Talking with Paul Gibbs about his Achievements plugin and the future of BuddyPress
After the recent announcement at WordCamp New York that Paul Gibbs and Boone B Gorges had become BuddyPress’ newest core developers, we thought it was about time to have a much needed talk with Paul Gibbs about his recently released Achievements for BuddyPress plugin (as used on BP-Tricks!) and the future of BuddyPress!
For those who do not know Paul (if you do not know him you must have been ended up here by mistake?!) he’s been a BuddyPress.org moderator, plugin developer and bug squasher for more then a year! He has released the popular Welcome Pack plugin and just did a complete overhaul of his Achievements plugin.
Hi Paul! Before I start asking away I would like to congratulate you with becoming a BuddyPress Core developer. Do you feel any different? Gained any superpowers by any chance?
Thank you. BuddyPress is a very exciting project to contribute to, with a great community, and I consider it a personal achievement to have been invited to join the core team.
It has been a while since a new version has been released. BuddyPress 1.2.6 was released a bit behind schedule. Some people showed some concern that the project lost some momentum. How do you respond to those concerns?
As John said in July, activity breeds activity. It’s fair to say that the time between the 1.2.5 and 1.2.6 releases was too long, but under the hood, 1.2.6 is a very worthwhile upgrade. Almost one hundred bugs have been fixed. For example, 1.2.6 reduces bbPress memory load, improves the BP-Default theme in terms of features and normalisation of all actions and template HTML, fixes an important issue related to activation of user accounts — and much more.
In addition to a couple of important bug fix releases between 1.2.5 and 1.2.6, we also spent time improving BuddyPress.org (and we still are). Any plugin in the WordPress repository that is tagged ‘buddypress’ is given a public discussion group. It passes over a plugins’ information like ratings and statistics, gives it its own dedicated support forum where you can assign administrators and moderators, and comes with a built in donate link so people can drop a few bucks in your pocket to show their appreciation.
The community on the BuddyPress.org support groups continues to impress me with the number of people helping each other out, and of the variety of our combined talents. Within this release cycle, we recognised hnla and Boone, both long-term contributors, by making them forum moderators. That team also consists of Jeff Sayre and r-a-y. Though Boone and I have since become core developers, we’re both still very keen to engage with and supporting the community through the support groups, as are the other core developers (Andy, John and Marshall).
Any plugin in the WordPress repository that is tagged ‘buddypress’ is given a public discussion group. It passes over a plugins’ information like ratings and statistics, gives it its own dedicated support forum where you can assign administrators and moderators, and comes with a built in donate link so people can drop a few bucks in your pocket to show their appreciation.
I think everyone is looking forward to BP 1.3 and we can all look at the roadmap to see what’s coming up. But could you please just tell us again what we can expect in the near future?
The best way to find out what’s happening with BuddyPress core development is to keep an eye on our development blog. We have our dev chat every two weeks, which everyone is welcome to attend. Now that 1.2.6 has been released, and in addition to the features listed on the roadmap, we are now beginning to plan and make the decisions that will shape the 1.3 release. The next couple of dev chats are going to be focused on this question. Come and get involved.
You have been teasing us about your Achievements plugin for months now. As an alpha tester I was closely involved with its progress and would like to know how it feels to finally release it in the wild?
For those who aren’t familiar with the plugin, Achievements gives your BuddyPress community fresh impetus by promoting and rewarding social interaction with challenges, badges and points. After having worked on it intermittently for so many months, I’m very happy to have the new version out and I’m looking forward to seeing what people do with it
Are you planning to make some kind of pro version of Achievements? Since it’s such a powerful plugin and especially engaging for the members of a BuddyPress community, people may want something more. Have you thought about this, and if so, what features can we expect?
The plugin, and support, will always be free. My plan is to release expansion packs which will add new features, and to offer an enhanced level of support to site admins and other developers.
Expansion packs will include an administrator’s statistics page, better integrated support, custom page templates, sample picture templates and pre-configured Achievements to import. I have more concepts which I am prototyping, but nothing else to announce yet.
What feature in Achievements are your the most proud of? Why should people start using it for their BuddyPress community?
Achievements is an implementation of social gaming for the BuddyPress platform. That doesn’t mean Facebook games; a good real-life example is Starbucks’ reward/gold cards. With one of these cards, each time you make a purchase, you earn a point. When you accumulate enough points, you are given free drinks, free refills and special offers & coupons. You also earn certain levels of service (“gold”).
Being a gold member tugs at very basic emotions; because you have had to “earn” your gold status, you perceive at some level that you are somehow more important than most of the other customers, that you’ve joined an exclusive club.
The idea of recognising and rewarding your customers for using your service or website is a very powerful concept. As the supplier, it doesn’t cost you much money because it acts as a hook to encourage your customers to keep coming back to use your service and spending their money.
This is the idea and concept behind Achievements for BuddyPress. By promoting and rewarding social interaction with challenges, badges and points, you build and engage a community.
Achievements Expansion packs will include an administrator’s statistics page, better integrated support, custom page templates, sample picture templates and pre-configured Achievements to import. I have more concepts which I am prototyping, but nothing else to announce yet.
As a final question I would like to know what you will be doing as a Core developer for the next couple of months ?
One thing I want to do is work through all the trac tickets and fix those issues, some of which have been reported for a long time. I also want to talk to BuddyPress theme authors to understand what they like about working with BuddyPress, and what they don’t, so that we can take those suggestions and get them improved in core.
As always, patches welcome!
Thanks for your time Paul!