Even though we just had the nice and successful ownCloud Contributor Conference there have quite some ownCloud releases happened recently. I like to draw your attention to this for a moment, because some people seem to fail to see how active the ownCloud community actually is at the moment.
There has been the big enterprise release 9.1 on September 20th, but that of course came along with community releases which are in the focus here.
We had server release 8.0.15, server release 8.1.10, server release 8.2.8 and release 9.0.5. There are maintenance releases for the older major versions, needed to fix bugs on installations that still run on these older versions. We deliver them following this plan.
The latest and greatest server release is release 9.1.1 that has all the hardening that also went into the enterprise releases.
Aside a ton of bugfixes that you find listed in the changelog there have also been interesting changes which drive innovation. To pick just one example: The data fingerprint property. It enables the clients to detect if the server got a backup restored, and saves changes on the clients to conflict files if needed. This is a nice example of solutions which are based on feedback from enterprise customers community running ownCloud, who help with reporting problems and proposing solutions.
Talking about professional usage of ownCloud: Of course also all the server release are available as linux packages for various distributions, for example the ownCloud server 9.1.1 packages. We think that our users should not be forced to deploy from tarballs, which is error prone and not native to Linux, but have the choice to use linux packages through the distributions package management.
There also have been client releases recently: The Android client versions 2.1.1 and 2.1.2 were released with important changes for Android 7 and much more fixes, as well as iOS client versions 3.5.0 and 3.5.1. The desktop client 2.2.4 also got a regular bug fix update (Changelog).
I guess you agree that is a lot of activity shown in the ownCloud project, making sure to get the best ownCloud experience out there for the users, driven by passion for the project and professional usage in focus.
A couple of weeks ago we released another significant milestone of the ownCloud Client, called version 2.2.0, followed by two small maintenance releases. (download). I’d like to highlight some of the new features and the changes that we have made to improve the user experience:
Overlay icons for the various file managers on our three platforms already exist for quite some time, but it has turned out that the performance was not up to the mark for big sync folders. The reason was mainly that too much communication between the file manager plugin and the client was happening. Once asked about the sync state of a single file, the client had to jump through quite some hoops in order to retrieve the required information. That involved not only database access to the sqlite-based sync journal, but also file system interaction to gather file information. Not a big deal if it’s only a few, but if the user syncs huge amounts, these efforts do sum up.
This becomes especially tricky for the propagation of changes upwards the file tree. Imagine there is a sync error happening in the foo/bar/baz/myfile. What should happen is that a warning icon appears on the icon for foo in the file manager, telling that within this directory, a problem exists. The complexity of the existing implementation was already high and adding this extra functionality would have reduced the reliability of the code lower than it already was.
Jocelyn was keen enough to do a refactoring of the underlying code which we call the SocketApi. Starting from the basic assumption that all files are in sync, and the code has just to care for these files that are new or changed, erroneous or ignored or similar, the amount of data to keep is very much reduced, which makes processing way faster.
On the ownCloud server, there are situation where notifications are created which make the user aware of things that happened.
An example are federated shares:
If somebody shares a folder with you, you previously had to acknowledge it through the web interface. This explicit step is a safety net to avoid people sharing tons of Gigabytes of content, filling up your disk.
With 2.2.x, you can acknowledge the share right from the client, saving you the round trip to the web interface to check for new shares.
Keeping an Eye on Word & Friends
Microsoft Word and other office tools are rather hard to deal with in syncing, because they do very strict file locking of the files that are worked on. So strict that the subsequent sync app is not even allowed to open the file, not even for reading. That would be required to be able to sync the file.
As a result the sync client needs to wait until word unlocks the file, and then continue syncing.
For previous version of the client, this was hard to detect and worked only if other changes happened in the same directory where the file in question resides.
With 2.2.0 we added a special watcher that keeps an eye on the office docs Word and friends are blocking. And once the files are unlocked, the watcher starts a sync run to get the files to the server, or down from the server.
Advances on Desktop Sharing
The sharing has been further integrated and received several UX- and bugfixes. There is more feedback when performing actions so you know when your client is waiting for a response from the server. The client now also respect more data returned from the server if you have apps enabled on the server that for example
limit the expiration date.
Further more we better respect the share permissions granted. This means that if
somebody shared a folder without create permissions with you and you want to reshare
this folder in the client you won’t get the option to share with delete permissions. This avoids errors when sharing and is more in line with how the whole ownCloud platform handles re-sharing. We also adjusted the behavior for federated reshares with the server.
Please note to take full advantage of all improvements you will need to run at least
server version 9.0.
