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New BuddyPress / bbPress plugin: Group Forum Subscription

BuddyPress and bbPress connect nicely, giving BuddyPress groups a handsome forum interface, but the software has no native ability to allow users to receive email when their favorite discussions are updated. Without this functionality, it can be hard for users to keep up-to-date with forums, and subsequently the forums are less active than they otherwise could be.

Subscription panel on group home page
A panel on each group home page lets users know whether they'll automatically receive email notifications of new discussion activity in the group

Group Forum Subscription is a set of plugins I’ve written (mostly on the BuddyPress side, with a small bbPress trigger plugin) that adds the missing forum notification functionality. GFS allows members of BuddyPress communities to subscribe to email notifications of new discussion activity. Subscriptions can be managed on a topic-by-topic or group-by-group basis.

Users can subscribe or unsubscribe from entire groups on the Notification Settings page
Users can subscribe or unsubscribe from entire groups on the Notification Settings page

The plugin also has some administrative settings. Notable among these is the ability to set up email notifications for the first time after the plugin is installed, so that users are automatically subscribed to topics in their groups without having to set it up manually. This is a setup process that we’ll be running in the upcoming days here on the CUNY Academic Commons.

Group Forum Subscription will currently work only on 1.0.x versions of BuddyPress – the brand-new BP 1.1 is not yet supported. I’ll be working on the upgrade very soon. Read more about the guts of the plugin or download it for yourself.

New BuddyPress plugin: Enhanced BuddyPress Widgets

BuddyPress comes with several WordPress widgets, among which are the Groups and Members widgets that you see on the CUNY Academic Commons home page. This plugin makes those widgets a little more customizable, allowing users to specify which of the three tabs (Newest, Active, or Popular) they’d like to be each widget’s default view.

enhanced-bp-widget

If you’ve got a blog on the CUNY Academic Commons, you can start using this feature right away. Just look in Dashboard > Appearance > Widgets. Be sure to select the Groups/Members widgets whose descriptions say “Enhanced”.

You can download the plugin for use on your own installation of WPMU/BP here: enhanced-buddypress-widgets. It’s also available from the WordPress plugin database: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/enhanced-buddypress-widgets/.

Version 0.2 of BuddyPressActivity

Since releasing my MediaWiki extension BuddyPressActivity, which puts wiki edits into your BuddyPress activity stream, I’ve noticed a bug or two. In particular, the cool feature that filters out multiple edits of a page by a given author within a 24 hour period wasn’t working right. I’ve made the necessary fixes in v0.2.

Get the updated code today.

New BuddyPress plugin: Remove Previous Comment Edits From BuddyPress Activity

UPDATE: BP Dev Andy writes in a comment to this post that this bug will be fixed in BP core soon. If you’re running a recent version of BP, it’s likely that you won’t need this plugin. Please make sure you can reproduce the issue before installing.

This plugin fixes a small but potentially annoying quirk in BuddyPress. If you, as a blog owner, edit a comment that appears on your blog, BuddyPress adds an entry to the sitewide and individual activity streams – but it doesn’t delete the old entries. As a result, if you end up (for example) editing your own comment a few times in a row, you’ll see multiple items on the activity feed.

This plugin fixes the problem by checking whether a submitted comment is an edit, and if it is, by deleting previous versions of the comment in the activity stream.

Until the plugin is in the WordPress repository, I’ve made it available in a zip file here. Just load bp-activity-skip-comment-edits.php into your /wp-content/plugins folder, activate in Dashboard > Plugins (sitewide, if you’d like), and you should be good to go.

New MediaWiki extension: BuddyPressActivity

One of the most interesting vantage points from which to monitor goings-on around the CUNY Academic Commons is the BuddyPress activity feed. The sitewide feed – located on the Commons’s News page – lists all the activity happening the blogs, groups, and profiles around the site. There are activity streams for individual users and for those users’ friends as well – you can mine, for instance, here.

wiki-activity

Until recently, though, these streams did not include information the activity taking place in the wiki portion of the site. I’ve developed a extension for MediaWiki (the software that powers the Wiki section of the Commons) called BuddyPressActivity that rectifies this shortcoming. For websites – like the CUNY Academic Commons – that have integrated our homegrown MediaWiki/Wordpress MU integration, this extension will update BuddyPress activity streams to include edits to pages within the wiki, thus better reflecting the extent and variety of the action on the site.

You can find out more about the extension – and download the code for use on your own MW/WMPu installation – at http://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Extension:BuddyPressActivity.

Updated version (0.2) of Custom Profile Filters for BuddyPress

I’m releasing a new version of my Custom Profile Filters for BuddyPress plugin. The initial version, described here, gave BuddyPress users more control over which terms in their profiles become linked to a community-wide profile search. The new version gives BP administrators the ability to tweak these links even more. Here’s what’s new:

  1. Some profile information – phone numbers, IM handles, and so on – is unique to the individual user. Thus there’s no real need to have this information linked to a community-wide search. Using this plugin, administrators can specify certain profile fields that will remain non-linked. By default, profile fields called Skype ID, Phone, and IM will not be processed as links, but you can tweak this to be whichever fields you want. See readme.txt and custom-profile-filters-for-buddypress.php for more information.
  2. Other fields, especially those social networking sites where each user’s handle is attached to a profile page, can be more usefully linked to those user profiles than to a search of the community. For example, it makes more sense for the contents of the Twitter field to link to an individual’s Twitter page rather than to other users in the community who have the same Twitter handle (hopefully no one!). With this plugin, administrators can specify that certain fields will turn the user’s social networking ID into a profile link. By default, the plugin recognizes fields called Twitter, Delicious ID, YouTube ID, Flickr ID, and FriendFeed ID. See custom-profile-filters-for-buddypress.php for more information and to change these settings.

I also added a little bit of code to make sure that BuddyPress can recognize email addresses with periods before the @-sign.

You can see some of these things at work in my profile here on the CUNY Academic Commons: https://commons.gc.cuny.edu/members/boonebgorges. You’ll notice that the Twitter field shows a link to my Twitter profile, even though I just entered my handle in the Edit Profile screen.

Grab the latest version from the trunk http://svn.wp-plugins.org/custom-profile-filters-for-buddypress/ or download it here: custom-profile-filters-for-buddypress-v02.zip

New plugin: Custom Profile Filters for BuddyPress

Custom Profile Filters for BuddyPress
Custom Profile Filters for BuddyPress - click picture to download plugin

If you’ve set up a profile here on the Commons (or on some other site run on BuddyPress), you may have noticed that some of the words and phrases in your profile have turned into links that, when clicked, lead you to other profiles where those words appear. This tagging feature is a great way to find out about people in the community who share your interests, but the algorithm that BuddyPress uses to create links can be somewhat finnicky. I built this plugin to allow users to customize these tags, choosing for themselves which phrases should be linked by surrounding them in square brackets.

Here’s an example. Let’s say that, in a profile field called Academic Interests, I said the following:

I’m interested in philosophy, chewing gum, and mariachi bands.

What I really want here is for the phrases “philosophy”, “chewing gum”, and “mariachi bands” to become links. So I’ll surround them in brackets like this:

I’m interested in [philosophy], [chewing gum], and [mariachi bands].

I’m submitting the plugin to the WordPress repository for versioning, but for now you can download version 0.1 here. Comments are welcome – have fun!

Custom Profile Filters for BuddyPress