Input from a small business owner

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.

3 Likes

Did you take a look into Collabora? That is essentially Libreoffice in a browser, although it misses some features from the desktop version. Which features do you need precisely?

As for selecting an editor in the mobile apps, here are the issues that might be of interest to you:

Maybe Mountain Duck might be an option for you for now? It support Nextcloud as well.

Did you enable the Versioning app?

Sadly Nextcloud still offers no affordable option for small and medium businesses. I proposed something here but got no response for it.

@alfred Thank you for comments:

Yes, we have looked at all the browser based products, but prefer the desktop versions.

We are not looking for an editor, just able to display LibreOffice file content. However, it would be nice to have a full LibreOffice client, but this is outside the scope of Nextcloud as I see it.

Thank you for the suggestion. It has an interesting feature set, but due to WebDav’s date limitation would mess up our workflow. It’s also expensive and might not always track the Nextcloud releases. At approx USD 1000 for 50 users, I rather donate that money to Nextcloud.

Not yet, but that doesn’t really address the issue about the difference of a move and an intended delete. I do not have a suggestion how to implement this, but at least the user should get a warning if they attempt to drag a file out of a sync’d group folder and letting them know that the file will be deleted on the server.

I thought files moved out of the folder that way would end up in the trash bin. It does mean you’re going to have to restore from the bin but it shouldn’t result in data loss. I might be wrong, I don’t really use the groupfolders app.

Feel free to add bounties to issues that you want addressed here: https://www.bountysource.com/teams/nextcloud

Have you tried looking at Rclone? It includes mount functionality to mount many different storages including Nextcloud through WebDAV.

You could also try Window’s built in WebDAV explorer but from my experience, that’s not particularly fast. I seem to remember it helped to use Rclone to serve WebDAV then connect Windows to that if you want to give that a try too.

Disclaimer: I am an occasional contributor to Rclone.

You are correct that the file ends up in the trash folder. However, due to the volume of “regular” deletes in a group folder, we have to purge the trash from time to time and I guess that is how we lost files (a file may be “inactive” for months before we need it again). The web interface makes a distinction between move and delete. I wish there was something similar for a sync’d folder.

I have read a number of cautions about the bounty process. For me, I’m ok with donating and not tie my gift to a particular feature. I trust the Nextcloud team knows best.

The Nextcloud desktop client has a number of advantages, not the least that it’s a good GUI for our users. However, we are probably going to try Rclone on the server side for replicating our server and getting a more robust backup. Thank you for the suggestion.

I’m not a fan of the built in WebDAV client on Windows either. The Nextcloud client works better for us.

The difficulty with that is that a not insignificant amount of the development is done by people not employed by Nextcloud GmbH. A lot of development including decisions about what to put effort into is not made by a central team. Nextcloud GmbH has their employees prioritize work that their customers request but outside of that, work that gets done is determined by if someone in the community is willing to work on that feature or bug. There is no central team that is determining what community members work on which is a big part of what makes the project so fun to work on but it also means that if you’re not a customer of Nextcloud GmbH, asking nicely/the bounty system is the only thing you can use to get community members to prioritize a request. It may not be the best system and there are issues with using bounties but it’s the main mechanism in place.

Maybe Nextcloud GmbH could look into taking smaller requests but they have said they intentionally do not do that and also, personally, I fear the project becoming far less community driven if they start doing that.

There is a third option: Simply consult a developer on your own to implement a feature you want. That way you can do it without relying on Nextcloud itself or the community.

1 Like

That is also a great option and one that I would say should be taken if you need specific work done quickly. :smile:

Perhaps something to ask to @jospoortvliet. If you contribute to the project via an app or on some functions, it’s probably a good idea to get in contact with the developers and Nextcloud and meet them at a contributor week. If, for example, you do some work in implementing new features to the desktop client, I could imagine that they take a look at your other problems.
There is no official partnership program what you need to do to acquire a service point or something like that.

I just want to emphasize that I’m not suggesting a direct pay-to-feature model. I would be happy to contribute hard currency to the project if there was a reasonable giving model. Nextcloud has created a valuable software asset and I would like to support future growth that we can all benefit from. My suggestions were just that; input to the Nextcloud team that they can use in their planning.

@vikinggeek a move from a shared folder (including legacy shared “drives”) is a delete to anyone except the person who moved it. But in groupfolders there is an option to prevent deletes by specified users/groups which is probably the best fix in your situation.