How BuddyPress Evolved in 2011

How BuddyPress evolved in 2011

While pretty much everyone who spends time on the web knows about WordPress, not many people I talk to have heard about its community-oriented companion: BuddyPress. For those of you who’ve never heard of such a thing, here’s a rundown of what BuddyPress is about:

  • BuddyPress is a plugin that turns your self-hosted WordPress site into a membership based private social network.
  • Your members can create a complete profile with information you specify (including a photo).
  • Members can post status updates, message each other publicly and privately, and friend each other. They can even each have their own WordPress blog.
  • BuddyPress allows you to set up forums where your members can discuss, collaborate, and debate.
  • BuddyPress automatically generates an activity stream for each user, letting your members see what posts people are  commenting on and which forums topics their friends are spending time on.
  • See live examples at the BuddyPress Showcase.

Sounds pretty great, so why haven’t you heard of it?

Earlier versions of BuddyPress were resource intensive, loading a lot of unnecessary JavaScript and CSS onto pages and slowing them down. BuddyPress was also not customizable unless you were willing to hack some serious code. Even earlier versions were more challenging to set up and configure properly. These factors slowed adoption and limited active use to “advanced” programmers.

Fortunately, times are changing! In the fall of 2011 BuddyPress 1.5 was released with a serious list of improvements and new features.


First and foremost, BuddyPress’s JavaScript and CSS files now only load when they are needed instead of loading everything everywhere. This can result in a huge performance gain on sites with a lot of traffic.  I know from personal experience that the new BuddyPress can handle communities with tens of thousands of active users.

New Theme

The default theme that comes with BuddyPress has been redesigned to be more beautiful, flexible, and usable. It now looks great on mobile devices, has four new widget areas, and allows for page-specific featured images. The profiles, activity streams, comments, and forums have all been redesigned for better readability as well.

The new BuddyPress 1.5 profile and activity stream

The new BuddyPress 1.5 profile and activity stream


BuddyPress has been extremely customizable since it was officially launched in 2009. Version 1.5 features a brand new administrative interface that lets you specify the URL of your profile pages and forums, create and reorder profile fields with a drag and drop interface, and upgrade BuddyPress with less hassle.


Last but not least, for the hacker within all of us, BuddyPress comes with a brand new BP_Component class which makes it easy for plugins to extend user profiles and more.

All in all, these enhancements make BuddyPress a very attractive out of the box social networking solution. If you’re interested adding BuddyPress to your WordPress site, feel free to send us a message and we’ll be happy to help.

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Have you heard of BuddyPress? What is your experience with BuddyPress? Let us know in the comments please.