6 Promising And Open Source Social Networking Softwares To Create Your Own

Social Network UsersThere are lots of social networks from small to huge ones like Facebook or MySpace.

Although trying to create the next Facebook may not be a good idea, you may want to create a niche network or empower & add new features to the network you already have.

Here are 6 open source social networking applications which are developed continiously, well-documented & offer impressive functions.



Elgg is a mature social networking framework which offers:

  • advanced user management and administration
  • social networking
  • cross-site tagging
  • powerful access control lists
  • internationalisation support
  • multiple view support (eg cell phones, iPhone)
  • an advanced templating engine
  • a widget framework and more.

Its plugin based system enables adding new features easily from a plugins database or creating your own.

Elgg is built with PHP / MySQL & comes with a JSON API.



PHPizabi is a feature-rich open source social networking engine for creating & managing basic-to-advanced communities.

It is built with PHP / MySQL & besides every feature that can be thought for a social networking site, it offers:

  • a multilingual interface
  • mass mailing to users
  • creating blogs
  • forum integration & more


Dolphin Social Network Application

Dolphin is one of the most popular applications to create a community.

It is built with PHP / MySQL & has unique features like streaming video chat or ability to record videos from the application itself to share them.

Apart from the standard social networking features, it has an integrated billing system for paid-networks.

Anahita Social Engine

Anahita Social Engine

Anahita is a scalable social networking platform that is built as Joomla extensions using the Nooku framework.

It provides users an Ajaxed interface with powerful profile management & messaging capabilities.

It supports OpenID & has an integration with Amazon Cloud Storage to ease the management of growing data.

Community Engine

Community Engine

Community Engine is an open source plugin for Ruby on Rails applications that provides the common features of social networking applications including:

  • authentication & user profiles
  • blogs with tagging
  • photo uploads
  • forums & private messages
  • friendships & activity feeds
  • & more..

Lovd By Less

Lovd By Less

The application offers a ready-to-go base with features like:

  • friending
  • messaging
  • blogs & comments
  • photo galleries
  • Fickr & Youtube integration
  • & more..

It is built with Ruby on Rails.

BuddyPress (Bonus App.)


BuddyPress is a set of WordPress plugins & themes for converting a WordPress MU installation into a social networking website.

It has features like:

  • friending
  • private messaging
  • forums
  • groups
  • activity stream
  • & more..

PeoplePods (added on 19 November 2009)


PeoplePods (see WRD post) is an open source toolkit, built with PHP/MySQL, for creating social websites with ease.

It can be used to build a website from scratch or improve an existing one with social features.

  • wow. good collection!

  • Hi, nice post but you forgot Noosfero ( http://www.colivre.coop.br/Noosfero/AboutNoosfero ), emerging quickly in Brazil because of its use in the Free Software Movement’s official social networking site ( http://www.softwarelivre.org )


  • And what about BUDDY PRESS ? Seems you missed this one, built on WordPress and maturing fast.

  • jforever
  • what is the best? Elgg?

  • you forgot BuddyPress

  • @Marlyse & @Brian,

    Thanks for mentioning BuddyPress. It is added to the list as well.

  • max



  • RD

    The free and open source Drupal CMS (www.drupal.org) can handle community and social networking quite well too.

  • Spencer

    What about SocialEngine? It can be found at http://socialengine.net

    I use it personally for one project right now.

  • Its really stupid thatyou think creating the next facebook is lame.

  • @DeadLinkCoder,
    Never mentioned anything being lame. Just think it is a very competitive market as there are too many big & successful players and don’t think it is a good idea. Is this a stupid idea? well maybe, it is just an idea.

    Dolphin is probably the most popular one. But which one is better depends on your needs.

    For example, I’m very comfortable with WordPress & can go with BuddyPress or as I’m not that experienced in Ruby on Rails, I may eliminate the ones built with it.. So, I believe it totally depends on you.

  • I have used Social Engine to set up a small gaming-niched social networking site, and it’s running perfectly fine right now with no issues or errors. Support is amazing, and there are tons of modules for add-on features(at a price, but still really good).

  • The BuddyPress WP plugin hasn’t worked for any blog I’ve applied it to. In fact, not only does it not work, but the entire blog refuses to load while activated. You won’t be able to get into the backend as admin either.

    The only way to recover your WP blog under this condition is to delete the BuddyPress folder via ftp

    Webmasters and bloggers need to be aware of this potential problem, especially if their site is high traffic.

    Thanks for the informative post. Anahita is a new one for me (and one I’m going to check out).

  • lol

    Buddypress only works on WordPress MU. It’s not suppose to function with regular WordPress. Geezus. Read first, before you go out bashing about and misinforming people.

