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FOSS Multicast Document Sharing?

timothy posted more than 6 years ago | from the holy-grail-for-remote-work dept.

Communications 125

Jawdy writes "I am currently leading a small game development project with artists and developers scattered all over the country. Getting together is somewhat difficult, but we try to do this every couple of months. We often share all kinds of documents with each other, and even do so while using IM clients (GTalk and MSN), but this winds up being a tedious process of: send document; read and edit; send back; rinse and repeat. What I wanted to ask fellow slashdotters is, if anyone knows of any FOSS software that can handle IM (or even voice chat), Whiteboard and document sharing — where we can all see the document, pass around 'editing rights' and edit live. Even several small apps that handle the individual components would help out!"

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VCS (0)

TheSHAD0W (258774) | more than 6 years ago | (#25186773)

Google "revision control".

Re:VCS (1)

jopsen (885607) | more than 6 years ago | (#25187231)

That would be my advice too... If one needs to integrate IM, etc. just tell your normal IM program to store logs in a directory under revision control...
But for communication I'd suggest a mailinglist or similar, Google Groups perhaps...

Re:VCS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25187327)

Exactly! Version Control is the right answer.

The Wikipedia article on version control is a good place to start.

My own preference is Distributed Version Control and in particular "git".
and this:

Re:VCS (1)

HangingChad (677530) | more than 6 years ago | (#25187367)

That's what I set up for our office. It's not perfect but you do get a lot of functionality right out of the gate. Document sharing, chat, shared calendars. No one had trouble adapting, many were already forwarding mail to a Gmail account anyway.

Re:VCS (5, Informative)

Timothy Brownawell (627747) | more than 6 years ago | (#25187529)

Google "revision control".

No, "collaborative editing". Revision control gives a tedious process of: commit document; update; read and edit; commit; rinse and repeat. Wikipedia says that Abiword and Google Docs (among others others) [] probably do what's asked for here.

Re:VCS (0, Redundant)

master5o1 (1068594) | more than 6 years ago | (#25187757)

what about lather, rinse, repeat?

Re:VCS (1)

Xugumad (39311) | more than 6 years ago | (#25188083)

Revision control isn't fantastic; right now, I'm not aware of any that can merge changes to an OpenOffice or MS Office document. LaTeX would work, but most people don't know LaTeX. I imagine with XML-based word documents we'll see revision control plugins to merge the underlying XML instead of the binary files that contain them, but last time we looked at this it wasn't there yet.

Abiword (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25186787)

Abiword has an experimental plugin to allow collaborative document editing. Otherwise, I'd suggest just using Google Docs.

Google Docs (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25186793)

What about Google Docs?

It's not an F/OSS solution, but it supports ODT, DOC, and just about everything else, and allows for the cooperative editing that you're looking for.

Plus, you have the added advantage of not needing to host and upkeep some app.

Re:Google Docs (4, Informative)

johnkzin (917611) | more than 6 years ago | (#25187657)

And, Google Docs also has a built-in "IM" feature. The "Discuss" tab on the right lets you see who is currently looking at the document, and IM each other right in that tab, for discussion/coordination/etc.

I'd highly recommend it. We recently used it on a spreadsheet for a planned data center power outage, with all of the sysadmins IM'ing at the same time, and all we would each mark the "up/down" collumn of the sheet as we finished with a bunch of machines (over 300 total). And we had one spot that was a counter for how many were still up or down. It also kept track of shutdown/start-up order, responsible sysadmin, and dependencies. Instead of being like a mad-house we've had in previous outages, this one was almost like a ballet. Very useful tool.

So, yes, Google Docs may not technically be "Open Source", but it is free, and I bet you'll find it to be amazingly useful for what you want.

Re:Google Docs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25191125)

Wow. A spreadsheet to manage 300 machines?

Do you guys really have any idea what you are doing?

Re:Google Docs (2, Insightful)

master5o1 (1068594) | more than 6 years ago | (#25187771)

nah nah mate... this [] is much better.

What kind of documents? (5, Informative)

Noksagt (69097) | more than 6 years ago | (#25186795)

Google documents [] or Zoho [] or some other gratis (but typically proprietary) "cloud" solution might be reasonable.

If you're fine with text-only, you have a lot of options. VIM and EMACS both allow collaborative editing, you can share a screen session [] , or you can get a specialized collaborative editor (such as Gobby [] and ACE [] ) or a specialized framework, such as DocSynch []

If you need light-weight word processing, Abiword [] has a plugin [] for real-time collaboration.

