Tired of editing a text document, spreadsheet or email presentation with your colleagues? You open a file, make changes, save the file, send it back to other co-authors so they can approve the new version of the file, and receive the file with new changes, endless. Don’t you think you’re going in circles?
Fortunately, if you want to get out of this vicious circle, there are collaboration tools that allow you to edit documents simultaneously with other users in real time. And no, we’re not talking about Google Docs, but an open-source office suite that can help you boost your productivity and save time for other tasks: ONLYOFFICE Docs.
What is ONLYOFFICE Docs?
ONLYOFFICE Docs is very similar to Google Docs and Microsoft Office Online. This open source office suite makes it easy when you need to edit a document with other people. It lets you share documents, spreadsheets, presentations, and fillable forms online and edit them in your browser. Several users can modify the same file in real time, without disturbing each other.
Along with its web editors for text documents, spreadsheets, presentations, and fillable forms, ONLYOFFICE Docs comes with a PDF viewer and converter. You can’t edit PDF files, but it’s very comfortable to navigate, and you can still convert your files for editing.
ONLYOFFICE Docs is distributed under the terms of AGPLv3, so you can freely use and modify the office suite (unless you violate the license). The software can be installed on a local server or be used in a private cloud. One instance can handle dozens of users, so it’s a good choice for teams of all sizes and individuals.
ONLYOFFICE Docs interface
At first glance, ONLYOFFICE Docs looks like a Microsoft Office clone, but this impression is misleading. The software offers its own look, with unique features.
All editing and collaboration tools and buttons are divided into functional tabs. For example, if you need to add something, be it an image or a chart, you can find the corresponding option in the Insert tab. Everything is so intuitive that you don’t need to spend too much time getting to grips with the basic features.
The software also offers you several interface themes: Light, Classic Light, Dark and Dark Contrast, so that you can choose one of them according to your preferences and the current lighting intensity.
If you have experience using other editing software with a tabbed interface, you’ll likely find ONLYOFFICE Docs to be very intuitive to use.
Editing features and tools
In ONLYOFFICE Docs, you will find the same editing tools as any other office suite. So you can create text documents, spreadsheets, presentations, and fillable forms of all kinds, like reports, essays, invoices, research papers, letters, and more.
You can choose from different fonts, insert headers and footers, add objects (tables, diagrams, images, graphics, Text Art, AutoShapes, etc.) apply transitions and animation effects in the slides, insert interactive fields in forms and much more.
ONLYOFFICE Docs is also compatible with third-party plugins that bring new features (you can manage all installed plugins and add new ones in the plugin manager). For example, you can install the Draw.io plugin to access more advanced shapes and diagrams, launch the Google Translate or Deepl plugins to translate your text into other languages, and even connect your Telegram account to be able to send SMS to your colleagues and friends while editing a document. The activation of audio and video calls is possible through the Rainbow and Jitsi plugins.
ONLYOFFICE is compatible with the formats of your choice
If you’ve used different office software like Pages or Word, you probably know how terrible it is to deal with format incompatibility. For example, when you create a text document with Pages that looks different on Microsoft Office.
As for ONLYOFFICE Docs, you can open any OOXML files (DOCX, XLSX and PPTX) without problems and save them in other formats. You can also work with other popular file extensions, like ODF formats, supported through conversion to OOXML. DOC, XLS, PPT, TXT, RTF and HTML can also be edited.
As an alternative to Google Docs and Microsoft Office Online, ONLYOFFICE Docs comes with collaborative features that make it easy to co-create documents, spreadsheets, presentations, and forms in real time.
You have two different co-editing modes (which you can turn on and off at any time). When working in quick mode, you can see all the changes made by other users in real time right after typing. When you switch to strict mode, all changes only become visible after you click the save button. This model is designed for a private co-edition.
The app allows you different access permissions. You can decide whether other users can edit the shared file without limitation, open it for viewing, review and suggest edits, leave comments or fill in required fields, etc.
The version history feature allows you to browse all previous versions of a file and restore the required version if needed. You can leave comments, send messages in the built-in chat or communicate via the Telegram plugin.
Next-gen integration and apps everywhere
Theoretically, ONLYOFFICE Docs can be integrated into any web application. Currently, ONLYOFFICE Docs offers more than 30 integration apps for software like Nextcloud, ownCloud, WordPress, Plone, Strapi, Seafile, Alfresco, Jira, Confluence, Nuxeo, Seafile, Chamilo, SharePoint, Moodle, etc. L
ONLYOFFICE Docs is available on all popular platforms, locally on Windows, macOS and Linux. There are also mobile apps (ad-free and free) for Android and iOS that can be downloaded from the official app stores.
As a self-hosted solution, ONLYOFFICE Docs gives you full control over your data. Again, the solution’s source code is open and the software uses JSON Web Token to protect documents from unauthorized access.
Enabling the HTTPS protocol allows you to encrypt your traffic. You can also restrict options for copying, downloading, and printing documents. If you work with confidential documents, a secure space where you can store, edit and share documents in encrypted form using the unbreakable AES-256 algorithm is available.
You don’t need to invent, send or enter passwords: you are free to generate and transfer your documents in encrypted form when you share them with other users.
A free version and a version for companies
ONLYOFFICE Docs is a solid, open-source alternative to Microsoft Office or Google Docs. The software comes with a free version, but limited in terms of simultaneous connections. To enjoy regular updates and professional support, you can consider ONLYOFFICE Docs Enterprise Edition. This edition is scalable, so you can choose the pricing plan that best suits your needs.
All commercial editions of ONLYOFFICE Docs come with a free trial period. This allows you to test the features of the suite and see how it works in combination with other platforms before purchasing a commercial license.
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