Meet Skyler – Collabora Software Engineering Intern

 

Collabora recruits interns to work over the summer alongside our team, and to build experience to help them assess whether they want to pursue a career in Software Engineering, but how does that work out? Lets hear from Skyler:

Tell me about yourself!

My name is Skyler and I’m currently studying Maths, Further Maths, Computer Science and Business Studies at college. I spent the summer holidays doing an internship at Collabora Productivity. I’m into software development and video games, especially Minecraft and Celeste. I have a huge Steam library!

When did you first become interested in technology/coding?

When I was 11, my parents got me Raspberry Pi and I became fascinated with learning how to programme. Then in Secondary school I had an awesome Computer Science teacher who let us use old laptops to create a server where we built a small internal website. Since then I’ve been doing software development as a hobby.

What’s your favourite project you’ve worked on?

Oh, there’s quite a few to choose from! I’ve made several Discord bots which are automated game bots, including one to play Cards Against Humanity which was installed on over 2000 servers. I also made a version of Ultimate Tic Tac Toe – you can access it at https://uttt.crawling.us. I particularly enjoy creating smaller things that feed into one another to create something larger.

What have you been doing over the summer?

I’ve mostly been working on JSDialog, such as ‘repair document’, ‘number format’ or ‘split table’. I think the most common (and arguably most important) one I’ve worked on is ‘insert captions’ which is ~90% done: there’s 3 dialogs that work together to make our captioning work and I’ve converted 2 of them fully and figured out but not fully fixed an issue for the third.

Why did you want to spend your Summer interning at Collabora?

I went to a talk by Michael at my school where he told us about the benefits we’d get from doing an internship. He mentioned developing scalable techniques for big projects which I thought would be interesting and useful to learn.

I would have spent all Summer doing software programming anyway so I thought instead of letting the summer slip away, I would spend it learning. Plus it looks good on a university application!

What did you learn from your time at Collabora?

The main thing I learnt was the importance of taking notes efficiently so you can see what you were thinking and see if there were any assumptions you made that were wrong. I also learned how to implement scalable techniques (as Michael was talking about) which has really helped me.

What do you want to be working on in the future?

I’ve thought of various things I’d like to work on but I really enjoy back end development, much more than front end. I enjoy DevOps, scripts and testing – it’s satisfying to test and deploy.

I’m applying for university to do a Computer Science course focused on theory and software development and hopefully I’ll be able to get involved with some more projects at Collabora around my studies.

Would you recommend an internship at Collabora to others interested in a career in technology?

Yes absolutely, I’ve encouraged a few of my friends at school to apply!

 

It has been great to have Skyler work with us, and to see the impact on the codebase for all our users. Making our user-interface more visually consistent helps users to have a more easy to use and seamless experience. The underlying code improvements will also help to reduce complexity, making life easy for the next contributors to Collabora Online.

Why not get involved? We love to work alongside the next generation to help them discover what a career in Software Engineering might look like. If you’ve ever considered it for yourself, get in touch today!

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How-to use Sparklines in Collabora Online

What are Sparklines?

Sparklines are miniature charts that are heavily simplified and typically fit into a line of text or a cell on a spreadsheet. Their first appearances date back to 18th century chivalric novels and the display of barometric signatures of the notorious 19th century Krakatoa eruption. Unlike classic charts, Sparklines are meant to be succinct and located right where they are discussed. Microsoft’s XLSX format has included these mini-charts for quite some time. With the major release of Collabora Office 22.05, Sparklines became available within the LibreOffice Technology ecosystem. Shortly afterwards, they were also implemented in Collabora Online 22.05 and LibreOffice 7.4.

Creating Sparklines in Collabora Online

If you open a .XLSX or .ODS spreadsheet including Sparklines inside Collabora Online, the miniature charts will be preserved. If you want to create a new Sparklines chart from scratch in Collabora Online, you should start by selecting the row or column of cells you would like to visualize. Right-click, and chose “Sparklines > Insert Sparklines…” from the context menu. The “Sparklines Properties” dialog will appear including the chosen input range. The button besides the “Output range” field allows you to choose the cell the Sparkline will be created in.

Select the data range from the row or column, right-click and choose “Insert Sparkline” to create a new miniture chart
In the “Sparkline Properties” dialog click on the “Output range” icon to postion the chart

Formatting Sparklines in Collabora Online

If you would like to edit or customise the appearance of a group of mini charts, right-click on the Sparklines and chose “Edit Sparkline Group…”. This will summon the “Sparkline Properties” dialog and grant access to several different settings. You can for instance choose between three different types of Sparklines. Just like Office 365, Collabora Online allows you to create a miniature Line Chart, a Column Chart or a Stacked Chart (Win/Loss). You can also customise the visual appearance by adjusting the line width or choosing individual colours for special points in the graph (marker, high/low point, first/last point).

