29 Comments

  1. Denis B

    Been tinkering with buddypress myself, but I wonder why there won’t be a desktop version and you are essentially accessing it via the web, should he have built a native app then? or simply a responsive site? Looking good though, wish him all the best.

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    • John James Jacoby

      All good questions and suggestions. Regarding native applications, the short answer is I couldn’t create and support native applications by myself, especially high-calibur ones that we’ve all come to expect. And… the WordPress REST API is still moving around a bit, and there’s so much work to do to fill in the BuddyPress endpoints, I wasn’t comfortable taking that on alone.

      Accessing Flox via a web UI is, maybe ironically, what I envision as the easiest part of the build (at least for my skill-set personally.) I imagine it as a very simple WordPress Theme with full BuddyPress support and enough network administration functionality baked in to keep people out of wp-admin.

      The mobile-only version just answers the most immediate needs of what I could produce in a few months time. The other pieces will, hopefully, come soon after.

      Thanks for the well wishes. :)

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      • ANTi-CAP

        I helped build what started off as a php/wml mobile forum (for old mobiles) many years ago. It’s now a well selfishly guarded full on mobile FB. it was know a unrealx, then wappyCULT, then ravingWAP and finally or last time I looked LavaLair. Buddypress and WP would get ripped apart by skiddies IMO with some serious work. Sorry.

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  2. anon

    So this is why bbPress died…

    Sarcasm aside, sounds like a cool project. Best of luck!

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    • Robin

      LOL… yeah, I’ll leave that alone

      the website design is very cool, I really like the clean layout

      on the pricing side of things, it seems a bit off, unless the per user fee refers to “active” users, however you want to define that.

      Most social networks have a core of active users and a bunch of lurkers or non-users. IOW people that may have signed up or been active users at some point but who left or have no intention of being a part of the network any more.

      the same dynamic is seen on blogs and forums, many more read than comment, many more comment than those that comment regularly.

      because of this, charging $3 or $5 per user can become exorbitant as a network grows.

      for example: 400 users of which maybe 210 are active or semi-active users would be $1200 to $2000 a month. having a self-hosted and managed network would probably cost half that in monthly expenses or less:

      fully managed SSD VPS hosting $70/month
      occasional troubleshoot/maintenance $350/month

      just my 2 c worth

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      • Sarah Gooding

        Those are interesting observations. I wonder if Flox might be an exception though, to the general social networks that have “lurkers” since it is intended to house private, focused networks – the kind that you would create for your family or for your small business/employees.

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      • Robin

        the dynamic that I described is observed in all networks. even your gym!

        how many sign up? how many actually go? how many actually go once a month? how many once a week? how many more than once a week?

        the point of a user based fee is to match resource usage with costs. that’s smart but it doesn’t work that simply when you have a network

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      • John James Jacoby

        You make great points, and may end up being absolutely right about everything. If that’s the case, the pricing structure could make or break us if we can’t get it dialed in to provide the best value for the smallest cost.

        I’m betting that there’s an audience out there that believes:
        * Owning their own data is important
        * In archiving their most interesting and relevant moments
        * Privacy & security aren’t just features of large social networks

        It’s those people that I’m hoping find a comfortable home at Flox. And if, say, Subaru wants to create a members-only network for BRZ owners to share their photos and experiences with each other, that would be pretty neat, too.

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      • ANTi-CAP

        This may sound harsh but IMO you will get your code stolen for fun. Charging for open source?? Or did I miss something? Seen it happen many a time. My advice is keep your ideas to yourself until they are secure, not trying to be mean but I can see big chunks of code that took me months of months of my work in so,me mobile scripts that sell for $$$$$$ now. Good luck.

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  3. Vladimir

    Sounds pretty cool, can’t wait to try it out

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  4. ANTi-CAP

    Very keen in getting involved with this. I know WP pretty well on the 4.1 alphas right now. BuddyPress 2.1 beta just past and about to try and break 2.2 beta1. Been coding a long time. I feel it will be insecure with out a lot of care and attention though. You got my email and one of my test sites, come say hello. Sorry in a mad rush to get some wine. Greetz :)

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  5. Jeff Chandler

    Now that he is focusing on Flox, he has a greater ability to contribute to the open source BuddyPress project, which is entirely volunteer driven. This can only mean good things for the future of BuddyPress.

