16 Comments

  1. treb0r

    I’m a big fan and user of WordPress, and I don’t really have the right to criticize as I don’t contribute to these projects, but having said that, I’ve had a really bad experience with BBPress.

    I finally resolved to move over to Discourse when I realised that BBPress cannot easily import Forums from another instance of itself.

    BBPress has an air of respectability because of it’s association with WordPress and Automattic, but based on my experiences I believe that it is best avoided.

    I think this article gets it dead right – use the right tool for the job and don’t try to do too much with WordPress. Rather, use it for what it’s really good at – managing Websites and blogs.

    The JSON API is opening up all kinds of new possibilities too.

    My experience with Discourse has been second to none. It features an amazing Docker based installer that just completely hides the complexity and makes it simple enough for anybody to install.

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  2. John James Jacoby

    Moves like this aren’t personal, though it’s easy to take them that way. When months of work result in continued frustration, it’s clear something else needs to change for the better.

    Erlend isn’t wrong that in the time since I joined Automattic, projects with full time attention like Discourse have made huge strides towards better representing what a modern piece of community software looks like.

    I think it’s important to remember that just like WordPress, BuddyPress is more toolkit than turnkey. No matter how quickly the installation goes, no matter how low the barrier to entry is, the step up to mastery is enormous, even for professionals.

    Posts like Erlend’s make me wish I could have stepped in earlier to see if there was opportunity to work towards a different outcome. But once a ship sails, all you can do is continue improving what you can and be ready if that ship returns some day.

    Hopefully the next time Erlend pops his head up from Discourse and looks around, the bb’s will be their next obvious choice, again.

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    • Erlend

      Thanks for chiming in John. What you say about BuddyPress being more toolkit than turnkey is very true, and I’m the one at fault for thinking BuddyPress was more than what it said on the tin. I figured since WordPress enabled me to build a pretty website all by myself, BuddyPress would enable me to build a community site all by myself. For this same reason though, I’ve always felt that BuddyPress would be better off “sold as individual parts”, but I won’t keep beating that dead horse now that I don’t even have a horse in the race.

      p.s. I just read your “week 2” update. I had no idea there was a fee of 5% (wham!) for not surpassing the goal in flexible funding. That’s kind of ridiculous. I noticed Justin suggested hiring a designer for bbPress, and I think that’s a great idea. Maybe a designer affiliate of yours could draw up some snazzy bbPress mockups for a last PR push?

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  3. champeau87

    I really enjoyed this article. I have been eyeing up Discourse for a while now. Heggen’s quote,

    “You should strongly reconsider whether it’s worth having a forum at all, because in my honest opinion a forum is an ‘all or nothing’ sort of deal. It’s either a key component of your website, or it’s going to become a graveyard quicker than you can say ‘Welcome to our community!”

    really made me consider my forum situation.

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  4. markk5

    I agree that BP code is sub standard (for many reasons. no finger pointing here, just stating a fact that is obvious to anyone that tried to do anything in BP) but thinking that some JSON will solve his main problem is wrong, it will just add complexity to a complex system, making any debuging or understanding of code flow much harder.

    O, what is his main problem? He codes first (or install software first) and only then he tries to design the system. This approch rarely ends well for any non trivial system..

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    • John James Jacoby

      BuddyPress’s code is not “substandard” unless the standard is pristine RESTful OOP such-and-such, in which case: how could it be? BuddyPress’s code is years old and founded in a PHP4-compatible world where monkey-patching WordPress is the norm.

      Someone could just as easily say, without pointing fingers, that the above assessment of BuddyPress’s code is subpar (for many reasons) and that it should be obvious to anyone reading these comments. I wouldn’t say it because criticism like that isn’t constructive or helpful. :heart:

      If your assessment is correct and BuddyPress’s code really is *that* bad, your talents would be hugely useful to the project and it would be great to have your help improving it, even in small ways.

      Re: JSON endpoints, I agree they would not have changed this particular outcome. We’ve been dreaming up awesome uses for it in WordPress for so long now that the reality of how difficult building great applications with it truly is, is only starting to settle in. That said, the REST API code itself is solid, and Ryan, Rachel, and everyone else has done a great job so far getting it ready for production, and people have already started to build neat stuff with it.

