o2 WordPress Plugin Expected To Be Available In Early 2014

o2 Site Logo

In 2008, Automattic created a WordPress theme entitled Prologue. A year after its launch, Automattic released P2 to take the place of Prologue. P2 was a revolutionary theme as it enabled communication to happen in near real-time and arranged comments so that they were equally as important as blog posts. From 2009 to 2013, P2 handled 80% of the communication that took place within the company. Earlier this year at WordCamp San Francisco, Beau Lebens who works at Automattic announced the successor to P2. It won’t be a theme. Instead, it will be a plugin entitled o2.

o2 is named after the section of the Automattic creed that states “I will communicate as much as possible, because it’s the oxygen of a distributed company“. o2 was built from the ground up around the idea that communication is oxygen. In this light, the features of o2 make total sense:

  • Intended to be used within a network
  • Focused on the client side or frontend
  • Native infinite scroll
  • Improved real time commenting
  • Cross-site Search (Search multiple o2 instances within a network)
  • Cross-posting (Post on more than one o2 site at the same time)
  • Keyword + Name Notifications
  • Shared Tags
  • Email Integration (Post and comment by email)
  • Drag and drop media uploading
  • Jetpack Integration

While o2 is a plugin it will ship with a default theme called Breathe based on the Underscores starter theme. o2 is being built as a platform so developers will be able to create plugins and themes to extend its capabilities.

The Progress Of o2

One of the downsides to o2 is that it will initially not contain any of the network functionality that was mentioned in Beau Lebens WordCamp session. When I asked Beau to clarify, he responded:

The initial version is not using websockets, but the AJAX polling is much more efficient and reliable (and accurate) than it ever was in P2.

We’ll still be playing with websockets at some point, but it hasn’t proven to be critical to making a great experience thus far, so we’ve pushed it back a bit as a priority. Instead, the commenting system will be an up to date version of P2 which gives us a better foundation to work on top of.

The initial announcement was on August 8th, 2013 but o2 has yet to be released. I reached out to Beau Lebens to get a status update on the project and asked when we might see it become available for public use. He told me that the team is very close to starting a controlled beta or alpha on WordPress.com. Testing will continue into the new year. Once the initial testing program concludes, we’ll likely see something made available for self installed WordPress users. We can expect this to happen sometime around February or March of 2014. Beau Lebens points out that these release dates are very rough estimates, and it depends largely on how things go with the initial trial group.

Watch Beau Lebens at WordCamp San Francisco 2013 Announce The o2 Plugin

30 Comments


  1. Minor correction: the default theme is called Breathe (with an e), not Breath.

    Also, those release dates are very rough estimates, and it depends largely on how things go with our initial trial group. A fully functional experience on self-hosted WordPress will probably be a little ways down the line, because some things are tied quite closely to WordPress.com right now.

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  2. @Beau Lebens – Corrections made and I also added verbiage that specifies that the release dates are rough estimates. I purposely said “Expected” instead of just outright saying early 2014 to provide wiggle room.

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  3. I am a wordpress geek. I am working with wordpress for more then 3 years. I always use self hosted wordpress site. I never tried with wordpress.com

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  4. This sounds pretty exciting, we’ve been switching to P2 ourselves, and have identified places for improvement.

    I’d love to see if we can help in anyway, is the code for it available to start contributing to? Didn’t see it on the Automattic github..

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  5. Thanks for this update Jeffro! Beau and his team have such a wonderful project here! If I recall correctly (or possibly I dreamt it) at WCSF’13 he said it would be out in something like “a month,” so I’ve been drooling ever since! :D

    Like most peeps who read WP Tavern, I’m a self-hosted user, but WP.com is a great service, so if the initial use of O2 is there, that’s fine with me. While we’re waiting, I’ve really grown fond of WooThemes’ P2 Child Theme “Houston.” For me it’s the best of the many P2 Child Themes & Theme Forks.

    Thanks Beau, thanks Jeffro, thanks Woo, thanks for all the great Oxygen!

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  6. @Vid Luther – the code isn’t publicly available yet; once we’ve been through a bunch more testing and whatnot, it’ll end up on our Github account (and in the plugin repo) most likely.

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  7. This sounds great!

    However, since I need a project management option in the next couple of weeks, I have two questions.

    Will a set of P2 blogs in multisite be able to be upgraded to O2 when available?

    Is it possible to beta test?

    Excited about this …

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  8. I am looking forward to this theme. Looks like it will power people/visitors to the site to post anything/news/article/discussions.

    Does anyone knows if and where can we see O2 theme in action at this time?

    When can we expect to see the first release?

    Thank you.

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  9. Damn, I can not wait for the release.

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  10. Really looking forward to seeing o2. I showed a client P2 today and they loved it, so would welcome seeing the next evolution.

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  11. when will o2 finally released?

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  12. Any solid date for release of self hosted O2?
    So looking forward to this for last few months :)

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  13. Haven’t heard anything, but I did find some nifty additional documentation on their O2 site with some graphics. I like what we’re going to get!

    http://geto2.com/field-guide/

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  14. From what I have read, because o2 will be a plugin, not a theme, it should be compatible with any theme in the same way that BuddyPress or bbPress can be activated and work on most themes. If you check out the http://geto2.com/field-guide/ link shared above, it indicates that “Breathe is an o2-compatible theme based on _s” which one would assume means there will be other “o2-compatible” themes down the line.

    I’ve been holding my breath waiting for o2 for a long time now. I hope it gets released to the wild shortly.

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  15. Nice feature list.

    Any news/update about when O2 will be released?

    Thank you.

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  16. Is there a beta (or alpha or RC) we can begin playing with?

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    1. Well, I guess this post title was a little off. To tell you the truth, I don’t know what the status is on o2. Maybe I should find out.

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  17. @Beau or @Jeff – any word on where this is, or how we can get involved?

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    1. No word of the status on O2 that I know of. I think a few people have been provided access to the beta testing program. Maybe next week, I’ll try and find out the status of O2.

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  18. yes it would be really good to have an update on this – the silence is a bit disconcerting….

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  19. I’m a photo teacher and I would love to test it with all of my students as a beta. I also put in a request at getO2.com Any idea who I can talk to test this out?

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    1. Hey Scott, I’m working with some people to get an official statement on the progress of the project. Stay tuned to the Tavern as I think I’ll have an update published within the next few days.

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      1. Hey, Jeff. That would be great, as I would love to know what is the progress on this plugin. I see it in action at wordpress.com I want to try it myself. I signed up at geto2.com for info once it was available, but no response back to me.

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