OpenGoo Web Office

My search for a decent online word processor has led me to another potential solution: OpenGoo. OpenGoo is an open source web office suite that also has some characteristics off a project manager. Version 1.3 has just been released. It includes the following tools:

  • Word Processor
  • Presentation
  • Task Lists
  • E-mail client
  • Calendars
  • Web Links
  • Contacts

A spreadsheet is reportedly in the works. OpenGoo is installed on an Apache server and requires PHP5 and MySQL 4.1 +. It also requires InnoDB support. 

I had a great deal of difficulty getting OpenGoo up and running. First, I had to figure out how to enable InnoDB. If it is not enabled, you will need to edit etc/my.cnf deleting the line “skip-innodb,” then restart MySQL. If you are using a hosted account, your provider may not be willing to enable it for you. My second problem was that somehow OpenGoo does not play nice with the default Mod Security ruleset. I finally modified the Command Injection portion of the ruleset so that it no longer triggers my firewall.

Once all that was in place, installing OpenGoo was straightforward. You’ll need to create a database, upload the files, and browse to the opengoo/install directory. You will be prompted to fill in database information and create an admin account. Then, you are brought to a log in page. Once you log in, you are delivered to the Overview page:

goo_1

Since this is part of a search for an online word processor, that is what I looked at first.

goo_2

OpenGoo uses the FCKeditor that is commonly used as a text editor for the backend of many web based programs. The editor produces works with html files. It cannot open MS Word or Open Office files. It does work fairly well with word processors that can read and save html files. I was able to open and edit downloaded text files from OpenGoo with Word 04, the latest OpenOffice, TextEdit, and old versions of Pages (not versions 08 and 09) all on the Macintosh platform. In turn I was also able to create documents on my computer, save them as html, upload and work with them in OpenGoo.

I had better luck working with text across the various word processors than I had with eyeOS. I’m not sure that this was because it truly handles these files better, or because the documentation made it clearer what OpenGoo could or couldn’t work with. At least OpenGoo creates text filtes with a standard .html extension rather than .eyeos.

Like eyeOS, OpenGoo has a built in Presentation Editor called Slimey. Slimey is incredibly bare bones at Version 0.1. You cannot work with PowerPoint, Keynote, or Open Office files with it. I’m not sure how much further Slimey is going as it has almost been a year since it has been updated.

OpenGoo has a serviceable email client built in. Currently it only works with POP3 mail, but there are plans to develop the ability to work with IMAP and SSL giving it great flexibility. Once SSL capabilities are it may support Gmail.

goo_3

Open Goo as a number of features that one might find in project management software. It has a calendar component that allows individual users to confirm whether or not they can attend an event. There is a task manager that allows individuals to create and assign tasks, prioritize, track their progress, tag, attach objects, and track time spent on the task.

The administrative interface provides group and user management along with access control.

goo_4

It also allows you to enable and disable the various components, create workspaces, and more.

The installation requirements might make it impossible for many to set up. OpenGoo is clearly oriented toward the business environment. Some quick edits to the language files could change “companies” to classes or groups. There are a lot of features such as billing, that have no use in the school environment. It has good file upload and download tools that are a bit more obvious than those of eyeOS. While eyeOS is more attractive, OpenGoo generally has a more functional interface. While the word processor is a bit easier to use with regular word processors, it is still probably too difficult for student use. Access, group, and user control appears, at a quick glance, suitable for the K12 school environment. I think OpenGoo bears watching. I also plan on setting up accounts for my sons aged 10 and 13 to see how they respond to it.

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10 comments

  1. Matt Leifer’s avatar

    I’m enjoying your blog posts about web based FLOSS word processors, since you are obviously struggling quite hard to say nice things about products that aren’t exactly up to scratch. Google is clearly ahead of the open source world in this area, although Google docs hasn’t quite made me throw away my MS Word license either yet.

