Nextcloud evolves into Nextcloud Hub to better meet your company's needs

Nextcloud Hub could be that open source alternative to Office 365 or Google Docs that you've been waiting for.

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Image: Jack Wallen

The Nextcloud developers have unleashed one of their most significant upgrades to their on-premises cloud hosting platform: Nextcloud Hub. I was invited to test the pre-release version and never before have I been so impressed with a piece of open source software. Nextcloud has evolved from a tool that can be installed and expanded with a number of applications, to an out-of-the-box, one-stop shop collaboration suite. 

Once installed, Nextcloud Hub includes built-in video chat, OnlyOffice integration, and so much more--out of the box. Admins will no longer have to install or connect to a separate OnlyOffice server. That's big news for anyone who's taken the time to add business-grade collaboration to the Nextcloud platform. Open source now has a seriously robust and user-friendly web-based office groupware suite.

This evolution of the hottest on-premises cloud server software will come about with the next release (version 18 is available now) and will bring with it a full-blown, fully-featured cloud-based set of collaboration tools unlike anything you've witnessed in an open source stack.

That's how impressive the next iteration of Nextcloud is.

SEE: 10 free alternatives to Microsoft Word and Excel (TechRepublic download)

What Nextcloud Hub brings

The two biggest additions to Nextcloud are the built-in OnlyOffice office suite and the Talk tool. With those two additional features alone, Nextcloud has become a major contender in the all-in-one cloud collaboration space.

But the fun doesn't end with documents and chats. Nextcloud Hub has a few more tricks up its sleeve that are sure to impress those looking for a cost-effective solution that doesn't skimp on features.

Case in point: Flow. With Nextcloud Hub there are new workflow capabilities which includes the ability to automatically turn documents into PDFs, automatically send action-triggered messages, and more. With Flow, it's possible to automate just about any repetitive task and build efficient team collaboration workflows.

For example, say you want to automatically send a message to a particular user once you've uploaded a file that is over a specific size. With Nextcloud Hub, it's just a matter of creating a new Flow, based on that particular action (Figure A).

Figure A

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Creating a new Flow in Nextcloud Hub.

The Files tool has two new features that will help make your collaboration efforts a bit easier. The first feature is called Workspaces. This feature brings context to your folders and facilitates collaboration efforts in a single location. With Workspaces, you can make notes about a particular folder to indicate, for example, what purpose, project, or clients those files are for (Figure B). This feature will be a boon to anyone who likes to stay as organized as possible.

Figure B

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Making notes on what a particular folder contains.

You can add notes, images, links, lists--anything to help you and your collaborators stay organized within a directory.

The next feature added to Files is file locking, which will prevent conflicts when editing files shared with other users. This won't impair your ability to collaborate on a document in real time. That's still very possible. But, when you want to manually lock a file, to prevent anyone from making any changes while you have control, all you have to do is click the Lock File entry from the file's menu drop-down (Figure C).

Figure C

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Locking a file.

Just remember to unlock the file when you're done, otherwise none of your collaborators will be able to open the file for editing.

This is just the start of what's to come with Nextcloud Hub. Anyone that's spent time with this cloud server software within the data center will be thrilled with how the developers have evolved this tool into an even more powerful cloud-based collaboration server. If you've been looking for an open source, on-premise alternative to Microsoft Office 365 or Google Docs, Nextcloud Hub might be exactly what you're looking for.

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