CBOX (Commons In A Box) is a software project aimed at turning the infrastructure that successfully powers the CUNY Academic Commons into a free, distributable, easy-to-install package. Commons In A Box is made possible by a generous grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.
CBOX’s WordPress plugin keeps a BuddyPress site on even keel. It manages a robust set of BuddyPress “add-ons” – actively supported, open source plugins proven to work together to do great stuff. CBOX takes the complexity out of creating a BuddyPress site by automatically activating or de-activating these plugins, according to user input, while always keeping versions up to date and compatible.
CBOXs default theme that is designed to support a “Commons” site – a space where members can discuss issues, collaborate on projects, and share their work. Based on the Infinity Theme Engine, the theme is responsive and easy to configurable.
Organizations can download CBOX and create a Commons of their own. For more information see About the Project.
Commons In A Box is an easy to use, easy to install, feature-rich platform built for WordPress and BuddyPress that gives community back to the users. Many currently available social-media platforms are fraught with privacy concerns, limited feature options, and restricted customization. Commons In A Box, or CBOX, offers a unique suite of features designed to give users of all skill levels the ability to create vibrant online communities with complete user control.
If your organization wants to create a “Commons” space where members discuss issues, collaborate on projects, and share their work – CBOX may be right for you.
CBOX simplifies the very complex task of setting up and maintaining a BuddyPress installation similar to the CUNY Academic Commons. It identifies the plugins you need, the ones that are recommended, and the ones that are optional. It automatically selects correct plugin versions, to ensure compatibility. And whenever an update is made to any of the included plugins, all you need to do is to check CBOX to verify that it is time to upgrade.
The Commons In A Box default theme is robust, responsive, and easily configurable. It comes with widgets pre-installed to make customization quick and easy.
Our targeted audience is academic institutions, but any organization may find CBOX useful for adding a social layer to its WordPress site.
Anyone with a good understanding of WordPress can install and run CBOX, but if you plan to maintain a sizable “Commons” site (especially if it is a multi-site installation), you will probably need the help of a SysAdmin to manage your server, set up backups, handle permissions, and help with support issues. You will probably also need a dedicated project leader, some technical support staff, maybe some design help, and perhaps some community facilitators.
Yes. Commons In A Box simplifies the way you integrate BuddyPress into a multisite install of WordPress. You will need a BuddyPress compatible theme. CBOX provides a very configurable default theme designed for community sites.
Yes. Commons In A Box will determine your specific settings and install and manage the CBOX suite of plugins. You can retain your theme, or migrate to our default theme. Your choice.
Alternatively, you can use any WordPress theme since universal theme compatibility was added to BuddyPress a few releases ago. You might have to adjust some CSS to match your needs.
BuddyPress comes with additional styling for the WordPress default “Twenty” themes – from Twenty-Twelve to Twenty-Seventeen. Test these themes to see if you can build a foundation from one of them, and create a child theme to further customize your site.
You can also look at some of the BuddyPress premium themes on the market such as BuddyBoss and Kleo. Keep in mind that we do not particularly endorse any one of them. Questions and support should be made at those respective forums.
It is easily customizable and comes preloaded with the widgets you’ll need. You can of course change anything you want. Development time may be shorter if you use our default theme. For more information about the CBOX default theme, click here.
The documentation section on this site provides a brief synopsis about each plugin, including links to the main documentation pages, support pages, and author information.
You need to have a host and a version of WordPress running on it. You will need access to the underlying file system.
You will probably not want to run CBOX on a low-resource, shared host if you plan to have a large membership or intend to run a multi-site installation. Performance may be disappointing. A more robust host is probably more appropriate. Some IT departments may be reluctant to install on institutional servers. You may want to look for third part hosting if that is the case. Follow this link for more information.
Yes. We encourage you to install CBOX on your local machine prior to taking the plunge.
For an example of Commons In A Box, check out the CUNY Academic Commons. In 2013, the MLA Commons officially launched as the second Commons In A Box installation. It has since become one of several society networks in the largest CBOX install to date, the Humanities Commons. See the CBOX showcase for other implementations. Become a member of this site and join CBOX Pioneers group to find more early adopters.
This functionality is in the works, but it not currently available. In the future, CBOX sites can be federated and use APIs to share information. Stay tuned.