Seafile Adds Co-authoring to Office Online and Collabora Online Integration

The latest Seafile Pro Edition (6.0.6) adds real-time co-authoring to its integration with Microsoft Office Online Server and Collabora Online. This ability will greatly boost collaboration productivity for teams.

With real-time co-authoring, two or more users can edit a document at the same time and see each other’s changes while they’re typing. You can see the cursor location where someone is working and what they’re typing as they type, just as if they are working on your computer or device. You can hover over the cursor location and see who is making the changes.

Co-authoring  supports most modern document formats:.docx, .pptx, and .xlsx.

Integration of Collabora Online:

Co-authoring is only supported in Collabora Online 2.0. Here are some samples for co-authoring on different document types.

Docx file:

xietong1

.ods:

xietong2

.pptx:

xietong3

Integration of Office Online:

Co-authoring is only supported in Office Online Server 2016.

Docx file:

xietong4

.xlsx:

xietong5

.pptx:

xietong6

Welcome five educational institutions joining Seafile community

We are happy to announce that in the last quarter five educational institutions joined Seafile community, including Max Plank Society (MPS) in Germany, Poznan Supercomputing and Networking Center (PSNC) in Poland, University Hannover in Germany, Institute of Informatics at the University of Zurich in Switzerland, St. Paul’s Hospital of University of British Columbia in Canada.

We are working with Max Plank Digital Library (MPDL) on the Keeper project. The Keeper project is for the exchange, storage and long-term archiving of research data. Researchers at the Max Planck Society (MPS) are required to comply with the “Rules of Good Scientific Practice” adopted by the Senate of the MPS, which include guidelines for long-term archiving of primary data for at least 10 years. The syncing performance, reliability and support for large files is critical to the success of the project. MPDL chose Seafile after throughout testing for about a year. Seafile’s high reliability and the ability to sync very large file (even 1TB in size) makes it a very satisfying solution for them.

We are also working with Poznan Supercomputing and Networking Center (PSNC) to provide a file syncing and sharing service to universities and schools in Poland. Initially, the service will introduced to a few selected universities. After the pilot, the service will be introduced to more universities. PSNC have been using Seafile community edition for almost 2 years. They compared multiple products and find Seafile the most reliable and performant. “Users want the ‘Dropbox’ equivalent, not something else.” says Maciej Brzezniak, storage management team leader from PSNC, “Users appreciate Seafile’s performance and reliability in file syncing.”

St. Paul’s Hospital of University of British Columbia uses another product for internal file sharing and collaboration for a few years. After switching to Seafile, they find the reliability and performance of the service are much improved.

We’re looking forward to bigger developments for Seafile in educational communities in the year of 2017!

Drive client for Windows is now ready for production use

We’re glad to announce that Seafile Drive client for Windows is now ready for production use. Since the initial beta release in September, the Drive client has evolved rapidly. Thanks to the feedback from our community, many issues in the beta version have been fixed in the last two months. Now the Drive client is stable enough to be used by general users. You can download it from our website. User manual is available too.

The Drive client is a new way to map your Seafile storage as a virtual drive on your computer. You can access all your files in Seafile without syncing them. We believe it’s a more intuitive way to use cloud storage. For more information about the Drive client, you may read our previous post.

There are still a few milestones ahead for the future releases:

  • File locking support
  • File upload/download progress
  • Encrypted library support
  • Keep selected folders always in sync
  • Auto update of the client

We’re also working on Linux and Mac version of the Drive client. They’ll be available soon.

Seafile pro edition 6.0 is ready!

After Seafile pro edition 6.0 runs smoothly for several weeks on our servers (seacloud.cc, demo.seafile.com), we are glad to announce that it is ready for production use!

