Talk 9 brings grid view, file editing, open sources Talk back-end

Originally published at: https://nextcloud.com/blog/open-sourcing-talk-back-end-rc-of-talk-9-brings-lots-of-improvements/

Today we announce the improvements coming in Nextcloud Talk 9. This includes the introduction of a grid view, easy sharing of files with drag and drop and build in viewing and editing of files and documents that will help teams be more productive. The Talk team also has worked hard to improve the performance and scalability of Talk, for example by decreasing video quality when more people join. This will allow calls with 5 to 10 people to work on a standard Talk instance, provided users have a decent network connection.

Most performance improvements are also made available to earlier releases to help users on the current Nextcloud Hub release.

Nextcloud Talk 9 is planned to come with the release of Nextcloud Hub version 19 in a few weeks. Download the release candidate today, install the Talk app and help test!

Open sourcing the high performance back-end

Over the last months we have been flooded with requests to make the high performance back-end for Talk, developed by our partner, Struktur AG, available for everyone. We are delighted to announce today that Struktur AG has agreed to open source the high performance back-end! This makes it possible for many small schools, charities and other organizations to deploy Nextcloud and scale to larger numbers of users. See below for details.

Find our official press release here.

Talk 9: a new generation of integrated communication

Nextcloud Talk 9, part of the upcoming Nextcloud Hub release, will introduce a wide range of improvements to help the productivity of teams sharing and collaborating on documents.

Easier sharing of files

Our first priority was to make it easier to share, view and edit documents. Besides sharing a file from the file view into a Talk room, you can now just drag’n’drop a file in a chat to make it available to the other participants. Most of those files no longer open up in a new tab – you can view images, videos and even office documents right there, and in case of documents, edit them!

We also added a configuration setting so you can choose where documents shared with you in a Talk chat are stored.

drag'n'drop file in Talk 9
Drag’n’dropping a file in the chat
Viewing files in Talk 9
Viewing a video in Talk

Calls with more participants

We overhauled the video conferencing view, in multiple ways. First, the normal view where the speaker is shown big, now has a scrolling participant list on the bottom, instead of resizing the videos to thumbnails. And by clicking on somebody’s video feed you can view that person big – click the promoted speaker button to continue automatically seeing whoever is talking.

The second, and bigger change, is the introduction of a grid view. This will allow even dozens of participants to be visible on one screen during your calls! Here, too, you can select a speaker and switch to the promoted view to see their video big.

We also improved handling of adding participants, added the ability for moderators to turn off microphones of participants and the ability to limit creating conversations to a specific group.

Talk 9 promoted view

Better performance and lower network load

Sending, receiving and in particular decoding multiple high definition video streams is unsurprisingly a rather heavy operation on both the computer hardware as well as the network that has to deal with it. The Talk team has been very hard at work to let Talk automatically adjust video quality depending on the number of participants in a call, enabling calls with far more people at once!

Talk 9 will also introduce back-end clustering to improve the scalability of server setup and improved connection management and error handling and reporting.

Some of this work was done while working with one of our partners, Heinlein Support, on a project deploying Talk to a local government. After bumping into network limitations, the teams collaborated to find ways to still enable smooth video calls, albeit at lower quality.

We have been impressed by the quick turn-around and fast improvements possible in tight collaboration between the Nextcloud engineers, our team and our customers in the public sector; and we’re excited to see the performance improvements that came out of that collaboration reach the wider open source community

— Peer Heinlein, CEO and founder of Heinlein Support

We considered these improvements so important that we back-ported them to Talk 8, making them available to users on Nextcloud Hub version 18.

Much improved mobile apps

To get a better chat experience, both the Android and iOS mobile apps now have ‘offline support’, meaning they cache the chat messages, chat rooms and participant lists. The Android app also underwent a big user interface overhaul and the iOS app has had accessibility and usability improvements in many places. A short list of further improvements:

iOS:

  • muting participants
  • support for limiting the creation of conversations
  • speaker indicator
  • temporary messages and re-sending failed messages

Android:

  • application shortcuts (long press on launcher icon for easy access to recent conversations)
  • inviting users to a conversation by email or circle
  • swipe to reply


Open sourcing the high-performance back-end

The crisis created a high demand at schools, government and businesses for remote communication solutions. Many of them quickly signed up to public cloud technologies and then watched in horror how data leaks, compliance problems and security issues came to light and were widely reported in the press. To protect their data, a secure, on-premises and open source platform would be the perfect solution. There are solutions for file sharing, video/audio chat and groupware, but there is only one really integrated, easy to use platform that can do all: Nextcloud Hub.

Over the last months we’ve worked tirelessly to help our customers set up and scale up their Nextcloud servers, with file sharing, video chat and office document editing all urgently needed. For communication at larger scale, in calls with 10 to 50 participants, the Talk High Performance Back-end is needed, a server component developed by our partner, Struktur AG. To support organizations in difficult times, Struktur has agreed to make the high-performance back-end freely available under the AGPL license.

