Use of federation in nextcloud

Hi. I’m a new user of nextcloud (user not server admin or anything :sweat_smile:).

I saw that nextcloud supports federation.

But what’s the use of federation in case of file storage?
I mean, it’s not about sending messages, right?

Or is the federation only for specific parts of nextcloud like nextcloud talk?

Could someone help me understand a few use cases?

Nextcloud offers a good User Manual explaining everything you need.

@DrJambus Hadn’t looked up the manual earlier.

This is the manual, right? https://docs.nextcloud.com/server/20/Nextcloud_User_Manual.pdf

I searched for ‘federation’ and ‘federate’ there and found ‘federated share’.

Is that the only use of federation in nextcloud?

And does federated share mean allowing the shared directory/file from another instance to be ‘mounted’ as part of our server’s file system?

If that’s so, what advantage does it give compared to something like giving access to the directory/file being shared and accessing the shared items from the foreign server itself?

An offtopic doubt: Does fediverse include only those networks that support activitypub?

If you have a Nextcloud server and I have a Nextcloud server, how do we get them to communicate?

Federation is just a term for multiple instances of a thing connecting together through a common protocol despite them actually being separate.

Nextcloud federation currently allows two or more Nextcloud instances to share files and folders remotely. It is mostly a fancy word for sharing between Nextclouds.
Circles app is actively developing group support for federated circles, but it is still very much in development.

It works with some caveats…
Federated shares remain solely on their host server, but they will sync to your client devices.

Basically all apps in Nextcloud apart from Files and Circles do not support federation as of 2022, but they certainly hope to one day.

ActivityPub federation

…Fediverse is a completely different thing.
Fediverse - Activitypub based social apps such as Mastodon, Pleroma, etc. are popular. Nextcloud has developed the Social app which is a chat application that can communicate with other activitypub chat applications. The Social app currently has nothing to do with the Nextcloud federation described above and has received no major releases since 2020.

Webhooks

Another useful way to allow your Nextcloud to communicate with other services is through webhooks. This is your MediaWiki site can auto-notify your Slack / Discord / Slack channel every time someone creates a new wiki page, despite them not being users on your wiki.

Nextcloud Flow webhooks hasn’t received any updates since version 20 and is not yet in the app store. It likely needs a new maintainer.

If it receives some love in the future webhooks could become an integral part of letting your Nextcloud share with not just other Nextcloud services, but whatever other service you are running, such as IFTTT, Zapier, etc.

RSS feeds

RSS Feeds are another way to distribute and communicate with external services from Nextcloud. Currently you can optionally enable RSS Feeds from the Activity app and Bookmarks app, then plug them into RSS Bots on other services, including someone else’s Nextcloud instance running the News app.

The Dashboard app could become a lot more decentralized if it allowed the ability to generate RSS feeds, which you could then share with anyone. This could be especially useful if it related to particular projects being viewed and shared from the Dashboard.

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Thanks a lot for the detailed answer.