I’ve been a fan of bbPress for quite some time; I’ve even contributed code to the project. For those that aren’t familiar with it, bbPress is an open-source forum system written in PHP. It’s fast, lightweight, easy to install and even easier to use. It also scales, quite well.
bbPress was originally written to power the support forums WordPress.org, which get quite a bit of traffic. Later, it was released as a separate project. While it doesn’t have nearly the feature set found in more popular systems such as vBulletin or phpBB; it makes up for it in simplicity. It’s designed to be conversation-centered, where the clear focus is on what people are saying, not the bells and whistles provided by the software.
I’ve used it for a couple of sites and couldn’t be more pleased; though now I fear the end may be near.
Automattic, the company behind WordPress.com (and ListPress.com) has committed to supporting the project; though primarily in context to its role in the WordPress world. bbPress as a separate product has so much potential, though it seems Automattic has little interest in this; instead the interest seems to be in making bbPress just another add-on for WordPress.
At one point there was a lot of excitement and interest surrounding bbPress, though for a project like this to succeed you need input from the community, you need an open and fast paced development process. Unfortunately for bbPress, it had no such process. There were people who had the skill, time, and interest to lead the project and make it a success; but they were pushed away and the project was allowed to stagnate.
Today, there is some activity going on, and I’m glad to see that it won’t fade away completely; though I see little chance that it will live up to what it could have been. I have a lot of respect for Matt and Automattic; they’re very successful and build great products; but they could have done so much more.
bbPress will go on I’m sure; though I believe only as a shadow of what it could have been. Though maybe Matt will prove me wrong, I certainly hope so.