Right-click on a Sparkline and choose “Edit Sparkline Group…” for the formatting options
Adjust the appearance of Sparklines inside the “Sparkline Properties” dialog

Test this in Collabora Online or CODE

The Sparkline feature has been introduced to Collabora Online with the major release 22.05. You can test the feature in our free demo. Tech enthusiasts may also like to test it inside an installation of CODE, the free Collabora Online Development Edition, intended for home users and Developers who would like to help to test the bleeding-edge features first. Find all the instructions here.

 

 

Thank you for making this possible

This feature was made possible by funding from NGI and the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 871498. For more information on the technical background, see Tomaz Vajngerl’s blog.

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Collabora Online 22.05 – The Major Release of the Enterprise Edition Includes Powerful Features and a Boost in Performance

This New Major Release Brings Grammar Checking, Giant Spreadsheets and Performance Wins

Cambridge, August 4, 2022 – Collabora announces the availability of a new major release of Collabora Online 22.05. The latest major release targets three key areas: ease of use, performance, and interoperability. It demonstrates the company’s mission of being the technology leader in collaborative editing. Collabora Online provides businesses the most effective and secure document creation environment with dedicated support backed by deep experience.

Collabora Online is the collaboration suite that offers business and professionals the best features, interoperability, LTS, and custom support in open source, while respecting user privacy and corporate data security. We highlight some of the latest functionality added to Collabora Online below:

 

Get Collabora Online 22.05

 

Using Grammar and Style Checks in the Browser

Grammar checking in a Writer Document in Collabora Online 22.05

Starting with version 22.05 we have introduced the support for external grammar checkers. You can now benefit from the great style and grammar checker by LanguageTool in your browser. To make use of this feature, you have to enable this inside Collabora Online’s configuration file. Depending on whether you are using a free or a premium account, both the quality and amount of the suggestions may vary. We would like to express our gratitude to Nicolas Christener and his wonderful team at Adfinis for making this great feature a reality. And of course to the team for their great work creating, maintaining and improving LanguageTool. You can support their open-source work by buying their premium service. Find more details on how to benefit from this feature in our dedicated blogpost on LanguageTool in Collabora Online.

 

“Jumbo Spreadsheets” with 16k Columns in Calc

Collabora Online 22.05 increases the maximum number of columns available in Calc to 16384

Collabora Online now supports up to 16384 columns in spreadsheets. This is a sixteenfold increase in the maximum number of columns compared to previous versions. Previously, and annoyingly, Calc would display an error message on opening large sheets that exceeded 1024 columns. Combined with up to one million rows per spreadsheet, Calc can now handle enormous amounts of data on the right hardware. Previous performance improvements in Calc paved the way for this feature, which also increases the interoperability with Excel spreadsheets from Microsoft. This work was funded by DEVxDAO as part of their mission to support open-source and transparent research and development of emerging technologies and frameworks.

 

Sparklines Now Available for Calc

Create beautiful single cell graphs in Calc with Sparklines in Collabora Online 22.05

Sparklines are mini-charts found in Microsoft’s XLSX format. The support for them premiered with the release of Collabora Office 22.05. Sparklines are always defined for one cell, but different ones can be grouped together. There are three different ways of displaying Sparklines: as lines, bar charts or stacked as win-loss charts. The Sparklines feature can be accessed through the right-click dialog. The source data for a Sparkline is defined in an associated data range.

This feature was made possible by funding from NGI and the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 871498. For more information on the technical background, see Tomaz Vajngerl’s blog.

 

Webp support available for all types of documents

Collabora Online 22.05 supports the WebP format across all modules

WebP is a graphics format for lossy or lossless image compression. It can be used for both static and animated images, and is also supported by the vast majority of modern browsers. The current version of Collabora Online now allows for importing images in WebP format. The graphic format can also be used in all document types, i.e., in text documents, spreadsheets, presentations as well as Draw files.

 

Content Controls in Writer: Dropdown, Picture and Date Types

Content Controls menu in Collabora Online Writer 22.05

Writer now has content control: a new way to set properties on a piece of text, primarily for form filling purposes. This feature improves compatibility with the DOCX format around forms. There are now five types of inline Content Controls that can be imported and added to Collabora Online. Writer had already included form controls and fieldmarks, providing similar features. However, there are some differences in their behaviour – among other differences, Content Controls can contain rich text and a set of properties. However, unlike fieldmarks, they can’t span over different paragraphs. Here is a small summary of the capabilities of the new Content Controls.