    I read this and the first thing I thought of was and bad things for bbPress. Probably won’t be the case but we’ll see. Good luck to JJJ on following his dream vision.

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    • ANTi-CAP

      bbPress is sat in the trunk just not zipped up….. but I see your point. If they give up on that I may have a bash. Too easy IMO. Simple forum script.

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    • John James Jacoby

      I’ll never give up on bbPress. It will power the Flox support forums, and I’m always still lurking around bbpress.org.

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      • Jeff Chandler

        Ahh see, that was not mentioned :) but with all things considered, with most of your time and effort going into Flox, it seems like you’ll have less *free time* to devote to bbPress. bbPress is not dead by any means although a ton of people may argue otherwise :P that’s a different topic for another day.

        Anywho, awesome to see a project that utilizes all the bb’s so in effect, it may pay for your development time on them, plus Flox.

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      • John James Jacoby

        I don’t know that I’ve ever had this “free time” you speak of, but I’ve always felt my best and longest stretches of contributions to the bb’s came during times when I was using the software for something myself. I only had that for a stint at Automattic, and less-so at 10up, so Flox is equal parts me selfishly going back to what I enjoy doing the most, while also providing a private and secure conversation-place for intimate groups of people using free and open-source software at the heart.

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  6. ANTi-CAP

    ^^bbPress 2.6 sorry. I left them a message asking to help earlier.

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  7. Mel Choyce

    Looks great, rock on JJJ. :)

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  8. Robin

    JJJ, please don’t get me wrong, I’m not at all trying to criticise you or this project rather I wish you well.

    Having said that, it is baffling that you point out those 3 things because having a self-hosted solution would be the obvious solution to them since:

    * you would own your own data – literally on your own server which you pay for and to which the host manages for you so if you wanted to, you could do whatever you wanted with it
    * archiving – ditto
    * privacy and security – again, instead of a third party, it is you and your host who control and own it, no middleman as they say

    these are basically the same reason why some prefer to host their own mailserver with something like roundcube instead of using gmail or have their own backup solution with owncloud instead of using dropbox

    hopefully you’ll get feedback from your clients going forward about the pricing and who knows! maybe what I said will turn out to be completely wrong! :)

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    • Tom

      Robin you are correct in saying that having a self-hosted solution would satisfy the 3 points JJJ outlined, BUT you are missing at least two big user cases.

      1. Users who are not technically able to self-host.

      I think that speaks for itself. Some users struggle to install vanilla WordPress. A Flox-type thing would be a big ask for those users – think of all the configuration etc. Not to mention the hosting aspect of it.

      2. Customers who are technically able to self-host but it is more cost effective to buy in a solution.

      This is where I think Flox has a shot at success. Companies or groups, that choose to buy in a solution. Not because they are unable to build something similar self-hosted (it would take time) but because a monthly fee for an off the shelf product makes more business sense. Putting the development/setup of a self hosted solution aside, think of the time maintenance / support / updates / security takes up.

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      • Robin

        Hi Tom,
        re #1 that’s why I wrote “fully managed SSD VPS” – you don’t need to know anything about servers, they’ll take care of it all. Installation, security, monitoring, maintenance, updates, etc.

        And the budget of $70/month I gave is a generous package of +3GB RAM with a superb provider – which I didn’t and won’t name, that offers unparalleled service and knowhow.

        #2 of course, the point is that this type of client has the most reason to have a self-hosted solution because they are more likely to have a large network. A company with say 300 employees will have to decide if it is smart to use flox at a cost of $36,000 when they could set it up themselves for a small fraction of that. Whereas a small client, say one with 25 users may decide that paying $75/month is a good option.

        as I wrote to JJJ, the best response is that from clients, if they are happy to pay then great :)

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  9. MF Simchock

    Kudos JJJ. And all the best, obviously.

    This pretty much confirms my presumption of about a year ago. That is, BuddyPress has arrived – in a full, proper and market viable sense.

    Don’t take this the wrong way, but hopefully one or two others will follow your lead and help to grow the market.

