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From a Project Management viewpoint

  • kevinjohngallagher


    I’m really confused. I’ve read the IRC chat meetings (not sure why it took 13 days to post them but anyway), and I have to say that I’m really confused.

    Right off the bat I hold my hands up to very little development outside of customising WordPress and writing BBpress plugins in the last 2 years, so this is all from a Project Management / BA perspective.

    • Your 3 biggest tags from posts are: WordPress, Integration, Plugin.
    • Every week, you have more posts on WordPress integrations thatn any other single topic.
    • You advertise as one of your key features “wordpress integration”.
    • You hold a poll to see what features people want, “wordpress integration” tops it. Infact it wins with 50% of the votes, or 520% more votes than its nearest competitor.

    Now, seems to me, that the top priority in terms of new features, documentation and communication should be fairly obvious.

    [21:28 GMT] <photomatt> 1. bug fixes

    [21:29 GMT] <photomatt> 2. email notification

    [21:29 GMT] <photomatt> 3. anon comments from filosofo

    And obviously that’s… Email notifications? No… wait… Anonymous Comments?


    From a Project Management standpoint, here’s the problem:

    • BBpress0.9 has both of these features as working plugins. But it cant integrate with WordPress.
    • BBpress1.0.2 doesn’t have these features, but can integate with WordPress. (Can anyone confirm that 1.0.2 integrates with 2.9.1 out of the box? – I can’t get it to work)
    • So now we’re working on BBpress1.1 which will have these 2 very important features working but may or may not integrate with WordPress.

    If BBpress 1.1 doesn’t integrate with WP2.9.1 (or the latest point release at the time of BBpress1.1’s release) or heaven forbid WordPress 3.0… then it’s exactly the same position as BBpress0.9 – just two years down the line and with less plugins working. We’ll have features we had 2 years ago and still not be able to integrate BBpress and WP. All we’ll have done is move 2 plugins into the core – and that’s really all we’ll have done in 2 years.

    I’m not quite sure if this analogy fits across the world but in PMI terms (and I think Prince2 if you’re a European like myself) this is called “building a House on Sand”. Adding a turret aint going to help when the tide comes in (or a new version of WP is released).


    If I move this away from features a minute (as everyone wants different features and I want to make this an abstract point not a specific one).

    When will BBpress1.1 be ready?

    I’m not looking for an exact date, we all know that’s impossible for any project like this, but roughly when will it be ready – any good PM knows this.

    If there’s no bugs, and email subscription is working, that leaves Anonymous Comments to convert, +testing + release etc. Either way, I’m sure Matt has a rough idea in his head about how long until 1.1, even if it’s a ballpark figure. (Matt, im not expecting you to give us even a rough date as people will only keep you to it, and that’s not the sort of pressure you need right now/at all).

    So, when is WordPress 3.0 coming out? What is the likely-hood, given both WP and BBpress’ history, that any existing integration will no longer work with WP3.0? Would it be too pessimistic to think its at least 50/50 that it’ll break?Is it too optomistic to think its 100% likely to work first time?

    If we take the best case scenario, that BBpress1.0.2 works seamlessly with WP2.8, WP2.9 & WP3.0 and that BBpress1.1 works seamlessly with WP2.9 & WP3.0 – what’s going to happen to BBpress once we hit 1.1? Matt’s the sole developer, and there’s no way he’s not going to be involved in some format in WP3.0 not to mention all the WordPress Camps and the usual stuff.

    It either means that BBpress gets handed over to someone else (again), or there’s a large amount of time between BBpress 1.1 and BBpress1.2 as WP3.0 has to be developed and released in between them. Given that BBpress1.1 is effectively cosmetic (2 features with used to work now working again), are we seriously looking at over a year between releases with new functionality?

    And that’s the best case scenario!

    Even if BBpress 1.1 does integrate nicely with 2.9, what if it doesn’t integrate with WP3.0? Are we going to get a patch or a plugin for BBpress 1.1 to make it work with WP3.0 if it doesn’t integrate? Will BBpress integration be Matt’s priority once WP3.0 comes out, given that 1) heck its not a priority now and 2) the plan is to make BBpress a Canonical Plugin from 1.2(-ish) ?

    [21:26 GMT] <photomatt> bbPress will definitely be a WP plugin

    [21:26 GMT] <photomatt> but don’t want to change the data structure decision until 1.2-ish

    No, if BBpress 1.02 or BBpress1.1 don’t integrate with WP2.9 or WP3.0 is Matt or Automattic (cos i’m not wanting to pin this on Matt the person) going to suddenly reverse its decision and make BBpress integration a company priority? Of course not, that makes no sense.

