Homeworking and the Role of Open Software in 2022


As most will agree, it’s been an unusual two years as the Covid pandemic has transformed society and ushered in new approaches and attitudes to the way we work, such as homeworking.

Impact of the Pandemic and Homeworking

In this blog we talk to Michael Meeks, General Manager of Collabora Productivity, to get his take on the business impact of the pandemic, the rise in homeworking and the ongoing pressure on organisations to enable and support effective distributed team collaboration and secure data sharing.

Discussing how the pandemic directly impacted Collabora Online, Michael explained that Collabora had always been a very virtual business so homeworking was nothing new.

“We utilise the skills and expertise of people from around the world, so distributed working is a necessity for us. Similarly, from a sales perspective, the pandemic, fortunately, has not been disruptive as it has for many other businesses. In fact, our sales over the last two years have increased significantly, which is possibly a direct result of organisations needing to respond to homeworking.”

Michael explained that they’d seen a growing number of businesses turning to Collabora Online as a way of solving urgent operational gaps brought about by the closure of offices.

“For many organisations, simply extending office-based solutions into the homes of their staff was either too expensive or technically too difficult.”

Tried and Tested Collaboration Solution

Collabora Online presented a tried and tested alternative to the commonly used office document solutions. Not only did it offer a familiar ‘desktop’ look and feel, which is important when trying to maintain productivity levels, but it was easy to deploy within a web/browser-based distributed environment, so it answered many of the issues business decision makers were asking when extending the working environment into a less-controllable domestic setting.

Michael said:

“We regularly talked with decision makers who recognised the urgency of homeworking, but were, understandably, concerned about operational implications, such as productivity, data security and legislative compliance.” He continued: “Given the way Collabora Online is built on the LibraOffice common core, we could provide a feature-rich, distributed office document collaboration solution that was tried and tested, and already optimised for the demands of the homeworking environment.”

Throughout the pandemic, and beyond, Collabora Online was, and is, being used by serious, tech-savvy organisations that need a document collaboration solution that not only provides more control over every aspect of its operation, such as the servers and networking it is hosted on, but greater security over the, often sensitive, data exchanged and stored in office documents.

Collabora Online, Office Productivity Market and Open Software in 2022

So as we move towards greater levels of ‘normality’ what does 2022 look like for Collabora Online, the office productivity market and open software in general?

“I think homeworking is here to stay,” suggested Michael.

“This long-term transition has clearly been accelerated by the pandemic, but you could argue that as the search continued for a better work/life balance, it would have come about sooner or later. As such, more and more organisations will be looking for solutions, such as Collabora Online, that are already optimised for a distributed working environment. Homeworking can come with its own challenges, especially when problems arise. In these circumstances, businesses need to be confident they can quickly and easily get the support they need, when they need it, which they can from us at Collabora.”

With regards to the open software market, Michael was very positive:

“Open Source software is everywhere now and is dominant in new product development, and although a tension can occur with commercial drivers that sometimes encourage bad practices, such as a reluctance to contribute back to the overall open software community, most of those involved get it and understand the huge benefits working with Open Source can deliver”

So 2022 looks like an exciting year for Collabora Online as it continues to respond to the evolving needs of a distributed, increasingly security-aware market, with end users keen to protect their flexibility and avoid getting tied to one dominant supplier.

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Collabora at FOSDEM 2022

FOSDEM 2022 – Europe’s largest Open-Source Developers Meeting

FOSDEM 2022 will again take place as an online event. During two days the latest technical achievements of developers from all over the world will be presented. Our team is represented with 10 talks on the different aspects of LibreOffice Technology in the corresponding devroom.

Day 1: Saturday, February 5th 2022

Monica Madon (Canonical), Marius Quabeck (Nextcloud) and Pedro Silva (Collabora)

13:00 – Ubuntu stand

Contributing to Open Source Projects with Ubuntu, Nextcloud, and Collabora

Are you interested in contributing but don’t know where to start? Tag along and be part of the digital sovereign revolution! Everyone is welcome to join.

