Creating Great Group Home Pages with BuddyPress Group Extras
Compared to a platform such as Ning, the BuddyPress Group home page I feel is one area that lets BuddyPress down. By default it actually just displays the activity feed for the group. A Ning group home has extended information about the group, it has a summary of the forum posts and it has a comments section. In this article I intend to show you how by using BuddyPress Group Extras you can have a home page for your groups with all of these features.
I’ve created a video to accompany this page:
The first thing to do is to install and activate BuddyPress Group Extras if you have not already done this.
Then you head to your group and click on “Manage”. Once in the management menu you should click on “Extras”.
This will take you to the Extras General Settings view, it is the Extras module that allows you to create your new home page and make it the landing page for the group.
In the General settings you need to follow these steps:
- Select “Hide It” for the Extras page – you don’t want to display this.
- in the option “Please specify the page name, where all custom pages will be displayed”, it is set as “Pages” by default, you need to change this to Home.
- Scroll down to the bottom of the page and in the area under the field “Rename the Home group page – Activity (for example) is far better.” enter “Activity”
- Select Save, you will notice once the page is updated that in the list of pages displayed at the top of the list is now “Activity” and towards the bottom of the list is “Home”
- Now click on “Home” and drag it to the top of the page list.
- Save the General Settings once again. This has created your new home page and made it the landing page for the group.
Adding content to your new Home Page
At this point in time the Home/Landing Page for your group is an empty container, you need to create a page and fill it with content that will be displayed when the Home Page is visited. To do this, follow these steps:
- At the top of the General Settings area click on “Add Page”. This will open up the New Page dialogue.
- In the content box for the Page Title, enter any suitable page title, this will not be displayed so is for your reference, I use “Group Home”.
- Enter the text you want to have in your homepage, a welcome message, a group description, any rules for membership you want to have and maybe some interesting notes about the group topic. Note you can also insert photo’s and videos by clicking on the “Insert Video” and “Insert Image” buttons in the editor menu bar. These options sallow you to enter the url for the image or video, if you have uploaded images to the media library you can get the URL for the image by going to the media library and editing the image, the URL is on the right hand side of the edit image page. URL’s for video are typically YouTube or similar.
- Note you can change the size of the font used by clicking on “Paragraph” to change the text to a heading setting, there is also a Font Size button, Font Family allows you to choose from a limited range of fonts available on the site.
- Once you have completed entering your group description text, go to the bottom of the page to select whether this will be publicly available or only to group members.
- After that you can press save, and that is your main description for the home page complete.
Of course for this first part of setting up the group homepage you can ask your group admin to carry out this task, but in order to get summaries of forums and comments loaded on the page you will need to do it since you need to gather information that only a site admin can see.
To add a summary of the latest posts in the forum you will need to install bbp Style Pack. This includes a shortcode that we are going to use. To include a group comments section you will need to install BuddyPress Activity Shortcode, we can use this with a filter to only display the activity updates for the group.
Next you need to gather the group and group form id’s, for the forum id you need to go to Dashboard>>Forums and click to edit the forum for the group in question, in the URL for that page you can see the forum id as a numeric value, take a note of this.
To gather the group id you need to follow pretty much the same steps, go to Dashboard>>Groups and click to edit the group in question, the numeric group is will be in the url of that page. Take a note of this page also.
Now you can go to the the newly create Extras home page and place the following shortcodes at the bottom of the page:
Latest in the forums
[bsp-display-topic-index show=’5′ forum =’761′]
[activity-stream object=groups primary_id=9 per_page=10 action=”activity_update,activity_comment” allow_posting=1]
In the forum shortcode, show=”5″ will show 5 forum entries, Forum=”761″ sets the id of the forum
In the activity shortcode per_page=10 will list the last ten comments, primary_id=9 sets the id of the group.
You can now save the page and then view the homepage
Note: there is a bug with BuddyPress Group Extras whereby you cannot edit an Extras page from the groups pages in the front -end once you have saved it with a shortcode in it. However the group homepage can be edited by going to Dashboard>>Groups Pages the page can be selected by admin and edited from there.
Congratulations! you have now set up your custom Group homepage and it is displaying lots of information about the group in question, this is a great step forward if a little buggy and complex. Ideally there would be a plugin to set all of this up for you automatically but currently it’s just not there. this is part of the trade of with running on a virtually free platform like WordPress – often you need to get your hands dirty in order to make it work the way you want. On the other hand this also shows you the flexibility of the WordPress/BuddyPress Combination, something that you can turn into a strength by exploiting all of the options available to you.
In my next article I will discuss associating blog posts to groups.