Last night I found time to finally install the first release candidate of Volumio 2, my preferred audio player software. This is more exciting than it sounds, because when I read the blogpost last summer that Volumio is going to be completely rewritten, with replacing the base technologies, I was a bit afraid that this will be one of the last bits that we heard from this project. Too many cool projects died after famous last announcements like that.
But not Volumio.
After quite some development time the project released RC1. While there were a few small bugs in a beta, my feelings about the RC1 are really positive. Volumio2 has a very nice and stylish GUI, a great improvement over Volumio1. Album-art is now nicely integrated in the playback pane and and everything is more shiny, even if the general concept is the same as in Volumio1.
I like it because it is only a music player. Very reduced on that, but also very thought through and focussed to fulfill that job perfectly. I just want to find and play music from my collection, quickly and comfortable and with good sound quality. No movies, series, images. Just sound.
About speed: While the scanning of my not too big music collection on a NAS was a bit of a time consuming task in the past, this feels now much faster (maybe thats only because of a faster network between the Raspberry and the NAS?). Searching, browsing and everything works quite fluid on an Raspberry2. And with the Hifiberry DAC for output, the sound quality is more than ok.
This is an release candidate of the first release of the rewritten project, and the quality is already very good. Nevertheless I found a few things that did not work for me or could be improved. That the volume control is not working is probably because of the Hifiberry DAC driver, I remember there was something, but haven’t investigated yet.
There are some things in the GUI that could be looked at again: For example on the Browse page, there is the very well working search field. After entering the search term and Enter, the search result is displayed as a list of songs to select from. I wished that the songs were additionally grouped by albums, which should also be selectable to be pushed to the play queue.
Also it would be great if the Queue would somehow indicate which entry is currently played. I could not spot that.
But these are only minor findings which can easily be addressed later after enhancement requests were posted 🙂
I think Volumio2 is already a great success, even before it was released! You should not hesitate to try it if you love to listen to music!
Thanks for the hard work Volumio-Team!
Yesterday we released ownCloud Client 1.7.0. It is available via ownCloud’s website. This client release marks the next big step in open source file synchronization technology and I am very happy that it is out now.
The new release brings two lighthouse features which I’ll briefly describe here.
For the first time, this release has a feature that lives kind of outside the ownCloud desktop client program. That nicely shows that syncing is not only a functionality living in one single app, but a deeply integrated system add-on that affects various levels of desktop computing.
Here we’re talking about overlay icons which are displayed in the popular file managers on the supported desktop platforms. The overlay icons are little additional icons that stick on top of the normal file icons in the file manager, like the little green circles with the checkmark on the screenshot.
The overlays visualize the sync state of each file or directory: The most usual case that a file is in sync between server and client is shown as a green checkmark, all good, that is what you expect. Files in the process of syncing are marked with a blue spinning icon. Files which are excluded from syncing show a yellow exclamation mark icon. And errors are marked by a red sign.
What comes along simple and informative for the user requires quite some magic behind the curtain. I promise to write more about that in another blog post soon.
Another new thing in 1.7.0 is the selective sync.
In ownCloud client it was always possible to have more than one sync connection. Using that, users do not have to sync their entire server data to one local directory as with many other sync solutions. A more fine granular approach is possible here with ownCloud.
For example, mp3’s from the Music dir on the ownCloud go to the media directory locally. Digital images which are downloaded from the camera to the “photos” dir on the laptop are synced through a second sync connection to the server photo directory. All the other stuff that appears to be on the server is not automatically synced to the laptop which keeps it organized and the laptop harddisk relaxed.
While this is of course still possible we added another level of organization to the syncing. Within existing sync connections now certain directories can be excluded and their data is not synced to the client device. This way big amounts of data can be easier organized depending on the demands of the target device.
To set this up, check out for the button Choose what to Sync on the Account page. It opens the little dialog to deselect directories from the server tree. Note that if you deselect a directory, it is removed locally, but not on the server.
There is way more we put into this release: A huge amount of bug fixes and detail improvements went in. Fixes for all parts of the application: Performance (such as database access improvements), GUI (such as detail improvements for the progress display), around the overall processing (like how network timeouts are handled) and the distribution of the applications (MacOSX installer and icons), just to name a few examples. Also a lot of effort went into the sync core where many nifty edge cases were analyzed and better handled.
Between version 1.6.2 and the 1.7.0 release more than 850 commits from 15 different authors were pushed into the git repository (1.6.3 and 1.6.4 were continued in the 1.6 branch which commits are also in the 1.7 branch). A big part of these are bug fixes.
Who is it?
