BuddyPress 1.7 is due out any minute now. This is a very exciting and important release that we believe will greatly expand BuddyPress usage throughout the WordPress community. Here’s a quick breakdown of all of the major new features and changes that you’ll need to know about to be ready for 1.7.
Theme compatibility is the most important change in BuddyPress 1.7 is that the plugin no longer requires a BuddyPress-compatible theme. BuddyPress can now be used with ANY WordPress theme. Its components will fit in nicely into your site like a natural part of your WordPress theme without having to use the BP Template pack or change any markup at all.
If you want to override the BuddyPress templates, you can do so just like you would in a WordPress child theme. To modify a BuddyPress template, simply create a /buddypress/ directory in your active WordPress theme. Copy any BP template file into this directory and make your changes there. Copy any BuddyPress CSS files you want to change to your theme’s CSS folder.
Fancy New Welcome Screen
The new BuddyPress welcome screen gives users an overview of what’s new in the latest release. It also gives credit to some of the devs who have helped to make BuddyPress the awesome plugin it is today.
At the bottom of the page you’ll find a link that takes you to the components page where you can select the features that you want enabled for your social network.
Default Active Components: Extended Profiles and Activity Streams
In the past when you first activated BuddyPress, all of its components would be automatically turned on. Not anymore! The BuddyPress core development team has elected to keep it simple and just have the basics enabled by default.
Not every site requires all that BuddyPress has to offer. BuddyPress site admins can choose to enable as many features as they wish or even disable extended profiles and activity streams. The only required components are Members and the BuddyPress core.
Group Forums are now retired
BuddyPress 1.7 retires the group forums component. It’s nothing to boo-hoo over. You can still use them but this is now a legacy component.
If you want forums, use bbPress. It is the best WordPress forum plugin to use with BuddyPress and the two play nicely together – they’re practically brothers!
Improved Group Management
Managing groups as the site admin is much easier in BuddyPress 1.7 with the new Groups Management screen. Admins can search all groups, edit, mass delete, modify memberships and see when groups were last active. If you have a BuddyPress site with active group membership, you’re really going to appreciate this new tool in the dashboard.
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New Visibility Level
Profile fields now have a new “Admins Only” visibility settings. Having fields that members fill out with information only available to admins has been a very popular request. You’ll be happy to know that this is built right into the core of BuddyPress 1.7. This new feature makes it possible to use BuddyPress extended profiles in more interesting ways.
Sortable Profile Options
When you create a profile field with multiple options, such as radio buttons and checkboxes, BuddyPress 1.7 allows you to drag-and-drop those options to reorder them. This will definitely make your life easier if you’re creating a profile field with a long list of possible options.
There are a lot more exciting improvements under the hood and you’ll be be glad to know that it’s much faster than ever before. Want a sneak preview of 1.7 in action? BuddyPress developer @modemlooper has created a quick installation video that tours the new install process and features.
Or better yet, install the trunk from the BuddyPress trac to start playing around with the latest version.