How to Configure bbPress and BuddyPress to Work Together

Are you using the BuddyPress social network plugin on your WordPress site, but you also want forums? You can install the separate bbPress forum plugin.

BuddyPress can integrate with bbPress, so that you can easily give each new group a special bbPress forum. Read on to find out how.

Do BuddyPress and bbPress Require Special, Tricky Configuration?

Integrating two complex plugins can be painful. Is it hard to make bbPress and BuddyPress work together?
No. Not any more.
In the past, using BuddyPress and bbPress together required special, somewhat error-prone configuration.
But as of BuddyPress 1.7, BuddyPress and bbPress do not require difficult configuration. Simply install and activate BuddyPress and bbPress separately.
(Learn more about why bbPress and BuddyPress used to have such problems together.)

How Does BuddyPress 1.7 and Above Integrate With bbPress 2.x?

 When you activate both bbPress 2.x and BuddyPress 1.7 or later, you get these important features:
  • When you create a new group, an extra step in the process lets you create a bbPress forum for this group.
  • Each group forum behaves exactly like a normal bbPress 2.x forum, but it also connects to its group. On the group page, you see a Forum link.
  • In bbPress, on the settings page, you can set up a special “Group Forum Parent” to hold all the BuddyPress group forums.

BuddyPress now makes integration with bbPress fast and error-proof.

Check Your Versions

This article reviews the following software:
2.3.2

  • BuddyPress 1.8.1
  • WordPress 3.6

Check the version numbers on your plugins and WordPress. If any are significantly older, make sure you upgrade first. Or, read why older versions of bbPress and BuddyPress can have problems.

In bbPress, Enable BuddyPress Group Forums

Before you can add bbPress forums to BuddyPress groups, you need to check that this is allowed in the bbPress settings.

  1. On the administrator side menu, go to Settings -> Forums.
  2. Scroll down to the BuddyPress section.
  3. Check Allow BuddyPress Groups to have their own forums and save.

Add a Group Forum to a New BuddyPress Group

To add a bbPress forum to a new BuddyPress group, create a new group as usual. On the administrator sidebar, go to Groups -> Add New.
Proceed through the steps of creating a group. At the Forums step, click Yes, I want this group to have a forum. This will automatically create a forum for this group.
When you complete the group creation, you’ll land on the group’s page. Click the Forum link to go to the new group forum and create a topic.
Note: if you do not see a Forums step when you create a group, you’ll need to configure bbPress to allow BuddyPress forums. First, finish creating the group (you can add a forum later). Then follow the steps above to enable BuddyPress group forums.

Add a Group Forum to an Existing BuddyPress Group

If you don’t create a group forum when you first make the group, you can still connect BuddyPress group to a bbPress forum later.
First, create the forum in bbPress. On the administrator side menu, go to Forums -> New Forum. Or, if you see +New in the administrator top menu, you can do +New -> Forum.
Then, edit the group, and look for a checkbox that says, Yes, I want this group to have a forum. Check this, select the forum you just created, and save.
If you edit the group using the administrator side menu, you’ll probably see this checkbox in a widget on the sidebar entitled Discussion Forum.
If you edit the group by visiting its public page on the site, you’ll need to click Admin and then Forum.

Set a Parent Forum for All BuddyPress Group Forums

By default, BuddyPress group forums appear on the main forum listing. But you can put all BuddyPress group forums into a single parent forum.
Make sure you set up the parent forum first, before you create the group forums.
You set up the parent forum in bbPress, not in BuddyPress. Here’s how:

  1. Create a new forum to be the parent, if you haven’t already. There’s nothing special about this forum, and you create it normally. You may wish to set the Type to Category.
  2. On the administrator side menu, go to Settings -> Forums, then scroll down to the BuddyPress section.
  3. At Group Forums Parent, select your chosen parent forum, and save.

Note that only future group forums will be placed in this parent forum. If you’ve already made some group forums prior to this, they won’t be moved into this new parent forum.
Need more information on integrating BuddyPress and bbPress? Consult this guide to setting up Group and/or Sitewide Forums in the bbPress codex.

Should You Enable the “Group Forums” Component in BuddyPress?

No. It’s true that if you dig around in BuddyPress, you may find a Group Forums component. But if you’re running BuddyPress 1.7 or later, do not enable this component.
You can tell that you shouldn’t enable it because you probably won’t even see it. It no longer appears on the main list of BuddyPress components atSettings -> BuddyPress. You have to click on the Retired link, and the message beside Group Forums reads BuddyPress forums are retired. Use bbPress.
You should also ignore outdated advice on the Internet about how special steps are required to get BuddyPress and bbPress to work together. These posts and videos apply to older versions of BuddyPress.

More on Configuring bbPress

Now that you’re using bbPress forums, you might like more tips on configuring bbPress.