BuddyPress is a very useful piece of software. It brings social networking functionality to the WordPress platform. In the right hands, it can help create some incredible, focused and refined social networks and online communities.
There’s just one problem… community owners rightfully want a community app. But taking your BuddyPress community to the Android and iOS app store can be tough. Really tough. Unless you know what you are doing! Here at Zipline, we have been creating incredible native BuddyPress Community Apps for clients. But more about that in a moment. First, let’s look at the options that have been available to date…
The ‘traditional’ approach – how NOT to make a BuddyPress Community App
A quick Google search will show a range of services that promise to take your BuddyPress community to the iOS and Android app store. But with few exceptions, they all have a serious flaw. They are not native apps. The way they achieve the service they offer is to get community owners to pass their community through a theme. The theme then talks to a lightweight app client, converting your community into an app-friendly format. Kind of.
This is a less than ideal scenario. Ultimately, the theme is unlikely to support all the plugins and custom code any well-considered community runs on. And even where plugins are supported, they can’t be guaranteed to work in concert. This makes sense. Your community is unique. Your BuddyPress community app needs to be unique too.
Ultimately, this approach means compromise. Compromise in the design of your BuddyPress community app and compromise in features available to your community members.
To be fair, if your community is very simple, with few to no deviations from the core BuddyPress framework and you are happy to get a ‘best fit’ with the design styles on offer, these services will be OK.
But there is a better way….
Creating a BuddyPress App – the RIGHT way
If you are serious about taking your WordPress powered BuddyPress community to the iOS and Android app stores, what you want and need is a native app. That is to say an app that is built natively to your community and natively to the iOS and Android app store.
This is the only way to ensure your community members will get an equal or better experience on your app as they will when using the browser version.
Introducing ZippApp, the BuddyPress App service.
Zipline has been keen supporters of the BuddyPress platform for a long time. But from the very start, we knew to fulfil our client requirements, we’d need to build on the foundations of BuddyPress. So we have developed a suite of core technologies. Combined we call it ZippApp for BuddyPress. It is our way of taking client’s BuddyPress communities to the iOS and Android app store.
Unlike the theme-based approach we mentioned earlier, our ZippApp for BuddyPress service ensures no compromise has to be made in-app quality or the range of services and features available to our client’s community members.
They get the look and feel they want, precisely tailored to support their community.
How it works
ZippApp for BuddyPress isn’t a theme that pretends to be an app. It’s an app. And each community app is as unique as each of our client’s communities.
ZippApp for BuddyPress uses a suite of APIs. APIs are a way for one website or app to talk to another website or app. In this instance, we use APIs that reside in the WordPress/BuddyPress community. These allow the community apps we build in iOs and Android to ‘talk’ directly to the key components of the community.
We then use the APIs to build the BuddyPress Community App interfaces. This includes community walls, groups, forums, InMail, messaging, etc. Anything that our client requires.
The last step is the fit and finish – making sure the BuddyPress community app looks and feels just like the browser version. Just optimised for the mobile app experience.
The result – a community app with no compromises. Published natively to the Android and iOS app stores.
Good to know
ZippApp can be used to take existing or new BuddyPress communities to the iOS and Android app stores.
If you want to find out how we can help you get your own BuddyPress community app, get in touch.