Comparing Collabora with OnlyOffice
The facts you really want to know
Initially posted on 2019-07-19
Installation, setup and support
High availability, fault tolerance, upgrade-ability?
Clearly you want a high availability setup, not only to provide extra scalability, but also to provide redundancy against fault. Collabora Office has a clean and attractive architecture – which scales with your routing network:
- Each document is served by a single node to which all requests and edits are sent for that document by the HA gateway: F5, HA proxy etc..
- Each node is ultimately stateless and needs only limited local storage.
- Collabora Online requires no third party services except of course it needs to connect to your existing file-storage solution.
- Collabora Online regularly saves documents to your existing storage.
- Collabora Online requires only a standard, basic Linux base-system to run on top of.
Contrasting the situation with OnlyOffice, we see a perplexingly more complex environment (in as far as we can understand the documentation):
- OnlyOffice requires a separate Highly Available(HA) Redis frontend.
- Each OnlyOffice node requires access to a shared, HA NFS server.
- OnlyOffice requires access to a HA postgress database cluster.
- OnlyOffice requires access to an HA RabbitMQ message bus.
It is unclear if Ascencio provide licensing and supported versions of Postgress, Redis, RabbitMQ – or if this must be purchased and provided separately. An HA setup can reduce the number of points of failure, but in the event of any failure having all of the servers coupled by so many shared protocols from database, to NFS, to a message bus – brings great potential for cascading failures.
Origin and Ownership
It is always a good idea to know your suppliers and where they are based. Where does your software come from? Is the development process transparent? Can you see the code you are installing? Here is a comparison table to help you decide.
|Collabora Productivity is headquartered in the UK, with staff working in the open from around the world (but primarily in Europe), from home. This gives great distributed robustness against pandemics and political risks.||OnlyOffice is created primarily by a team in Russia, development is done in-house and the open portion of this published periodically. Based in Nizhny Novgorod||R7-Office is a Russian version based on the same software and shares development resource to meet Russia’s Import Substitution requirements. Based in Nizhny Novgorod.|
|All code is Open Source.||Open Core i.e. open source code with opaque proprietary binaries.||Proprietary – built with some Open Source components|
|Ownership: Collabora Productivity is controlled by Michael Meeks (UK) and Philippe Kalaf (Canada)||Ascensio System SIA (registered in Latvia) has a single beneficial owner Lev Bannov (Russia)||Founded by Lev Bannov (Russia)|
As an interesting aside, the name R7 is derived from the world’s first intercontinental ballistic thermonuclear missile which also launched Sputnik.
Privacy and security
Keeping your documents on the server
Collaborating on documents in the cloud quickly
Faster startup time
Performance and Responsiveness
All Collabora Online editing happens immediately, and each user shares the same document concurrently. That allows just one document to be edited interactively in real-time, with no extra lag or latency to see other users’ typing. It also avoids locking of paragraphs in text documents, giving a great freedom to all editors.
Fast spreadsheet core
Collabora has worked with AMD for many years to build some extreme performance, optimized for Ryzen into Collabora Online. This lets us take advantage of threading during document load, save, and importantly calculation.
Proper document handling
Opening a letter head file
Collabora Online does a great job in handling all sorts of files and file formats. More than any other office application. And still improving – thanks to a great community customers world-wide. We know we’re not always fully perfect, but look at this Word document, of which header and numbering shows as original in Collabora Online, but broken in the product that promises 100% compatibility..
Fonts, images, comments…
On the left, there is the original document as shown in Microsoft Word. It has embedded fonts, image wrapping, comments and more. On the right side: use the slider! You’ll see how Collabora Online handles the lay out, fonts, image wrapping, comments and how Only Office does that.
The above Word document shows how Collabora Online nicely handles embedded fonts, image wrapping, and more. Look how that compares!
This word document with a chart, misses the charts legend in Only Office. Here the same file in the three applications.
Complex Word doc
In this legacy Word document, images, frames, tables combined, you’d be pleased to work with Collabora Online.
Transparency in presentations
Details are important in attractive presentations. So you surely want image transparency to be shown!
Getting the basics right
In Collabora Online filling cells behaves as you expect
Showing the green ticks at the proper position
The following Excel document has vertical text. Which is correctly rendered in Collabora Online whereas Only Office fails to do the proper thing.
Rich in features, nice to work with
Collabora Suite offers powerful features combined in one place. A myriad of common actions are available and easy to access both online and on Desktop while keeping your document visible and centred. As is shown in the example of formatting spreadsheets.
Using documents with VBA
Ensuring correct user input
You expect that users can work with Microsoft format forms, and are not allowed to enter protected part of documents..
Presentation and animations
Unlimited Tabs, unlimited connections
Truly open source and built alongside a strong community
A numerical view can help to contrast the trajectory of these two code-bases. (Numbers correct at time of writing.)
- LibreOffice: hundreds of contributors, from all over the world. Huge, diverse and active community.
- OnlyOffice: 13 contributors to the core. Commits are only from OnlyOffice employees, with no community contribution.
- LibreOffice: 100+ languages. 60 with 75% or more translated.
- OnlyOffice: 20 languages. Only 12 with 75% or more translated.
- LibreOffice: has and attends many community events from conferences to hack-fests each year. LibreOffice is backed by The Document Foundation – a vendor neutral non-profit (Stiftung) incorporated in Berlin, Germany. You can read about all the good things we’re doing around the world from Japan to Brazil and everywhere in between: in the annual report. Collabora plays an important part at these events, giving talks at many and sponsoring some.
- OnlyOffice: There are no known OnlyOffice community events, the project rarely attends traditional Open Source gatherings or presents outside of business conferences.