Nextcloud21 Takes Collaboration and Speed to Next Level
March 2, 2021
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by Arabella Seebaluck

Open-source file syncing and sharing software company Nextcloud launched a new version of its collaboration platform Nextcloud Hub 21, with a promise of up to 10 times better performance and a ton of new features.

Nextcloud, a fork of ownCloud, has earned a name for itself by creating a world-class open-source, private infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) cloud platform over the years.

For some background to its origin, Frank Karlitschek, created this cloud innovation tool after parting ways with ownCloud, the company he co-founded. In simple terms, Nextcloud provides open source software solutions for hosting and managing you own online cloud storage service. It offers secure and safe tools to store and manage your data from your desktop or mobile devices while enjoying the benefits of the cloud.

From being an independent spin-off of ownCloud in the beginning, Nextcloud has gone through several iterations over the years and with every new version, it has expanded the scope of its offerings. Today, the platform comprises of more than 200 different apps to provide a slew of features including real-time communication, mail management, document editing, and task management directly in the Nextcloud environment.

Coming back to Nextcloud21, the latest iteration of its flagship product Nextcloud Hub has introduced a high performance back-end for files, a collaborative whiteboard, author colors in text, document templates and more. It has brought in a number of new collaboration features in Text, Talk, Groupware and Files.

The optional, Rust-based back-end for files reduces server load from desktop clients and web interface polling by 90% while delivering instant notifications and file changes to users.

“With the COVID crisis continuing to force employees to work from home, Nextcloud server administrators need to keep adding capacity. Nextcloud 21 will reduce the load on servers, enabling more employees to work without requiring additional hardware. At the same time, the new collaboration features improve the day to day productivity and support team members in getting more work done in less time,” Karlitschek said in a statement.

Nextcloud Hub 21 particularly focuses on optimizing performance to increase responsiveness and capacity at large installations. Compared to the previous versions, responsiveness has improved about twice as a result of new optimizations to app loading and database queries as well as a range of specific scenarios like the usage of text, object storage, and LDAP group handling. It has introduced new client preview features and a unified search for various apps besides moving on from PHP 7.x to offer PHP 8 compatibility that can provide additional performance boost to Nextcloud deployments.

“At a scale of millions of users, milliseconds start to add up. After analyzing application and caching server, storage and database behavior, our team was able to significantly reduce the impact of common operations. The High Performance Back-end, on the other hand, provides a completely new way of reducing server load while bringing a new level of responsiveness to users,” said Roeland Douma, Server Engineering and Support Lead, Nextcloud.

On the SaaS front, it has introduces a collaborative whiteboard app to improve the collaboration experience within the cloud platform. It allows users to draw, take notes and upload images during a call or on their own. Author colors in text makes it easier to track activity during a collaborative editing session and the addition of document templates can speed up the creation of documents like meeting notes or reports. Nextcloud Talk debuts message status indicators, a raise hand feature, a group conversation description, improved call experience with collapsible video bar, full-screen screen sharing and reduced CPU usage. Conversation view has been enhanced with bigger image previews, animated GIF support and easier accessible settings, and improved and partially rewritten Bridge integrations.

The new version of Nextcloud Mail introduces drag’n’drop support, configurable special folders, improved threaded view, and updated attachment handling. It offers administrators the ability to configure attachment limits and enforce usage of Nextcloud share links instead while Contacts app received the ability to automatically retrieve avatars from social media networks.

In a nutshell, speed of collaboration has gained a significant performance boost.

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