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Re: bbPress v1’s eventual release

I’ve been “testing” 1.0 out privately over the last week, primarily by re-writing my custom code and templates, and then working through every user operation (to check both my changes, and the underlying software). So I’ll try and play devil’s advocate to _ck_’s “don’t upgrade!”

From the user’s perspective, little has changed. The most significant feature to pull out is the use of Display Names. That’s a huge plus on an “international” forum, because users can now set their names to contain non-English characters. And there’s no need to workaround empty display names in WordPress (when a user registers via BBPress).

Templating is similarly unchanged. About the most significant change is that the contents of tag-form.php can no longer be altered via a template – which was likely never required anyway. Semantically, existing oddities remain (like the profile edit is still a table), and usability can be clunky in places (when you register successfully, there’s a message that tells you to log in, but nothing immediately helpful, like a login screen).

Plugins very much depends on how deep they go. The only place I stumbled was in user roles, where the underlying code had completely altered. But I’m not using many plugins, and the custom code I had been using, I’d been prepared to rewrite. (Most of it was a mess anyway!) A clear “your mileage may vary” caveat, and particular risk if one doesn’t understand enough programming to work round anything that breaks.

Technically, 1.0 feels fairly solid. I have found glitches, but nothing worse than some of the 0.9 versions. 1.0 does perform many more database queries. Like 50 on certain pages. Although it is hard for me to assess the load implications without running it on a public site. Integration worked OK as an upgrade, once I’d realised that the upgrade did not automatically add the new cookie-related keys (which needed to be added manually to the existing config files). The whole package feels more “bloated”, but that may be more the fault of WordPress than BBPress. I just hope BBPress doesn’t evolve into the messy, feature-overloaded forum software I had been trying to avoid.

So, if I was just running BBPress, on balance I’d stick with 0.9, at least until the dust settles on 1.0.

But. There’s a but.

If nobody uses 1.0, hardly anyone is debugging it, hardly anything gets fixed, and so on. There’s a danger of putting 1.0 on the shelf, waiting for someone else to finish it, and then wondering why the bugs never get found. So even if you aren’t running it on a live site, it might be useful to try it out privately.

Rightly or wrongly, WordPress 2.5.1 makes me increasingly nervous: As times goes on, I’m going to find plugins and templates that aren’t designed for that version. And while it is claimed that 2.5.1 has no security flaws, if almost nobody is using it, the chance of any flaw getting found and reported is also low. In contrast, the latest version is sure to get picked apart and patched back up very quickly.

And then I started to look at BuddyPress, and… I don’t even know if it’s possible to run that on top of 2.5.1. But you can see the way I’m starting to think: An old BBPress is itself rooting me in the past. And while I knew it was unfinished software when I started using it, I had rather assumed it would at least keep pace with WordPress, not get left a year behind.

So right now, it’s a rather person decision. All other things being equal, I tend to agree with _ck_.

However, I see a lot of WordPress 2.7+ blogs with phpBB forums hosted alongside. And naturally no integration between them. In the near future, that’s the first big, obvious “market” for BBPress. Yet almost all those people need compatability with the latest WordPress. For us “early adopters” that’s important: Some of those new BBPress users will write plugins and templates, and they won’t bother trying to support outdated code. Once that starts to happen, old 0.9 users will find they are missing out – which will probably be the time for most existing users to upgrade.

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