How to enable the OnlyOffice document server in Nextcloud 18

If your Nextcloud 18 installation is missing OnlyOffice, here's how to resolve the issue.

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Image: Jack Wallen

Recently, I reported how the latest release of Nextcloud (dubbed Nextcloud Hub) was a real game changer for businesses looking for an all-in-one cloud solution. The biggest addition to the Nextcloud on-premises cloud server solution was the built-in OnlyOffice office suite. 

Prior to Nextcloud 18, you had to work some serious IT kung fu to add the open source office suite to the cloud solution. Not only did you have to install a working OnlyOffice document server, you had to add the connector to Nextcloud. It was a challenge, to say the least.

However, with Nextcloud 18, that OnlyOffice suite of tools is built in, and should work right out of the box.

In theory.

To test the ease of this solution, I installed Nextcloud 18, which can be done in similar fashion to the installation of previous Nextcloud releases (see: How to install Nextcloud 16 on Ubuntu 18.04). Upon first login, however, there was no sign of OnlyOffice. What gives?

SEE: Hybrid cloud: A guide for IT pros (TechRepublic download)

I made my way over to the Settings window to see an entry for OnlyOffice. Interesting. Upon clicking that entry, I am surprised to see it asking me for the Document Editing Service address (Figure A).

Figure A

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Uh oh.

At first blush, it looks as though the out-of-the-box experience for Nextcloud 18 isn't quite as "out of the box" as one might think.

So I reached out to one of my contacts at Nextcloud with the issue. As always, my contact was on top of the issue. He looped in one of the devs who gave me the scoop. Apparently the problem is a timeout issue on the downloading of the necessary components for OnlyOffice. Since the additional pieces are a sizable download, the backend Nextcloud server was timing out for some users. The devs are working on this to make the out-of-the-box experience to be just that.

In the meantime, I have the fix for those who've installed Nextcloud 18 and don't find OnlyOffice included.

How to add OnlyOffice to Nextcloud 18

You'll be surprised at how simple the fix is for this issue. Here are the steps to make sure you have OnlyOffice added to your Nextcloud server:

  1. Log in to Nextcloud 18 as an admin user.
  2. Click on your profile icon in the upper right corner.
  3. Click Apps. 
  4. In the Apps window, search for Community Document Server.
  5. When the entry appears (Figure B), click Enable.
  6. Allow the download and enabling to complete.

Figure B

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Enabling the Community Document Server.

Once this has finished, log out and log back in to Nextcloud. If you go to Files, and click the + button, you should now see Document, Spreadsheet, and Presentation listed (Figure C).

Figure C

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OnlyOffice document buttons.

Congratulations, OnlyOffice is now integrated into Nextcloud 18. You have a full-blown office suite added to your on-premises cloud solution.

After kicking the tires of the OnlyOffice/Nextcloud integration, I can tell you it is an absolutely masterful addition for anyone looking to shrug off the likes of Google Docs and Office 365. Take the time to install Nextcloud 18 and make sure the OnlyOffice integration is working. It'll be the most productive half hour you've spent this day.

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