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Using P2 Theme for a Development Log

Over at Pixel Junction Creative we have a number of developers and designers working on projects together and we were getting increasingly frustrated with having to email each other all the time to keep everyone up-to-date and in the loop with what was going on. To get around this I came across the P2 WordPress theme developed by Automattic. This has provided a great solution to our needs and I wanted to talk about how we have implemented the theme in order to create a development log.

P2 is a theme for WordPress that transforms a mild-mannered blog into a super-blog with features like inline comments on the homepage, a posting form right on the homepage, inline editing of posts and comments, real-time updates so new posts and comments come in without reloading, and much more.

Having downloaded and installed the theme it was clear that it was almost as we required it, but as always these things always need a few custom bells and whistles to make them just as you want them. In this case most of the changes were in terms of design, but functionality could change too.

To go about making the changes I decided that the best way forward would be to create a child theme, based on the main P2 theme. This child theme would then be used for the development log site. The child theme being used simply contains a stylesheet (style.css) and functions file (functions.php) and a screenshot (screenshot.png).

The stylesheet is where the design changes come into play although the P2 Theme has many options in the backend in order to change various elements such as the header and the colours etc. The functions file was necessary to add some functionality that was not present in the theme itself. The main change in functionality is that I wanted to make the entire site accessible to logged in, registered users only. To do this I used my own Logged In Users Only Plugin. This code went straight into the functions file rather than having to activate a plugin, that way once the theme was active the site would always be protected to logged in users only.

The other code that was added to the functions file was simply some code to remove some of the menus from the dashboard to make it more foolproof for all the non WordPress designers and developers

The benefits of the P2 theme are great. We can track the development of projects by tagging the project with each update as well as keeping a track of all documents for a particular project as these can be uploaded from the front end just the same as posting. It also enables us to see a history of the development of the project as all the discussion can be seen by clicking on the specific tag for a project.

Once addition that we have made is to add to the log the Email Alerts plugin. This plugin sends email alerts to all registered users that have selected this option on their profile page for both comments and posts. This enables all the developers and designers to keep track of when the log has been updates and when they need t check it etc.

This is a really good solution to the problem of collaboration between a number of people and works very well. With a few minor alteration here and there we now have a fully function development log for keeping track of the different projects that everyone is working on.

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