Image: Jack Wallen

Being able to manage projects on a cloud solution is a crucial feature for some users. Such a feature makes it easier to combine related files and folders together to make it easier to track them. Unfortunately, the Nextcloud on-premise cloud solution doesn’t include an actual projects application. That doesn’t mean you can’t create projects, it’s just a bit less intuitive than you might be accustomed to–especially when using an app or service that is specific to managing projects.

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With Nextcloud, you can link a number of items together as a project, such as documents, spreadsheets, and Talk conversations. Once you’ve linked these items together, you can gain quick access to any of them from a single location.

I want to show you how you can create a project on your Nextcloud instance. This should work, regardless of what version of Nextcloud you’re using. I’ll be demonstrating on Nextcloud 20 (the latest release).

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What you’ll need

  • A running instance of Nextcloud
  • A user account

How to create a project

I’m going to start my project from a new file. Log in to Nextcloud and then navigate into the folder you want to contain the new file. Click the + button to create a new document, give the document a name, and hit Enter on your keyboard to create the file.

Create a second file to link to this project. Once you have at least two objects, go back to the parent folder housing the file and click the Share button associated with that file (Figure A).

Figure A

Two files that will be linked into a project.

In the resulting sidebar, click Add To A Project (Figure B).

Figure B

The share sidebar for our newly-created file.

In the drop-down, click Link To A File. In the resulting popup, navigate to the file you want to link to, select the file, and click Choose (Figure C).

Figure C

Selecting a file to add to the project.

You should now see a new entry in the share sidebar, indicating a new project has been created. Click that entry and it will expand to show the linked files (Figure D).

Figure D

The linked files in our project.

If you click the menu button associated with that project, you can rename it, which is probably a good idea as the default name will be that of the original file.

You can also add Talk conversations to the project–in case you’ve had a Talk conversation with another user that directly relates to the project. To do that, open the sharing sidebar, click Add To Project, select Link To A Conversation, and when prompted, select the conversation to be added.

You can even add projects to projects. To do that, open the sharing sidebar for a file that’s included in a project, click Add To A Project, type the name of the project to be added, and select it when it appears.

How to view projects

As I said, the Nextcloud Projects feature is far from intuitive, and viewing projects is just another reason why I stand by that claim. In order to view a project, you must navigate to a file that is contained in the project, click the Share button, and then wait until the project and it’s associated files appear in the right sidebar (Figure E).

Figure E

Our project now has a few more entries, including another project.

As you can see, there are a few files and conversations listed. To open any one of those files, click the entry and it will open in the associated application.

How Nextcloud can improve this

The Nextcloud developers should give this feature serious attention. In order to make it more user-friendly they should do the following:

  • Give projects a dedicated app

  • Make it possible to select more than one file at a time to be included

  • Make it possible to add new items to an already existing (and renamed) project

  • Allow the inclusion of folders to a project

Those four additions alone would make this feature exponentially more helpful for end users.

And that’s the gist of creating projects with the Nextcloud on-premise cloud solution. This isn’t an ideal projects solution, nor should it be considered an actual project management tool, but it does make it possible to link files and conversations together so you can remember everything that is related to a single project.

It might take you some time to add this into your daily Nextcloud workflow. Hopefully, by the time you have, the developers will have improved this feature such that it can be used as an actual cloud-based projects solution.