Collabora Online 21.11.3 Released – Dynamic Configuration of Multiple Hosts Saves Cost and Reduces Management Complexity

The latest update of Collabora Online brings significant configuration improvements allowing users to dynamically connect multiple WOPI hosts with a single Collabora Online Server. This makes Collabora Online easier to deploy and configure, especially when scaling to integrate with many different services. Collabora Online 21.11.3 also brings several improvements to the user experience, like the way complex commenting cases are handled. Several visual enhancements are also included. All the technical details of this version are available in the release notes.

Dynamic Configuration Saves Cost and Reduces Management Complexity

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 as Nextcloud, ownCloud, EGroupware, Moodle, Alfresco or an Univention Corporate Server. It is 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 host companies. We have summarised the technical background information on Multihost Configuration inside our SDK documentation.

The comments section in Collabora 21.11.3 saw different visual and usability improvements

Improvements for Complex Commenting Cases

Icon of a collapsed thread

The way Writer renders comments has improved significantly with recent updates. When you respond to a comment, the original comment is visually highlighted and indented, making it much clearer to locate the referenced element inside the document. Collabora Online does now display comments in different ways depending on the window’s width. On smaller displays, comment threads will be displayed collapsed – as a small icon with an indication of the number of replies. This is particularly useful on laptops or tablets. On large screens comments we be displayed fully expanded. These overall visual improvements significantly enhance the look and feel of the comment section and make the collaborative editing processes more effective.

 

 

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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Collabora Online 21.11.2.4 Brings Accessibility Checker and Improved UX

The latest update of Collabora Online brings several improvements regarding accessibility and the user interface. Also, the rotation of images has been accelerated, making the experience much better. Inside this blog, we are highlighting some of the latest features of the Collabora Online 21.11.2.4 update. All the technical details of this version are available in the release notes.

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

Accessibility Check in Collabora Online 21.11.2.4

Collabora Online introduces the accessibility checker with the update to version 21.11.2.4. It 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 use documents without assistance from others, and to be able to receive the same value from the content as people without disabilities. This is accomplished by standardisation of the content structure within the PDF files and the technology capabilities available to the end user, including PDF readers and assistive technologies (AT).

The Accessibility Check is part of the first step in an 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. These checks are currently implemented:

  • Check if the document title is set
  • Check if the document language is set, or all styles in use, have the language set
  • Check all images, graphics, OLE objects for the alt (or title in some objects) text
  • Check for heading order. Order of the headings must increase incrementally with no skips
  • Check, if text conveys additional meaning with (direct) formatting
  • Check if tables do not include split or merged cells, which could be disorienting for users with visual impairments
  • Check for fake/manual numbering (not using integrated numbering)
  • Check that hyperlink text is not a hyperlink itself – hyperlink should be described
  • Check for the contrast between text and the background
  • Check for blinking text, which can be problematic for people with cognitive disabilities or photosensitive epilepsy
  • Check for footnotes and end notes, which should be avoided

Faster Rotation of Bitmap Graphics

Fast image rotation in Collabora Online 21.11.2.4

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.

Goodbye, Hamburger Menu 👋 The User Interface Experiences Many Improvements

Home Tab in Collabora Online 21.11.2.4
View Tab in Collabora Online 21.11.2.4

The Collabora Online 21.11.2.4 update brings some clearly visible changes to the user interface. The tabs have been streamlined in favour of a more floating style. The appearance of Collabora Online on iPads has been harmonised with the appearance on desktops and notebooks. By clicking the current tab, you can collapse the menu or display it again. Additionally, we are waving the hamburger menu goodbye. Many of the functions contained therein were already available via buttons in other tabs. Now the remaining functions have also found a new home, in places that are less generic. For instance, Select All can be found inside the Layout tab, the Full Screen icon now lives in the View tab, and so does the possibility to toggle the ruler. At the same time, the Undo & Redo buttons have been moved to the Home tab. And there are even more small UI enhancements to be discovered. All dialogs experienced visual improvements, and so did many elements in the Sidebar and the formatting icons. Thanks to the community, that contributed a lot to this specific area.

 

 

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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Collabora Online performance wins – what we did for CODE and Collabora Online 21.11

Learn about the many performance improvements in CODE and Collabora Online 21.11

CODE 21.11 – announced yesterday – and of course also Collabora Online 21.11 bring together many performance improvements that we have been working on through the 6.4.x lifecycle as well as some more advanced optimizations. These are rather hard to screenshot for your viewing pleasure for obvious reasons, so please forgive some technical details and links to further reading for those interested. It is ongoing work; more about that at the end of this blog.

