WordPress is the undisputed king of blogging platforms in my opinion. So I was very interested to hear that the developers Automattic had brought out a similar platform for creating forums. Like WordPress, bbPress is plain and simple to use and yet creates elegant results in a matter of minutes. No more stressing about forum database admin – bbPress makes it as easy as managing comments on a WordPress blog.
Just like WordPress, bbPress versions are codenamed after well-known jazz musicians (no prizes for guessing who bbPress is named after). The good news is that keeping bbPress open source and free is Automattic’s number one priority, so there’s little fear of nasty charges creeping in once you’ve got your forum up and running. bbPress works on a template system very similar to that of WordPress. You can switch between themes in a few clicks. Of course, if you have any CSS knowledge, you can change the code and styles to your liking. If you’ve got a WordPress blog, bbPress forums integrate instantly, meaning you can add a forum to your blog very easily.
The other great thing about bbPress is that like WordPress, it’s customizable with plugins. Unfortunately however, at the moment the platform is still quite limited by the lack of plugins and themes available. It reminds me of the early versions of WordPress, although judging by how far that’s come, it won’t be long before bbPress has a thriving community of users creating plug-ins. There’s no hosted version of bbPress available yet – so you’ll need to have your own web hosting to use it – but hopefully, as with WordPress, that will be launched when it has established itself.
At the moment, there’s no way to integrate bbPress templates with your default WordPress blogs either, though this will be addressed in future releases. If you want to see a bbPress forum in action, check out the WordPress and Technorati support forums, which are based on it.
You’d expect nothing but a quality product from the makers of WordPress and bbPress certainly doesn’t disappoint. Despite being limited, like early releases of the blogging platform, bbPress is only going to get better.