    Although, there will be a a version of that plugin later on for regular WordPress. You’re gonna want that one.

  • lol

    Also, based on my experience and reading about, I’d say Elgg is the best TRUELY FREE AND OPEN SOURCE social networking software.

    I’d imagine Buddypress will catch up in due time though.

    Anahita is another one to look out for BUT, while it’s being released as open source, it WON’T be truely “free”. I believe they will be charging $300 for membership to their community of the sort, that is where you will be able to get applications etc. such as forums and blogs etc.

    So in reality, what they offer for free is simply vanilla-barebones software package, which allows users to register to create profiles and add each other as friends and probably post comments too. That about it though. Just bare bones, nothing that useful if you think about it. I rather just run an open source forum at that point.

    I could be wrong though, and maybe they’ll prove me wrong, but from what I read, it really isn’t “free” and “open”, so to say.

  • Really good list & introduce! Thanks so much!

    I will working on one of my classmates SNS network now after testing & select one of them.

  • Lovely collection. I have used Elgg at my organization’s training center for collaboration, I would love to get into community engine and lovd by less. Excelling Post.

    Please also mention community support in your write ups on such resources. While Elgg has some backing, working on open source software that have tiny communities (like Mahara) can get painful at times.


  • Just one thing Dolphin is not OpenSource and not FREE.
    I had also used SocialEngine but it isn’t OpenSouce and off course not FREE!

  • KM Ram

    Elgg and only elgg…

  • KM Ram

    Elgg is probably the best amongst all these…good to see it mature into a very strong social app.


  • mag

    But what about Jomsocial? Isnt it better in terms of functionality, expandibility and usability? It is not free but there are many social networks using jomsocial… any ideas, anyone?

  • Vítor Figueiró

    If you are a developer you’ll want to use Pinax for Django (Python).


  • @Umut M.

    Thank you so much for mentioning the Anahita project. Since then we have won serveral new partners who have contributed to our project financially and are planning to develop their next Social Web project using this framework. We can’t wait to have the codebase ready and make it available to the public since Anahita offers modularity and scalaibity that many other simiarl projects in this category don’t such as: a true MVC framework, Open Social design philosophy, abiltiy to run social apps, API to develop social apps and extensions, a state of the art template engine, ability to overwrite everything from the html to requests, classes and the libraries and it is released under the GPL license.

    Anahita is very much focused on building Social Websites and not just social networks and facebook clones!

    Anahita is a commercial open source project. We need to fund the thousands of hours of work that we have put into this project and make sure that project moves forward strongly, so we have considered several business modesl behind it and the project has already been financially successful.

    Those who are interested can view this presentation from the Vancouver DemoCamp 07. We presented in the same day with BuddyPress, another great project that we’ve gotten many inspirations from


    and here is the Interview with the Nooku TV

  • “… We need to fund the thousands of hours of work ..”

    Sorry … over a thousand hours 🙂

  • Mark


    I started with ELGG and now tried Buddypress.
    Elgg seems for me a little bit tricky, but Buddypress is on the other hand only a plugin and therefore dependent on the further development of WordPress.

    ELGG is more privacy-based. That means, that only registered users can view the profiles etc. Buddypress’ profiles are in principle viewable for every visitor of the social network.

  • Looks like you forgot Joomla’s #1 extension, Community Builder over at http://www.joomlapolis.com/

    Free and open-source, mature, stable, widely used, 180+ extensions (100+ open-source and free) for it:

  • jina

    Thank you for sharing such useful information. I have experience working with Elgg, Social Engine, PHPfox during development. I can admit that PHPfox was the best for me. Addition information regarding this projects you can find at http://web100.com.ua/eng/expertise/social-networks/index.html

  • kosmic

    If you need to run a social website or network, i would be using some forward thinking and use only those which are built upon a framework.

    My two recommendations are…

    Anahita social engine – nooki framework which is a version of the zend framework, looks very promising, GPL expected december 09….runs as a joomla plugin.
    Open source.


    Social engine V4 – zend framework, public beta due early dec 09. $250.


    From the list above i have used, boonex dolphin 6.14, elgg, phpizabi, social engine…and not on the list phpfox.

    i can safely say dont bother touching phpizabi its old news and dead in the water.

    Elgg would be great for an intranet network as sef urls dont exist.
    if you install mods, pls only use the trusted mods, or mods that have been approved, and are finished.

    Boonex have done a huge amount of work over the last year on D7, so definatley worth looking into, however i gave up on 6.14 due to messy structure and noobs pretending to be experts within the community.

    phpfox…yeh its ok, however i found the interface boring and still do with the new V2, and the forum has its fair share of ego bashing – non programmers who know it all.


    so your wondering what im using for my niche community?

    social engine as its flexible with good privacy controls and the best reliable plugin creators around, and the new V4 is promising to be a good scalable platform.


    and for a different future project il be exploring Anahita social engine.


