Update: We’ve released a new and improved version of this Prologue theme with real-time notification, threaded conversations, and more — we are calling it P2.
We’re fans of Twitter around here, in fact many Automatticians have accounts, but while the format appealed to us it really just whetted our appetite for something more, like a way for each of us to share short messages about what we’re doing or working on internally, or private messages between groups of folks.
So last week Joseph Scott and Matt Thomas decided to tackle this problem and within a few days they had a new theme for us: Prologue. Imagine it like a group Twitter. It’s best demonstrated with a demo:
If you click on the screenshot above, you’ll see a live demo blog with some messages from different Automattic folks. Basically how it works is when someone has the ability to post to a blog they see a short form at the top of the home page with a post box and tags. There they can post short messages about what they’re doing.
Below the posting box is a list of everyone’s latest tweet or message, with their Gravatar next to it. You can click on an author to see all their messages, or a tag to see all of the messages in a given tag (which we use for projects). There are RSS feeds for everything: the entire prologue, each author, each tag, and even combination or searches can be subscribed to in your RSS reader.
You can have a custom header to personalize the Prologue for your group, and just like any WordPress.com blog you have advanced privacy options: the blog can be public, public but invisible to search engines, and password-protected (available only to members).
Just like a blog post, each message in the prologue can have comments, and of course each comments thread has its own RSS feed. (Just like in regular WP.)
As a completely virtual company with no two people in the same place every day, we often have trouble keeping up with each other, so we’re going to be using a password-protected Prologue that only Automattic employees can access as one of our methods of communication, much like some other companies use Basecamp.
Some folks have suggested that using WordPress, Prologue, and RSS you could create a pretty effective distributed version of Twitter. This isn’t something we’re personally interested in, but we’ve made the theme available as open source under the GPL so if you want to hack around it yourself you’re welcome to. For WordPress.com users the theme is available in your “Presentation” section.
The staff was in an undisclosed location outside of Oracle, Arizona last week. I obtained some exclusive paparazzi shots taken by Alex Shiels. Here’s Andy lounging:
Here’s me kicking people’s butts at Wii tennis. 😉
Finally here was our training for spammer-wrangling.