EGroupware, Group Office, and Kopano compared



In cooperation with the Technical University of Kaiserslautern and the University of Tübingen (Germany), the smallPART module has also been developed, which extends EGroupware with software for interactive e-learning. Companies and general education schools and universities can design and implement video-centric courses with the help of smallPART by uploading videos manually into the system (Figure 2). For future versions, a URL will be all it takes to integrate external content (e.g., from video platforms such as YouTube or Vimeo).

Figure 2: With a little typing and a few mouse clicks, EGroupware can even mutate into a small e-learning system.

Thanks to the e-learning module, the participants and instructors can take part in the course in real time. A commentary function helps, through which the course instructor can immediately respond to the comments and questions of the participants. Thanks to smallPART, EGroupware supports virtually delay-free interactive learning. The e-learning platform accesses the rights management of EGroupware, so that the participants have the same rights in e-learning as on the conventional desktop.

The e-learning interface has a very simple structure for the learners: It divides the work area into two panels, with the instructional video on the left and the commentary area on the right. It covers the entire communication chain of the participants. Users can type their own comments or questions below the video window. While the video is running, the course participants can submit questions or add comments as needed. The trainer determines whether the comments column contains the questions and statements of all participants or whether each participant only sees their own comments and those of the trainer.

For remarks and questions, the software inserts colored markers below the video in a horizontal timeline at the points to which they refer. By manually changing the color stripes, participants and instructors indicate whether they have responded to a comment or answered a question. From the comment column in the right-hand window, users and instructors can jump directly to the respective position in the video to which a comment or question refers. This offers immediate context, making the learning process far more efficient.

Within the videos, students and instructors can also add markers and quickly make them available on the timeline. In this way, users can draw attention to important areas within the video sequence or highlight details.


Although the individual EGroupware modules are based on common standards and therefore include import and export functions, smallPART strives for interoperability according to the Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI) specification. It also seeks to make teaching content usable for external e-learning platforms such as Moodle. In concrete terms, smallPART relies on the free Open LTI implementation, which lists course materials that are freely accessible on a website.

Group Office

Group Office [10], written in PHP by Dutch company Intermesh, is a web-based groupware solution that can be operated as an open source version or licensed as a professional version with the same range of functions. In return for free upgrades and technical support, the Professional edition for an IP address or URL costs EUR400 per year. An option starting at EUR10 per month gets you Group Office in a cloud version.

Group Office, contrary to what the name suggests, does not inherently have components of conventional office suites, such as a word processor, spreadsheet, and presentation program. Instead, it focuses on companies and offers an appointment calendar, along with address and file management (Figure 3), an email client, a notebook, and company-specific applications such as a CRM and a document management system (DMS), in addition to other applications.

Figure 3: Files are managed in a fairly intuitive way in the Group Office interface.

Admins can host Group Office either in the cloud or from their on-premises servers. The package has numerous import and export filters for all common applications in the individual application areas and imports data from other standalone programs or groupware solutions (e.g., to make the data usable in the suite).

The modular structure also means that Group Office can be supplemented by Collabora Office Suite (LibreOffice with collaborative functions) in the enterprise, which removes the need for legacy office programs on workstations. Users in Group Office can also carry out everyday office work in a team with a uniform interface. The system requirement is a LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP) instance; Nginx can be used as an alternative to Apache as the web server component.

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