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

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 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

Seafile Pro server 5.1.10 adds file lock auto-expiration

Version 5.1.10 is another maintenance release. File locks will auto expire in 12 hours. This is to prevent file syncing errors when someone forget to unlock a file.

Here is full change log:

  • Remove user from groups when a user is deleted.
  • File lock only valid for 12 hours
  • [multi-institution] Enable institution admin to activate/inactive a user
  • [fix] Showing contact email in user auto-completion if it is set
  • [fix, multi-tenancy] Fix syncing sub-folder of a shared library
  • [fix, multi-tenancy] Fix file audit page broken when a group corresponding to an item is deleted
  • [fix] Fix seaf-fsck.sh –export fails without database
  • [fix] Fix users with Umlauts in their display name breaks group management and api2/account/info on some special Linux distribution
  • [fix] Fix can’t generate shared link for read-only shared library
  • [fix] Fix can still view file history after library history is set to “no history”.
  • [fix] Fix after moving or deleting multiple selected items in the webinterface, the buttons are lost until reloading
  • Check user before start seafile. The user must be the owner of seafile-data directory
  • Don’t allow emails with very special characters that may containing XSS string to register
  • [fix] Fix migrate from community edition to pro edition

 

Seafile desktop client 5.1.1 comes with two new user interface improvements

Seafile desktop client 5.1.1

We have just released Seafile desktop client 5.1.1 with two new user interface improvements and some smaller changes and fixes.

“Groups” category in the client’s library view

This release improves the library organization in the library view of the client interface. Up until this release, the libraries of all groups were listed at the top level. If a user was a member of a lot of groups, the interface would became crowded and the user sometimes had a hard time finding the library he was looking for.

Seafile desktop client 5.1.1 improves this by adding a new top level category called “Groups”. This category can be optionally extended or closed – similar to the new “Groups” section in the Seahub navigation.

groups category

Clicking on Notification pop up opens (sub)folder

The second new feature in the Seafile desktop client 5.1.1 improves the notification popup. In previous versions, clicking on a notification opened the library root folder. Now, if you click a notification, the (sub)folder containing the actual modified file will be opened.

notification popup

Other changes

  • Change “Get Seafile Share Link” to “Get Seafile Download Link”
  • [Fix] Use case-insensitive sorting in cloud file browser
  • [Fix] Don’t sync a folder in Windows if it contains invalid characters instead of creating an empty folder with invalid name
  • [Fix] Fix a rare bug where sometimes files are synced as zero length files. This happens when another software doesn’t change the file timestamp after changing the content of the file.

Seafile Pro 5.1.3 add Excel/PPT editing and device management

We are happy to announce that Seafile Pro 5.1.3 is ready. Two useful features are added:

  • Support xlsx/pptx editing via office web app (OWA)
  • List devices and syncing errors in admin panel

Support xlsx/pptx editing via OWA

Preview for office files via OWA was added a long time ago. Now the office file editing comes too. Unfortunately, We find that only pptx/xlsx editing via OWA is possible. Supporting docx is not possible with Office Web App. But with the new version of OWA (now called office online server 2016, not released yet), it may be possible. We will come back to this issue when office online server 2016 is ready.

List devices and syncing errors

As system admin, you likely want to know whether all the desktops syncing files as expected. Listing syncing errors for desktop clients are now available in the admin panel. Enjoy this feature and better manage your devices!

The full change log

  • [fix] Fix group rename
  • [UI] Remember the expanded status of groups
  • [accessibility] Improve accessiblity of library trash page
  • [accessibility] Improve file/folder upload menu
  • list all devices in admin panel
  • list device syncing errors in admin panel
  • Support server side file content encryption
  • Support xlsx/pptx editing via OWA
  • Add syslog support for seafile.log

Seafile Pro Server 5.1 Stable Released

We are happy to announce that Seafile Pro 5.1 is finished. This release includes the following major features:

  • Re-design of the Seahub web interface and usability improvements
  • Seafile Realtime Backup Server
  • Manage users into multiple institutions (workgroup model)
  • Automatic file locking for office files when a document is opened in the Windows desktop client
  • Accessibility improvements

Attention: In addition, the Django framework is upgraded to v1.8, which no longer supports Python 2.6. All users still running Python 2.6 must manually update Python to 2.7.

Please enjoy the new version and give us feedback.

Changes and improvements to the Seahub web interface

Nagivation

The new navigation reflects our current re-evalutaion of the importance of different features.

In the previous design we saw each group as a hub for collaboration with files and discussions for each group. There was a standalone page for each group with files and discussions on the same level of navigation. But the group discussions feature was not as widely used as we anticipated. It actually turned out to be a relatively minor feature.

The new navigation has a uniform left-side navigation that combines the files from mine, shared, groups and organization. Not widely used features like the group discussions are now hidden to make the file navigation easier and even more intuitive to use.

5.1-group-view

Grid View now available everywhere in Seahub

Bigger image thumbnails have been high on our users’ wishlist for quite some time. In combination with the improved image preview, a grid view helps to better keep track of files in folder or library.