Quite a few important new features are added in pro edition 6.0:

  • A full screen adaptive Web UI
  • Collabora Online (LibreOffice Online) integration
  • Role based permission control
  • Two-factor authentication
  • Remote wipe

Full screen adaptive Web UI

If you have a wide screen, the new full screen can take the advantage to show more contents in a line. If you have a narrow screen, the new interface can also adapt to it.

seahub-6-0

The navigation label is also changed according to feedbacks from users:

  • Mine -> My Libraries
  • Shared -> Shared with me
  • Organization -> Shared with all
  • Groups -> Shared with groups
  • Starred -> Favorites
  • Devices -> Linked Devices

Collabora Online (LibreOffice Online) integration

Collabora Online is LibreOffice-based online office suite that supports all major document, spreadsheet and presentation file formats, created by Collabora. It is an open source Office 365 alternative and works on all major browsers including those on mobiles.

The Collabora Online integration is finally ready. Now you can edit Microsoft Office files and LibreOffice Office files online in Seafile. Here is a screenshot:

Role based permission control

With this feature, you can define roles and assign a role to a user. This make permission/feature control more flexible.

As an example, you can define a new role “employee” to have all the feature enabled:

   'employee': {
        'can_add_repo': True,
        'can_add_group': True,
        'can_view_org': True,
        'can_use_global_address_book': True,
        'can_generate_share_link': True,
        'can_generate_upload_link': True,
        'can_invite_guest': True,
        'can_connect_with_android_clients': True,
        'can_connect_with_ios_clients': True,
        'can_connect_with_desktop_clients': True,
    },

You can define a “guest” role as:

   'guest': {
        'can_add_repo': False,
        'can_add_group': False,
        'can_view_org': False,
        'can_use_global_address_book': False,
        'can_generate_share_link': False,
        'can_generate_upload_link': False,
        'can_invite_guest': False,
        'can_connect_with_android_clients': False,
        'can_connect_with_ios_clients': False,
        'can_connect_with_desktop_clients': False,
    },

So the guest can’t create his/her own libraries and groups. He/She can’t use desktop/mobile clients too.

Two-factor authentication

This is a quite common feature nowadays and it comes to Seafile now. Seafile supports Google Authentication and text message currently.

After the admin enables this feature globally, a user can turn it on via the settings page.

After setup, the next time when the user login via Web UI or desktop/mobile clients, a dialog will popup and ask for the authentication code:

More information can be found in Seafile manual.

Remote wipe

Enterprises usually have demanding requirements on data security. Losing a laptop computer, even though not an often case, is a threat to data security. With remote wipe, files synced to a computer can be wiped after it’s lost.

A user can unlink a device via the web interface. When unlink a desktop client, he/she will be asked an option to whether wipe the data on that desktop client. If the answer is yes, the data on that client will be deleted when the client connects the server. Desktop client version 6.0 is needed to use this feature.

For mobile clients, the data is wiped by default when the device is unlinked.

Other pro features improvements

Other features in pro edition are also improved:

  • Improve zip downloading by adding zip progress
  • [Anti-virus] Support parallel scan
  • [Anti-virus] Add option to only scan a file with size less than xx MB
  • [Anti-virus] Add option to specific which file types to scan
  • [Anti-virus] Add scanning virus instantly when user upload files via upload link
  • [online preivew] Add printing style for doc/pdf
  • [online preivew] Warn user if online preview only show 50 pages for doc/pdf with more than 50 pages
  • [fix] Fix search only work on the first page of search result pages

Formation of Seafile Educational Community

Educational institutes are among the biggest customers of Seafile. From file syncing to sharing, from collaboration to long-term data retention, Seafile helps educational institutes to solve many important use cases. Users from educational institutes also actively participate in the Seafile user community, providing valuable feedback and suggestions to our road map. With outstanding reliability and performance, Seafile has become a leading file sync and share solution for educational institutes.

From Sep. 26th to Sep.29th, founders and developers of Seafile Ltd. met with Seafile users from educational institutes in Europe. It was a fruitful trip and we have a lot exciting news to share. The most exciting one is the formation of Seafile educational community.

