Many people have already noticed that Automattic has soft launched TalkPress. TalkPress was mentioned and explained some time ago in the bbPress forums, but there is no harm in restating our intentions here.
It has been public for a while that Automattic was going to launch a hosted forum service based on bbPress and the decision was made early on to not call it bbPress.com for three reasons.
- It avoids the sort of confusion users experience trying to distinguish between WordPress.org and WordPress.com
- bbPress is not a particularly good product name for that service
- The bbPress.com domain name is already registered to someone else
The last reason is fairly conclusive.
So the name TalkPress was chosen. As a joke we put up a phpBB forum at TalkPress.com for a while, which we all found quite amusing until it got heavily spammed, so down that came!
In the meantime we have been preparing bbPress to accommodate many of the needs that this new service would require, specific functionality has included preparing bbPress to handle the huge user tables of WordPress.com – some of this work is already available to bbPress users (even if it’s only really useful if you have millions of users).
The architecture behind WordPress.com demanded that we make bbPress play nice with the HyperDB extension for WordPress. This neat database load-balancing and redundancy tool is now fully compatible with bbPress. So if you want to run your bbPress site with redundant MySQL databases in multiple datacenters then that’s possible now too. bbPress now has a pretty enviable set of advanced options for MySQL connectivity.
Finally, the secret sauce of TalkPress.com is an extension called “bbPress Channels”. bbPress Channels does for bbPress what WordPress MU does for WordPress, except that it is a single file that is simply included in a standard bbPress install rather than being a complete fork of bbPress.
I call it an extension, because strictly speaking it isn’t a plugin. Some of you may have noticed the “BB_CHANNELS_INCLUDE” constant floating around in
bb-settings.php, this is where that file gets included. The bbPress Channels code is not ready for release yet, but it will be released as open source code at a later date.
TalkPress itself is not open for public signup at this stage. Currently we are bringing on a few “VIP” partners so that we can run-in the platform in a more controlled way. The pioneers on the service are Time Inc. who are incorporating a TalkPress forum into their Health.com website. I’m happy to report back to the bbPress community that TalkPress (and thus bbPress) withstood their rigorous security testing with flying colours. This testing incorporated, amongst other things, comprehensive XSS and SQL injection tests.
As for bbPress, some movement has occurred in the priorities leading up to a final 1.0 release. Some of the more fundamental changes that were planned are being put on the back-burner so that these aims can be achieved:
- Full compatability with both WordPress 2.7 and 2.8
- Easier integration steps for WordPress MU
- Retaining compatibility with the existing catalogue of current plugins
This means that some things, like the planned re-factoring of the rewrite methods, are being postponed until some future version or even removed from the radar completely.
The next Alpha version of bbPress is imminent and will likely be the last bbPress 1.0 Alpha version. From there we will move into Beta and hopefully quite quickly through to Release Candidates for 1.0 in the next couple of months.