    Realistically, its integrate it now, or accept it ain’t going to be integrated.


    This post looks rather doom and gloom, and I’m sorry for that, it’s not my intention. Here is my intention: Any Project Manager worth his/her salt would look at the above scenario with scepticism/fear/consider-quitting ;-)

    Spending time developing software to hit a target that has 1) moved since first developed (WP2.7 -> WP2.9) and 2) will move again (WP2.9->WP3.0) soon after the software is released is, respectfully, lunacy.

    This madness is then going to be compounded by rewriting the software in less than 6 months time? Then what is the upside/point of BBpress1.1?

    The return of 2 features? The galvanising of the forum? BBpress has bloated in size since 0.9, moved away from what it was originally coded for, and lost useful functionality in the process. Going further down this path simply to rewrite it (mostly) as a WP plugin after 3.0 is out defies logic.

    The only upside is if you can guarantee that BBpress1.1 can integrate with the latest version of WP and the release after that. Otherwise we’re developing software that has a shelf life of 3-4 months at most. Of course that can’t be guaranteed as WordPress Integration isn’t being worked into BBpress1.1.

    If WP3.0 is being worked upon just now, if its in the early Project Management / Scoping stages, why isn’t the idea mooted that BBpress be reworked now as a Canonical Plugin?

    The people that use BBpress now, for the most part, aren’t going anywhere. If we’re here now, we’re locked in to its current form – and we’ve already had to accept that keeping our system secure by keeping up to date with WP is not going to happen, we’ve accepted the last 6 months-ish of no updates.

    BBpress’s major setback has been the fact that it’s on a different release cycle to WordPress and that integration has never been easy, simple, straightforward and infact that integration documentation has never been written.

    By developing BBpress1.1 independent of WP3.0, we confine ourselves to a project that promotes itself with one major selling point that it doesn’t live up to; not to mention waste development time and turn people away from the project.

    The BBpress project is/”was 6 weeks ago” at its lowest point, development had stalled for 6 months, the developer had quit, moderators had quit, plugin developers had quit, integration doesn’t work, plugins don’t work, information on the website is hideously wrong/out of date/wrong/misleading/wrong, the documentation website is now a porn links website etc etc etc.

    From a PM/BA point of view, that’s the perfect time to start scoping and moulding the software to where you want to take it.

    Hold up your hands and say “sorry its gotten like this, we dropped the ball, lets do this in a way we wanted to”. Don’t be tied into the same mistakes by chasing the dragon of “just one more release then we’ll fix integration”.

    If you want BBpress to be a WP plugin, now is the time to develop for that. Take the code that works and run with it, don’t let history repeat itself with the idea of adding more and more to paper over the cracks – when WP updates or Plugins don’t work those cracks are very obvious.

    <br />
    <br />
    1.2?<br />

    Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it – George Santayana



    please please please read your own blogs: Setting Scope

    What’s our proposal? We take a page from the world of project management and we make a project plan before we jump into the dev cycle.

    As an open source project, we accomplish more when we work together than we do following individual agendas, and we need to keep our project focused on commonly-agreed-upon goals instead of following tangents…

    Surely, as i stated at the start, the commonly agreed goal is WordPress Integration:

    • Your 3 biggest tags from posts are: WordPress, Integration, Plugin.
    • Every week, you have more posts on WordPress integrations thatn any other single topic.
    • You advertise as one of your key features “wordpress integration”.
    • You hold a poll to see what features people want, “wordpress integration” tops it. Infact it wins with 50% of the votes, or 520% more votes than its nearest competitor.

    While “instead of following tangents whenever a community member starts to take us on one, regardless of whether it’s to follow a cool idea that everyone loves” is:

    • email notification
    • Anonymous Posting


    Thank you all for reading, i know its not a short post,

    Take care.

Viewing 19 replies - 1 through 19 (of 19 total)
  • Great post. Thanks a lot.

    I agree, good well thought out post.

    If someone gets on bbPress development full-time, then most of the issues will work themselves out.

    I think whatever the case, we need to get WP plugins working in bbPress pronto.

    Andrew //

    My humble opinion is Automattic should acquire a SimplePress Forum plugin, incl. the developers. It works just great with BuddyPress.




    I posted the last couple weeks of IRC logs. No one stepped up to do the Dec 30 one, and PeteMall was going to post the first January one, but got stuck on something, so I finished that post. I posted yesterday’s about an hour after the meetup was done. The logs are always available here, even if they’re not posted to the blog. We’re just reposting, verbatim, information available elsewhere:

    As a participant in a couple of the recent meetups, I will share my observations.