    Anyway, here is another online desktop that includes a word processor for you to try out:

    http://www.psychdesktop.net/

    It feels a lot like GNOME to me. Your students will probably find it very easy to use because I assume that you have converted them all into Linux hackers by now. However, I suspect the word processor is just another thinly disguised HTML editor because it only has about three fonts.

    1. Steve’s avatar

      I’m not asking for much. I just want a simple word processor that supports rtf. In fact, for my elementary crowd, I could live with txt. I don’t care much about fonts and the like–they can always adjust that before printing on a desktop based word processor. 90% of what is done at a K12 school could be handled adequately with txt and 98% with rtf. It certainly is a step up from the typewriters I used in either case! The key thing is that the files open. Our kids know how to save as rtf or txt.

      Google Docs is problematic with children under 13 and I’d refuse to order older students to use Google Docs for reasons cited elsewhere on this blog. Honestly, I think Google should release the code for Google Docs.

      Thanks for the suggestion. I’m game for playing with whatever comes my way. Some have found utility in these reviews. Ironically, in spite of my intentions, these posts may serve as justification for use of that which I am trying to avoid!

      I do believe that a solution is out there that involves the installation of Open Office on my server along with user, group, and file management.

    2. Matt Leifer’s avatar

      Well, at least psychdesktop looks to be an easy install. They are just asking for a standard php/mysql environment along with some .htaccess tweaks. Looks simple enough.

      Open Office is probably the way to go at the moment, although it is a bit bloated and hence slow on older machines.

      1. Steve’s avatar

        I’m going to give it a shot, just to take a look. After what I went through with OpenGoo causing the firewall to lock me out of the server an easy install is appealing. It took me a bit to figure out exactly what happened, then I had to find a proxy that allowed secure connections to get in and reset the firewall as I couldn’t coax my dsl router to give me a new ip.

        I see an Open Office RPM available on my server. What I need is a web based front end for it. I wonder how taxing it would be on server resources if several people were invoking it at once.

      2. magesh’s avatar

        well iam using opengoo for my business… i love the task manager in it which allows us to manage our projects, and get the job done in time. havent tried the billing yet…

        1. Steve’s avatar

          I really think that the project management portion of OpenGoo is a strong point. I haven’t played with any others in some time. I wonder how it compares with dotProject or PHProjekt?

        2. Tradenet’s avatar

          I’ve played with PHProjekt some time ago…it’s a bit “cryptic”, IMHO. However I haven’t looked at recently.

          BTW, interestingly enough Steve I can’t get your site to render properly with Firefox v3.1 Beta 3. First site I have come across that doesn’t.

          1. Steve’s avatar

            As I recall, a lot of the PHProject documentation was not fleshed out in English.

            I’m a little surprised that the site doesn’t render as it is kind of generic: WordPress 2.7.1 with a mainstream Tarski template.

          2. dave cormier’s avatar

            funny… my installation went like a dream on two different servers. I think i have those settings on by default, but thanks very much for documenting them here… that way I’ll have something to point people to when my ‘oh it installed in 2 min’ blows up on them :)

            I’m using it for project management and, on your recommendation, will take a run at the email client.

            will be pointing to your post on edtechweekly tonight. cheers.

          3. don’s avatar

            Puzzled by the installation problems. I have not had any problems – just had a look to see if there is any odd .htaccess problems, but there does not seem to be an .htaccess file at all.

            Oh well.

            I’ve been using OpenGoo since about version 1.1, and am still using it, so I guess it has something going for it. I’d like to see a better email client and a few other things, but I like the flexibility it offers.

            I also use FCKEditor in a number of Web based applications, so don’t mind poking around in the files to tweak it. If you have time, it is worth looking into creating custom styles and toolbars.

            I agree with the comments about keeping things simple. I’d like something that exports vanilla html with *no* style info at all. My sites have css. I don’t need style elements :-)

            Anyway – time to take a look at your other recommendations. If in doubt, install something new and waste the day.

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