database from my blog, which saved people from having to sign up twice. I was also looking for something simplistic to power my forum so I was ok with the basic features it had.

Unfortunately, bbPress was a stand alone script which meant that it worked independently from your blog database. The script was setup to integrate with WordPress though most people found the integration process difficult and even when it was installed correctly, the integration seemed to play up every now and then (cookie issues). Another stumbling block from the script being separate from WordPress was the design. If you were competent with CSS, HTML and PHP then you would have found integrating your forum with the rest of your websites design fairly straight forward. Though WordPress was built on making things easy, and having to go migrate the design from your blog to bbPress (which used a different template system) was a pain.

All this is about to change as in a few weeks time as bbPress will no longer be a stand alone product. Version 2.0 has been redesigned to use the custom post type feature in WordPress and will therefore be released as a WordPress plugin.

This means that bbPress:

  • Can be installed in seconds
  • Will integrate with your existing WordPress design
  • Will integrate with your existing WordPress user base

The first beta release of the plugin was released on May 21, with the second and third being released on May 27 and June 12 respectively. The first stable release of the plugin is earmarked for the end of June though I am currently using the third beta on my live site and it seems to be working ok.

The developers are still working on removing all the bugs though. I installed the first beta in my test area and got it working right away though it caused a lot of problems on my live website. I had to deactivate all plugins, install bbPress and then reactivate them one by one to find out what plugins were causing the white screen of death in the admin area (two plugins seemed to conflict with bbPress). I’m sure the majority of conflicts will be removed over the coming months.

At the moment the plugin comes with one design which is based on last years Twenty Ten theme. I’m surprised that they never based it on the Twenty Eleven design, given it’s imminent release in a few weeks when WordPress 3.2 is released, though it should integrate with your existing design very well. The documentation currently available for modifying your own theme is minimal though this should also improve over the next month or so; plus I expect lots of designs to be released by theme developers over the coming months once bbPress is used by more and more users.

So why should you all be pleased about a simple forum script like bbPress being released as a plugin? The answer is simple. All WordPress bloggers now have the option of adding a forum to their website in seconds. You don’t have to worry about integrating a stand alone script with WordPress, you don’t have to spend time customising the forum design; all you need to do is search for bbPress in the plugin section of your admin area and click install and you will have added a community to your website in seconds.

I encourage you all to try the plugin out if you have time. Those of you who are using the older standalone version of the script on your website will be pleased to know that the plugin comes packaged with an importer that makes migrating over to the plugin version of bbPress incredibly easy.

If you have any questions about the plugin that I have not covered in this article, please leave a comment and I’ll do my best to answer them 🙂

Thanks,
Kevin

Related Links: bbPress Homepage | bbPress 2.0, Beta 3 Announcement | bbPress WordPress Plugin

Kevin Muldoon is a webmaster and blogger who lives in Central Scotland. His current project is WordPress Mods; a blog which focuses on WordPress Themes, Plugins, Tutorials, News and Modifications.


41 thoughts on “How To Create An Instant Community With bbPress”

  1. Kevin Kimes says:

    This has great potential as a plugin. If they work all the bugs out, and other plugin writers test with it, it should become quite seemless.

    Theme creators will likely support it fully, and we’ll have a very easy way to build a forum right into our blogs.

    Hopefully they will also support the common basic features we expect from separate forum scripts.

    1. I agree Kevin. Once theme developers design bbPress skins for their themes we will see more and more people install and use bbPress.

      I do believe that if more people start using bbPress, Automattic will more reason to work on it more and develop it into a fully functional forum.

      I used vBulletin for years (still have one or two sites using it). Their new CMS is awful, truly awful and a complete waste of money. If they can get bbPress right they will easily get thousands of people switching over as it integrates with the best CMS available.

      1. Hey Kevin,

        Very good post with information that is very useful. At this time I don*t need to have a forum on my blog but in case that changes I will have a better idea where to look thanks to your experience you are shareing here.

