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BBpress. Mindset, features and where now? discuss…

  • kevinjohngallagher


    Hi BBpress team,

    I wanted to raise a concern I’ve had for sometime, but every time I think it’s the right thing to do, there’s a new release and I thought that maybe it’d be fixed. With 1.0 in alpha stage, I figure now’s a good time.

    I think we’ve got a lot of this wrong.

    Not the code, not the plugins, not the community, but more the mindset behind the important features. We’ve not built forum software, we’ve built blogging software.

    We make posts, and people comment on them. The focus of BBpress is on individual posts with things like tags, as opposed to the forum/section/category to which it was posted. I also appreciate the desire to streamline the code base, which is wonderful, but users and the internet-public at large expect forums to have certain features – to rely on user updated plugins for these features is not an ideal solution.

    I don’t say any of this to criticise, because you folks have done amazing work given the small team and smaller community working on BBpress, and I’m massively impressed; but I think given the scale of the project you’re working on you’d want real feedback.

    Let me give an example if I may, which might illustrate the issue I and other users face.

    In the 1.0alpha, we finally get Categories as standard, a feature that is absolutely essential for a forum (not a blog), otherwise the ‘forums’ are just a list of wordpress categories.

    The problem with Categories, is that we don’t have ‘forums’ belonging to them, instead we have ‘forums’ that are called categories. A simple 1/0 in a db. But it’s not enough. Why?

    Well it means that the loop in front-page.php to iterate through forums has to check to see if it’s a category. There is no independent check for categories and forums. This of course makes no difference in the world of all forums being in a singular table (the category can just be an individual TR and we can use a PHP continue to end the loop), but as soon as we move to multiple tables (which is essential for accessibility focussed websites), or nested divs this becomes quite useless.

    What we need its:









    Each belonging to the parent above it. But we don’t have that in BBpress for categories. It’s massively short-sighted.

    Now, this may seem like a simple thing, but I raise it as more of a mindset. We’re coming across a bug/issue/problem/feature request and we’re solving that specific request rather than seeing how it fits in. Take, if I may, the brilliant UNREAD POSTS plug-in by _CK_. When it was built it added a class to the specific span of the name of the topic post in the list of topics. Upon request it then did the same to the name of the forums. At no time was the thought process – wait a minute, if I put this at the top level item of the iteration that means that all child nodes can use it. _CK_ fixed this oversight yesterday and his plugin is now brilliant and easily rivalling the methodology used in the bigger forum solutions.

    But it’s the mindset behind it I think we need to change. Fixing a singular problem, or even adding a new requested feature, without planning how it will impact others or if it’s at a high enough level is starting to make BBpress look amateurish.

    I’m not saying we have to emulate the big boys and their massively bloated software, but what we have to accept, as a community, is that the likes of PHPbb and IPB etc. all do certain functions as standard, and these are what our users will expect.

    I can’t see a roadmap or feature list for a finished 1.0 anywhere, I can’t even see a feature list for 1.5 anywhere (and yes I’ve been to the TRAC site for both). I just get the feeling as we move towards 1.0 release, that we’re not really releasing forum software, we’re releasing blogging software:

    WordPress: categories > posts > comments

    BBpress: forums > topics > replies

    These are effectively one and the same. I’m quiety confident that someone could write a WP theme that effectively does what BBpress does. The BBpress front page list topics then forums (with the number of topics /posts in it). A WP page could list blog Posts titles and then categories (with the number of posts / comments in it). They are, to an end user, the one and the same.

    I mean, was XML-RPC absolutely essential for BBpress? It seems to me that Categories, or the Unread Posts feature would be far more essential in that other forums have them. Why haven’t we used the same folder structure as WordPress so that we can easily convince wordpress users to also use BB? Heck why isn’t even our website set out in the same way (this may bring over some WP plugin creators)?

    These things are not complains, and I do not raise them to flame or criticise in anyway, I merely hope to kick start a little discussion that can see us move BBpress forward. To often in the past few months I’ve suggested BBpress to friends or fellow developers and they’ve told me that it just doesn’t meet their needs – I think that’s something we need to fix, together :)


Viewing 5 replies - 26 through 30 (of 30 total)

  • kevinjohngallagher


    And where could Matt possibly find the money to pay for these develoeprs with the $29million he got in January…

    (thats a joke btw)



    “Oh one big thing I should point out – the features in bbPress, and the time of the main developers are first and primarily geared towards the need of Automattic and – people forget or don’t realize that.”

