Well, we are swinging back into full development mode at DTLT, and UMW Blogs looms large on the agenda. I’ve been playing around with BuddyPress for the last week or so, and I finally got it installed and the integration working between BuddyPress, WPMu 2.7.1, and bbPress, but there is one big fail: the Multi-DB setup. We switched to Multi-DB about five months ago or so in order to breakup the databases given running one with 2900 blogs was probably not advisable. What has happened though is that despite BuddyPress 1.0 being released for a few months, the multi-db plugin has still not been updated to work with BuddyPress for WPMu 2.7.1, which effectively means you can’t see all the blogs and members in the BuddyPress directories—making it virtually useless.
So, the first thing on my list is to figure out the HyperDB setup, because from all accounts that works and may be a far better solution than Mulit-DB (never did see much of a performance difference with Multi-DB). I think I would highly recommend anyone use the HyperDB setup, and I have to apologize to D’Arcy for suggesting the Multi-DB, that’s my bad (have you figured out HyperDB yet?).
The second thing is to get BuddyPress up and running in its full functionality. Martha Burtis and I have been talking a lot about BuddyPress and it’s potential, and one of the things Martha keep saying—and I totally agree with—is that all the BuddyPress functionality is not being thought about very creatively when it comes to the blogs. UMW Blogs comes at BuddyPress in an interesting fashion, we already have a solid community of blogs and bloggers, what BuddyPress afford us is some new ways to visualize and augment the community, as well as integrate connections onto the blogs themselves. So, for example, Martha figured out how to get the BuddyPress profile data to show up on a blog sidebar, now there is a smart and seemingly simple widget/plugin. Same goes for all that user’s other blogs, friends, recent sitewide posts, etc. Why not make them quick widgets that can integrate into the blog sidebars for specific users rather than global stuff?
Along these same lines, as Martha also pointed out, the BuddyPress profile page is hideous. It is one of the most complicated and downright unfriendly lists of options that immediately confuses. The profile pages have to be integrated into the visual design of the site as a whole. As it stands now they look like part of the backend, which seems odd because they by their very conception they are public profiles. What’s more, there needs to be a simple plugin, field, or whatever, where people can continually add links to their various identities into their profile. Right now that is handled at sign-up, but this needs to be dynamic and ongoing. And while I like the YouTube and Flickr plugins for BuddyPress, I am beginning to think they may be overkill. Make it streamlined, concise, and easy to frame for the users. Martha and I were looking at the pro.gigaom.com site, and the contributors’ pages are done with BuddyPress. They make sense visually, and the integration into the site makes for far less cluttered and confusing experience. The CUNY Academic Commons does this very well, and we will be taking pointers from their design which marries WPMU, BuddyPress, and MediaWiki beautifully.
And while we are talking about design, I also think UMW Blogs needs a facelift of sorts. We need to frame a new homepage that works with BuddyPress and maybe integrates the P2/Twitter hack Martha Worked on—or at least a part of it—on the front page. I would like to see the recent posts come up through a P2 interface that also allowed the UMW Community on campus to foreground specific stuff by hashtag. I really want to both make the front page far more streamlined, and yet dynamic and representative of all the work going on around the community—once again the CUNY Academic Commons provides a nice model for thinking through this.
A MediaWiki Farm, I don’t know if it is possible with our setup, but I really want to give this a go. I have talked enough about it though, so suffice it to say it will be at least attempted.
Sitewide related posts plugin by tags or categories? I want this functionality, and I know it’s possible, and it will dovetail beautifully into another project I will be blogging about shortly. So I will be on the hunt for that, which can really help us make the case for pusing tagging and categorizing more.
Finally, I want to get a media server up to test out the WordPress Video Solutions Framwork. I’m really fascinated with how this might integrate with UMW Blogs for those select videos that we need to archive, protect, etc. It may be overkill and building our own YouTube, etc., but I want to play with it. Anyone got a media server setup we can borrow?
All this makes me feel like I really want to cancel my presentations and gigs for the next five or six months and get back in the space that makes me happy and productive. I’m getting burnt on the travel and talks, I did over 20 this year and quite frankly they just end up costing me a ton of money, which I don’t have, and a whole lot of diverted energy. The whole thing is just becoming a physical and emotional drain these days. I’ve been talking about the same things for far too long now, I want to actually do something—I want to work with Martha, Andy, Patrick, and Jerry to take UMW Blogs (and by extension UMW) to the next level. And more than that I just want to read the posts and engage the community there that I have pretty much abandoned given my time restraints. I’ve missed my job these last months, but I think I’m through being cool, I just want to work.