Open Atrium

I was messing about with some Drupal stuff this week and ran across Open Atrium. Open Atrium is a collaborative suite built on top of Drupal. It is now a product of Phase2 Technology, a company with a slew of Open Source based solutions in their stable. It originally started life as a Development Seed project.

As I mentioned, Open Atrium treats Drupal as a platform and I think they have a really good thing going with that choice. The install is a Drupal install. Including time to create a mysql database, database user and uploading the package it took me about 10 minutes to have an Open Atrium site up and running. It probably could have been quicker if I’d done it from the shell rather than cpanel.

Once the install is done, the site presents a custom admin interface, hiding the Drupal admin screens beneath. Setting up groups and users is pretty straightforward and there are 3 roles pre-built for managing rights.

The dashboard presented to the Admin on the home page.

It is possible to dig deeper into the Drupal settings via the admin toolbar. This toolbar initially only shows up for the original admin account created during setup but it can be given to other users.

Since it’s Drupal underneath it can be extended, and the Open Atrium folks call these Features. Right now there are a few built in features and hooks are provided to add others. I would hope that if the Open Atrium community grows that there would be a sharing of new features and extensions to give more functionality. I for instance, would be interested in being able to use the CAS module that is available for Drupal.

The built in features available are Blog, Calendar, Notebook, Case Tracker and Shoutbox. I hope Blog and Calendar are self explanatory. Notebook is a place for sharing and storing notes, files and other resources. It supports tagging of pages, organizing pages in books, notifications to people connected to the notebook and viewing revisions. Case Tracker supports the creation of tasks for work to be done and the creation of cases for bug tracking. The forms are very similar to those for the notebook allowing for tagging, notifications, revisions, file attachments, etc. Shoutbox is basically a little built in microblogging tool to facilitate team communication.

Group Dashboard
Member's dashboard within a group.

What Open Atrium does right now, out of the box, is impressive in my mind. It certainly would be a great jump off point for anyone looking to build a teamwork solution for their own organization. I think it would be especially attractive to working in an environment where internet connectivity was an issue. Open Atrium would provide a rather useful teamwork environment that could very easily be locally hosted. I’ll be keeping an eye on this product as well as the offerings from Phase 2 Technologies.