The meeting was held in Homboldt University of Berlin. Administrators/researchers from other universities and research institutes attended the meeting, including University of Mainz, University of Strasbourg, University of Hannover and PSNC of Poland. Users and Seafile developers actively exchanged ideas about Seafile’s features and development. We received many good inputs into our development road map. Seafile developers presented an outlook to the development of the next year, especially the up-coming Seafile Drive client. People showed a lot of interest to new features.

At the end of the meeting, educational users and the developers all agreed to further advocate the growth of Seafile educational community. The efforts will be lead by Homboldt University of Berlin and University of Mainz. A dedicated educational community forum (https://moodle.hu-berlin.de/course/view.php?id=67467) was set up and maintained by Homboldt University of Berlin. This will become a communication platform for all Seafile educational users to share ideas and coordinate events. More and more institutes will be joining this community. If you’re interested in joining the forum, please contact us via info@seafile.com.

After the meeting, Seafile developers went on to Munich to meet people from Max Planck Digital Library. We also met with some business partners in Germany. We’ll have more interesting news in the near future.

Welcome to the new Seafile educational community!

Announcing Seafile Drive client, a new way to map Seafile storage as virtual drive

We’re proud to announce an exciting new way to access all your files in Seafile — the Drive client. The Drive client maps your storage space on Seafile server as a virtual drive on your computer. It allows you to access all your files in Seafile immediately, without syncing them. Conceptually, the Drive client extends your local disk space with the massive storage capacity on your Seafile server.

Since the beginning of Seafile project, file syncing has been one of  the most valuable features. However, there are still some limitation with the sync client:

  • The users have to manually initiate syncing of libraries. Even though this allows the users to selectively sync what they’re interested in, it’s not the most intuitive way to use cloud storage. Many users are more used to “Windows share”. Accessing cloud storage in the same way as Windows network drive is most intuitive for many users.
  • The amount of file you can sync is limited by the client computer’s disk capacity. If you have huge amount of files on your server (true for large organizations),  it’s not possible to access them all on your client computer.

How it works

After installation and setting up up your Seafile account, a virtual drive will appear in your Windows explorer (labeled as ‘S:’ and named ‘SeaDrive’). You can also choose a different drive letter. The Drive client then fetches the file list from Seafile server and cache them on your local disk. No file contents are downloaded so it would finish quickly. Then you can see all your libraries and files inside the ‘S:’ drive. You could open/edit any files. File contents will be downloaded on demand. That’s it!

drive

But wait, does it just work like Windows share or WebDAV? No, the Drive client works differently.

  • Supports offline mode. You can still access the folders and cached files even there is no network connections. Your changes will be uploaded to the server after network is accessible again.
  • No network delay when you browse folders, as file list are loaded during initialization and synced periodically.
  • No network delay when you move, delete or create new file or folders. Metadata changes are first written to local cache then synced with the server in the background.
  • No network delay when you update files, even large files. Files are first written to local cache and uploaded to the server in the background.
  • Reading files works like “streaming”. You read file contents as the contents are being downloaded from the server. This reduce the delay of opening files.

Windows share doesn’t have offline mode and doesn’t work well in WAN environment. Mapping WebDAV server as local drive is usually slow, because the OS sees it as local disk and sends many redundant requests to the server.

There could be many use cases for the Drive client:

  • Replace Windows Share (SMB) or Samba with Seafile.
  • Access files on workstations with small local disk.
  • Writing large scientific data directly to Seafile server.
  • Better enforcement of company data access regulations. Users access files from Seafile server exclusively. The locally cached files can be removed on logout. In the future we’ll implement encryption for the virtual drive. Companies don’t need to worry about data leak after computer lost.

Under the hood

The Drive client works like a sync client with a FUSE like virtual file system interface. The client still use the syncing protocol for upload/download files in the background. But it also implements some “smart” caching algorithm that fetches and caches local copy of files. Then it presents the files/folders to end users as a virtual file system.

