BuddyPress vs. Elgg: Which one to choose now?

If everybody wanted to build a social networking site and was completely satisfied with the way BuddyPress ships right now (while still in beta stage), there wouldn’t be any need for Elgg. In fact, there probably wouldn’t have been an Elgg 1.1 or 1.2. Yet for many semi-/demi- cut-n-paste web developers, er, designers the inevitable fact remains this: Elgg is stable. It’s stable enough to sustain a community of 20,000+ users without crashing. That, case in point, is why Elgg is the perfect short-term solution if you really, truly need a functioning social networking site that needs to be fully operational without any hiccups. If you’re solely looking for functionality and couldn’t give a rat’s ass about page layout, meaning that your prospective users in your community likely already know each other and don’t need the guidance of a well thought-out and organized design, Elgg is the perfect short-term solution. It’s simple and it’s got most everything you need already built in — messaging, file sharing, bloggin, photo albums, friend requests, activity feeds, an awesome contextual menu, etc. Here’s the catch… theming and development/support community. Unless you’re very well versed in PHP or only looking to install Elgg out of the box as is, so that you can continue making upgrades without adversely affecting your mods or any other adjustments you’ve made, you’re likely going to spend a lot of time code tweaking till your head plops off.

There’s a reason BuddyPress throws the one-two punch/uppercut/haduken at Elgg — it was built on WordPress (MU). Most developers I know did what their colleagues have done… they’ve actively kept up with the upgrades of WP and its plugins, turning it into a full-fledged CMS — now, they want to throw in social networking to put the icing on the cake. Elgg didn’t start out that way, so it’s *fan* base is much smaller. And while it is currently reliable and supports Open Data Definition, it lacks the simplicity of BuddyPress both in usability and flexibility.

WordPress is to ExpressionEngine as Elgg is to BuddyPress.  EE is great. Elgg is great. If you want to learn a set of whole new systems (EE’s tags & Elgg’s views), more power to you! But if you’re familiar with WP’s coding structure and can spare several months before you start unleashing the power of social networking to the masses, I would wait till BP is ready for primetime… because once it has reached that phase, there’s no doubt in my mind that it’ll zoom past by Elgg.

Short term
Elgg: 1
BuddyPress: 0

Long term
Elgg: 0
BuddyPress: 1

4 responses

  1. zenseeker Avatar

    Thanks for your last two articles comparing Elgg and Buddypress. I’ve decided to hang in here with BP. Elgg might seem an elegant option at first, but questions go unanswered and documentation is nonexistent. I’ve had Andy answer my questions on the forums and on IRC. Now that’s what I call support! The MU community takes a bit of getting used to, but they’re responsive and helpful as well, often answering questions in a matter of minutes. I’m all about the experience. If I feel lost or ignored I’m outa there. BP & WPMU look like the place to cozy up to.

  2. blackbird Avatar

    I will have to concur fully on this well thought out blog. Great work. +Kudos

  3. @Zen Seeker: Yeah, BP is lookin better by the day. Andy deserves a Webby award for person of the year or something.

    @Joseph: Thanks man! Keep checkin back for more posts =)

  4. Very insightful. I believe Elgg is doomed to fail, due to the way the developers have been treating the community lately. Recently, they shut down several methods of communication between users on their official site, and deleted several pages of useful comments because a few of them were upset by a couple of remarks posted to their site. In addition, as software, Elgg is difficult to use and poorly thought out from an end-user persective. Fortunately there will be more and better managed open source projects likely to spring up in the near future. More power to Buddypress.

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