    We don’t get or realize that because… it’s not written anywhere.

    We’re not mind readers.

    “The features that are “missing” from bbPress just happen to be the features that Matt decided weren’t a priority for and the other Automattic forums.”

    Oh. See, now that’s a totally different light on the subject. I didn’t realise i was building something for Matt to fit Matt’s needs and for the needs of Matt’s companies. Maybe that should be written down somewhere too…

    “It’s also why there is no documentation, remember Matt has to pay the coders, why does he need documentation for 3rd party plugin developers if it’s just going to cost money.”

    I do understand that, but surely the actual developers have some form of documentation too. Couldn’t we all see that to make ‘Matts’ product better? And it’s not like Automatic is short of a few bob.

    Surely, from a business point of view, having documentation to increase the number of theme and plugin developers will increase the take-up rate of BBpress.

    “bbPress 1.0 and the backpress integration are now being driven by Matt’s goal of TalkPress for members.”

    So, what this means is that we can’t, as a community, do anything about anything, because we’re all following Matt’s plan, to which we have no feature list or roadmap or really any visibility of?

    I dont expect Matt, or really any WordPress/Automatic employee, to have to run things by anyone in the community – i’m not saying that I do. But the… pretence that this is an open source project is totally nullified if we’re all coding against a grand plan and road map we’re not allowed to see.

    If the new standard answer is going to be “that’s not on Matt’s wishlist but we’re not going to tell you what is on it – go on GUESS” then can start to see why so many people have left the BBpress community, and why all the themes/forums we’re seeing all look the same.



    I suppose the overriding feeling i’m getting from this is that, how can we, as a community, who want BBpress to get better and fit the needs of many know where to start if we’re not given any indication.

    I’ve searched these forums, I can’t find one single solitary post with with phrase “XML-RPC” in it. There’s not one tag with it in it. So why build it? Well obviously it was a feature requested by someone at Automatic, which is fine, but lets not pretend then that the community has anything to do with this. If it’s a feature the community didn’t want, didn’t need, has 0 support questions over, has discussed 0 times in in forums, etc etc then lets not pretend that the community of developers have any real input.

    So i take back my earlier comments about there being no project manager, feature list, or road map. There clearly is all 3 of these, we the community/users/developers apparently just aren’t worth the money to it would cost to post the existing documentation online.

    I think, we’re all happy to be the people on the bottom peg of the ladder. The people that are giving up their free time, in the hope that it provides a better product for all of us at the end of the day. But this whole thing just doesn’t sit right with me anymore…



    I’m not a fan of XML-RPC myself but it’s a feature Matt wanted to pioneer. He mentioned it in one of his first announcements about bbPress. He wanted some features no other forum has. Given that it’s his “baby” he can guide it in any direction he feels fit of course.

    bbPress is just like WordPress in one major way – if you don’t like something, or want to make it better – get coding.

    WordPress didn’t have documentation for YEARS. You can find many complaints about it. Even as recent as 2.0 I believe. But look at it now.

    bbPress is the same way. And in a couple years, newcomers will wonder what the heck you were complaining about.

    Last but not least, in fact most importantly, you’re working with a pre 1.0, pre-release project – what exactly are you expecting? Features aren’t even locked in yet.

    I only learned PHP a few years ago and I figured out how to code for bbPress, 100% without documentation. If I can do it, anyone can.

    This topic is an interesting read.

    I don’t see that BBPress should fit established norms for “forums”, which I personally think are horribly outdated: Trying to apply a nice neat academic/usenet ontology to the “Twitter generation”, who would rather just communicate. Now.

    So I believe the prime role of “forum software” is to allow users to freely express themselves. Structuring and organising the information they post is a different challenge. “Categories” is essentially a response to that challenge. But can’t we do better?

    Which ironically is where things like XML-RPC become interesting. Can I make use of that now? Probably not. But it surely has potential to cross-reference discussions.

    BBPress is clearly still an early stage product. It’s certainly not there yet, even if technically it works. And almost by definition nobody is going to have clear view of where it is going.

    (And for the record, personally the biggest annoyance with the core of BBPress (0.9.x) is that users cannot register using a unicode-style username – Russian, Chinese, Arabic, or even oddball European characters. It’s just… rude, right? Or is there a solution I’ve missed that doesn’t involve rewriting the core?)

Viewing 5 replies - 26 through 30 (of 30 total)
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