    I disagreed that anonymous posting and email notifications were at all important. I think email notifications happened because the work was largely done (from somewhere) and it was easy for Matt to add. And filosofo had an anonymous post plugin largely done, so that was added.

    From the beginning, I’ve argued that bugs need to be fixed first (see number 5 here from Joel,) things that are built in but just plain not working. I think it’s important to fix bugs before adding new features. At yesterday’s meetup, I think I got that point across.

    And with regard to your observation, which I agree with, that the 3 most used tags are WordPress, Integration and plugin: the decision has been made to make bbPress a WordPress plugin. That takes care of the first two: WordPress and Integration. Plugin as a tag here never meant “make bbPress a WordPress plugin” it meant one of these things:

    • you can do what you want with a plugin (i.e. don’t hack the core)
    • there is a plugin available already, here’s the link
    • I’m having a problem with *this* plugin

    Until the structure of bbPress stabilizes a little bit, I think there is going to be a problem getting people involved in creating plugins for bbPress, a moving target. It happened with the move from 0.9 to 1.0. Things changed radically enough under the hood that many plugins broke. I wouldn’t waste any time developing plugins for a platform that I know is going to change in the near future, possibly breaking my plugins again.

    My gut feeling on the whole thing is:

    • fix bugs in existing functionality
    • ignore anything to do with integration of either themes or logins right now
    • when the 1.x release is less bug ridden, focus on integrating more tightly with WordPress, theme integration, function integration, login integration.
    • focus on plugins that are needed at that point

    That’s my take on it, from the outside.

    I also think that the development will gel a little bit after the initial flurry of talk, if not activity. Right now I think it’s important to get people involved, show people something is happening, maybe drum up some additional volunteers, and after that the direction can be set more clearly.

    The beginnings of projects like this always remind me of the top part of this graph:

    At the beginning you’re not very focused, swinging wildly from side to side, but eventually you narrow your scope and direct everyone’s efforts toward a single point.

    We’ve done this before. Relax. :)

    Ryan Hellyer


    I was a bit baffled by this too, but when I brought it up in the IRC chat, most seemed to think it was a better idea to slowly integrate bbPress into WordPress. I thought that would be far more difficult than starting from scratch, but there were a few people in the chat who know far more than I about such things who thought that was an easier approach, so I’m willing to take their word for it.

    Since it looks like the move to WordPress isn’t coming any time soon, I’m working on ways to make it easier to integrate WordPress themes into bbPress 0.9 and 1.0 (and any newer versions) without taking a performance hit like you do with deep integration. I’d rather be developing plugins for bbPress, but as pointed out above, there’s not much point developing plugins for a moving target.

    OpenSource Project ‘management’ is generally terrifying to people used to the rigid structure found in most medium to large businesses. It’s very similar to small company PM, though, and works well for what it is, even though it looks insane and weird and entirely ‘wrong’ to the outside viewer.

    Of course the reverse is true as well. The very organized, rigid, PM plans for large companies and projects often are impossible to fit in an OpenSource project and make the people used to the larger ones cry.

    It’s just how it is. :)



    We’ve done this before. Relax. :)

    Greatly appreciate you posting Matt, thanks.

    With absolute respect though, we know Automattic’s done this before:

    • we were here for BBpress 0.9 not integrating to 2 new versions of WordPress and not getting an update when WP did.
    • we were here for Sam not posting an update/techy questions answered etc for almost 3 months weeks after 0.9’s release
    • we were here for major announcements being slapping into page 3 of non-stickied threads – now apparently they’re half way down IRC logs no-one posts.
    • we were here with the BBpress1.0alphas (who remember that fun and games)
    • we were here with the awful BBpress1.0 rollout
    • we were here with the awful BBpress1.0 testing/bug-fixing (“we have decided to scrap Beta testing and bug fixing and will move to RC1 next week”)
    • we were here when the sole developer left
    • we’ve had 1 upgrade to BBpress to coincide with 5 updates of WordPress

    Thats not me being angry or upset or anything, its just that since the move to BBpress1.0 and the removal of the documentation site to be a porn site, all i can do is ask PM/BAquestions. I know we’re not the most loved bunch by developers (or anyone?? ;-]) but we have a skillset thats sometimes often overlooked by developers.

    The developer, and (2 main plugin developers/resources) have left the sinking ship. Heck the ship couldn’t do what it actually said for the last 18 months. With silence from Automattic for months all people could hear was the sound of the band who played us out. It’s great that you’re coming with liferafts and a new engine and any other nautical anaology (really shouldn’t have started this ;-] ), but when you get here and start making the same mistakes I don’t think its wrong for us to at least point them out.

