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Mar 06

Tool 1 – BuddyPress

Back in January you may recall that I committed to learning about 10 new tools in 2013.  And then I seemed to drop off of the face of the earth. I had nothing to say. Complete silence in the month of February. Well I’m back and I have a confession to make…

I got in over my head.  

Those aren’t easy words to write, but I am here to tell you that it’s gonna be ok! :-D

You see, my goal for February was to test drive the BuddyPress plugin for WordPress as my first new tool in Jane Hart’s 10 Tool Challenge.

buddypress_logo400x96

From the BuddyPress site I learned that the plugin is “Social Networking, the WordPress way.” Sounded intriguing to me that I could have my own little private Facebook site. I envisioned uses for churches and schools as a private place for all kinds of groups (Bible study, teachers, various boards, etc.) to connect for file sharing and conversations. I could think of non-ministry uses as well – perhaps a BuddyPress install for my family or for my kid’s music group. Any gathering of folks around a topic or shared interest would do.

With that vision, I set about installing the software. My web host, SiteGround (affiliate link), makes it super simple to install a new WordPress blog using the convenience of Softaculous.

softaculous

In just 3 minutes I had a blog in place, cleverly titled My Book (the depth of my creativity is astounding at times, I know), and I set up installing the BuddyPress plugin. Again, a quick thing to do, this time from within the WordPress Admin Dashboard.

Unfortunately that’s where things came to a grinding stop. I looked under the hood a bit, and I found things I didn’t understand completely.  I poked around the interface by creating users and adding posts, but I couldn’t quite wrap my brain around how best to set up the site. You see BuddyPress is capable of A LOT. Just check out some of the sites that use it for examples:

My lack of vision or pressing need for the tool was the roadblock that kept me from fully exploring and comprehending its capabilities. That being said, I’ll repeat what I said earlier:  It’s gonna be ok! Just because I didn’t have a major breakthrough experience with BuddyPress doesn’t mean I didn’t gain a healthy appreciation for its capabilities. If you, dear reader, have a need for an excellent private social network tool, I think BuddyPress can do the job for you!

One final note – I made a new techie friend in this process. Jim Baur, a member of Christ Lutheran Church in Baxter, MN, wrote to me early on to say he had recently set up a private social network/intranet for his church using a different software platform, Elgg. You can check out Jim’s site at christbaxter.com/member for a real life look at the possibilities of this type of platform. Jim shared with me that he had done his homework comparing Elgg with BuddyPress before deciding on Elgg, and he thinks he made the better choice. I’ll have to trust him on that (his site looks awesome, so I think that speaks volumes!) because I didn’t get very far with my Softaculous Elgg install either. (Fail x2 – February wasn’t my month!)

Bring on March and my evaluation of Evernote. I think I am up for the task!!

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2 comments

1 ping

  1. Jim

    Thanks for the kind words, Sallie.

  2. Jim

    After all your kind comments I needed to check out BuddyPress again. It works a whole lot better than it used to! I’ll find it interesting to see how “out of the box” features compare with ELGG. I think you are right that BuddyPress has a lot of potential. A person can do just about anything with WordPress/Buddypress. It is so easy to create a monster when it comes to updates and maintenance. :-(

    Along another line: If anybody is interested in a WordPress site, there is a free WordPress site, http://churchuna.com/. It is very similar to wordpress.com. However, their installations are customized for the church. The site is still in beta. I might be worthwhile to keep an eye on it.

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    [...] weighs in on BuddyPress and Jim Baur from Christ in Baxter, MN offers a development platform for any WELSTech-ers who are [...]

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