This is a call to all those interested in using WordPress as a project management tool. I’m certainly not alone in desiring similar functionality that existing project management tools offer, namely Basecamp.
Before I tell you my plans, let’s make the case for WordPress Project Management.
Why Would You Want to Use WordPress for Project Management?
1. Because you can
This is usually a terrible reason for doing something, but WordPress is an extensible platform that’s obviously proven it’s worth so why not add to it some really great new functionality? WordPress developers have no doubt that it can be done, but it hasn’t been thoroughly tackled yet.
Basecamp and other PM solutions out there are reasonably priced, but we’ve been spoiled with open-source software, so we need our “free” fix. The cost does start to get steep when you’re managing lots of projects though.
If I could centralize all of the web-related things I do then I’d be much happier. I’d prefer that my project management and in-development sites be more closely tied together so that my clients can more easily stay in tune.
We “WP self-hosters” love control. I’d prefer to control my brand, my data, features…you name it.
What Does Project Management Really Include?
- User accounts
- Multiple projects
- To-do lists
At its core PM generally offers those. Let’s take a look at how WordPress can handle those. We’ll also introduce WordPress MU, since it has quite a bit to offer in our case.
- User accounts –> Done.
- Multiple projects –> Done. You can use each child blog as a project.
- To-do lists –> I think 2.9’s introduction of custom post types could find a use here. There still needs to be some customization.
- Collaboration –> Done. Posts and comments.
What Else Do We Need?
So if you wanted to use WP for PM today you could do it, but it’s not ideal.
I think WP should handle PM in the front-end for the most part. This way we can control the user-interface more easily, and only provide the user’s with what is necessary. This means we need a theme.
Really you could use any theme you wanted and using posts and comments you’d have a fairly organized setup. Of course, they wouldn’t be ideal. A step in the right direction is the P2 theme. Most importantly it allows you to post directly from the front-end. Secondly, it presents posts and comments in a more digestible fashion than the traditional blog post UI.
Most people love the Basecamp interface, so we should really look to it for inspiration. In fact, it’s so nice that I decided to clone it.
I’ve created a new theme called Basechamp. Before you freak out, I know it’s a complete rip-off. I’ve intentionally just copied it while I experiment with the PM idea. It won’t be released to the public until its got its own skin. Also know that it’s a very incomplete piece of work.
So there’s a ray of hope that achieving a project manager can mostly be achieved with a simple theme.
What this theme doesn’t yet account for is the administrator. If you’re using WPMU to set this up you can assign a theme to all of the child blogs (each its own separate project). If you’re the admin though you may want to see an overview of all projects, so we’d need to add a template that called data from all projects.
What if someone other than the administrator is assigned to multiple projects, they need an overview page as well. I need to figure out how to best implement this.
All project updates need some sort of email subscription management (subscribe to new posts and comments, daily/weekly summaries, choose to notify certain users of the new post or comment).
To-list lists and milestones need an extensive calendar system.
So, My Plans?
As you can tell, I’ve got something in the works that I plan to release at some point. I’ve already got some support behind this, but I’m interested to know who else may be interested in using this and who might want to help finish it up. Also, the theme will be a child theme for Hybrid and Justin Tadlock has already shown some interest in the project.
In the meantime, we’ll call this Project Basechamp. Give your ideas for a new name when it’s launched.
What am I looking for?
- A new design for the theme that takes inspiration from Basecamp
- To-do list implementation
- Calendar support for to-do lists and milestones
- Robust email functionality
- General help and ideas
How to get involved
Leave your comments. Also, join the forum. Serious developers will get access to the code.