November 17, 2020
Nextcloud is a content collaboration platform. That means is an integrated set of tools to collaborate on ‘content’, documents for example. We focus here on the user experience and the process of getting work done. To achieve an efficient work flow, Nextcloud has developed and integrated a number of technologies, including chat and video conferencing with Nextcloud Talk. Why would you use Talk over a separate solution? The key reasons are integration and efficiency, but security also benefits. We will go deeper in the various advantages in this blog.
In its core, Nextcloud talk is a communication platform. Its functionality overlaps individual and group chat apps like Whatsapp and Slack, as well as video call platforms like Zoom and Skype. Here are some of the features of Talk.
For use with external guests, conversations can be made public and shared with a link that can be password protected. For webinars or presentations, a moderator can control when a call starts with a configured start time, giving participants a lobby to wait in. Moderators can also mute participants.
A rather unique feature is that Nextcloud Talk can be ‘bridged’ to other chat platforms, including MS Teams, slack, XMPP, Matrx, IRC and many more.
Last but not least, businesses might be happy to know that Talk has support for a SIP bridge, which would allow connecting to a telephone network for phone dial-in to calls.
In organizations, chat platforms are used for work. And work is about data. So, in Nextcloud Talk, you can share files and folders directly in a chat room. That can be done either by drag’n’drop from your desktop, or by picking files that are already on Nextcloud. Even more convenient, from Nextcloud the share sidebar in Files you can share a document or folder directly into a chat room.
Those files can then be seen by the participants in the chat room. Clicking an image or PDF file will pop up the image or PDF viewer so everyone can quickly scroll through them.
More interesting are, of course, office documents. These can be edited directly in the chat room by all participants!
Any files that are shared in the chat room are implicitly shared to all participants, who can then access them from Nextcloud Files, attach them to an email from Nextcloud Mail, add them to a todo item in Nextcloud Tasks or Deck, and so on… Guests in the chat, meanwhile, get access to the shared files using public links.
Keeping documents in one place rather than having copies of them on a variety of platforms has obvious benefits, avoiding double work and making sure everyone has access to the latest version.
Talk integration in Nextcloud goes further than that. As a platform, Nextcloud has many cross-application features. For example, a simple time saver is that anywhere in the Nextcloud interface you can click an avatar and start a conversation with the user.
Further, Nextcloud Talk integrates with Nextcloud features like our unified search, making it easy to find chat messages from anywhere in Nextcloud, just like you can find Calendar appointments and files. Users can also keep an eye on chat messages from our dashboard.
Talk also works with Flow, Nextcloud’s built in automation feature. You can configure it to receive a message in a chat room when a file is uploaded in a specific folder, or when an event was added in a calendar.
Moreover, Talk of course supports our Status feature where users can set a status, making clear to others if they’re available, when why and how. And Nextcloud’s project feature enables linking resources across documentations, so a document, chat room and calendar can be connected and kept track off.
Beyond the benefits of easily accessing documents in Talk and platform integration, other Nextcloud apps also have direct access to Talk, simplifying collaboration.
In the Files app, any shared file now has a chat in the side bar! While you’re editing a file and chatting, you can seamlessly transition to a video call.
The Talk integration in Files also enabled a unique security feature, Video Verification. This enables users to share a document or folder in a public link and receive a video call for identity verfication before granting access.
And while making an appointment in the Calendar app, users can easily schedule a Talk meeting.
When a company or project does not have enough trust in its security processes to run a security bug bounty program, it might not be a good idea to rely on their solution for sensitive data.
An often overlooked risk of a wildgrowth of different applications, cloud or local hosted, is in the area of security. Each additional application that has access to user data increases the risk of a breach, and each has to be secured and configured in its own right. Some lack crucial features like virus checking upon upload or ransomware protection, or require specialized knowledge to be locked down. Moreover, not all companies developing collaboration tools have a great track record finding, fixing and patching security issues. Generally speaking, when a company or project does not have enough trust in its security processes to run a security bug bounty program, it might not be a good idea to rely on their solution for sensitive data.
Nextcloud belongs to the top in the self hosted market when it comes to security features and processes, and keeping data on Nextcloud means data is always protected by its unique security features like its file access control rules that will block unauthorized access.
While for security reasons it can be helpful to forbid teams to upload documents they work with to chat platforms or their todo tool and use public links to a Nextcloud storage instead, the convenience will often win out – and leak data.
Nextcloud is designed as a complete collaboration platform, providing significant productivity benefits over the use of a web of fragmented tools as often employed in organizations in the process of moving to the cloud. Talk, Groupware and Files function as an integrated whole, with hundreds of apps provided by partners and the wider development community offering further benefits.