      Regarding Erlend specifically, he has been using the bb’s for a long while, and is an active member in every open-source community I’ve seen him be a part of. If he decided BuddyPress wasn’t adequate, I’d take his word for it.

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  5. donnacha

    Terrific post Jeff. Pointing out the similar, surprising lack of progress on comments was astute.

    Despite its dominance, I feel that WordPress is in a very strange place right now.

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    • johnwallett

      Can you say a bit more about where you think WordPress is right now? Do you think it has gone in a direction that doesn’t make sense, or rather that the world has changed around it…? I feel that I agree with you on instinct if for no other reason that WP has become complicated and inevitably messy. I recommend it for many client organisations I work with but at the same time feel it tries to do so many things that maybe it is now aspiring to be such a general purpose tool that it will inevitably lose focus.

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      • ChookChook

        “Jack of all trades but master of none” That’s where I see WP is heading.

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        • KTS915

          I fear you might be right. It reminds me a lot of the development of Microsoft Word.

          Word’s developers kept stuffing more and more into it. This led to more and more people using it, until it came to be thought of, in many quarters, as essential. So you might think that Word must be loved by all and sundry.

          But … well, I think you know the reality.

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      • donnacha

        John, on reflection I have decided that any constructive criticism I might make would only upset people and make no difference anyway. When you become the phenomenon that WordPress has, it is natural for the main actors to become resistant to the thoughts of those outside the circle and, in any case, it is unseemly for me to moan, they have never owed us anything.

        Suffice to say that the six-year-old Matt quote that Jeff repeated in his post, promising to spice up comments after purchasing and absorbing an innovative comments company, made me wistful, reminding me of a time when I believed that Automattic was the most important company in the world and that WordPress had only barely begun to reveal its potential.

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  6. makroben

    BuddyPress is an old tool. I think he should consider it for some more time. Any way… Good luck to him.

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  7. Charles

    bbpress reminds me of phpbb. stuck in the past and slow to adapt so wouldn’t be suprised to see more migrate away from bbpress and/or buddypress when there are other solutions out there that provides “modern” features. discourse is really the one to watch since it handles the forum side, wordpress commenting, better spam protection and much more. replaces bbpress and buddypress in many ways.

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  8. Patty J. Ayers

    P2?

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  9. treb0r

    I think that all of this talk of WordPress being somehow in trouble is absolute nonsense. Just becsause BBPress has some issues let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water.

    I have been earning my living building websites since 1994. I have used many different open source systems to build with during that time and my only regret is that I didn’t start using WordPress sooner.

    IMHO WordPress is fantastically flexible and remarkably simple to work with for both developers and end users.

    If there is one thing that makes WordPress stand out for me though, it is the community.

    I had the good luck to get my first real introduction to WordPress at MWUG in Manchester UK, hosted by WordPress co-founder Mike Little. The guy is an absolute inspiration.

    Companies like Automattic (and Canonical for that matter) are achieving an amazing balance by contributing so much to the World while at the same time trying to turn an honest dollar. I applaud them.

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  10. JJ Jay (@tharsheblows)

    This is really interesting! I use bbPress throughout a site (I couldn’t figure out BuddyPress from a user standpoint) and it works very well. When I set it up, I considered Discourse but that was a year and a half ago, although the reasons haven’t changed – mainly integration into the site, ease of customising it.

    I am slightly surprised that no one’s really mentioned that losing WP user management is important to them. It is very important to me. The users have access to a tracker of things and we might introduce paid content, functionality etc etc. Having one system to handle sitewide logins is invaluable — it’s not only easier and less frustrating for users but easier to develop new stuff (or buy it, hey there membership plugins!)

    As I said, I don’t understand how people use BuddyPress – I agree with Erlend on this:
    “I’ve always felt that BuddyPress would be better off ‘sold as individual parts'”

    and very much with this from his blog http://blog.erlend.sh/when-is-bbpress-the-right-choice/:
    “That said, in this case you should strongly reconsider whether it’s worth having a forum at all, because in my honest opinion a forum is an “all or nothing” sort of deal. ”

    I could go on quite a bit. My feeling is that Discourse has a lot of excellent things that bbPress doesn’t have *yet*. Discourse is great and I can see how it’s the perfect solution for some sites. But I love bbPress, although sometimes I feel like the only one anywhere who does.

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