How to Build a Mini-Twitter Site With BuddyPress: Your Open Source Microblogging Platform

How to Build a Mini-Twitter Site With BuddyPress: Your Open Source Microblogging Platform

An exciting new BuddyPress plugin by Rich Fuller has arrived on the scene that enables users to add hashtags to their activities. BuddyPress Activity Stream Hashtags converts #hashtags references to a link that leads to the activity search page. This provides a whole new level of context to BuddyPress activity stream updates.

Why would you want to create a microblogging site based on BuddyPress when we have Twitter?

Hosting your own microblogging platform means that you control and manage all of your data. The idea is that people can subscribe directly to your activity stream updates, without having to join a new network, create a new profile, and pass all their data through a proprietary micro-blogging platform such as Twitter. In BuddyPress a user can subscribe directly to your feed, ie: http://yourdomain.com/admin/activity/feed or the feeds of any of your users.

Jeff Sayre wrote an article called A Flock of Twitters: Decentralized Semantic Microblogging that I highly recommend for an in-depth look at the reasons for establishing an open source microblogging ecosystem.

Here are the steps to take to set up a similar environment, using BuddyPress and WordPress 3.0:

1. Install BuddyPress and disable all of the extra components that you won’t need: ie. Forums, Groups, etc.

Go to Dashboard >> BuddyPress >> Component Setup and disable any component you wish to exclude. (Recommended to exclude: Forums, Friends, and Groups)

2. Change your General >> Reading settings to show Activity on the front page.

If you get a 404 on the homepage after completing this step, there’s a patch to fix this, if you’re not using the most recent version of BuddyPress.

3. Add the BuddyPress Followers Plugin.

This will replace the Friends functionality with Followers instead. The basic difference with followers is that the connection does not need to be accepted by the person being followed, which is more like the way that Twitter functions.

4. Add the BuddyPress Activity Stream Hashtags plugin.

Now you’re all set and ready to start customizing your theme to make posting updates more prominent and add buttons to make it easy for users to subscribe to each other’s feeds if they want to, without having to log into your site.

Even if you’re not interested in building a Twitter clone, this tutorial will help you to create an activities-centered BuddyPress site that is less focused on friends and groups. Perhaps you’re not interested in providing a massive service. Setting up a microblogging environment only for yourself isn’t a bad idea either. You’ll bypass the cattle herd of proprietary platforms and have complete control of your own data.