Unsung heroes of the Nextcloud community: Janis Köhr

Remember the OCR app for Nextcloud, we always tweet about? Here is an interview with Janis Köhr, the developer behind it.

Meet Janis

Janis lives in Stuttgart, Germany and is currently working as a software engineer. Programming is not only a hobby for him, but it is also his profession.

“I identify as a frontend development enthusiast, but work as a full-stack developer where I have a Java focus on the backend side and a modern single page application focus on the front end side.”

Besides programming, football is Janis’ favourite hobby, which is the reason why, from time to time, he is not as active as he wants to be in programming.

How it all started

As a hobby!
At some point Janis wanted to quit all ‘hungry for data’ providers and set up his own NAS. After he did a research he found out that Nextcloud was exactly what he was looking for.

His initial idea was to get rid of all paper (invoices, certificates, etc) in the home office and keep the scanned versions stored in Nextcloud. But there was a small but annoying detail, that was missing! Even though every document was sorted and named pretty good, he couldn’t really search for specific content over all the files. The scans resulted in PDF documents but they only included images and no searchable text layer. So he had the idea to invest some time on developing the OCR app, which basically stands for Optical Character Recognition.

“From the last version (v4) on I changed the fundamental approach of it to be full client-sided which has the big benefit that no additional server component needs to be installed or available. Another big benefit for me is the significant reduction of maintenance and support time that is needed now. In fact I set the project on hold last year after I recognized that I wouldn’t be able to invest that amount of time in the old approach. Since I came up with the new version I am pretty sure, this will change and a lot of potential for bugs was already eliminated.”

The future of OCR

Janis likes to develop new features when he needs new functionalities on the software he uses. For now OCR complete these needs and he hopes that other people might propose new ideas based on their needs to develop the app even further. Do you have any ideas?

Challenging aspects

Janis is a Java focused Software Engineer and his main personal challenge is PHP!

” It might be because I am not that familiar with php anymore.”

When he first started to develop his own app, Janis would have liked to know more things about the App Framework and the operating principles of Nextcloud.

” There are so many ways to add a certain feature in a Nextcloud app and for me it feels like the existing apps use all of them. So what would be very helpful would be a documentation for the app framework that is more detailed in what certain parts are and what they do, or better: what an app can or should use it for.”

Luckily for the new app developers now we have a whole new page with the needed information to help them get started!

Nextcloud and Open Source

It is amazing how many people work together to make Nextcloud even better for their needs!

Janis always reports bugs once he finds them, but contributing regularly is a bit difficult to manage. That’s why he is active in contributing to several open source projects depending on his free time.

For him, it is fun to work on a good solution for a certain problem he might find and in open source it feels good to have other people’s feedback and help as well!

Develop your own Nextcloud app

Would you like to develop your own Nextcloud app but don’t know where to start? We recently launched our new Developer Program and a better documentation for new app developers to get started!

Start the discussion at the
Nextcloud forums

Go to Forums