  2. Jonathan says:

    Awesome post! very interesting! look forward to seeing more

  3. I have never used it on a project yet, but I’ve been doing research on it and hope to implement it into a future project. Very cool script.

  4. This plugin is awesome wordpress has come far with bbpress no more phpBB and vBulletin sub domains yay

    1. Vbulletin is still the best for forum with advanced features.

      1. Abhik says:

        I agree!!
        I migrated to vBulletin from IPB and my forum is running smooth since then.

  5. Looks like a great plugin, wondering which one of my blogs it would work best on.

  6. PPC Ian says:

    Wow! Super cool. Will definitely check this plugin out, would love to add a forum to my site!

    1. That will be quite interesting and I am sure your blogs will get more exposure.

      1. PPC Ian says:

        I certainly hope so!

      2. Anything that keeps your visitors at your blog for any length of time is a good thing.

    2. Kevin Kimes says:

      I’ve been thinking for awhile that I’d love to integrate a forum with a blog. Came back to this and got to thinking about a way to have the comments flow into a forum attached to a blog. Hmmm. I bet somebody will figure out a way to make this plugin do that.

  7. TV Rockstars says:

    Awesome! bbpress has came a long way! I was just about to add a forum to my site too.

    1. This plugin ought to make it a bit easier.

  8. fazal mayar says:

    bb press has definitely improved their stuff, im happy. Good plugin.

    1. XuanTuyen says:

      Uhm..I’ve not use this plugin….it’s really good ?

    2. But this will increase our responsibility and our work more.

      1. Abhik says:

        ZK!! Do you afraid to work more?

        1. @ Abhik

          Not at all infact I am workaholic but however increasing work should always bring some kind of more exposure and benefit … if you are thinking with a businessman point of view.

      2. Always gotta work, it never gets any easier, unless you score the big payday.

  9. Glad you all liked the post. It will be interesting to see how the plugin develops over the next month or so 🙂

  10. Chap says:

    Is this going to be compatible with buddypress (as in the social network plugin)?

  11. irawan says:

    I will save your information , I would use it later after I have an account at wordpress..thanks

    1. Abhik says:

      You don’t need to have a wordpress account to use bbPress.
      Though, you will require it someday to get the APIs.

  12. irawan says:

    thank you for the information … I’m need information like this..thanks for share

  13. fas says:

    But how does it compare to the power of vbulletin?

  14. rakesh kumar says:

    I love bbpress, but as you have already mentioned here it was a standalone forum script . Now they have made it as a plugin for wordpress. So i have downloaded it and very soon people can see a forum link on my website. Thanks for providing us this vital information.

    Before this i was struggling how to integrate phpBB with my wordpress blog. now it is moving towards a complete cms package. a forum plugin was missing from the wordpress arsenal. Now it is covered.

  15. I was looking to add a forum at my site and I didn’t know what software to use I will try to make one with bbPress

    1. PPC Ian says:

      I’m thinking of doing the same! Please let us know how it goes if you do implement this plugin!

      1. Abhik says:

        Go for vBulletin if you are serious about it.

  16. Abhik says:

    Well, though bbPress is free, but I’d prefer vBulletin anytime over it if I serious about growing up the community.

    1. How much does vBulletin cost?

  17. It will be cost a lot i think to have an vbulletin

  18. Whitney says:

    I think forums and the like are really awesome, especially if you’re trying to build up a community online. The web has evolved into a social place, and stuff like this is very user friendly and keeps people on your site a lot longer. I think everyone should consider doing this, or at least most people. Awesome post.

  19. I was considering bbpress, but I also find that vbulletin just has too many features to pass up.

  20. Is there a program to easily implement a more sophisticated community platform with wordpres? A community that is more like a social network.

  21. This is amazing… everyday life is getting even better in the world of internet.

  22. Forex News says:

    Awesome post! very interesting! look forward to seeing more

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