o2 is Now Available on GitHub

o2-on-github

This weekend at WordCamp Denver, Kevin Conboy announced that Automattic’s long-awaited O2 project is now publicly available on GitHub. In a recent interview with WP Tavern, Matt Mullenweg confirmed that the o2 development team is shifting its focus to WordPress.com’s core products but that the o2 code would be public for anyone to use.

o2 was is the successor to P2, the innovative group blogging theme created to power communications at Automattic. P2 was released in 2009 with the tagline “Blogging at the speed of thought.” It introduced quick posting from the front page and real-time updates.

o2 shares P2’s tagline but, unlike its predecessor, it was created to be a plugin that is not dependent on a specific theme.

However, it’s not guaranteed to work with any theme, so if you want the best experience you should test it out with the p2-breathe theme, as recommended in the GitHub installation instructions. o2 requires the Genericon’d plugin and if you want the ability to insert code blocks, it requires the SyntaxHighlighter Evolved plugin.

The readme.txt on GitHub cautions that “multisite self-hosted installs have not yet been tested and may not work.” Although the plugin was written to shine within a network environment with cross-site search and cross-site posting, the network features are not guaranteed to work for self-hosted users. However, the improved real-time commenting, drag-and-drop media upload, and other enhancements may make using O2 worthwhile on single site WordPress installations.

A cursory look at the issues queue indicates that some of the features that work on WordPress.com may still be buggy for self-hosted installations, such as @mentions in posts in comments. The good news for those who were eagerly awaiting o2’s release is that the code, while not completely polished and bug-free, is now public on GitHub. Even though Automattic is shifting its focus away from the project, anyone who wants to help improve it can submit a pull request or fork o2 for their own use.

30 Comments


  1. Will this work to take over comments without taking over the whole site or homepage? From what I’ve seen earlier it just replaces the homepage.

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    1. No, o2 is written to basically take over/power your entire site. Once it’s enabled, you can consider it to take over “everything” on that site.

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      1. Would you consider adding support for it not taking over the whole site? I think it would be perfect to just use for comments, or maybe to display everything on a specific SECTION of the homepage, but not to replace my entire site.

        I am sure a tone of people would love this as well if it didn’t replace everything on their sites.

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      2. We’re not actively developing o2 any further currently, and it’s built to suit the way we use it, which is to power an entire site.

        If someone else wanted to pursue the ability to have it only power certain parts, we’d definitely look at merging those changes (assuming they were compatible) via pull request.

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      3. Cool. So when you say it will take over an entire site once activated, does that mean we won’t be able to have a navbar menu with different pages and a blog section? Or do you mean it would be on just one page and take over that page, but we’d still be able to have other pages and use BuddyPress and have a blog and stuff?

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      4. To use o2, you have to use a compatible theme, and then o2 actually takes over the entire content area of the site. It powers everything on that WP install (pages included). It includes support for Menus and widgets (in a single sidebar) in the current theme (P2).

        If you want to run BuddyPress and other things, I’d suggest trying it out either on a multi-site install, or a separate WP install. Nothing like that has been extensively tested though, so “continue at your own risk” :)

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  2. Although the plugin was written to shine within a network environment with cross-site search and cross-site posting, the network features are not guaranteed to work for self-hosted users.

    To clarify, most network-level features are not included in this code at all, as they are currently too heavily tied to the WordPress.com infrastructure/codebase.

    This is best thought of as a “developer only” release of something that works roughly, on a single WP installation. I would not recommend running this on a production site unless you know what you’re doing, and are willing to tinker/optimize/tweak things to your particular environment.

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  3. It’s been 22 months since Beau Lebens’ inspiring WCSF’13 vaporware talk where he promised O2 in beta in “about a month.” The O2 team may be officially off project now, but my guess is they haven’t been on it much in the past 22 months. My guess is that somewhere along the way Automattic decided they liked Slack better than O2 and this dump onto GitHub is the finally announced postmortem. Still, Slack, while awesome, is proprietary and not publicly viewable, so the possibility that someone may fork O2 from GitHub is still inspiring.

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    1. o2 has been available in Beta since December 2013, but only on WordPress.com. Beta testers were able to use o2 for public or private WordPress.com sites, and reported quite a few bugs allowing the o2 team to keep improving the product. We at Automattic also use O2s every day, for all internal asynchronous communications, as Sarah mentions in the post. That makes for quite a few additional Beta testers :)

      My guess is that somewhere along the way Automattic decided they liked Slack better than O2

      Slack and o2 are quite different. We do use both at Automattic, but one doesn’t replace the other. Slack is built for synchronous chats, and has basically replaced IRC / Skype / HipChat. o2, on the other hand, is designed for asynchronous conversations. It’s basically a mix between a forum and a blog.

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      1. We haven’t made the theme available to everyone just yet. That’s on our roadmap though, and I’ll come back and comment here as soon as the theme is available in the showcase!

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      2. I just wanted to let you know that you should now be able to activate o2 right from your WordPress.com dashboard, under Appearance > Themes. Search for “P2”, and you’ll get 2 results: the old P2 theme, and the new one :)

        For those of you looking for a demo, here it is:
        https://p2demo.wordpress.com/

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  4. Ok, I’ll be the guy that asks….
    Other than downloading each file, how exactly is one supposed to take the o2-breathe for a spin? Isn’t there a simpler way to download the o2-breathe theme?

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    1. On the right side of the github page, there’s a Download Zip button.

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    2. If Subversion is installed on your computer, you can run svn export https://wpcom-themes.svn.automattic.com/p2-breathe/ to download a copy of the theme.

      We’ll make it easier to download the theme soon!

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      1. This looks great. I’d love to try o2 with the p2-breathe theme, but I don’t have subversion. Is there a GitHub repo or other place I can download the theme? (Not just referring to the o2 plugin)

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      2. You can use the command @vadimbrodsky posted below if you don’t use Subversion.

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    3. Run this from the terminal (assuming OSX or Linux)
      wget -r --no-parent https://wpcom-themes.svn.automattic.com/p2-breathe/

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  5. Since a lot of people are asking about a demo, I have thrown together a quick site. Now, I am not opening this to backend admins, but feel free to post on the site. I will be toying with the settings over time, so don’t be surprised if things change suddenly. http://ariwinokur.com/o2breathetest

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  6. I tried O2 in my server but I can´t get to see my posts or the field to publish things, like I have in P2 similar like in twitter , Somebody knows if this is a bug or there is something I need to do to see the post and the field with the publish button I mentioned ?
    thanks for the news and help ,

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    1. You’ll want to make sure you don’t have any issues with the dependencies mentioned here:
      https://github.com/Automattic/o2

      If not, and if you still experience issues, I’d suggest opening a new issue in the GitHub repository.

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      1. Thanks Jeremy I just did so I tried all over again and again in my server and in my localhost but Im not able to make it work , my old p2 works great , best wishes

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  7. Anyone know how to get O2 to work with a custom post type and custom taxonomies?

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