Heads up, WordPress users! This week BuddyPress and bbPress have pushed out a couple of major releases for integrating social features into any standard WordPress theme. 

BuddyPress has one mission: to socialize the WordPress MU (multiuser) platform. We last covered the BuddyPress team when they announced the ability to add the following features to WP: 

  • Activity Streams: Global, personal and group activity streams with threaded commenting, direct posting, favoriting and @mentions. All with full RSS feed and email notification support.
  • Extended Profiles: Editable profile fields allow you to define the fields users can fill in to describe themselves.
  • Extensible Groups: Public, private or hidden groups allow users to break the discussion down into specific topics. Extend groups with your own custom features using the group extension API.
  • Friend Connections: Users can make connections to track the activity of others, or filter on only those users they care about the most.
  • Private Messaging: Private messaging will allow users to talk to each other directly, and in private. Not just limited to one-on-one discussions, users can send messages to multiple recipients.

BuddyPress 1.5, bbPress 2.0

This time around, BuddyPress is expanding beyond the basics with the addition of a new user interface for managing profile fields, an enhanced default theme with "widgetized" areas, an updated installer/upgrader, and several performance improvements. Highlights include: 

  • New Profile Fields UI – Improved interface, with drag-and-drop field management.
  • Updated Default Theme – Refreshed for 1.5; features a custom menu, header image, and background
  • New Install/Upgrader Tool, and revamped Admin pages – Updating and configuring BuddyPress is reportedly much easier
  • Easier Embeds with oEmbed support – Easily embed videos, images, and other content into the Activity Stream, Forums, and Private Messages.
     

Meanwhile, bbPress 2.0 now only requires installing a plugin through the WordPress Admin Dashboard. 

"No longer are the days of elaborate xml-rpc connections or impossible to figure-out cookie configurations! No more are the integration woes, complex theme arrangements, or separate dashboards! writes John James Jacoby on the official announcement

Activating bbPress 2.0 makes any standard WordPress theme capable of having support forums, user profiles, topic tags, and custom topic views. Users are able to mark topics as favorites to read them later, and can subscribe to be notified via email to topic replies.

bbPress 2.0 also comes with Akismet and BuddyPress functionalities baked-in, so if you’re already using either plugin, no additional configuration is required.