Who does all this? Well, there are a couple of brave coders funded by the ownCloud company working on the client. And we do our share, but not everything. Also coding is only one thing. If you for example take some time and read around in the client github repo it becomes clear that there are so many people around who contribute: Reporting bugs, testing again and again, answering silly looking questions, proposing and discussing improvements and all that (yes, and finally coding too). That is really a huge block, honestly.
Even if it sometimes becomes a bit heated, because we can not do everything fast enough, that still is motivating. Because what does that mean? People care! For the idea, for the project, for the stuff we do. How cool is that? Thank you!
Have fun with 1.7.0!
Yesterday, we released ownCloud 7. You might have read that somewhere on the internet – it was widely announced and broadly picked up. If you do not have ownCloud yet, you really should try it now, and if you are one of the people happily using ownCloud for a while, update soon!
In my opinion, ownCloud 7 is a real step ahead. So much work went into it from the brave server guys, and the result is simply impressive: It is fast, beautiful and fully focused on what it is supposed to be and do: File sync and share, even though you still have of course all the other useful stuff like calendaring and such.
Apart from the wellknown features ownCloud 7 also brings some things that you do not see on the first look. Some of these things relate to syncing and as a guy working mainly on the sync client I am especially happy about that: Already with the current released clients you will see a performance win in syncing, because ownCloud 7 handles parallel HTTP requests way better. Moreover, ownCloud 7 sends some interesting information about it’s files, and the next generation of sync clients will for example know which files are shared and their permissions. We are currently working on some exciting stuff on the client side, stay tuned.
That all should be reason enough to celebrate together, because ownCloud is done by all of us in the community.
On Tuesday, august 5th, we will do a Release Party in Nuremberg, Germany. As last time, the Coworkingspace Nürnberg is hosting us. We will start at 18:00.
Everybody who is interested in ownCloud for whatever reason is very welcome to show up. We will probably have a short informal demonstration or two, but of course plenty room for questions, discussions, meet and greet with all kind of FOSS people, some core ownCloud people, nice beer and big fun.
You really should come! And don’t forget to tell your friends, thanks!
It was finished today and fixes two issues that came up after the release of the previous version: A compile fix for compiling Kraft against the latest version of ctemplate, which did not work out of the box with Kraft 0.54. The other fix is a fail in generating PDF documents which is a pretty severe problem for Kraft. Both is now working well with the new version 0.55 which can be downloaded here.
Thanks a lot to the Kraft community for testing!
If you find other problems, want to give feedback or seek help, please see here how to proceed. Thanks!
I am happy to tell about the new release 0.54 of Kraft which was released a couple of days ago.
It is not only a maintenance release but also comes with a couple of new features, the most outstandig is the ability to handle a new document type, the delivery note which prints no prices. That closes a gap for interesting use cases. Here is a more detailed log of what was added to this release.
Kraft is KDE software to help people driving a small business. Emphasis is on small and business. We are not talking CMS, ERP or any other monster. Kraft is about a handy alternative for people who wrote their first 25 invoices using Libre Office and now start to think of how they could could be more efficient in doing that: Using structured templates, being able to create an invoice based on a quote that was done before, no need to fiddle around with slipping paragraphs, a proper address book, such stuff. Software for people who have other things to do than sit in front of their computer. Hard to understand for geeks like us who enjoy this technology, but yes, there are a lot of people who do not, who just use computers because they must, because they have a business.
I started to work on Kraft in 2006, and worked on similar software before, well, we all have our dark history. I always enjoyed doing software for people who would prefer to not use the computer. And the more I got involved into KDE the more obvious it became to me how perfectly KDE is able to help with that. High level classes, components to reuse, other projects aiming the same direction, and a community of helpful, friendly and open minded people. Also I think software like Kraft is a good addition to the KDE family as it has potential to bring more and different users to KDE.
However, if measured by the number of known users of Kraft, this idea failed completely. Compared to other KDE software, Kraft has disappointing little (known) users. Also contributors: Apart from very few brave developers who spent some time on Kraft, I am the only contributor. The reasons for that can be discussed in another thread.
What still keeps me motivated to work on Kraft is that the few users often tell how happy they are with it. And that Kraft really helps them to drive their business and save time. Also that they found with Linux and KDE a computer “environment” that really helps them reliably instead of facing them with scary stuff. That is really cool, and the best is that this recently happened more often than the years before.
That is what keeps me around with Kraft.
For the future, there are enough ideas: “Combined Kraft” which means using one instance of Kraft from distributed home offices, with ownCloud as sync hub, or an easy to use project management and of course a port to KDE Frameworks 5 to be able to ship for Mac and and and…
Well, it’s a pet project, and my day unfortunately does not leave very much energy behind for that currently, so don’t expect big movement, but be sure that there will be small steps.