A couple of weeks ago I blogged about the new features in ownCloud 6. I promised a special surprise in the coming weeks. And here it is. ;-)
In the past few month we have worked on a feature that will be super useful and popular. All the development happened in a public repository on github but we haven't talked about it in public and perhaps it wasn't obvious what it was for people who found it by accident.
I'm talking about collaborative editing! This feature is implemented in an app called "ownCloud Documents" and will be part of ownCloud 6. People can view and edit their ODF text documents directly in the browser, inside your ownCloud. Another cool thing is that you can invite users from the same ownCloud to work collaboratively on the same document with you. Or you can send invitation links by email to people outside your server to collaborate with you on the document.
Several people can navigate in the same document with different cursors at the same time and you can see the changes that are done by the different users in different colors. Every user is identified by the name and the nice avatar picture that we also introduced in ownCloud 6.
We implemented this feature together with our friends from KO GmbH. The browser part is based on WebODF with a new ownCloud backend to load, save, share documents and a system to distribute the document changes.
This feature is special in several ways:
- It runs purely on your server. No communication with centralized services like Google -- so your data is always protected against surveillance.
- We didn't introduce any new server requirements here. Just take ownCloud and put it into your web server document root and you have your own collaborative editing server. This is far easier to install and run than for example Etherpad.
- All the documents are based on ODT files that live in your ownCloud. This means that you can sync your documents to your desktop and open them with LibreOffice, Calligra, OpenOffice or MS Office 2013 in parallel. Or you can access them via WebDAV if you want. You also get all the other ownCloud features like versioning, encryption, undelete and so on. This is very unique I think.
- All the code is completely free software. The PHP and the JS components are released under the AGPL license. This is different than most other solutions. Some of them claim to be open source but use creative commons as a code license which is not free software.
Please note that this is only the first version of this great feature. Not every ODT element is supported but we are working on improving this considerably in the future. We will invest significantly in this because we think that this is a very important feature that is useful for people.
More information about this feature including a demo video and all the other new ownCloud 6 features can be found here:
ownCloud Documents is part of the ownCloud 6 beta 1 that you can download here:
Thanks to the awesome ownCloud community who implemented this innovative feature. Special thanks to our friends from KO GmbH. It's great to work with you. And thanks to ownCloud Inc. who sponsors the development of free software.
ownCloud is built by a great community with a completely open development process. Everyone is welcome to join us and help to build software which can protect all of us from surveillance. Please join us at https://owncloud.org if you want to make the world a little bit better.