eGroupWare Free Open Source Groupware ReviewBy Partho, Gaea News Network
Friday, April 17, 2009
EGroupWare is a free open source groupware or collaborative software designed for small businesses and enterprises. It is a joint effort by a group of active volunteers. The eGroupWare community comprises developers, doc-wirters, artists and any other kind of opensource supportive people. Primarily, it enables the businesses to manage contacts, appointments, projects, to-do-list and other applications. It is a groupware server with an web based interface that allows access to data from any platform across the world. EGroupaWare offers a wide range of synchronization protocols with different clients. It is a lightweight workgroup support systems and can be integrated with an existing email setup. Let’s have an indiscriminate and exhaustive idea about the applications offered by the groupware.
Features of the eGroupware applications
First let’s get into the core applications
eGroupWare offers a powerful calender that supports scheduling of groups, resources and contacts. The 1.2 version includes a ResourceBookingSystem.
It is easy to sync different platforms with eGroupWare, but the stability may not be the consistent with all. There a number of different platforms for sync, but we can go through the stable ones.
SyncML enables synchronization with the contacts, events and tasks offline client. It supports different mobile phones, Palm and Windows Mobile based PDA’s and Microsoft Outlook.
Outlook Syncing using XMLRPC
It is the most successful synchronization with XMLRPC - Outlook Integration project page.
This application allows managing of customer information or contact and links with other egoupware applications. The contacts can be imported or ported in formats such as LDIF, CSV or VCard. The administrator can use SQL or LDAP.
EGroupWare features an easy to use IMAP mail-client. EGroupWare’s FeLaMiMail is a standard application that can be integrated with other applications like address book or the InfoLog. The IMAP servers with server-based sorting permit offers faster access to the data as they can be presorted in the server. FeLaMiMail version 1.4 allows multiple identities and signatures. Further, it supports graphic design for composing messages with the help of the new text editor. In addition, the user can also enter email address per auto complete, change the emails into InfoLog entries or select specific receivers from the address book. It doesn’t offer full assortment of functions.
Although not too comprehensive, InfoLog is sort of CRM customer relationship management app with to do, notes and phonecalls as well as extensive ACL. The notable features of InfoLog includes
- The job under to-do or a phonecall can be assigned to another user
- Log all the activities of a contact and address
- CSV import (in the admin-section) to import existing data
- InfoLog list offers two views, with details and without details this can be configured according to the user preferences
Other collaboration applications
There is an assortment of collaboration applications supporting the Groupware that includes project manager, resources, file manager, SiteMgr, timesheet, tracker, wiki, knowledge base, workflow engine and News Administrator. This is a comprehensive package that can make up for most of enterprise software. Let’s get into the important aspects
1. Project Manager
This newly designed project based app is built with a modern object oriented programing technique and a widget based user-interface/eTemplate. It can be integrated with the existing eGroupware apps such as InfoLog, Calendar or the TimeSheet.
2. File Manager
It manages the files stored in virtual file system based on files, sql-db or webdav.
Resources management (inventory) and booking tool integrated into eGroupWare calendar
The SiteMgr is a content generation architecture that ensures content can be produced from different “modules” that fetch data from eGW applications and generates page output based on the specified arguments by contributor. the main idea is to ensure that the content is not just edited in HTML. SiteMgr can be explained more extensively with the features below
- It can handle content of different websites.
- It can also handle different versions of the same content block. This can be viably used to work on a draft version on the site without manipulating the production site and committing changes.
i) Implemented SiteMgr features
- Index-pages for categories (can be used instead the standard page-listing)
- All popup dialogs use standard conform [OK/Save] [Apply] [Cancel] buttons
- Edit-Mode shows the blocks for all audiences, eg. a login-block - normaly only visible to anon users - shows up in Edit mode in a different color (grey instead of red line around)
- Support of the MOS template format
- Enhance filecontents module to fetch body from html-page read in the filesystem or loaded via http, for easy integration of existing content
- Template gallery with download
- enhanced amazone and google modules
ii) Extensive features
- The user can view website at given past time. Further, the published blocks can only be unpublished and archived, but they cannot be edited.
- With SiteMgr the entire site can be imported or exported to XML
- More modules, it maybe supporting the module format of other CMS
- It offers unique search function which searches the site content
5. Workflow Engine for eGroupware
This was initially a port from Galaxia workflow and still includes most of the documentation from Galaxia.
The workflow eGroupware includes two components
i) The workflow app - It has been designed to create and manage workflow processes through a GUI. It is located in workflow. This app provides a reference implementation, stable and complete to what can be done with this API.
ii) The API - This is for the developers. The API is portable on other groupware. It can be used by any app in egroupware that strives for workflow functionalities, such as the new TTS that is currently under development. For the developer who would like to write their own app will have to read the code and use the GUI and WfRuntime objects of library.
Other features of workflow
- The Workflow FAQ can be used for developing a process
- The Examples allow the users to understand or or test the workflow better
- The Devel Guide explains how the system works
- Migration is available to manage the changes during automatic upgradation from the previous version of worrkflow code
Wiki is the eGroupWare inspired by Tavi:WikkiTikkiTavi. Let’s look into it’s features deeply
• There are view and search actions using own code
• The search shows a short summary of the results like a search engine
• It gives a page for each owner to use the ACL
• RichText editor can be used optionaly
• there should be a language for the Wiki page, if no language is available the english/default one is selected
• per page group based read and write rights, to have per page access based on the group
• translation (adding lang-calls), evtl. by a port to eTemplate
Knowledgebase allows every user with access to the application to build your FAQs. Any user of the application can post a question or answer a question posted by another user. This also helps by serving as customer support. Other features attached to the Knowledge Base include
The site can be configured by enabling or disabling the HTML tag in the answers.
there is a list of answered-question in the knowledgebase list. These can be filtered by categories or search for specific question.
It shows all the details of a question, the complete answer, rating, comments and the URL (if included).
Add question and answer
Any user can add an answer simply by browsing to the question and opening it from the list. Click on the question and provide the answer. There are five text fields to be filled. To add a question use the Add question link in the administration menu.
- Unlike most of the other workgroup support systems, eGroupware can be bundled with MTA, POP/IMAP servers or provides that functionality by themselves.
- eGroupware includes advanced functionality like calendar sharing and synchronization via SyncML
- The forums are quick to respond to the questions
- The groupware allow synchronization via SyncML, but it is not fully stable
- There are some interfaces to connect with a desktop client SyncML, XML-RPC, but except the Outlook there are no stable PIM clients
- The website is cryptic and not easy to understand. The information is not up-to date and sporadic.
Overall eGroupWare is an all-embracing software that collaborates the a range of application to meet various business requirements. GroupWare includes a number of tools - developer, miscellaneous and obsolete that we will review in the next article. We would like to know if you have something to share on eGroupware.
Tags: free open source, free open source groupware, groupware, Open Source, open source egroupware, Timesheet