John James Jacoby is the lead developer to the bbPress project. We recently sent him a few questions to see if he could update us on the progress of the development of the highly anticipated bbPress plugin. I know many of us look forward to bbPress’ rebirth, as there is a real hole right now in the WordPress-integrated forum market.
He was kind enough to oblige, and even kinder to go into considerable detail on where the plugin stands today. You can see the full Q/A after the jump.
How helpful has the Google Code-in and Gautam Gupta been to the development of the plugin?
Gautam’s efforts were amazing. He basically tied up a bunch of loose ends and submitted really good, clean patches that provided complete functionality. He was receptive to feedback, and willing to adjust his coding style to match mine and the WordPress coding standards. It was awesome. Something I learned from watching Andy Peatling in the early days of BuddyPress is if you code alone in a corner you naturally code yourself into that corner, so it was good to have another set of eyes doing code review too. Congrats to Gautam on placing 6th overall in Google Code-in. It was great to work so closely with someone so geographically far away.
What most excites you about the bbPress as a plugin project?
The bbPress plugin project is exciting because it introduces a whole new audience to bbPress that up until now may have been intimidated by the WordPress integration process. Personally it’s exciting because I’ve been trusted with rewriting it completely from scratch which can potentially be really damaging to an existing community. The responsibility I have to make it into something Matt, Automattic, and the existing bbPress community can be proud of and be happy to use definitely is great motivation to make bbPress as good as I can!
Based on the rate of development, how soon do you think a beta release would be possible?
Going to be taking the release process slowly. There is so much new code and there are so few additional eyes on it right now, I anticipate several alpha, beta, and release candidates to address anything that might show up once more people start trying it. It’s fairly usable in its current form, but some advanced or alternative use cases need to be explored and tested. New features like topic merging and splitting need to be fine-tuned, and some things like forum and topic shortcodes still need to be built. I’d like to have an alpha ready for early March, but it depends how the rest of the month goes.
A few more notes from JJJ, because he is awesome.
If I may, I’d like to add that one of my goals with the bbPress plugin is show off the awesome flexibility of custom post types in WordPress, and push the envelope of what can be done at an API level using existing WordPress core functions writing as litte custom code as possible. I also want it to be simple for other developers to extend, so another one of my goals has been to PHPDoc everything and provide actions, filters, and inline documentation to explain why the code is doing what it’s doing. In the end I’m hoping bbPress will serve as a solid, ongoing example of how to add completely new functionality to existing WordPress installations with only a few clicks, and I am probably more anxious than anyone else to release it to the wild and see how it’s received.
Thank you JJJ for taking the time to give us a little more insight to what is going on with bbPress! Now, let’s dig in deeper to what we may have learned here, plus a couple of other notes:
- It’s already “fairly stable”. A good start! 🙂
- An Alpha version might be available in March. But as he said, they’re going to take it slow so it’s done right and all the feedback can be absorbed.
- Making it nice and simple for developers to extend will help alleviate the concerns of those that think bbPress is too lite on features.
- “If you code alone in a corner you naturally code yourself into that corner, so it was good to have another set of eyes doing code review too.” I just wanted to repeat that, because it is awesome advice. Way to go Gautam! If our readers didn’t see he was a grand prize winner of Google Code-in, 6th place as JJJ noted.
- Gautam posted on his blog in January some great screenshots of the progress, and said in the comments that there are 32 templates in bbPress, so get your front end gloves on.
Your turn! What else did you get out of the interview that you didn’t know? Also, tell us how you want to utilize bbPress, and what you’d like to see in its development. Also, a lot of new plugins will surely pop up around bbPress, so what do you have in mind to extend the basic functionality? And remember, it’s never too late to get involved in the project!