On Windows, we use Dokany, an open source user-mode file system driver and library to implement virtual drive. On Mac and Linux, we’re going to use FUSE for the task.

Where can I get it?

The Drive client is currently in beta. You can download it from this link. Note that the Drive client requires Seafile server 6.0.

What’s next?

Currently there are sill some limitations on the beta version:

  1. Mac and Linux clients are under development.
  2. Encrypted libraries are not supported yet.
  3. File locking is not supported.
  4. Lack of an option to allow the user to keep some folders always synced to local disk.

We’re rapidly developing the Drive client, so you’ll see new version very soon. Below is our road map:

1.0

  • Mac and Linux client
  • File locking support
  • Translations
  • Polished UI

1.1

  • Encrypted libraries

1.2

  • Enable keeping a folder sync

Side Note: Compared to Dropbox’s “project Infinite”

While we were developing the Drive client, we saw the news that Dropbox is also going to release something similar, named project Infinite. But it raises many concerns because it will use its own “kernel extensions”, other than standard and open source mechanisms like FUSE. The concerns are about both privacy and security. A kernel extension will give Dropbox even deeper access to all information on your computer. Not using standard mechanisms also introduce potential security and stability concerns.

Unlike “project Infinite”, Seafile Drive client uses open source FUSE-like mechanism to implement virtual drive. And we believe that the Drive client will have even more use cases in private cloud environment, where the network is much faster than WAN.

Seafile server 6.0 stable is released

Seafile server 6.0 is now out of beta and production ready! This latest version comes with many improvements, most notably a full screen web UI, Seafile Drive client support, file comments.

You can download it on our official download page.

Here is an overview of major new features in 6.0 version.

A modern full screen Web UI

This new design makes Seafile look more like a web app. Making use of technologies like backbone.js and Bootstrap, the UI is now more responsive and easier to use than ever.

The new UI is also adaptive to screen sizes. If you have a wide screen, the new UI can take the advantage to show more content in one line. If you have a small screen, the new UI can also adapt to it.

We also changed the navigation labels on the left panel to make their meanings clearer.

  • Mine -> My Libraries
  • Shared -> Shared with me
  • Organization -> Shared with all
  • Groups -> Shared with groups
  • Starred -> Favorites
  • Devices -> Linked Devices

Seafile Drive client support

6.0 server includes supports for the new Seafile Drive client, a new way to map Seafile storage as a virtual drive on your computer.

File comments

File comments is feature asked by many users. In some old versions of Seafile, there was a feature where you could comment on a file. But it was actually implemented by starting a group discussion with the file as attachment. When we redesigned the group feature in version 5.1, this “group discussion with a file” feature was removed. In this version, we add back and re-design the file comments feature from scratch. Now the comments are directly associated with the file.

You can comment on a file in the file’s preview page. All users shared with the library will receive a notification.

Improve folder download by adding zip progress

When you download a folder in the web UI, a zip file has to be created for download. For large folders, this operation can take long to finish. When the zip file is being created, the web UI stops responding. This confuses some users.

In version 6.0, the zip task will be performed in the background and the Web UI will show the progress. This greatly improves usability.

Other Changes

  • [admin] Add group transfer function in admin panel
  • Remove number of synced libraries in devices page for simplify the interface and concept
  • Update help pages

Seafile server core changes license to AGPLv3 and will be separated from client source code

From the beginning, the Seafile server and Seafile syncing client’s source code are managed in one repository (https://github.com/haiwen/seafile). We thought this was more convenient since the client and the server share some common data structures (like commits, fs and blocks). The common code can be reused by both components.

But this also introduces some confusion about Seafile’s copyrights. The syncing client uses Git’s index data structure source code, which is under GPLv2. The server code doesn’t rely on GPLv2 code so it doesn’t have to be released under GPLv2. We still release it under GPLv2 so that we could keep the client and the server code in the same repository.

Now as the Seafile project becomes more and more mature and popular, we reconsider our earlier decisions. As a cloud storage server software, we believe the most suitable license for the community server is AGPLv3 instead of the old GPLv2.