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  10. Summer

    As someone who 1) does not use my phone for email or communications of any sort beyond phone calls and text messages, and 2) who has experience in urban areas where people who are using smartphones constantly are intentionally targeted for snatch & grabs, excluding fossils like myself who don’t want to carry every bit of sensitive data about themselves in their pockets where it could eventually be stolen is just hurtful ;)

    I’m working on systems seemingly 18 hours a day, so I really don’t want to have to have that infiltrate my phone as well! LOL

    Seriously, I hope things go well enough that you’ll roll out that desktop version pretty quickly!

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  11. Peter

    This is actually exciting and I’m thrilled to see JJJ the one doing it. If anyone can make this work he can. As one of the powerbuilders of BP, he’s intimately aware of what it can and can’t do – this is a natural progression. With all the talk about WordPress-as-platform – this is proof in the pudding, so to speak. No one actually said it, but this is WP/BP as Saas. This is a use that doesn’t happen much (think HappyTables), and is usually only undertaken at great risk. The brand of Flox is not WP, it is Flox. This is JJJ continuing to be a standard bearer for the community.

    Praise aside, this has been attempted before (to a degree) and on the operational side of things, it would be important to do some case studies (and I’ll be happy to help out with this). Diaspora did the same thing (https://joindiaspora.com/), just different technology and methods. The concept is private social networks, though its implementation probably has more in common with BP deployments than it does with Flox (which is a full service, not a deployable software) There is also comparisons to be made that this is a consumer-grade version of Yammer (private social networks for business). The comparison to Slack is solid, however, though Slack is organization-oriented, I like the idea of a consumer/social-oriented private network.

    There is more to this than JJJ using BP, and the project itself is a profound continuing statement on the use of WP. I’m thrilled that Jake Goldman & Co. are incubating this, it shows progressive thinking about WP/BP as a service platform and represents the kind of thinking that 10up competitor had when they supported Happy Tables. This kind of innovative thinking is the kind that really makes working in the WordPress space exciting.

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  12. JJ Jay (@tharsheblows)

    Ooh, it’ll be great for bbPress and am selfishly very excited! I agree with JJJ – the more I use something myself, the more I see what I could do and the more fun doing it is. This should have good results all round.

    I think there’s a solid market for businesses who want their own social network in addition to Facebook, Twitter, etc but want to outsource the technical aspects or make an add-on to the site and simply use current in house community managers / pr to run it. The Audi example is perfect.

    Price-wise, it’s not something I could use for the site I run with a mid size forum (70k registered users, not sure how many actively post at any given time) but the advantage to starting small is working all of that out. It’s definitely a surmountable problem. If it helps, at my size and with the traffic, I’d be ok paying £500 – £1000 a month, depending on how good support is, how flexible the platform etc. This is about what hosting costs me (managed WP host) with a bit extra on top because dev costs could go down. To be completely honest though, I am somewhat cheap, so take that with a grain of salt.

    I’m really excited, I’ve been thinking about how I would do it all morning, and will love to see how this works out. Good luck with it!

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  13. Peter

    Here is an article on Engadet about another Facebook alternative http://www.engadget.com/2014/09/26/ello/

    It makes for interesting reading, Ello is a social network service that sounds good, but I from reading the article, BuddyPress already has it beat out of the box and is a more mature system. Worth reading as a case study into what people are doing in this space, it can help inform how to move with Flox.

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  14. John Parris

    This is cool and I’m excited to see more and more applications and services use WordPress as a platform.

    A few alternatives have been mentioned in the comments, but no one mentioned Ning. They’ve been around a long time. The obvious conceptual difference is Ning isn’t self hosted. I think Ning has changed hands a time or two. Their current pricing is insanely cheap, and likely not sustainable, but possibly something to consider… or not. :) There are some nice features there worth consideration.

    Good luck with this, JJJ.

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    • Peter

      I completely forgot about Ning. It was an early BuddyPress competitor that failed in many ways. I find it surprising that the brand is still out there. In times past, there were Ning-to-BP importers so admins can migrate over. Ning is closer to BuddyPress than as it appears to Flox. While Flox uses BuddyPress, I can see that JJJ is tuning it to remove the admin concepts of it to make it more user-oriented even from the admin aspect of things.

      Good point there, and it reminds me of all the hard work that JJJ, Paul Gibbs and the others have done on BP over the years. In my opinion, BP killed beat Ning long ago (this is an entirely debatable stance, however).

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