With the release of Nextcloud 15, a host of new features were added. This feature list includes next-gen 2FA, an improved sidebar, faster full-text search, a document PDF converter, improved Workflows, and much more. But there’s another addition that might pique the curiosity of many users. That feature is a new app, called Social.

With Social, Nextcloud will connect to the “fediverse” (a decentralized social network, based on the ActivityPub protocol). Nextcloud users can then comment on files, follow one another, and send private messages. This brings a very social-like functionality to Nextcloud, which means users have even more ways to collaborate on documents and projects. That’s a win on every level.

But how to do you install the Social feature? Let’s me show you.

SEE: Vendor comparison: Microsoft Azure, Amazon AWS, and Google Cloud (Tech Pro Research)

Installing Social

A word of warning: Social is currently very much in alpha, so chances are it will not work as expected (which I ran into). If you’d rather steer clear of early development releases, I’d suggest avoiding Social until it matures well beyond the alpha stages. If, however, you love a good early adoption, here’s how you install.

  1. Log into your Nextcloud instance as an admin user.
  2. From the main page, click on your profile image (upper right corner) and select Apps.
  3. In the App window click on the Search icon, type social, and hit Enter on your keyboard.
  4. Click the Download and enable button associated with the Social app (Figure A)
  5. If prompted, type your admin password.
  6. Allow the installation to complete.

Figure A

It should be noted, in order to make the most out of Social (at least in the Alpha stages), your Nextcloud instance must:

  • Use a real SSL certificate.
  • Be accessible from the internet.
  • Run on the default port.

Once you’ve installed Social you will see a new icon in the main Nextcloud toolbar (Figure B). Click on that icon to open the Social app.

Figure B

Once in the Social app, you’ll find links to:

  • Home: The Social app home page.
  • Direct messages: Any messages sent by your followers will be found here.
  • Profile: Your Social profile.
  • Local Timeline: The posts you’ve made within Nextcloud.
  • Global Timeline: Posts made by you and anyone you follow.

As you can see (back in Figure B), Social presents a blank Home. In fact, all of the links are currently coming up blank (whereas prior to upgrading to 0.1.2, I could actually use Social). That’s the beauty of using alpha-stage code–it’s going to break.

I was, however, able to use it prior to the upgrade and can attest this feature will become a serious game-changer for Nextcloud. With users able to comment and interact on a social-networking-type level, collaborating on Nextcloud will become more efficient and more productive. Who doesn’t want that? Of course, until Social is officially released, it’s will be unstable and prone to not functioning as expected.

Alpha is as alpha does

With good reason, it’s not often I report on a piece of alpha software. The tools not only tend to be hard to demonstrate, but they can also be frustrating and non-functional. However, getting a glimpse of what Nextcloud Social is going to become is impressive. The developers of this on-premises cloud server software have made something that can serve any business (of any size) quite well.

Make sure to upgrade your Nextcloud instance to release number 15 and keep checking on the status of the Social app. The second that tool is officially released, install it and make your in-house cloud server a collaborator’s dream come true.