Today we announce a separate project for the Seafile server core on github. The code is released under AGPLv3. Future development of Seafile server will be continued on this repository. From version 6.0.1 on, the community server will be built from this repository.

The change of license for the community server doesn’t affect the license of Seafile Professional server. The Seafile servers are released in a dual license model. The community server is in GPL, while the Pro server is in proprietary license.

Seafile server 6.0.0 beta is ready for testing

We are proud to announce that Seafile 6.0 has been released. Version 6.0 introduces a full screen Web UI and several other improvements. The translations are not ready yet.

Because we have done a significant amount of code cleaning, some minor features may be broken though we have tested as much as we can.

You are welcome to test it and give us feedback.

You can download it from: https://bintray.com/artifact/download/seafile-org/seafile/seafile-server_6.0.0_x86-64.tar.gz

Here is an overview of changes in version 6.0:

Full screen Web UI

If you have a wide screen, the new full screen can take the advantage to show more content in a line. If you have a narrow screen, the new interface can also adapt to it.

Change of navigation labels

The navigation label is changed according to feedbacks from users:

  • Mine -> My Libraries
  • Shared -> Shared with me
  • Organization -> Shared with all
  • Groups -> Shared with groups
  • Starred -> Favorites
  • Devices -> Linked Devices

Improve zip downloading by adding zip progress

In the old version, a problem with the zip download is that when the zip takes a lot of time, the web UI does not respond. If the zip task takes a few minutes, the user does not know what is happening.

In version 6.0, the zip task will be performed in the background and the Web UI will show the progress. This greatly improves usability.

Add file comment

In the Seafile old version, there was a function where you could comment on a file. It was actually starting a group discussion with the file as attachment. When we redesigned the group feature in version 5.1, this “group discussion with a file” was removed. But there were some requests and use cases for file comment, so in this version, we added a real file comment feature back.

Other Changes

  • [admin] Add group transfer function in admin panel
  • Remove number of synced libraries in devices page for simplify the interface and concept
  • Update help pages

How to fix tray icon display issue on Ubuntu 14.04

If you’re using ubuntu desktop 14.04, there is a known problem in the seafile linux client 5.1 and later: The tray icon of seafile client would appear on the top-left corner of the screen.

This is a bug that exists in Qt versions earlier than qt 5.5. And lots of other software are also affected by it. Ubuntu 16.04 is not affected by this bug because it ships with Qt 5.5 (while ubuntu 14.04 ships Qt 5.2).

Here we provide a workaround for this bug.

The Workaround

First install the opt-qt561-trusty ppa and Qt 5.6 packages. The packages are installed to /opt/ so your system won’t be affected.

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:beineri/opt-qt561-trusty
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install qt56base qt56translations qt56webengine

Download the wrapper script, which tells seafile-applet to use the Qt 5.6 libs we installed just now.

wget -O seafile-applet-qt56 https://gist.githubusercontent.com/lins05/6468059d8130ad50464b1b3b43ec46dc/raw/c23e84c435b60c528d06e40be239689f9947b9ed/seafile-applet-qt56
chmod +x seafile-applet-qt56
sudo mv seafile-applet-qt56 /usr/local/bin/

Then download the updated seafile client desktop file, which launchs seafile client through the wrapper scripts you downloaded just now:

wget -O seafile.desktop https://gist.githubusercontent.com/lins05/6468059d8130ad50464b1b3b43ec46dc/raw/c23e84c435b60c528d06e40be239689f9947b9ed/seafile.desktop
sudo cp seafile.desktop /usr/share/applications/seafile.desktop

Now you can launch seafile-applet from the ubuntu dashboard (quit the client first if it’s running). The tray icon of seafile client should appear in the correct position.

Finally, tell apt not to override the seafile.desktop file when you upgrade seafile client in the future:

sudo dpkg-divert --add /usr/share/applications/seafile.desktop