    Its great you’re here Matt, its great all the people putitng time and development into it are here (thank you all), and heck even if you don’t take BBpress in a way I personally want, thats cool. I’m not here for a personal agenda of the features i personally want. It just that this project screams out for a PM and instead its got a truly lovely lead developer that everyone likes so much they’re too scared/in-awe to say “Dude, please, take a step back a sec, this is mental”.

    We’ve done this before. Relax. :)

    Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it

    – George Santayana

    It isn’t at all comforting for someone to tell you everything is under control when it clearly isn’t.



    But, what if it is? Who are we to judge? They *have* done this before.



    Hello folks,

    I appreciate you all taking the time to comment.


    Thanks very much for posting the links to where the IRC logs are kept. That is very useful information indeed. Its the sort of thing that should be on this website somewhere :) Respectfully, far too much information about BBpress is hidden in replies on threads, that once off the front page are relegated to history.

    You’re also right about the 3 most common phrases/tags/topics on this site being independent (i.e. not “a wordpress integration plug-in” but rather plug-in being separate). But with BBpress not delivering on the wordpress integration part, and having changed so much under the hood in 1.0 that the plug-ins don’t work; surely we’re failing on the very key topics the community are worried about.

    I wouldn’t waste any time developing plug ins for a platform that I know is going to change in the near future, possibly breaking my plug-ins again


    Which is where we find ourselves now. BBpress1.1 isn’t going to change any of this. its a “holding pattern” release. Matt’s already stated that BBpress is going to be a WP plug-in ( so integration’s not going to be looked at for 1.1) and that none of the big issues stopping plug-ins from working are going to be looked at in depth. So other than “rallying the troops” so to speak, what is BBpress1.1 going to give us? ANd what are we rallying the troops for – as you yourslf said, you/me/others aren’t going to build plugins for the moving target?

    I suppose it reminds me a little bit of this:

    You have a product that’s meant to do one thing, you rally support for the next version, present it to the masses and right before you do you tell them how awesome later versions that will make their code redundant will be. “Hey there developer, come make plug-ins and code for BBpress, yes sir code that will be pretty much gazumped when we integrate it to WP as they already have code that does this stuf… what do you mean you’ll wait for the working release? “

    @Ryan Heller

    I’d rather be developing plug-ins for BBpress, but as pointed out above, there’s not much point developing plug-ins for a moving target.

    – Ryan Heller

    Is BBpress1.1 going to change that?


    This made me smile a lot mate, thanks.

    I’m an independent contractor and have worked as a PM/BA for the smallest to the largest companies; and you’re not wrong :)

    That said, Project Management exists for a reason. Its a different skillset from development. And no matter the size of the company or organisation, holding a requirement gathering session and then ignoring the data is just daft.


    You’re spot on that we’re in no position to judge anyone. Matt, and automattic, have done some truly incredible software – I’d hate for my posts to be seen as criticising or judging for the sake of it. But I also feel that its ok for us to point things out from a different perspective. We all know what its like to be tied into software, even cool software like this.

    We want to help, we want to make it better, we want to do that in a positive way; but I don’t know about you and don’t want to speak for anyone else – but the last 9months/year as a BBpress user/enthusiast has been really… difficult.

    In that respect “We’ve done this before” isn’t a comforting statement.

    This is free software, I’m trying to give back in the only way I can :) My plug-ins no longer work, the group of folks I used to make plug-ins and themes with have all abandoned the project. One of my sites is sitting with about 1000 comments a day/post and a forum that’s taking 200 posts a day (way more on match days – especially if my team lose). I’m tied in, and many others are too.

    I’m not wanting to have strong words at Matt the person or Matt the head of automattic, heck the dude’s lovely and I can’t thank him enough. But “we’ve done this before”, while a throw away line and not a mission statement, isn’t that helpful right now. I appreciate Matt posting on the thread greatly, especially as he’d only posted 4 times in 2 years previous to Sam’s leaving (and probably for a good reason, that’s not a dig) – so I’m not going to hang the phrase around his neck forever. Its just that, from a PM point of view, which I know everyone hates, “We’ve done this before. Relax.” is a statement that strikes fear into my heart. Seriously, Kryptonite fear! ;-)

    P.S. The captain of the Titanic had actually been on a ship before too ;-)

    P.P.S Can’t believe I check in here on a Sunday! Have a great weekend all, and once again, thank you for reading :)



    I agree that the “relax” statement wasn’t comforting. It didn’t change anything for me either way. Sometimes Matt has a calming effect on the conversation:

    sometimes not (here.) It’s not a big enough worry for me to be concerned yet. I still think it will turn out fine.



