Open Atrium 2.x Alpha is Here!

Open Atrium 2.x Alpha is Here!

Mike Potter, Software Architect
#Atrium | Posted

icon and logo for open atrium 2.0

We are very proud today to be launching our alpha product release of Open Atrium on Drupal 7. This project has been in development for more than six months, and has certainly been anticipated, planned, and requested long before that!

How Was it Built?

Over the course of the project, the Open Atrium team mantra has been: "proudly invented elsewhere." Most Drupal community members know that Open Atrium was originally conceived of and built by the talented team at Development Seed to achieve an "intranet in a box," combining discussions, notifications, issue tracking, and calendars in a first-of-its-kind open source solution.

So when it was time for an upgrade to Drupal 7, the goal was for Open Atrium 2.0 (OA2) to represent the "best of Drupal," combining the top thinking in the community about how to handle flexible layouts, best-in-class security and permissions, and beautiful, responsive, usable design. Open Atrium Alpha is proud to be built on the Panopoly base distribution, utilizing the Organic Groups and Messaging API modules, and using Radix, a Bootstrap-based theme. Basing Atrium's functionality on work that is "proudly invented elsewhere" meant that our team could focus on combining this functionality into a truly powerful platform, creating a flexible framework for plugins, and making it easy to use.

What's In It?

Open Atrium consists of several core features that are key to creating a social collaboration software solution for organizations needing to share knowledge and connect their teams. The core features included are:

Discussions, Notifications, & Messaging

Discussions in Open Atrium can be restricted to as few as two people or opened up to the whole organization, and can be restricted based on a user’s projects, teams, or organization membership. Users can subscribe to specific discussions and communicate through the email notifications feature, allowing teams to stay better in touch with the information that matters most.

Knowledge Management

For organizations building intranets, wikis, and knowledge management sites, Open Atrium allows for the simple storage and sharing of documents and media within groups or to the global organization. Open Atrium comes standard with full Media support and the ability to attach and store files, images, and video with documents assigned to specific discussions and groups.

Security & Access Control

Open Atrium features robust access control that outperforms any other open source solution by providing administrators full control over access for individuals, project teams, and organizations. Content created within a project can be restricted to sub-sets of the project team; Information can be shared globally or to restricted groups; and communications can take place among larger communities or highly classified teams.  Attached media and file documents can be made private to specific groups and teams.

Mobile Ready

Open Atrium’s theme is built using Bootstrap, a front-end framework using responsive CSS that allows content to be ready for multiple screen sizes out of the box. Over two dozen cross-browser, responsive layouts and several responsive image styles are included to aid in site building and allow your site to work seamlessly on mobile devices.

Customizable Layout

Open Atrium is built on Panopoly, a Drupal Panels-based distribution that offers drag-and-drop customization of pages and content. Easily switch layouts, change styles, and add generic widgets to display text, images, links, maps, submenus, video and spotlights across your Atrium site.

Pluggable Functionality:

Open Atrium is built with extension in mind. Custom functionality is added via plugins, keeping the core platform lean and light, while allowing users to add the specific functionality they need and not be burdened by unnecessary features.  Open Atrium 2 comes with the Discussion and Wiki plugins, but they can be easily removed and other community-developed plugins can be easily added.  Developing custom plugins well-documented and is no harder than building a normal Drupal module.

What Is "Alpha"? 

At Phase2, we consider an Alpha release to be "developers' code." The architecture for the product is well-defined, and the supporting functionality for the product is all built. But it is not a fully developed product. It is not free of bugs, and it isn't ready for someone who is not a Drupal developer to start building with and using. For Drupal developers interested in evaluating it for projects, building plugins or additional functionality, OA2 Alpha is a great place to start. We hope you'll help us identify bugs and report them to the issue queue and help build plugins and functionality that allow the community to extend Open Atrium's capabilities.

For organizations who are eager to start using Open Atrium "out  of the box" but do not have an experienced Drupal team on-hand, we would recommend that you consider working with a Drupal developer to do so, or wait until a Beta product is released before evaluating it on your own. We are working hard to make it easy for organizations to get started quickly with Open Atrium, and we'll keep you updated as soon as we have more opportunities for evaluating, demoing, and using Atrium. To join our mailing list for Open Atrium (no spam, ever!), please drop us a line and we'll keep you updated.

Can I Update My OPEN Atrium 1.X Site to THE 2.0 Alpha?

Like any Drupal 6 site, there is no simple upgrade path from Open Atrium 1.x to Open Atrium 2.x. This is due to the different architectures of Drupal 7 versus Drupal 6.

So, what's next? 

In the coming weeks and months we'll be building some additional plugins and functionality into Open Atrium 2, evaluating the patches and contributions from the community, and helping community members build new plugin features. There are teams in the community working on document management and case tracking functionality as we speak, and we are excited to see what other plugins emerge.

Can I Help?

Absolutely!  First off, the issue queue is open. Download Open Atrium, evaluate it, and let us know what you find. We'll be pleased to review patches from willing community members. We are also in the IRC #open_atrium room, so please join us there for more conversations on Open Atrium as well.

Second, we have a group of community members who meet and talk regularly about contributing to Open Atrium and making it better. If you're interested in joining our contributors group, please join the group, or email us at to be added to our contributors list. I also give a "Developers Demo of Atrium" webinar every Friday at 11:00 am ET. To sign up for this week's demo, please click here.

Third, we'll be hosting an all-day hackathon at DrupalCon Portland on Friday, May 24th at the DoubleTree hotel. If you're interested in developing plugins or discussing Open Atrium, we hope you'll join us there.

Finally, we want to give thanks and appreciation to the contributors group, including awesome community members like Matt Cheney and the team behind Panopoly; Antonio De Marco and Andrea Pescetti from Nuvole; Amitai Burstein from Gizra; and David Snopek and Pancho; who have contributed their code, their testing time, and their patches to help make Open Atrium a great product.

Mike Potter

Mike Potter

Software Architect