OpenGoo Review – DIY Web Office

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Available in DIY or “with tech support” versions OpenGoo lacks some functionality, it has limited file formats, but, frees users from being tied to a web app provider

Web-based office productivity applications such as Zoho Office and Google Apps enjoy significant deployment and collaboration advantages over their older, desktop-bound cousins. These Web-based apps are accessible through most browsers, there’s no software to install on client machines, and, as Web natives, online office applications tend to make documents and events easy to share and to edit collaboratively.

However, the best-known online office applications also tend to suffer from certain Web-related liabilities. Not every organisation is comfortable with housing its data outside the company firewall. (And some companies can’t for legal and/or regulatory reasons.) In addition, binding a Web application to a single hosting provider means giving up the option of firing that host while continuing to use the application.

Enter OpenGoo, a Web-based office productivity suite that, as its name suggests, is intended to deliver the online collaboration benefits of Google Apps but in a more “open” manner. Specifically, where the source code for Google Apps is proprietary and hosting is limited to Google’s own data centres, OpenGoo is distributed under an open-source license and can be run from any LAMP server.

In addition to the open-source, “host-it-yourself” OpenGoo, there’s a commercial version of the suite, called Feng Office, that is available in hosted and on-premises versions. Both versions come with technical support and are priced starting at $10 (£6) per month, with the per-user fee dropping to about $5 (£3) per month for five or more users. The hosted version of Feng Office also includes about 300MB of storage space per user.

Usefulness That Belies Age

I tested the suite in both its hosted and do-it-yourself incarnations, and found that while OpenGoo lacks some of the functionality of online rivals such as Google Apps and Zoho Office, the suite exhibits a level of usefulness that belies its young age.

Much of project’s polish is due to the fact that OpenGoo is sort of a distribution of other office productivity-related open-source projects. By tapping pre-existing components, such as the widely used FCKEditor for document creation and editing, OpenGoo has managed to progress much more quickly than if the project had been built from scratch.

OpenGoo needs more work before it can pose a major challenge to existing online office options, but the suite is worth further evaluation for organisations in search of an inexpensive way to improve collaboration without limiting deployment or customisation options. If nothing else, the project is worth keeping an eye on for the way that it showcases up-and-coming open-source office components.

Probably the easiest way to take the software for a spin is to peruse the live demo at: