BuddyPress vs. Elgg: Installation

It’s a been a while since I last touched this blog series, but BP’s been in sort of a stall with a bunch of features and tweaks that have been added over the course of the last several months, so I really wanted to wait till 1.0 comes out… but from the looks of things, that could take a while, especially with a WP (not to confuse with WPMU) version due out around the same time as the official release. Then again, Andy said RC1 is pretty darn close to the real thing, so off to the review bullet-style…

Elgg Installation:

  • Elgg took just as little (or much) time as WP’s worldwide famous 5-minute install. Keeping in mind the last time I installed Elgg 1.1 — as of writing this, it’s in version 1.5 — was several months ago, what I can recall is that it was a silky smooth install. In fact, I never had to go back once or re-read the instructions, since everything was pretty straight forward.
  • Once Elgg was installed, every single module worked right out of the box — messaging, photo albums, wires/feeds and groups among other things. Important to note here is that this was a single install for the entire CMS. Upgrading was a breeze, too.

BuddyPress installation:

  • First I want to make it clear that I believe BP is far superior to Elgg in usability and flexibility. That said, this was probably one of the most headache-inducing installations I have ever done! I’m not sure if it was the pure joy and excitement that got me to confused that I made it all janky the first time around, but I do remember having to take a stab at it two or three times to get it right. The problem is that BP requires you to install WPMU first and if you need to tweak your server settings, before you can get WPMU up and running, then that’s just one more hoop to jump through. But it doesn’t end there. BP also requires you to install bbPress, if you’re running message boards. FINALLY, BP requires all the various plugins to work and the BP theme itself. Keep in mind, you also have to download every single component before you do all of this.
  • Upgrading BP the first time around (this was around WPMU version 2.6) was also a major pain, because the message alerts stopped working. Once I had everything upgraded, including WPMU, and another trunk version, it worked the way it was supposed to. Overall, there were lots of “surprises” that made me want to smash my keyboard again the wall… cept, I have a laptop, so that wouldn’t be good.

Elgg, in this case, wins by far with the ease of the all-inclusive installation and quick upgrades. It is, however, a lot more rigid when it come to fine-tuning the app to make it fit your site down the road. And although BuddyPress is phenominally successful right now even with its Release Candidate stamp, definitely expect to set aside about an hour or so to get it up and running the first time around. It’s a lot more granular in every sense of the word, so the installation is a lot more involved. Hopefully, future installations won’t be as painful!

Elgg: 1
BuddyPress: 0

10 responses

  1. Thanks for this comparison. I am trying to decide which way to go for a K12 environment, so it helps to get your perspective. I can see that Elgg is the most straightforward & secure solution in the short-term, but I’m hoping to start something that will be flexible over the long term.

  2. Great post! Just wanted to let you know you have a new subscriber- me!

  3. thanks you two! i’m venturing off into theming and just finished writing a short post on it… hopefully, many more still to come =)

  4. Hey Mike, have you by chance been able to compare Elgg 1.5 with the latest version of BuddyPress? I seem to back and forth between the two. I think the most important aspect to me is in the SEO, which it seems like BuddyPress wins there. Of course there are other nice features with Elgg, where if they could improve on the SEO side I would head that direction. Anyway, I am just curious what your thoughts are on the latest releases of the two.


  5. I actually just ran a fresh install of Elgg 1.5, which is still about 10x easier to install than BP, haha. It really depends on how you’re looking to use these social networking apps. I just spoke with someone who really needed to have a solid file manager available for all his users — something that doesn’t currently exist yet on BP — so I recommended Elgg. Also, if you need forums/message board intregration, go with Elgg, as the current release of BP will only work bbPress alpha 6, even though bbPress 1.0 just came out. If networking with others is crucial for your members section, I’d recommend BP, because it’s more intuitive with its GUI. Also, if you’re looking to restyle or rebrand your members area at any point, go with BP. SEO-wise, I’d bet that they’re both equally optimized. Perhaps, if you counted the blog functionality of each system, BP would win because of its WP background, but I’d bet most of your users are just looking to use the Wire (ie. status updates) — if they’re looking to write anything at all. Above all, if you’re relatively new to WP and have never themed anything, you’re probably better off with Elgg. In order to truly make it your own, you’d have to create four themes for your BuddyPress theme.

  6. I just installed latest wordpressmu and buddypress. Took me and my VPS’s tech support about 9 hours to get things to a basic “ok” This installation issue could well kill buddypress before it gets going.

  7. oh my god, lol. yeah, i wouldn’t say BP is for your typical blogger-turned-webdev. it took me several trials when beta came out, but that was partly my fault, too, since i assumed WPMU installed the same way as WP. believe it or not, but the installation actually has gotten A LOT simpler — still no one-click install, but maybe a good year from now =)

  8. Thank you very much for bp theme Avenue K9 1.1~

  9. You’re welcome! Will definitely come out with something new for BP 1.2 =)

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