NextCloud collaborative editing

Since the start of we’re using the NextCloud instance provided by Webarchitects. @chris set it up with the OnlyOffice collaborative editor. In other NextCloud instances (at CommonsCloud and others) we have CollaboraOffice integrated as editor, and for a time we have also used LibreOffice specifically compiled for online usage (LOOL). IIRC @chris made the step to use OnlyOffice last spring as CollaboraOfice had started to apply some restrictions in the max number of documents to be edited in parallel. Fortunately that restriction is withdrawn in a recent version.

After this brief introduction let me explain the main issue that we’re suffering with the current setup. Concurrent editing of the OnlyOffice spreadsheets isn’t working properly, it is so bad that for team meetings we have used life documents at other servers, edit concurrently during the meeting and then copy over the result back to our NextCloud server.

Given the more positive experience in this aspect with CollaboraOfice, at least at, I’m wondering whether we shouldn’t add Collabora to our instance or whether there’s other more effective solutions. @chris?


Thanks for the feedback and sorry to hear about the problems with OnlyOffice, I’ll get a CollaboraOffice server setup and switch the site over to use that, it might be a week before this is up and running as I want to write some Ansible to follow these tasks in order to provision it.

how is your view on the UX for collaborative editing with OnlyOffice? We have seen that Cryptpad has been able to improve OnlyOffice in such way that it does work better.

It would be great if you can add in CollaboraOffice, thanks @chris

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I don’t personally use either OnlyOffice or CollaboraOffice, from a hosting point of view doing more on the client side, as OnlyOffice does, should in theory make for a better user experience and lower server requirements, but it sounds like this isn’t actually the case…

I haven’t come across Cryptpad before.

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Hmm can we not jump to switching over to CollaboraOffice? I had very poor experience, even single person edit wasn’t working well for me, and would much prefer the current OnlyOffice setup. I am also concerned about formatting in our spreadsheets will not render the same in CollaboraOffice. Let’s not rush to change things up, our collaborative use case is very very minimal.

Cryptpad did not “improve” OnlyOffice. They took the UI and swapped the entire backend. It is not even remotely OnlyOffice.

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Oohh… I thought you were the first to signal the collaborative editing issues with OnlyOffice, but now I learn that you are otherwise happy with OO.

I agree that we shouldn’t jump too fast :slight_smile:

And what issues did you have with CollaboraOffice, in what instance? Of course the editors are very different, CO implementing parts of LibreOffice and using it in the backend, using ODF as core format. While OnlyOffice may be generally more mature, and using Microsoft formats as core formats. There is also the client side processing in the case of OO, in theory preferrable as Chris mentions.

But for collaborative editing, which is the key usecase of these editors (otherwise you can just edit on your local office application), concurrent editing should work at least with small groups. And the current setup doesn’t allow for that. So please suggest what would be your preferred way forward.

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It’ll take me a little time before I have all the Ansible sorted out to enable Nextcloud instances hosted by Webarchitects to be simply switched between using either a shared CollaboraOffice or ONLYOFFICE server for WYSIWYG browser editing of documents, this is something I have wanted to have in place for a while, but I do have some other pieces of work I’d like to sort out first (currently I’m re-writing all the Ansible we have for managing Matomo), so from my point of view not rushing into a decision on this is fine.


The lack of concurrent edit is not impacting our productivity, except once every 3 months during wage distribution, which I have a 10 minute workaround for (aka using cryptpad for that one step), so I see this as a low priority task.

I think the way forward is to let @chris know we are interested in trying alternatives to onlyoffice, but according to his timeline on being able to “simply switched between using either a shared CollaboraOffice or ONLYOFFICE”. On our side, we’d want to trial alternatives as they become available, in much the same way we transitioned email fwders to forum.


For collaborative simultaneous writing - does anyone have experience of Jetpad.? It’s the tool adopted for the DisCO Stack, section 3 of this DisCO project framework.

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Interesting. My understanding has always been the OnlyOffice offers a better experience than Collabora because Collabora does more stuff on the server instead of locally in the browser. Indeed, I seem to remember the CoTech Nextcloud switching to OnlyOffice for exactly these reasons (i.e. concurrent editing on collabora wasn’t working very well).

Perhaps I should have another play with Collabora…

Perhaps it is just an issue of allocated resources? Maybe OnlyOffice needs more RAM or CPU or something?

The ONLYOFFICE server has 4 CPUs and 5GiB of RAM, I doubtful that this is the problem, but I could be wrong.

free -h
              total        used        free      shared  buff/cache   available
Mem:          4.9Gi       688Mi       622Mi        78Mi       3.6Gi       4.1Gi
Swap:         4.0Gi          0B       4.0Gi

It’s not, actually.

They don’t use it. I asked Stacco if they had an instance I could play with and he told me they don’t, but they’d love to Pablo (the dev who created it) get some funding to finish it properly as it was very promising but still buggy.

Vapourware! Same old same old?

Personally, I’m almost convinced I could live with something cloud-collaborative like an Etherpad - for example What is it about wysiwyg that makes folks want an ‘office’ style writing tool, with all its clutter?

Is it tables?

For a couple of years I’ve worked routinely in Markdown and am happy now just to drop into a word processor for formatting and page layout of final pdf versions. I’m fussy about design, but I find Markdown is good for everyday processes of writing and collaboration.

See also which is basically etherpad but with lots of plugins installed and some nice human experience improvements.

Uh huh - That’s in development, right, not in production?

Yes in development, but there is a live version here

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morning, interesting tools, I just checked the live instance. From a moderation perspective, this isn’t related to’s NextCloud editing directly. As I see it, this is part of collective R&D on the toolstack and might be a category of its own? Possibly other community members would be interested for their own organisations to use these tools.

The issue that I think relates to NextCloud collective editing is whether a wordprocessor is central, or whether something like an Etherpad or Markdown editor will do most of the job most of the time. Although Gdocs collective editing in the cloud has by now become a de facto standard (yuk) I’m not convinced that a wordprocessor is needed for core collaboration.

The problem that @osb (?) raised with the NextCloud toolstack, is that its wordprocessor can’t do simultaneous editing. But an Etherpad, for example, can. So in fact can Markdown docs in NextCloud,. But explicit choices must continually be made between which version gets saved, which is very clunky when more than one person is editing. Impractical, I would say. Does this all lead towards a text editor (Etherpad etc) rather than a wordprocessor?

Perhaps the other basic use-case question is: are we writing for (continuous scrolling) web-reading, or for hard-copy page layout? The former? Even Gdocs is rubbish at the latter.

So: if concurrent editing by more than one person is a core requirement . . are we willing to settle for an Etherpad standard of edit functions? The main weakness, maybe, is tables? In all other ways, I personally find Etherpad and Markdown both do the job of document creation well enough, for web reading.