  • I currently reviewing all the existing social networking software for a website for a large non-profit organization. Here are my feelings so far.

    Anahita Project looks very promising from the screen shots. But seeing as it is still in alpha, and code is only available to partners, i cannot test it out. However it does look professional and seems to be written by a solid team.

    Elgg. This is an excellent product as far as it goes. However I found it to be too user-centric for the use I have in mind. their groups plugin is very mediocre. It is not a group at all, rather just a forum. It has a great pages and files repository function, but these are all related to the user and not to a group. oh well.

    BuddyPress. This seems to have the most elegant user interface of the bunch, but it might be a matter of taste. buddypress is built on top of WordPress MU as well it integrates bbPress for forums. The user community is quite active with new plugins coming all the time. However the project is still young.

    Social Engine. While this is paid software, the price is reasonable. It has many plugins, all mature looking, such as chat, groups, events, video and audio. However I could not see a way to get forum or group posts to get sent to email. (but maybe it exisits). The site design and layout seemed a bit dated to me.

    I’m leaning towards BuddyPress because I like the way it looks as well as I have experience with WPMU.

  • Readers might also want to check out EngineY. EngineY is a new social networking framework built in Ruby and Rails that makes it very easy to create a social networking site.

  • Tom

    Elgg is not working at all for me!

    The URL rewriting is causing trouble ;-( where as all other web sites are fine on my config!

    So ….. I think ebuildy is better

  • i seriously love this website it’s awesome!!isn’t it
    Thanks for showing new webresource almost everyday!!

    very good social media listing

    anyways i prefer elgg!! heheh!!

  • Elgg has the most developed plugin, but the only disadvantage in my opinion is the api platform and upgrading your plugins to work with later releases. The plugins become useless in most cases on a new release, but overall I like Elgg social network because of the flexibility to customize it and the 1000 plugins and themes that is easy create and install on Elgg admin control panel.

  • I want to try elgg on my domain

  • Richard Schulte

    Don’t forget Drupal Commons, one of the new contenders.

    Also, in the works:

    Gnu Social

    Tom: sometimes with mod_rewrite, there are overrides in the .htaccess file, or you have to write in an override in your httpd.conf

  • Can anyone tell me how strong is buddypress and what its future? I am looking to built a network over bp. Anyone had built on bp with more than 3000 members?

    also how to protect profiles from non-friends viewing in buddypress?

  • Anahita Sucks

    You should remove Anahita those guys are douchebags, they don’t give you access to help documents unless you pay, you can’t even get a test account on their server without giving up your full name, address and telephone number. And to get the most recent “open source” code you have to PAY $300!

  • Roumber

    Few months ago appears another: http://www.vikuit.com . We are using it and has the advantage that you don’t pay for your hosting (is based on google’s appengine and can serve more than 5million/month pages for free). It looks good.

  • Freddy Rivero

    I really don’t know how this can get into discussion.

    If you want to build a serious Social Community the option without a doubt is Social Engine 4, if you want to “try” or build an amateur website for “joking around” with some friends…then jump around all the other options.

    If you want to real powerful software to build something for a client or there’s money involved, SE4 and stop wasting your time trying other stuff, is stupid, the Social Engine people ONLY work on this project, it is not a plugin or a “try out” project.

  • I Vote for DRUPAL, muy better than jomsocial

  • lninja

    anyone know if any of these offer a Ning network import function?

  • its helpfull,for best forum engine is mybb

  • pal
  • Bruce

    I need to find a simple interface that can collect a user’s contact information centrally. For example, I want to collect one user’s contact information (all the contacts in his/her profile) from Facebook,Linkedin and Twitter.

    Thanks a lot.

  • Hi,


    what is the best paid social networking platform?

  • Oxwall! This is a beautiful app. The only problem I ran into was it is a resource hog. Should not be used on a shared host unless you know how to find and disable active php scripts.

    Right now I am messing with izabi again. It’s just very easy to theme but not very secure. The new version should be out soon and it will be at http://izabisquared.com/. Sound promising but developer is never on time. Considering designing my own from scratch.

  • André Kublik

    Hello, I need to integrate a social network and Moodle, what is the best platform?
    Any of this platforms offers a LMS solution?
    thank you

  • i like elgg,its powerful,and can be customised much!!

  • which is the best one to customize??most of the open source social networking softwares looks little bit boring.

  • which is the best one to customize??most of the open source social networking softwares