To help organizations who might not have the resources to host the back-end themselves, Struktur will also be offering a hosted solution with a 30 days free trial. More info and sign up here.

We will continue to offer our services and support to customers for deploying Nextcloud Hub, ensuring a speedy roll-out and smooth operation. You can contact us to discuss what you need through our website form.

When, where and how

As mentioned, much of the performance work was back-ported to Talk 8, already available with version 8.0.9! Be sure to keep your apps up-to-date to benefit from the latest bugfixes and improvements.

The feature improvements will come to Talk 9 which requires the upcoming Nextcloud Hub release. Version 19 is scheduled for release in a few weeks but you can test out release candidates of Nextcloud Hub and Nextcloud Talk today!

Find the source code of signaling server by Struktur AG here. Their hosted offering can be found here.

With this release, Nextcloud Talk cements its position as the only on-premises content collaboration platform on the market with native integrated audio/video chat ready for large organizations. This provides the best solution for thousands of organizations across the globe to keep their communication confidential and prevent their data from leaking!

A big Thank YOU! goes to all our contributors, developers, testers and the wider community who help make this happen!

27 Likes

The correct link is : https://nextcloud.com/press/pr20200519/

Thanks for the wonderfull new !!

2 Likes

:clap:t2: Great News
Now just have to get rid of OnlyOffice and Nextcloud Hub will truely be open source.

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So cool! Have been following the Talk improvements, but the AGPL’ed HPB is really a great surprise! :heart_eyes:

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Nice move! Really looking forward to installing our own signalling server for our sports club :slight_smile: thank you for this important step :slight_smile:

Are there any plans on providing official Docker images for the HPB?

2 Likes

Would be great to be able to add photos and files that are stored locally (or take a photo to add) in the Android app.

Find our official press release here.

This link is a 404.

Fixed link to press release.

German:

Heise schreibt darüber:

3 Likes

Stop trolling and sharing mis-information. OnlyOffice is 100% open source. That they have a proprietary version and use an open core model - it isn’t my favorite either, but it doesn’t take away the fact that the code is under the AGPL. It is better than Microsoft or Google and that should be your measuring stick.

On a side note, this kind of extremism is counter-productive and no better than advocating AGAINST open source - you’re just harming companies trying to run an open source business this way.

Seriously, people who complain about open source companies that don’t follow their ideal model are just helping companies like Microsoft. It is this stupid infighting that is holding back open source from success more than anything, and it always has been.

Maybe you think you’re helping, but you’re not. People like you are the reason most companies stay away from open source. And even long time open source people like myself are sick of having to explain to companies that not all open source people are like that.

If you want to ever see ONLYOFFICE drop their open core model, stop this toxic behavior and stop others from being this short-sighted and maybe they will start to think our community isn’t full of people who don’t understand the real world.

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Sure,
OnlyOffice is a nice 100% OpenSource/OpenCore model who took off « Mobile Editing » as soon as Nextcloud advertised NextcloudHub. OpenCore is toxic for users, that why i made a compilation and Docker Container of OnlyOffice without limitation and with Mobile Editing back. I share it with anyone on this helping forum.
But how long before OnlyOffice 5.3 will hard code his product in a way that even with the code you get on GitHub you can make Mobile Edition back ?
Maybe in 3 years, Nextcloud Hub will be bundled with another OnlineOffice app that isn’t OpenCore, that what i hope.
With an OpenCore partner you will never know how long your friendship will last.

That is not the problem. The problem is the way they communicate their changes (or rather not) and that they simply remove features from an Open Source version without telling anyone making it a proprietary “feature”. Gitlab for example does it the other way round:

The code is open, so there’s nothing you can’t do with it. That is all that it is to be ‘open source’, that’s all ‘open source’ ever gives you.

They can add and remove all features they want.

And because it is ‘open source’, you can re-add any features they removed, like you did. If it wasn’t open source, you wouldn’t have been able to do that…

I agree it is not smart that they did that, and annoying, and not nice. Also:

With an OpenCore partner you will never know how long your friendship will last.

That is absolutely true. Again, I agree with you that it isn’t a great model. But it is still open source and still a whole lot better than Microsoft Office. Or having no office at all. So a bit more happyness and constructive help and less complaining please?

For example - as I said before - a pull request that updates the community server but also re-adds the stuff they removed - that would be a good idea, imho, and we should merge that (if somebody has time to review it).

Maybe in 3 years, Nextcloud Hub will be bundled with another OnlineOffice app that isn’t OpenCore, that what i hope.

I’m hoping sooner.

Yeah, and that is shitty, no doubt about it. But it doesn’t not make them open source. And it still makes them better than proprietary software. Not everybody has the free time to build an office suite… That’s all I’m saying.

