What is Commons In A Box (CBOX)?
Commons In A Box (CBOX) is a free open source software project that enables organizations around the world to create vibrant online community spaces. Built using the WordPress publishing platform, with BuddyPress for social networking, CBOX is available in two packages: CBOX Classic, which is modeled on the CUNY Academic Commons and is designed for communities of all kinds, and CBOX OpenLab, which is specifically designed for teaching and learning.
Visit Home for more information about the project.
What is CBOX Classic?
CBOX Classic is a flexible platform designed for communities of all kinds. It powers sites for hundreds of groups and organizations worldwide, who use it to create social networks where members can collaborate on projects, build communities, publish research, and create repositories of knowledge.
See the Overview for more information about CBOX Classic.
Why should I use CBOX Classic?
Commons In A Box Classic is a 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. CBOX Classic 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 Classic may be right for you.
CBOX Classic 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 CBOX Classic default theme is robust, responsive, and comes with widgets pre-installed to make customization easier. Usage of the theme is optional; CBOX can be used with other themes.
Who is CBOX Classic designed for?
CBOX Classic is designed for communities of all kinds, and any organization may find it useful for adding social features to a WordPress site. It is in active use by hundreds of communities worldwide, including academic institutions, scholarly organizations, and other non-profits.
Check out our showcase to see examples of CBOX Classic in action.
What expertise is needed to run a CBOX Classic site?
Anyone with a good understanding of WordPress can install and run CBOX Classic, but if you plan to maintain a sizable “Commons” site (especially if it is a WordPress multi-site installation), you will probably need the help of a systems administrator to manage your server, set up and monitor backups, and resolve technical handle permissions, and help with support issues. Your IT department or an external hosting company may be able to provide these services. See the Technical Guide for more information on server requirements and recommendations.
You will also need to provide support to members who have questions about using the site. Ideally, support personnel will not only be familiar with WordPress and CBOX Classic functionality. And of course you will need to manage the project, provide leadership for community-building, and direct the technical aspects. For smaller projects, one person may be able to take on these functions; for larger initiatives, additional team members may be required, along with administrative support.
CBOX Classic is designed to be very customizable, minimizing the need for software development – see Configuring CBOX Classic for details. However, if you wish to make additional customizations, you will need assistance from a developer specializing in WordPress or BuddyPress; user experience and design expertise may also be needed. Our Developer Support Forum is a good place to find help. Want to customize CBOX Classic? Let us know – we may be able to partner so that your work can benefit other CBOX users.
How much does CBOX Classic cost?
CBOX Classic is part of Commons In A Box, which is a free, open source WordPress plugin. Its source code is available on GitHub, and it is designed to be easy to install and administer.
However, depending on how many people will be using the proposed CBOX Classic site, and your specific context, there may be additional project costs. For instance, if your organization cannot provide hosting or systems administration support for your site, you may need to explore external hosting and site management options (see the Technical Guide for more information). You may also need to recruit personnel with the expertise described above, if they are not already available in-house.
Who is currently using CBOX Classic?
CBOX Classic powers communities ranging from the multi-organization network Humanities Commons to the NYC Digital Humanities Community. Find out which other organizations are using CBOX Classic by visiting our Showcase page.
I already have a WordPress Multisite installation running. Can I still install CBOX Classic?
Yes. CBOX Classic simplifies the way you integrate BuddyPress into a Multisite installation of WordPress. CBOX Classic provides a very configurable default theme designed for community sites, but you are free to continue using your own theme if you want.
Consult the Installation Guide for further guidance.
I already have a BuddyPress site running. Can I still install CBOX Classic?
Yes. CBOX Classic will determine your specific settings and install and manage the its suite of plugins. You can retain your theme, or migrate to our default theme.
Consult the Installation Guide for further guidance.
What themes are compatible with CBOX Classic?
CBOX Classic comes with an easy-to-customize theme designed by PressCrew using the Infinity Theming Engine.
Alternatively, you can use any WordPress theme. You may need to adjust some CSS to meet 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 of them. Questions and support should be made at the respective forums.
What are the advantages of using the CBOX Classic default theme?
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 Classic default theme, click here.
How do I know what the plugins included with CBOX Classic do?
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.
What are the system requirements for CBOX Classic?
You can find information about system and software requirements in our Technical Guide.
Can I install CBOX Classic locally?
Yes. We encourage you to install CBOX Classic on your local machine prior to taking the plunge.