  • Rich Text Content Controls simply show an indicator when you’re inside the content
  • Checkbox Content Controls contain a single character, but you can interact with them: clicking on the content control toggles the checked state of the checkbox
  • Dropdown Content Controls have a list of dropdown items. Each item is a display-text and value pair, allowing to differentiate between a human-readable string and a machine-readable value.
  • Picture Content Controls allow the author of a form to pre-format the image before the filler of the form inserts the actual image.
  • Date Content Controls were emulated with Writer fieldmarks in the past, which created trouble during export, since Word itself doesn’t have a date form-field.
Date Content Control in Collabora Online 22.05
Date Content Control Properties in Collabora Online 22.05

This feature has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 871498. For more information on the technical background, see Miklos Vajna’s blog post.

 

New HTML Formula Input Bar

Faster native rendering of the input of formulae in Calc

We continue working in the conversion of various UI components in Collabora Online to “native” HTML widgets. This helps us to get better user experience, especially on touch and mobile devices. This time we have converted the formula bar which is used to edit data in cells inside a spreadsheet.

Previous “tunnelled” approaches had some disadvantages, such as a blurry look under some conditions and unexpected cursor position behaviour. Now the edit field is rendered by the browser, ensuring a crisp display of text under all circumstances and resolutions with improved caret positioning. It has now become much easier to type into the formula bar, especially on touch devices.

The formula input bar on touch

 

Bandwidth wins and improved performance with Deltas

Previous versions of Collabora Online have managed documents as a series of tiles, when a tile is invalidated by its contents changing, new tiles have been compressed and sent. Interestingly, this cost usually outweighed all other rendering and managing of document content. In this version, we adopt a simple time-based compression – whereby for actively changing tiles, we send the user a small set of changes since the last tile. Thus, if you type a ‘period’ we can generate a tiny compressed change for just those pixels. This gives up to a 75% bandwidth saving depending on your workload – as well as saving CPU time. We also have laid the foundation for switching to a far faster zstd compression library in the 22.05 lifetime to save yet more CPU cycles and serve more users from the same server hardware.

 

Accessibility Check Helps to Create Documents According to the PDF/UA Standard

Accessibility Checker

The current version of Collabora Online includes a new Accessibility Checker. This helps to create documents according to the PDF/UA standard. Published as an International Standard in 2012 (ISO 14289), the PDF/UA format provides clear normative terms for achieving accessibility in the PDF format. The goal is to enable users to easily create documents that are friendly to the impaired, without expert assistance, and to make that easier to do. This is accomplished by making it easier to set standardized content annotations within the document so that they can be made available to the end user, including PDF readers via assistive technologies (AT).

The Accessibility Check is a useful step in our ongoing journey to improve accessibility, both in Collabora Online (Browser) and Collabora Office (Desktop). The Accessibility Check button can be found in the Review tab. The dialog shows a list of all issues found in the text document. Through a quick access button, it is possible to access the critical element. The issue is highlighted. See this article for more details on the already implemented checks.

 

Faster Rotation of Bitmap Graphics

Fast image rotation in Collabora Online 22.05

The rotation of bitmap graphics has undergone a significant speed improvement. When rotating graphics via the button (the slightly off-set filled circle above a selected graphic), the movement is now much smoother and easier to position. This improvement makes manipulating bitmap graphics much more comfortable. Here’s how you can try it for yourself. Select a bitmap graphic by clicking on it. Move the cursor to the grey circle above the graphic. The cursor now changes into a palm. Now move the palm cursor to the right and left as you wish while holding down the left mouse button.

 

Dynamic Configuration of Multiple Hosts

Collabora Online uses a WOPI-like protocol to interact with hosts who want to integrate Collabora Online. The improved admin configurations allow for multiple WOPI hosts with multiple aliases. This means you can use a single Collabora Online server with different software integrations at the same time. It is also possible to manage these hosts dynamically without a server restart. This makes Collabora Online much easier to deploy and configure, particularly when scaling to integrate with large numbers of different services. All of this saves cost and reduces management complexity, making this feature especially interesting for hosting companies. We have summarized the technical background information on Multihost Configuration inside our SDK documentation.

LibreOffice Technology

CODE and Collabora Online are built with LibreOffice Technology by the LibreOffice community in which we love to participate. We cannot thank everyone involved enough for their passionate work.