Asynchronous save

Collabora Online works hard to preserve your edits in the unlikely case of server-side failure. We regularly auto-save the document while users are editing, however in the past storing your document through to the back end storage had to be completed successfully before the user could continue typing. This could cause some jerkiness from time to time as people typed. Now this up-loading part of the saving is done asynchronously – i.e. in the background. For more technical details you can enjoy a talk on the design. For times when it is necessary to save synchronously such as during a save-as, we now provide animated user-feedback, color-coded according to the respective current application:

Accelerated JavaScript

Lots of work has been done first to profile, and then to optimize the performance of Collabora Online. Our profiles showed, somewhat surprisingly, that a lot of the scope for improvement was in the browser. As such we have significantly improved our websocket message handling, pixel processing and grouping of UI refreshes to give very significant interactivity improvements to more recent 6.4.x versions.

Online calc profile image before optimization
avoiding duplicate work (shown) by performing DOM updates after processing a batch of incoming events.

Moving more of the document to the client

Collabora Online 21.11 brings an understanding of text documents’ page positioning to the browser. That allows us to rendering page surrounds there avoiding a source of perceived flicker when moving up and down documents, and giving a smoother experience. This builds on more recent work in Calc to render worksheet backgrounds, and grid in the browser for similar reasons – giving slicker editing.

Improved spreadsheet performance in Calc

Collabora continues to put a lot of effort into enhancing the performance of our collaborative office suite. As an example, our streamlining of the Find & Replace functionality resulted in a massive performance boost. Also, opening speed of large XLSX files saw a some significant improvements. In Collabora Online 21.11, we have fundamentally revised the way spell checking is done in Calc with a new spell check that prevents continual re-rendering as strings are processed, while also caching spell-checking information, yielding considerable performance improvements. Similarly, AutoFilter searching has been optimized for large numbers of unique records.

Improved multi-user editing

One of the unfortunately pathological test-cases users like to do is to mash the keyboard – which generates text at around ten times the speed of a normal typist. Nevertheless this is something we have been optimizing along with scalability to larger numbers of concurrent editors of the same document. For more details checkout some insights into our ongoing work, or a deeply technical blog on optimizing for a larger number of users. Failing that – we have a video of a torture test of an intense multi-user editing session showing old, 6.4.x, and 21.11 versions from top to bottom:

Optimizing pathological loads – old/6.4.x/21.11

Ongoing work

We continue to work to profile and optimize uses-cases that are important to our users, 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 is well worth staying up-to-date with the latest releases.

There is also a summary talk of many other recent performance improvements for those with a deep interest in this area.

Test CODE 21.11

 

Please try out CODE 21.11 and let us know of any workloads which you find have issues so that we may expand our internal testing & benchmarking to include them.

About Collabora Online

Collabora Online is the powerful LibreOffice-based online office that supports all major documents, spreadsheets and presentation file formats, which can all be easily integrated in many infrastructures and solutions. Key features are collaborative editing and excellent office file formatting support. Collabora Online is excellent for enterprises that need a powerful office suite in the Cloud, or on-premises, that protects their privacy and allows them to keep full control of their sensitive corporate data. Collabora Online – built on LibreOffice Technology – enables Hosting and Cloud businesses to include document viewing and collaborative editing functionality into their service offerings.

 

 

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Collabora Online performance wins – an insight into our ongoing work

Optimizing the performance of Collabora Online is one of the central focal points within our current development work. Following improvements in the recent Collabora Online 6.4.10 release, the upcoming 21.11 release will exhibit more of the continuous improvements in this area. The improvements may be noticeably experienced through a variety of daily work done by means of the software. But how exactly does the implementation of massive performance improvements work? It can be compared to solid detective work. Follow us through this search for clues!

Performance improvement for multiple users – a detective story 🔎

In advance of the actual coding, working on performance improvements closely resembles detective work. Simulating multiple users working on the same document, is something that turned out to be feasible with the feature in LibreOffice purposed for displaying a document within different windows (Window > New Window). This was a feature that already existed in LibreOffice predecessor OpenOffice. It may be a rarely used feature on the desktop, but it does mirror the way of collaborative editing with Collabora Online. However, one must then find out how this code scales… The investigator in this story is Collabora developer Luboš Luňák. He was on to something big here, which led to significant performance improvements across various levels, ultimately benefiting all users of LibreOffice Technology. The technical details of his search and subsequent conclusions can be seen on Luboš’ blog.

