The results of the BuddyPress 2016 survey have been published. This year the survey received feedback from 302 respondents in 61 different countries, a 43% increase in responses from 2015. The top five countries represented in the survey include the United States (27.15%), India (7.62%), United Kingdom (6.95%), Germany (6.29%), and Canada (3.64%). English remains the most popular language for BuddyPress sites at nearly 70% and this year Spanish (10.7%) replaced French for the #2 spot, followed by German (9.96%).
A new question in the 2016 survey asked users what PHP versions their sites are on. More than 53% of respondents report having sites on PHP 7.0+ and 63% are using a version higher than 5.6+.
Lead developer Paul Gibbs sees these results as an affirmation that the BuddyPress core leadership made the right decision when dropping support for PHP 5.2 nine months ago.
We (@buddypress) made the right call 9 months ago to drop support for PHP 5.2 in our last major release.
— Paul Gibbs (@pgibbs) April 4, 2017
In fact, our 2016 users survey https://t.co/1LClEoOr38 suggests 88% of respondents use PHP >5.6, maybe we can be more aggressive this year.
— Paul Gibbs (@pgibbs) April 4, 2017
Gibbs is currently on a sabbatical from BuddyPress and was not available for comment. Project lead John James Jacoby said that the decision to drop support for PHP 5.2 may not be a direct corollary to its usage falling below 1%, but the core team will continue to bump the minimum version in the future with consideration for user happiness.
“It’s hard to know whether increasing our minimum PHP version made any direct difference,” Jacoby said. “My hunch is most users do not care very much, and the ones that do, care greatly. It’s all about keeping users happy – sometimes that means maintaining compatibility with old dependencies; other times it means kindly motivating users to upgrade things maybe they haven’t thought about in a while.”
The 2016 results show that 45% of respondents have been using BuddyPress for a year or less. While this isn’t necessarily an indication of users’ ability, it is interesting in light of the project’s recent shift to focus on developers and site builders. The survey results indicate that more users identify themselves as a beginner when it comes to knowledge of BuddyPress themes and hooks.
BuddyPress core developers made the decision to focus on site builders and developers based on how they saw the project’s user base changing over time. Making the software 100% turnkey is no longer one of their chief objectives. With the high percentage of users who identify as beginners, the project will need to find a way to get them connected and advancing in their BuddyPress knowledge.
“The BuddyPress.org community forums continue to be the best place to get connected with other users to talk about what they’re working on,” Jacoby said. “Our documentation coverage in the codex is constantly being maintained, and we’re still working behind the scenes on a developer site ala developer.wordpress.org. Nothing will ever beat reading the code from inside a quality code-editor, but having public visibility into the codebase is good for everyone, too.”
April 30, 2017, marks the 8th anniversary of the first stable release of BuddyPress. Version 3.0 will be released this year and contributors are working towards adding a new template pack and improving the BP REST API, in addition to other new features based on comments from the survey.
“The primary focus of BuddyPress for 3.0 and beyond (in addition to being a great foundation for developers) should be to improve member management and communications inside your WordPress,” Jacoby said. “The latest and greatest versions of PHP don’t necessarily help us with those things directly, but the performance improvements of running BuddyPress on PHP 7.0 or 7.1 are impressive, enough to continue aggressively bumping our minimum required and recommended versions to keep users happy and safe.”