See details Join video & conversation

 

Gülşah Köse

14:30 – 15:00 – LibreOffice Technology devroom

OOXML Document Analysis

Collabora developer Gülşah Köse, will explain how we respond when we receive a problematic OOXML document from a customer and demonstrate the solution to a sample bug.

See details  Join video & conversation

 

Miklos Vajna

16:00 – 16:30 – LibreOffice Technology devroom

Document Themes in LibreOffice Impress and Elsewhere

LibreOffice has been capable of handling colour palettes on its UI for a while. Meanwhile, the competition introduced document themes, which are a fixed set of 12 colours, to be attached to various parts of documents. See what we have done to bring themes to LibreOffice and find out what still needs doing and how you can help.

See details Join video & conversation

 

Gökay Şatır

 17:00 – 17:30 – LibreOffice Technology devroom

Canvas For Rendering UX

Gökay Şatır will present why we chose to use Canvas for rendering the UI and the document, and explain the structure we created to execute this task.

See details Join video & conversation

 


Day 2: Sunday, February 6th 2022

Mert Tümer

 12:00 – 12:30 – LibreOffice Technology devroom

Editing Simulation

Performance measurements are really challenging. This presentation by Mert Tümer covers how we can achieve reliable and repeatable performance tests by implementing clever tools that simulate realistic use cases.

See details Join video & conversation

 

Jan Holesovsky

 13:00 – 13:30 – LibreOffice Technology devroom

LibreOfficeKit Recent Developments

LibreOffice can be used by other applications via its C++ API called LibreOfficeKit. Primary use cases for this are document conversion and editing in Collabora Online. The LibreOfficeKit is currently being expanded. Jan “Kendy” Holesovsky  will talk about these recent developments.

See details Join video & conversation

 

Michael Meeks

 14:00 – 14:30 – LibreOffice Technology devroom

Online Performance – Making Collaborative Editing Quicker

Collabora Online has a novel model that re-uses the core LibreOffice Technology to provide rich collaborative editing. Recently, we have been focusing our development on improving the look and feel of document editing. Come and hear Michael Meeks talk about how Online performance wins are making browser-based collaborative editing quicker.

See details Join video & conversation

 

William Gathoye

14:00 – Ubuntu stand

Setting up a Nextcloud Instance with Collabora on Ubuntu

Keeping full control over your personal data and documents, is more and more important. Learn how to create your own personal cloud with this easy built-in installation.

See details Join video & conversation

 

Szymon Kłos

 15:00 – 15:30 – LibreOffice Technology devroom

Building Collabora Online UI Based on the LibreOffice Components

JSDialog is a “framework” for sharing UI components between Collabora Online and LibreOffice. It was used to bring the Sidebar, the NotebookBar, and dialogs to the web. It provides native HTML widgets connected to the original LibreOffice code, giving the user rich editing options even on mobile devices. Szymon Kłos will talk for a brief summary of what is already done and how it works.

See details Join video & conversation

 

Pranam Lashkari

 15:30 – 16:00 – LibreOffice Technology devroom

Collabora Online on Kubernetes – Setup & Deployment

See this talk by Pranam Lashkari for a comprehensive demonstration of how to deploy Collabora Online using Kubernetes.

See details Join video & conversation

 

Ashod Nakashian

 16:00 – 16:30 – LibreOffice Technology devroom

Collabora Online: Async-Saving Design and Testing

This talk will explore the challenge of saving and uploading documents to the storage server in an asynchronous way, to improve performance, user experience and also ensure higher reliability and resiliency. Ashod Nakashian will cover both the design, as well as the challenges of testing a highly-critical component of a production product.

See details Join video & conversation

 

Henry Castro

17:00 – 17:20 – LibreOffice Technology devroom

Macro Dialog Feature

Come and hear Henry Castro talk on the implementation of a Macro Selector Dialog on the client side to execute VBA macros on the server side.

