Dear Nextcloud Community,
I’ve been reading the discussion about what features and how Nextcloud should be govern in the future. It’s been very interesting and enlightening and I understand that there are differences in opinion. After reading all this, I detect that there is a struggle to identify the user segment between the individual private user and large enterprise customers. I would like to contribute my perspective.
I’ve been using Owncloud and then Nextcloud since around 2014. First it was a personal productivity tool, now, my company is using the calendar, file, notes and tasks. We are looking at real-time co-authoring, but would prefer something that integrates with LibreOffice as this is our preferred office suite. More on that below.
Overall, Nexcloud is a great application suite. It gives us collaboration and cross platform tools to serve Mac, iPhone, Windows, Android and Linux users. It also let us quickly share information with our partners and customers. All good, but there are some important gaps that would I would like to have addressed.
Everything or nothing sync: On our server we store a wide range of documents from small notes to large presentations. If a folder is enabled for synchronization then all files small and large are downloaded unless a file size limit is set in the sync client. This is different from e.g. the IOS client where a file is not downloaded before it is requested. This is much more user friendly and I wish that the desktop client had the same functionality such that only large presentations that I actually need gets downloaded. As we grow and increase our use of “Group folders” this is becoming more and more of a problem.
Inadvertent file deletion: It has happened more than once that an important file has been deleted by accident. The way it happens is that a desktop user drags a file from the sync’d folder to somewhere else on their system and then discard the file. I believe this is due to many years of habit formed by dragging a file from a file server. In this case the desktop OS copies the file and the user can delete the file without penalty. We really need some more protection in this area for shared folders than what “Group Folders” provides. For shared folders there should be a distinction between a delete command and dragging the file out of the sync’d folder. Again with the increased use of “Group folders” this is becoming more and more of a problem.
Read-only Libre office documents on IOS: Nextloud’s lack of access to LibreOffice documents on IOS is a real challenge. If a document is authored in one of the Microsoft Office applications, the content displays within the Nextcloud client app. If the document is created by LibreOffice, I need to download it using e.g. WebDavNav+ which magically display the content. I understand that there are currently very limited options to edit LibreOffice documents on IOS, but the ability to view the content on those files in the IOS client would be great progress.
Real-time co-authoring: We have been evaluating co-authoring for our own internal as well as clients’ use over the past couple of months. For our needs, only a full desktop version of an office suite meets our editing needs. Only Microsoft provides that in conjunction with their OneDrive product. Box and other solutions only use an “on-line” version which doesn’t have the full features of the desktop. We would be willing to contribute to a LibreOffice solution that provided the same functionality through the desktop product.
Funding: My business is a small consulting firm that do not have enterprise needs or deep pockets. That said, I would gladly contribute to the Nextcloud project. However, I don’t think it would be fair to do that without some recognition. I would therefore like to propose “NextPoints”. When contributing hard funds, the donor would be granted points like in a frequent flyer program. Those points could be used for e.g. a support case, a T-shirt, or something else that the community finds valuable. The understanding is that e.g. support is provided on a best effort bases and paying customers a.k.a. enterprise customer would have priority. Since I don’t have insight into Nextcloud GmbH’s cost and operating model, I would leave it up to them to suggest a ratio which for me would be USD to points.
Finally, I would like to thank Nexcloud and all the contributors and developers for a great product and hope my comments can help in the process of defining the future.