Seafile Professional 5.1 sees the grid view now being introduced everywhere in Seahub. It’s no longer limited to just share links.

The view can be changed by clicking on the grid view icon in the file menu at the top.

5.1-files-view

Easier access to Library Operations

In Seafile Professional 5.1 operations for libraries like renaming, transferring and sharing as well as the history settings can now be accessed from the library listings page, just like operations for folders.

5.1-library-ops

Seafile Realtime Backup Server (Beta feature)

Please note that the real-time backup feature is currently still in beta state. Minor issues on the backup server, while unlikely, might happen. But this feature will not affect the functionality or data integrity of the primary server.

The Seafile Realtime Backup Server uses a syncing algorithm similar to the Seafile desktop client to retrieve data from the primary server.
Whenever a library is updated, the primary server notifies the backup server to retrieve the changed data. With a delta syncing algorithm, this procedure runs quickly and updates the backup server almost in real-time.
The backup server also checks all libraries on the primary server at a fixed period. Any new or updated libraries will be synced to the backup server. This will pick up any delayed updates due to glitches in the real-time syncing procedure.
The backup server always keeps the database and data directory consistent. So that no libraries on the backup server will be in a “corrupted” state (unless they’re already corrupted on the primary server).
The full history of all libraries will be backed up. This is different from the desktop client, which only syncs the latest state of a library.

If you are familiar with MySQL or another database, you likely know master/slave replication. Seafile realtime backup is exactly like the master/slave replication, except that it is for files (metadata and file blocks).

You can find more information about the Seafile Realtime Backup Server at http://manual.seafile.com/deploy_pro/real_time_backup.html

Multiple institutions support (“Workgroup model”)

From Seafile Professional 5.1 you can add institutions into Seafile and assign users into institutions. Each institution can have one or more administrators.

This feature makes user administration easier when multiple organizations (for example branches of company or different universities) share a single Seafile server instance. Unlike multi-tenancy, the users are not-isolated. A user from one institution can share files with another user from a different institution.

You can find more information about this feature and how to deploy it at http://manual.seafile.com/deploy_pro/multi_institutions.html

Accessibility improvements

We want to make sure that Seafile can be enjoyed by a wide range of people with diverse abilities and devices.

That’s why we will start working on responsiveness for the Seafile web interface for version 5.2 But responsiveness is just one aspect for including a wider range of users with different requirements. The other, even more important factor is accessibility support for people with disabilities.

We are aware that Seafile needs to improve in this aspect. That’s why Seafile Professional 5.1 will put down the groundwork for improving accessibility.

Here are the accessibility improvements we have done for Seafile Professional 5.1. More will follow in later versions:

  • Use standard checkbox instead of styled checkbox based on image
  • Make library/folder/file operation icons visible on focus
  • Make operation icons focusable
  • Add aria-label to operation icons
  • Make library/folder sort operations focusable
  • Add role (navigation, banner, main) to regions
  • Make dropdown menu items focusable

Other changes in Seafile Professional 5.1

  • Improvement for user auto-completion
  • Removement of group avatar
  • Improved file sorting for large folders
  • Remember the sorting option for folders
  • Use HiDPI icons for libraries and files
  • Auto-focus on username field when loading the login page
  • Don’t show share menu in top bar when multiple items are selected
  • Remove self-introduction in user’s profile
  • Disable the possibility to add non-existing users to a group
  • Force the user to change his password if the user was added by an admin or if his password was reseted by an admin

Seafile Server 5.1 Comes with Brand New UI

It’s been about 5 months since the last major update of Seafile server (5.0). Now it’s time to release something fresh! Seafile server 5.1 includes quite a lot of UI re-design and improvements. In addition, the Django framework is upgraded to v1.8, which no longer support Python 2.6. The change to Django v1.8 also improves security since it’s the LTS and gets more security fixes.

There are a few major changes to the web user interface.

Flatter Navigation

A long-time critics about Seafile’s web UI is that it uses two navigation bars, one at the top and one on the left (see the screenshot below). The rationale of the old design is that we thought groups are collaboration places with files and discussion. So it’s better to put groups on the same level of navigation as files. The top bar is the level-1 navigation, while the left bar is the level-2 navigation. But this old design confuses many users. And it’s inconvenient to switch between the groups page and files page.

old-design

The new navigation reflects our recent thinking on the importance/priority of a few features. As we discovered that the discussion feature is a minor feature, it is better to hide it and make the file navigation flatter and simpler. Thus in the new design, an uniform left-side navigation is used that combines the files from mine, shared, groups and organization. Now the users don’t need to frequently switch between file view and group view.

5.1-group-view

Grid View

Users can now use grid view to list files in a folder. Previously it is only available in share link.

5.1-files-view

Library Operations

In the new version, operations for library, like rename and history settings, are put directly in the library listing page, much like operations for folders. This makes operations on libraries more similar to operations on folders/files. It’s more intuitive for users.

5.1-library-ops

Improvements on web UI is a continuing mission of Seafile. There are more to come in the future. Any suggestions are welcome!