See details Join video & conversation


 

 

About Collabora Online

Collabora Online 21.11 is our latest enterprise quality release. It’s suitable for large-scale deployment, and comes with SLA, enterprise support with signed security updates as well as interaction with product management, helping to direct our development priorities. Collabora Online integrates flawlessly into Nextcloud, ownCloud, Seafile, and many of the major file sync & share, groupware and hosting solutions. It’s ideal for organizations that want to collaborate on documents, without losing control over them or compromising on privacy. With the ability to host it on your own hardware or to integrate it into a trusted environment, Collabora Online is the ideal online office suite for digital sovereignty. Enterprises interested in using Collabora Online can check out our home page for more information on partner integrations and online demos. Hosting and Cloud businesses that wish to add Collabora Online to their product portfolio can become a partner. For any questions or tailored solutions, do not hesitate to contact hello@collaboraoffice.com.

 

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Collabora Online 21.11 Delivers New Features and Interoperability Improvements

Powerful Document Collaboration in a Secure, Private Cloud Environment

Cambridge, January 20, 2022 – Today we are pleased to announce the availability of a major new release of Collabora Online, which makes collaborative editing even more productive. This new release enhances personal and team productivity with design improvements, as well as smoother document interchange through improved interoperability, better performance and more.

Collabora Online is the collaboration suite that offers businesses and professionals the best features, interoperability, LTS, and custom support in open source, while respecting user privacy and corporate data security.

 

Addressing the Needs of Our Users

This new major version of Collabora Online is a further example of our ongoing development and commitment to ensuring it continues to address the evolving needs of our users in a rapidly changing world where choice, distributed working, privacy and data security have never been more important.

 

Quicker Functional Sidebar

The new Sidebar is “native” to your browser, thus much more responsive and always functional and easy to use

Collabora Online 21.11 introduces a new “native” sidebar. It is both a performance and usability improvement. It is now drawn directly on the screen by the browser by JavaScript, and no longer constructed on the server and then sent to your browser, making it far more responsive and natural looking. With its more snappy responding buttons and controls, it is a major improvement for all users!

The new sidebar at a glance:

  • Polished appearance
  • Better user experience
  • Faster responding buttons
  • Faster responding drop-down menus.
Collabora Online 21.11: Many elements, like dropdown menus, respond much faster in the new native Sidebar

 

View Documents More Easily

A number of new buttons in the NotebookBar improve the user experience when viewing documents. Zooming, full-screen view or switching the sidebar on and off are now accessible via clear buttons in the layout tab, and no longer only via the status bars or the burger menu. It makes these frequently used functions even easier to find.

 

Performance Improvements

Collabora Online 21.11 brings together many performance improvements that we have been working on through the 6.4.x lifecycle as well as some more advanced optimisations. These are rather hard to screenshot for your viewing pleasure for obvious reasons, but the next two images are a try at least.

There is a lot to tell on asynchronous save, accelerating of JavaScript, saving network traffic, improved multi-user editing and more. Specifically, in spreadsheets, we’ve made auto-spell checking and AutoFilter quicker. Take a look at this performance blog post for more background from a technical point of view.

 

Ongoing Work!

We continue to work to profile and optimise uses-cases that are important to our users, and the upcoming 21.11 micro-releases will exhibit more continuous improvement in this area – as well as ongoing improvements to our document pixel compression to make things even faster and lighter. It’s well worth staying up-to-date with the latest releases.

 

Right-to-left Support Available for All Document Types

Collabora Online 21.11 now supports right-to-left (RTL) text input within all modules. This makes it easier to create and edit documents in Persian or Arabic. The text direction can be set in the “Format” tab under the option “Page Style” (or “Slide Style” for presentations). The code in Collabora Online can detect several RTL language settings and will mirror the user interface accordingly.