LibreOffice – a great technology base

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.

 

Get Collabora Online 22.05

 

About Collabora Online

Collabora Online 22.05 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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COOL Days meetup in Berlin – community team building & partner day (October 3, 4 & 5)

 

We are glad to announce that our next Collabora Productivity meetup for 2022 will be on October 3, October 4 and October 5 in Berlin, Germany.

There are some special events prepared for our partners and customers where you will hear about the latest work in Collabora Online and Office, be able to give your input to help develop our road map, meet the engineers and see how you can become part of the project, all while having fun with the Collabora team!

We have prepared three days with activities in Berlin, Germany – you just need to book your flight and join us! We will meet on October 3, with our first activity starting at 10am.

Collabora Community Team Building Day – October 3

We have prepared a day of awesome and unique activities for our partners and customers in Berlin.

10:00 – 12:30 – Computer Games Museum

Experience 60 years of gaming history and culture. The Computerspielemuseum contains over 300 exhibits, including rare originals, playable classics, and more!

We will meet at the Computerspielemuseum between 10 and 10.30am for 2 hours of retro gaming fun!

13:00 – Lunch & Indoor Skydiving at Windobona

Ever wanted to skydive? Now’s your chance!

  • An unforgettable experience with guidance from fully-certified instructors.
  • Open to everyone, whether you’re a first-timer or a pro!
  • Reach speeds of up to 180 km/h and imagine how it would feel to jump out of a real plane.
  • Spread your wings inside the 4.3m wide, 17m high, glazed flight chamber.
  • The indoor skydiving centre is located in the centre of the city and is easily accessible by public transport.

If you need to pay for these events yourself, please let us know – and significant others may also be included.

Collabora Partner Day & Hackfest – October 4

On October 4 our wonderful development community has a great opportunity to meet up, catch up, and work on problems together in-person at the bUm thanks to Nextcloud.

Meanwhile – we will have our Partner Day – this will take place at the Alexander Plaza Hotel – located in the centre of the city and is invitation only. Please send an e-mail to book a place before they’re all gone! (More booking info at the end.)

Program of the Business Day

Full details below – subject to change. All times displayed are CEST (UTC+2)

Time Topic Type By
09:30 Welcome to COOL Days Partner Day Opening Naomi Obbard
09:35 Digital Sovereignty: Building a Sustainable Marketing Strategy Strategy Peter Ganten, CEO Univention
10:20 Ensuring Digital Sovereignty with COOL Business Benefits Eloy Crespo
10:40 Ensuring Data Security with COOL Security Miklos Vajna
11:00 Break
11:30 Making Sense of the Last 2 Years: Collabora Online as a Response to the Mega-Trends of the 20’s Keynote Michael Meeks
12:00 Ensuring Covid Resilience with COOL Integration/Features Jan Holesovsky
12:20 Roadmap – Presentation & Discussion Talk/Discussion Michael Meeks
13:00 Lunch
14:00 Executive Round Table including Q&A Panel/Discussion
15:00 Brief Partner updates Feedback Partners
16:00 Wrap-up Close
16:15 Networking until dinner

There will be plenty of opportunity to find out more information on what Collabora is doing and where we are heading. You will also be able to meet the engineers and ask any questions. And of course, we will have snacks, drinks and lunch waiting for you there.

COOL Days “Technical day” – October 5

On October 5 we will have our Technical Day – the event will take place at the bUm.

This day is focused on providing the latest updates about our development, and we will have a whole round of lightning talks from our technical team and community. Come and listen to the latest from our top engineers and contributors about all the most important technical developments and challenges around Collabora Online. We will also have snacks and drinks waiting for you there.

Program of the Technical Day

Full details below – subject to change. All times displayed are CEST (UTC+2)

