The Gesellschaft für Wissenschaftliche Datenverarbeitung mbH Göttingen (GWDG) is a university computing centre for the Georg-August-Universität in Göttingen and a computing and IT competence centre for the Max Planck Society. It offers a wide range of information and communication services for science. Since 2014, the GWDG has been using ownCloud to exchange and collaborate on data both at its own location and with affiliated partner universities.
Financed by state funds, the solution will also be offered to all universities in Lower Saxony as part of the Academic Cloud project. To improve the service, the ONLYOFFICE collaboration software was introduced so that documents can be edited together in real time.
ownCloud is used for the productive exchange and collaborative editing of files. But especially if two users work on the same document at the same time, synchronization conflicts cannot always be prevented. In such a case, a security mechanism of ownCloud generates so-called „conflict files“: a second version of an existing file that is intended to prevent content from being lost as part of joint changes. The GWDG therefore sees the integration of ONLYOFFICE in ownCloud as a great opportunity to solve the problem of synchronization conflicts in the long term, since collaboration software such as ONLYOFFICE addresses the problem of synchronization in a targeted manner: ONLYOFFICE enables a document to be edited via a common user interface, whereby changes are updated in real time and are immediately visible to other users.
As the GWDG already provided both ownCloud and ONLYOFFICE as separate services, the development of a common solution was a logical step. The GWDG then turned to ownCloud and ONLYOFFICE and suggested the development of an interface that would allow ONLYOFFICE to be integrated into ownCloud‘s service and thus be more convenient to use.
“Research and education depend on an efficient and innovative IT infrastructure. With the newly created interface between our ownCloud and ONLYOFFICE, users can now simultaneously work on a file in a web browser. Conflict files are prevented and the work takes place where the files are - in our ownCloud.” Ralph Krimmel, GWDG
The GWDG‘s ownCloud currently registers around 4,000 active users per month and 1,500 users per day. These include universities, but also individual working groups from various scientific institutions within Lower Saxony as well as nationwide, which use ownCloud and the ONLYOFFICE functions. The processing of files works smoothly with the interface developed by ownCloud and ONLYOFFICE; even with file formats other than Microsoft Office, files and formatting are displayed by the server without compatibility problems. The cooperation between ownCloud and ONLYOFFICE does not only benefit the users of the GWDG and the Academic Cloud; through the technical cooperation, ownCloud administrators can install the ONLYOFFICE Integration App with just a few clicks and add the app to their cloud via the ownCloud Marketplace.
“The cooperation between ownCloud and ONLYOFFICE works very smoothly thanks to the joint support. Any problems that arise are solved quickly and easily. In addition, our ownCloud services run very reliably and we were able to achieve an increase in collaboration and productivity on balance” Tobias Herbst, GWDG
There are several advantages to this collaboration:
- By supporting all common MS Office formats, the following file types can be collaboratively processed in ownCloud: docx, xlsx, pptx and txt.
- Files can be stored in various formats: docx, odt, rtf, txt, pdf, html, pptx, odp, xlsx, csv and ods.
- Users can add links, tables and graphics, insert diagrams, AutoShapes, mathematical formulas, font decoration, edit headers and footers, create style sheets, change the design of the entire document with two mouse clicks and much more.
- Users can switch to „Semi-Formal“ mode to see their co-authors‘ changes immediately, or to „Formal“ mode to edit the document without being distracted by others.
- There are several communication functions to further improve productivity: Review, comment and live chat. Users can have their teammates review the document to correct mistakes and
suggest ideas without changing the text itself.
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