    I’d wager Matt has a calming affect when he writes more than 5 words ;-)

    I am also in agreement that “it will turn out fine”, the problem with that is there is no time limit. It probably will turn out fine in the end, or eventually, but how do we, the community (sic) attempt to speed up that process?

    My concern is that we’ve been through this all before Chris. Remember the “its all fine so I made a BBpress Fan Page on Facebook”? Remember the definitive instructions on how to get BBpress and WordPress to play nice together, that instead of being in the documentation was a 7 page thread with the answers on how to actually do it on page 4?

    I’m not meaning to bring up the past and use it as a stick to beat the BBpress people with, I just feel we go over the same things time and time again, don’t you? And so far, we appear to be repeating the exact same mistakes.

    I dunno, i’ll try and come up with something, because I’m confident that we wont have a BBpress version that integrates with wordpress out of the box this year.




    Matt’s response to that canonical plugins post reminds me of Jeff Zucker’s response on Charlie Rose about the whole late night fiasco! lol

    I’m an independent contractor and have worked as a PM/BA for the smallest to the largest companies; and you’re not wrong :)

    That said, Project Management exists for a reason. Its a different skillset from development. And no matter the size of the company or organisation, holding a requirement gathering session and then ignoring the data is just daft.


    You’re not wrong either! The thing is, I don’t think bbPress Dev is ignoring the data. They wanted to get an idea from the vocal sort (us) to what we wanted, what we feel is needed, then they agreed and went to design the project in the way that works best for them.

    I’ve been VERY closely following the WP 3.0 move (I have two blogs I want to merge into one ‘MU’, and I want to see if I’m better off just sucking it up now or not – It’s a LOT of work to do and not lose users), reading IRC logs daily, monitoring tickets. In doing so, I feel I’ve learned a lot about how the process works. For a moment, I really wanted to piss myself. I’d get really excited about a topic, and then someone would raise valid concerns, talk about goats, and they’re off on a new topic.

    Seriously terrifying to watch, when you’re invested.


    I’ve had experience herding cats like this before. And I realized this looked exactly like the organizing my old community group used to go through, three to four times a year, to put together a highly complicated event for multiple people, maintaining the element of surprise and yet still making all of the 10 to 50 people who were being rewarded feel special, and putting on a good show. Seriously, I have grey hairs from the 5 years I ran that boat. Glad to be off! The point is this stuff is scary to watch and partake in until you’re used to it. I wish there was another way, but I’ve never found it.

    I am also in agreement that “it will turn out fine”, the problem with that is there is no time limit. It probably will turn out fine in the end, or eventually, but how do we, the community (sic) attempt to speed up that process?

    Code: Join the IRC dev channel and start putting in tickets for what’s broke, fixes for what you can fix, and suggestions. Even a psudeo-code “This would possibly work better if there was a check for ‘If Admin, then foobar’.” can be helpful. Obviously don’t spam, but I’ve always been of the opinion that the best way to HELP an open source project is to get in and see how you can help. Posting here? A good way to vent worry. Joining the devs, even if, like me, you’re a total hack, is helping.

    Documentation: Write a definitive ‘This is how you integrate WP and BB 1.x’ post. Or a good how-to on anything. Pull out the most common errors and make a post about how to resolve them. It’s not GREAT documentation, I admit, but it’ll get people started and, when the doc site picks up, the posts could be lifted and tossed in. It would be nice if TPTB would make a documentation site we could edit, but I understand the nightmare that is. Oy. Not everyone is nice :)

    Sam Bauers


    Remember the “its all fine so I made a BBpress Fan Page on Facebook”?

    Yeah, I remember.



    Hi Sam,

    Truly hope life is treating you very well!

    Ah yes, that fateful day last December/January. While some of the language and feelings were a bit strong over that week, its funny how many of the points and issues and concerns raised are still with us today.

    I’m quietly confident that I come across as a bit of a “donkey’s behind” sometimes, which wouldn’t be a million miles from the truth, I suppose I feel its a shame we’re in a similar position one year on.

    Sam Bauers


    Thanks for your kind greeting, life is treating me fine.

    I respect your passion, but it’s getting very close to concern trolling. It’s a shame that you come across that way sometimes, because you do have some smart things to say and the combative language often just stops people from listening. No one hands out prizes for winning arguments on the internet.

    In no way, I see this topic or the posts written by Kevin as any form of trolling, or getting near to it.

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