Time Topic By
10:00 Welcome to COOL Days Technical Day
10:10 (JS)Dialogs Conversion Status Szymon Klos
10:20 NextCloud Office Raul & Julius from NextCloud
10:30 DeepL Mert Tümer
10:40 Faster zstd Tiles Thanks to Facebook Michael Meeks
10:50 Design Improvements Pedro Silva
11:00 Break
11:30 PDF Export Mert Tümer
11:40 Re-vamped Save As Mert Tümer
11:50 Async Saving Cleanups Ash Nakashian
12:00 COOL Kubernetes Pranam Lashkari
12:10 Content Controls Miklos Vajna
12:20 Sparklines and Chart Data Tables Tomaz Vajngerl
12:30 Remote Control Configuration Rashesh Padia
12:40 iOS Improvements Tor Lillqvist
12:50 EGroupware and COOL Integration Birgit Becker
13:00 Lunch
14:00 Streaming Document Deltas Michael Meeks
14:10 Accessibility Checker Tomaz Vajngerl
14:20 Calc Formula Bar Szymon Klos
14:30 Tips on Debugging COOL Andras Timar
14:40 How to Use COOL Inside VNC Lagoon Andrea Wörrlein from VNC
14:50 Video Embedding Ash Nakashian
15:00 COOL and 1&1 Gabriel
15:10 Interoperability Improvements Gülşah Köse
15:20 Multi-host Configuration Jan Holesovsky
15:30 Giant Spreadsheets in Online Luboš Luňák
15:40 Using Cypress for Testing a Presentation Exported in SVG Marco Cecchetti
15:50 COOL Fonts Tor
16:00 File Properties Nick Wingate
16:10 LanguageTool Mert Tümer
16:20 Getting Involved and Overview of COOL Community Pedro Silva
16:30 Close

Get your ticket NOW to reserve your space!

Send an email to hello@collaboraoffice.com as soon as possible to get your name on our VIP list, as there is a limited number of places.

Please do not hesitate to contact us for further information or travel details.

In addition, if you’d like to give a ~five-minute lightning talk, send us an e-mail with Talk: in the subject line so we can arrange a slot for you.

Looking forward to seeing you all there!

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Take advantage of style and grammar checking of your texts in Collabora Online

Writing grammatically correct and stylistically beautiful texts in the browser has now become much more convenient. LanguageTool, known to desktop users of Collabora Office and LibreOffice as a powerful grammar checker extension, is now also available for Collabora Online. In this article you can find out how to use it for your online documents.

About LanguageTool

LanguageTool’s mission is to unleash the professional writing skills in every user. It is an open-source project based on AI-technology that analyses the style, tonality, and typography of text and instantly generates context-aware suggestions. The software supports spell- and grammar checking for 30 languages and is constantly being enhanced by an international team of linguistic professionals and machine learning experts. Besides the plug-ins for desktop office suits, it offers add-ons for all major browsers.

 

Get LanguageTool

 

Some Preliminary Comments

Many users of LanguageTool’s browser add-ons may already be familiar with how LanguageTool works. Once installed, it automatically highlights errors in composed online forms and text fields in different colours. However, the documents we edit in Collabora Online are not text in the true sense of the word, as the document never leaves its location on the server. Users only see image renderings of the document during editing. For this reason, a server-side setting must be made to activate LanguageTool. For more information, please consult the technical documentation on LanguageTool. Additionally, a paid premium account with LanguageTool offers better checking results and a larger selection of alternative formulations.

Using LanguageTool in Collabora Online

Through the integration of LanguageTool, different types of errors in text are now highlighted in different colours within Collabora Online. Spelling errors continue being indicated by a red underlining. Grammatical errors are indicated by an orange underline, while stylistic errors are underlined in blue. If you mark the highlighted error, you can display alternative formulations by right-clicking and selecting them through the context menu. LanguageTool’s grammar correction works in all Collabora Online modules, i.e., not only in text documents but also in spreadsheets, presentations, or Draw designs.

Step-by-step Procedure

  1. Write your text in Collabora Online
  2. LanguageTool automatically detects and underlines mistakes in your text
  3. Right-click the underlined segment to open the context menu with LanguageTool suggestions
  4. Choose the prefered suggestion from the context menu

Examples of Grammar- and Style Checking with LanguageTool

Here are just a few examples of style and grammar mistakes that LanguageTool can detect.

  1. Terms spelled with a hyphen
  2. Wrong use of nouns and pronouns
  3. Start of sentences in lower case
  4. Typographical Mistakes (missing or needless commas, typographical ellipsis character, unpaired parentheses)
  5. (Presumably) Incorrect dates and weekday (Weekday and date mismatch, dates in the future)
  6. Successive beginning of sentences with the same word
  7. Stylistic redundancies (e.g., 6 PM in the afternoon)
Unpaired Symbol message from LanguageTool in Collabora Online
Successive beginning of sentences with the same word detected by Language Tool in Collabora Online

 

 

Afterword and Thank You

As mentioned above, to make use of this feature, you have to enable this inside Collabora Online’s configuration file. Depending on whether you are using a free or a premium account, both the quality and amount of the suggestions may vary. We would like to express our gratitude to Nicolas Christener and his wonderful team at Adfinis for making this great feature a reality.

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