BuddyPress Contributors are Building a New Template Pack

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In 2013, BuddyPress introduced its first template pack, BP Legacy, in the 1.7 release along with theme compatibility. This major project milestone made BuddyPress compatible with nearly every WordPress theme, freeing sites from the requirement of using a BuddyPress-specific theme. BP Legacy has served theme developers well in customizing BuddyPress, but contributors are working on a new project to modernize templates.

“After 3 years, we are feeling like it’s time we try to improve the user experience and optimize markup, JavaScript, CSS, Ajax, etc.,” BuddyPress core developer Mathieu Viet said. “And very quickly we all agreed that this couldn’t be done in BP Legacy without risking an impact on all the possible overrides site owners or theme designers did and are still doing.” Viet said that many who have customized BP Legacy templates have not always synchronized their customizations to keep pace with changes to core templates.

The new template pack project, known as BP “Nouveau,” is being developed on GitHub. Viet outlined the goals of the project in a recent progress update:

  • Modularity in CSS, Javascript and PHP.
  • Think forward instead of being afraid of breaking backward compatibility.
  • Build modern UIs by always taking advantage of the latest improvements in WordPress and BuddyPress core.
  • Ease of customizations for site owners and at the same time advanced techniques for theme or plugin developers.

The new template pack is moving forward in bold ways, such as removing all the do_action hooks from template parts. In the past these hooks have been useful for extending the templates, but removing them has inspired contributors to introduce new APIs, new template hierarchies, and new template tags for BuddyPress theme authors to use.

BP Nouveau also incorporates the customizer, allowing site owners to select between four layouts for the groups and members directories and to perform actions like reordering the groups/members primary navigation menus.

The new template pack brings AJAX to the notification screens and makes some major improvements to the messaging component UI. It also introduces new templates to load the primary navigation dynamically, as either horizontal or vertical, with the help of a widget. Contributors are currently working on a new extendable Activity posting form.

BP Nouveau is available for preliminary testing as a plugin but should not be used in production. Once installed it adds a new tab to the BP Settings screen where you can select between BP Legacy and the new template pack. Anyone interested in testing and offering feedback is welcome to attend the Template Pack chat in the #BuddyPress Slack channel on Thursdays at 19:00 UTC.

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