Announcing my book on BuddyPress theme development


What started out as an email enquiry to me has ended in the start of my first book. I’m really excited to announce I will be writing a book on BuddyPress theme development. It’s a really cool time and apt to be writing a book on BuddyPress themes. So, how did this all come about?

How it started

The email came to me while I was away at BuddyCamp in Miami. It was an enquiry asking if I’d be interested in writing a book on BuddyPress theme development. In the email they’d done their research and also they gave a link to my WordCamp NYC talk as an example of this. This is something to note, WordCamp’s matter and speaking does lots for the speaker and those listening – you do get what you put in with open source. Whilst it shouldn’t be your goal in getting involved (karma doesn’t work when you intend), you don’t know where a WordCamp talk or a contribution will take you.

I had a bit of ’email to and fro’ working out terms that suited all of us and a way this book could happen. I unsurprisingly had some very set ideas over the format of such a book. Over my time in Miami I was also going through writing the outline for this book as there was a deadline for that I’d be missing otherwise – it was quite a juggle. It was also kind of cool to be at BuddyCamp whilst this was all going on. In the end, I’m glad I did it as I’m now able to make this exciting announcment.

The book

The book will be a 100 (ish) page step-by-step tutorial approach one and the smaller format should work well as a quicker read. It’s aimed at being a ‘small taste’ but enough to get you going, in the know and hopefully hooked on BuddyPress. The target audience is going to be from developers, designers through to casual interest – it’s a wide aim. I hope to cover a range of things including the current state of themes, default options and installing, going beyond default, building and beyond the look into the dev side. It’s going to be a packed 100 pages!

I have no release date but I imagine it will be late Summer / Autumn. When I know more I will announce it. I am spending the next few months writing this starting in May. It will be with Packt Publishing.

Socialstream meet article – redesigning my blog

This blog has had many faces, many designs and many content variations over time.  At the heart however of all the changes has been my belief that this should be my playground where I experiment with formats and designs. The latest incarnation is very much about this. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the range of places I interact socially and wanted this to be the one central point for all my interactions. As a result I started looking at the concept of lifestreaming and from that socialstreaming.

The term lifestream was coined by Eric Freeman and David Gelernter at Yale University in the mid-1990s to describe “…a time-ordered stream of documents that functions as a diary of your electronic life; every document you create and every document other people send you is stored in your lifestream. The tail of your stream contains documents from the past (starting with your electronic birth certificate). Moving away from the tail and toward the present, your stream contains more recent documents — papers in progress or new electronic mail; other documents (pictures, correspondence, bills, movies, voice mail, software) are stored in between. Moving beyond the present and into the future, the stream contains documents you will need: reminders, calendar items, to-do lists.  Lifestreams are also referred to as social activity streams or social streams.” – Wikipedia

Blogging in different lengths

Over time it’s become clear to me that I have 3 types of blogging I do on a regular basis:

  • Short form (Twitter, Tumblr)
  • Announcment posts (What I’m doing)
  • Long form (Essays and articles)

I was doing these in a variety of places from Twitter and Tumblr through to writing on other blogs rather than my own. My own actually was becoming seriously neglected and whilst I did Twitter posts I was doing on other blogs I certainly wasn’t linking from my own.

A while ago I started again with my content on this blog with the aim of reposting some articles I had written with my current take on them.  In the current blog format there was no method of featuring these which was going to be something I wanted to do.

One thing was clear, I knew I didn’t want to give up Tumblr or Twitter. For me, both of these have their merits and whilst some may point to the data loss or the fragmentation I don’t think if there is a filter this becomes a problem. That was the very thing I was missing though – the filter. This wasn’t going to require a one stop solution, it was going to require more of a filtering point.

BuddyPress comes into focus

My work with BuddyPress threw a different light on this problem. What if the activity stream in BuddyPress became my filter specifically for my announcement, other site posts and own posts? What if I create a profile page on my own blog? As I looked into this it became clear to me this was going to be the right solution. Whilst it also was perhaps in many respects a kitchen sink one it would give me room to develop which was also something I wanted to have.

So, I set about exploring how I wanted the front page to be. I wanted to keep the distinct areas of my socialstream that was important to me. I wanted though to create featuring methods and also to transfer announcements into activity status posts from BuddyPress. It just seemed a logical translation to me and very early on became apparent I was using them.

Designing my own conversation

I really want to write another post about how I came up and worked with this design, but I can’t really do an announcement post without touching on some of the design process.  My priority was to create something that wasn’t really ‘smells like BuddyPress’.  I was going to be using elements of it so that to me is what my design should have.  I wanted some very clear design motifs like the speech bubbles and was firm with myself about a responsive design.  In the end I do see the design as something that will evolve over time, I think it had to be a more fluid approach to give me room to not just redesign but refine.  That way I can really grow into the design.

A work in progress is always the case

Lets face it as a designer you’re never quite done with your own work and I’m up front admitting that with this version. I want to build on the front page and also the profile page over time. But, I wanted to also get this out there and start using it because that truly will be the test of this social streaming experiment.

I don’t consider this truly a social stream yet but it’s my take on it. This is about making blogging work for me again and so far it’s doing exactly that.  I invite you to explore the new front page and the profile page and join me in this next phase of blogging.