Keep in mind: they were a 100% proprietary company not long ago. Until they open sourced (as in, gave away for free under the AGPL) their code base, there was NO open source, javascript/html office document editor in the browser. And only Collabora was putting in resources to create an online office, using (as we all know) a very different model.

I consider the step from proprietary to open core a HUGE step forward. Can we agree on that? Instead of complaining it isn’t perfect, how about we applaud them for that and help them get integrated in open source? Teach them the benefits of being part of our community? Maybe, if we do well, they will drop the proprietary part.

That will only happen if this works out positively for them, though. And by complaining and undercutting them, we don’t exactly make it work out well…

I don’t disagree with you guys that all software should ideally be open source, transparently developed, and unrestricted.

I just realize it is unrealistic, and any step that gets closer to it is a positive thing, not something to complain about.

I think we are all better off having TWO open source office solutions that use VERY different, technical approaches.

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It is better than Microsoft or Google and that should be your measuring stick.

First of all, why should that be the measuring stick? In any and every sane competitive scene the measuring stick is chosen to be the highest quality alternative to measure up against. Not some arbitrarily chosen level that suits your current argumentation and product. Also, while you are right that Microsoft is far from being an open-source company, they do open-source some of their major stuff lately, and what they do open-source, they don’t cripple and remove features on purpose.

Second, what OnlyOffice has done is far from a standard business approach. In the normal open-core model, companies only remove features that are only relevant to enterprise or business customers. But since when is working with documents on the mobile phone an enterprise-only feature nowadays?

And last but not least, OnlyOffice let NextCloud announce how open-source they are and that they allow full document-editing capabilities in NextCloud, they ride the news-wave, then shortly after that remove a key feature from their free solution. That is called the carrot-and-stick method and free publicity for a feature they didn’t intend on providing. Highly unethical! Of course, this also casts a shadow on NextCloud if they don’t rectify it, because what does it say to NextCloud’s users? That “we are fine with this as long as they are our ‘business-partner’”.

And sure, when we point these out, you say we are only harming open-source…
No we are not. We are not claiming that every company should give out their hard work for free. It is fine to ask for money for your solution, but then don’t claim otherwise and don’t hold false marketing campaigns for features you didn’t intend on delivering. That is called lying. That is my main cause for the disappointment and disconcertment with OnlyOffice, not that they are not idealistically open-source.

Anyway, to get back on topic, Talk is a great feature in NextCloud/NextCloudHub, and with recent improvements (already before Talk 9) it has become a viable alternative to many chat clients/networks. The news about Talk 9 are “just” making it even better. Thank you NextCloud for your hard work and for your great software (other software too in the NextCloud ecosystem) in general!

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Please stay on topic!

Thank you @Ka_Pa for turning back to Talk.

1 Like

You’re right, there’s more to it of course and every step from evil-proprietary towards fully open is a good one… My point was mostly that we should give OO some credit for moving in the right direction, even if they haven’t arrived at the point many of us would like them to be at.

You know, to be totally honest, I’m 99.9% sure they had already planned that and simply didn’t think of the effect. Don’t attribute to malice what can be adequately described by… you know.

It wasn’t nice, I agree, of course, and i asked them to pull it back. They haven’t. And I personally couldn’t care less, as we have integration in our mobile apps so it uses the web interface - much nicer than the separate mobile apps if you ask me, and I wouldn’t call it a key feature at all. But I guess that’s a matter of opinion, I never tried them so perhaps they are awesome. Which would be weird as they are just the web view in an app :wink:

I don’t think we advertised their mobile apps as I actually wasn’t even aware they had them… We advertised integration of the web document editing in Nextcloud. And integration in our mobile apps, too, I think. And that was delivered…

That they changed their feature matrix of free vs paid with regards to an app that isn’t even related to Nextcloud, well, that sucks, but given how close to the release it was, and how long you plan those things in advance, and how they agreed just weeks before the release that they were OK with including OO by default in Nextcloud - I’m 99% sure this is a coincidence.

Also, I apologize to @rakekniven for being offtopic, this was about Talk, not ONLYOFFICE :wink:

Back to work!

They bombed themselves by removing features from an Open Source version that worked perfectly well.

This is also a “trust” issue, such moves don’t increase the level of it into their products. I was quite fond of them, helped them finding some bugs, recommended it to other people as an alternative to OOXML infested places, my org even went with their paid product later on long after testing out their Open Source version on a small scale. Now if somebody did an update of their Open Source version, they were suddenly greeted with a viewer instead of an editor on mobile devices. This helps no one, neither them, any user nor those who recommend them.

I neither recommend them anymore nor do I want to help them after such a move. 20 user limit, I can live with that, new features in their proprietary versions, no problem, but ripping out stuff that was already OSS without any notice in advance is what puts me off.

On a more positive and on-topic note, here is the installation tutorial from @morph027 on how to install the HPB:

https://morph027.gitlab.io/blog/nextcloud-spreed-signaling/

Sry for beeing off-topic, too, but it seems like there were too much issues with onlyoffice:
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