 

Calc-Excel Compatible Formulae Improvements

Many functions in Calc have been improved both to extend interoperability with Excel, and to add new functionality. Support for sheet-local scoped names has been added to INDIRECT(), and both TEXT() and OFFSET() have been adapted to various corner cases to behave identically to the competition. TEXTJOIN() and CONCAT() now handle array & matrix arguments row-wise for improved compatibility. In addition, functions that use powerful regular expressions now correctly honour case-insensitivity flags.

 

Interoperability Boosted by Improved PPTX Import

Collabora Online 21.11 includes many interoperability improvements around the import of PPTX files, which we had already implemented in Collabora Office. Images within shapes – even those converted to greyscale or mirrored – are displayed online true to the original.

 

Better Shadow Effects

In earlier versions, shadows used to be rendered as solid copies of objects. The new Blur option now allows for a more realistic rendering of the shadows. The options of the feature can be accessed via the Shadows tab in the Area dialog or directly through updated “native” Sidebar. This feature was initially developed during a GSoC 2020 for the LibreOffice project mentored by Collaborans and then implemented with further refinements in Collabora Office 21.06 and is now also available online.

 

Glow and Soft Edge Effects for Shapes

Collabora Online 21.11 introduces further features allowing to manipulate shapes in a more granular way. Once a shape is selected, you can choose the radius of the Glow effect and its Soft Edges within the sidebar using the Effects parameter. Furthermore, you can select the colour and the degree of transparency of the effect. This function improves interoperability as it can be used for all shapes across Writer, Calc, Impress and Draw.

 

Consistent Use Of Language Identification

The basic model of language annotation that Collabora Online inherited from the LibreOffice core explicitly assigned languages to regions of text. This can easily lead to unexpected results when documents created in one local language (without specifying it further) are opened by another user with a different local language setting. Instead of a powerful, but potentially confusing multi-languages result, Writer now resets the language to the user’s UI locale if no document language had been defined. The current behaviour is more consistent.

 

Shadowed Tables For Use in ODS and PPTX Presentations

Shadow effects are a great way to add depth and appeal to elements. They are available for many objects, such as shapes, and include a range of feature enhancements and parameters, such as the blur effect and transparency. For tables within presentations, shadows are now also available in Collabora Online through the Table Properties dialog.

 

Miscellaneous Changes

In addition to the larger features, there are, of course, numerous smaller changes:

  • Internet Explorer 11 – dropped. This saves significant code complexity in some areas e.g. copy-paste, simplifies testing, and removes legacy javascript polyfills.
  • Auto-cleanup – on by default. We now, by default, are more aggressive towards processes that are idle and are consuming a large amount of CPU, after around five minutes of this behaviour they are killed, to disable that checkout the ‘cleanup’ section in coolwsd.xml.
  • cool conversion. We have migrated our legacy loleaflet and lool paths to browser and cool – which impacts a number of configuration files and binaries. Integrators should continue to use the URLs they receive from the hosting/discovery end-point. Those with reverse proxy and/or HA setups may need to update their proxy configuration with a simple search & replace, please refer to updated documentation of proxy settings. For more information, please read our upgrade notes.

 

Thanks to the Community

This release is a community effort and we fully appreciate and acknowledge their hard work that has made it possible!  A few weeks ago, we already celebrated the wonderful work of these people in this blog post.

 

 

About Collabora Online

Collabora Online 21.11 is our latest enterprise quality release. It’s suitable for large-scale deployment, and comes with SLA, enterprise support with signed security updates as well as interaction with product management, helping to direct our development priorities. Collabora Online integrates flawlessly into Nextcloud, ownCloud, Seafile, and many of the major file sync & share, groupware and hosting solutions. It’s ideal for organisations that want to collaborate on documents, without losing control over them or compromising on privacy. With the ability to host it on your own hardware or to integrate it into a trusted environment, Collabora Online is the ideal online office suite for digital sovereignty. Enterprises interested in using Collabora Online can check out our home page for more information on partner integrations and online demos. Hosting and Cloud businesses that wish to add Collabora Online to their product portfolio can become a partner. For any questions or tailored solutions, do not hesitate to contact hello@collaboraoffice.com.

 

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