Collaborative online office solutions

Many Cooks


Comments play an important role in collaborating on documents. In Collabora Online, users can use Insert | Comment to enter their own comments in a small input window. After clicking on Save , the comment is glued to the entry location and shows the author and time stamp.

Collabora Online positions the comment field itself in a separate column to the right of the document display. When a user clicks on a comment, a line points directly to the corresponding passage in the text, making the area to which the comment refers clearly visible. Using a small three-line (hamburger) menu on the right side of the comment window, other users now reply directly to the comment. The answers appear below the first comment. The comments can be deleted, resolved, or edited within the options of the menu.


Collabora Online has a version history that makes it possible to trace the creation process of a document and can be put into effect via Edit | Track changes . The user starts the version recording by activating the Recording option.

Collabora Online then creates separate entries in text boxes to the right of the document display in a column for each modification of a document. This shows the type of change, the time, and the person who made it (Figure 2). In the document, the relevant changes appear in different colors, but only until the user clicks on  Accept change in the text box. Then the text box disappears and the document displays the area as before.

Figure 2: Collabora Online makes changes in the document immediately visible.

Etherpad and Ethercalc

Etherpad [2] and Ethercalc [3] are two separate, independently developed office applications for word processing and spreadsheet applications, respectively. As a unique selling point, the two programs written in JavasScript let several users edit documents on the intranet in real time and simultaneously. The modifications appear in real time on the screens of all participants. Both programs use a server that provides the user interface in the form of a web page. The individual clients therefore do not need any special native software.

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