Collaborating on a text document or spreadsheet with other people and thus editing it in the browser instead of with a local application will definitely become more and more common. Collabora’s Online office solution doesn’t work so well for me, and I won’t use a closed source solution such as Microsoft 365 online for my projects, I was of course looking for yet another solution. In addition to Collabora, Nextcloud has integrated ONLYOFFICE for a number of years now, so this is where I went next.
Getting a demonstrator up and running just takes a couple of minutes. After deactivating the Collabora integration on my experimental Nextcloud setup, I installed the Community Document Server app from the Nextcloud store, which seems to be an encapsulated Onlyoffice instance. In addition the ‘Onlyoffice’ app from the Nextcloud store is required to connect to either the local Community Document Server, or to a full Onlyoffice instance somewhere else.
A Joy To Work With
And that’s it! Once both apps are running, clicking on an office document opens Onlyoffice in the browser and one can start working. Immediately, I was amazed by the how swiftly one can work, it’s as fast as MS’s online office solution or a local office installation (see part 2 of this series). To see where the screen is rendered, I then deactivated the cellular connection of my smarthphone that I used as the gateway to the Internet for my notebook while leaving Wi-Fi tethering in place. Like in MS 365 online, I could continue to edit the document and scroll around for 10 to 15 seconds before the browser app notices the broken link to the server and starts to complain. A very smooth experience!
After a while, however, I noticed that after closing and reopening a document several times, I got an error message that the document could not be opened. Also, the changes I made in the document were not saved in Nextcloud. They would be there when reopening the documents while this was still possible, but would not be present when downloading the document and opening it in Libreoffice. I soon figured out that I’m not the only one with the problem and it seems the Community Document Server app in Nextcloud seems to be pretty much unmaintained and broken. There isn’t even a Nextcloud 26 version yet, which pretty much says it all.
In other words, I have to set-up a full Onlyoffice instance in a next step and connect that to my Nextcloud. Once I have that running, I’ll write a follow up post. But for the moment, Onlyoffice looks like it could work for me.