 

 

Performance wins illustrated 📊

While extensive work continues with its progress, a list of current performance improvements is also available on Luboš Luňák’s blog. The following video of the Collabora Online perf-test – a test routine we use to measure performance in Collabora Online – illustrates the performance improvements of the implementations already made. The test simulates the fast, simultaneous typing of six users in a document (the other five are not visible in the video because they are writing elsewhere in the document). The rigorous test setting, which goes far beyond what is required of the software in everyday use, is ideally suited to visualizing performance improvements. In the video, you can see the performance of Collabora Online before the latest optimizations in the upper excerpt, and the significantly better performance in current versions during (middle) and after optimizations have been implemented (bottom).

Optimizing pathological loads – before/during/after

 

Performance talk at COOL Days 2021 🆒

Collabora developer Luboš Luňák discussed the various performance improvements in Collabora Online during the Developer Day at COOL Days 2021, a conference hosted by Collabora and dedicated entirely to Collabora Online. His talk “Rendering wastage and performance wins” covered the profiling process, described existing performance issues and displayed a variety of improvements at different levels. Technically interested people can find his talk on YouTube. The corresponding slides are also available for download.

Watch the video!
Download the slides!

 

 

Please try out Collabora Online 21.11 – RC 1, and let us know of any workloads which you find have issues so that we may expand our internal testing & benchmarking to include them.

About Collabora Online

Collabora Online is the powerful LibreOffice-based online office that supports all major documents, spreadsheets and presentation file formats, which can all be easily integrated in many infrastructures and solutions. Key features are collaborative editing and excellent office file formatting support. Collabora Online is excellent for enterprises that need a powerful office suite in the Cloud, or on-premises, that protects their privacy and allows them to keep full control of their sensitive corporate data. Collabora Online – built on LibreOffice Technology – enables Hosting and Cloud businesses to include document viewing and collaborative editing functionality into their service offerings.

 

 

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Developers Day: September 30th

COOL Days 2021 starts very soon with a Developers Day. Meet other developers at this event. It is free to join, virtual this year, and we expect the very first of many COOL Days to come! Reserve your seat by filling the form.

Developers Day features more than 40 sessions with included breaks for Q&A. All talks will be short, from 5 to 15 minutes, this in turn will allow you to watch more cool stuff and perhaps participate in Q&A slots! The full schedule will be released soon, but here is a test.

Starting off with the opening keynote at 09:30 CEST then a couple of talks ranging from insight on Localization of Collabora website; walk-through the Notebookbar structure; Updates on newly FreeBSD port; HowTo session on the Cypress tests and ending the morning session with Canvas for rendering UI.

Q&A ( max 15 min) followed by lunch break (1 hour), during the conference you will have multiple opportunities to participate during these Q&A time slots.

In the afternoon session, attendees will receive an update on the latest Calc canvas improvements followed by a presentation on Performance wins; Editing simulation; Android and iOS new features; Scaling improvements and Dialog improvements.

Q&A break (max 15 min)

See some of the Mobile design improvements; Get to know the ins and outs of bisecting; Collabora Online forum update; Learn how to get involved with translation; Stability and cleanup improvements; How 1&1 embeds COOL and right before the break Kubernetes setup & deployment.

Q&A break (max 15 min)

At 20:00 attendees will hear about all of the effort on the New sidebar and dialog backend. The proceeding talks will touch a variety of challenges and improvements: Async-save design; VBA macro support; OOXML document analysis; Rendering wasteage; Document searching; Multi-page PDF viewing; Text/JSON protocol performance improvement; Fuzzing / asan / string-vectors; User sentiment reporting; Setting up your own Collabora Online; SDK: creating a new integration.

Q&A break (max 15 min)

The last Collabora Online related talks centers on integration pieces and the latest development on that front. From the New Nextcloud/richdocuments pieces and New ownCloud integration pieces to the Moodle integration or the New Mattermost integration ending with a talk on how to contribute and the closing session.

The event as a whole is a great opportunity for people who are familiar with Open Source and Collabora Online. People who just want to learn more about the technology free of cost also have a great opportunity to experience the openness of COOL and the event itself.

Join us to celebrate the 1st COOL day on September the 30th, it’s free of charge:

Reserve your seat


If you have more of a business interest in deploying Collabora Online in the enterprise
then perhaps you should attend the Business Day? Early booking: 50% off before September 18!

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