Heavier weight word processing of DOCX can be done with Plutext [] .

If you need more graphical documents & the above doesn't seem to fit AND if you have a small group of friends who you trust, I'd just go "simple" & host with VNC or some other remote desktop protocol.

As far as other pieces, there is a lot of good F/OSS voice/IM/whiteboard software. Coccinella [] and ekiga [] are good examples.

Abiword? (1)

Gazzonyx (982402) | more than 6 years ago | (#25187315)

Slightly OT, but how is Abiword these days? I'm running KDE 3.5, so I won't really have a chance to run it again until KDE-4 is really stable enough for my desktop. The last time I tried it a few years ago, it was alright, but I seem to remember having formatting problems. Has it matured a good bit in the last two years or so?

I'm really excited about the new koffice, but is Abiword worth a look, as well?

Re:Abiword? (1)

AvitarX (172628) | more than 6 years ago | (#25187871)

I really like Abiword.

It is my favorite word possessor as someone who doesn't do much but type the odd page or few.

Starts up fast, takes the important features (for that kind of editing) and makes them easy to find.

That being said, Kword2, is awesome (if not stable).

I am fairly neutral in feeling to KDE 4 (all the apps aren't done, and stability/performance aren't so great, maybe because I use Nvidia binary drivers). The plasma doesn't yet work stably for me, and is slow slow slow. I go back and forth on how I feel about oxygen window decorations, and the panels don't ever do what I want them too.

That being said, I LOVE the way QT4 handles tool windows and toolbars. Being able to put them wherever I want, and float them, and tab them. Also, the tool sensitive (changes based on what is selected) tool window in Kword2 is fantastic. The interface is just excellent.

Re:nVidia drivers (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25188399)

nVidia binary drivers != stable. For an exercise in frustration, though, try ATI's fglrx^&$%$%+++carrier lost

Re:Abiword? (1)

apathy maybe (922212) | more than 6 years ago | (#25191753)

Abiword is great. It can open ODF, MS Word Docs, and a variety of other files. (It can't save MS Word Docs though, it saves as RTF.)

It does have a few problems, though most of the time you won't encounter them. One I found once had to do with pasting a formatted header... Another I have, I think has to do with different character sets.

But, if you only work in AbiWord, and you don't go messing with other word processors, then most of the time it will work great.

Loads fast, works well, has built in grammar checker (underlines in green, though doesn't tell you why it needs looking at), spell checker, saves in a simple XML format which can be read in a text-editor if needed etc.

Give it a try. I have both and AbiWord, and unless I'm doing something complicated, or sharing with MS Office, I use AbiWord for almost all my word processing needs.

Re:What kind of documents? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25187937)

Gobby is a great solution as noted above. The gobby deva are very far along in developing a collaborative editing framework (infinote) which will hopefully spur many more apps to fit this need. There is also ongoing development of a KDE 4 plugin which makes use of the infinote framework.

Re:What kind of documents? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25191157)

I can't see anything in Vim's documentation about collaborative editing. What am I missing?

OpenH323 (4, Informative)

Zarhan (415465) | more than 6 years ago | (#25186797)

OpenH323 is basically Netmeeting, but OSS version. Mind you, it uses (surprise) H.323 protocol, and not all firewalls like it (since it requires connectivity to both directions). []

Google docs is an easy first thing to try (3, Informative)

aachrisg (899192) | more than 6 years ago | (#25186801)

I'd try google docs first. You can share live copies of documents (word processing files + spreadsheets), including keeping revision history and simultaneous live edits.

Parent post is NOT redundant. (5, Informative)

SenseiLeNoir (699164) | more than 6 years ago | (#25191919)

Some Moderators seriously do NOT understand the use of the "redundant" modifier in answers to a "Ask Slashdot" topic.

The parent topinc is NOT redundant. It answers the topic, with a good answer (google docs) and brings some further information to the table (simultaneous live edits)

Although it sometimes can be annoying to see multiple posts with the same suggestion (similar to a "me too"). However in this case, if you look carefully you can see the parent post, and most others who suggested Google Docs, have all posted at the same time (around 8:22pm). It is therefore reasonable to assume that this is not intended to be a "me too" post. Therefore it is unfair to mark this as redundant.

Also take into account, the person who asked the question may be looking at popularity,a nd many people suggesting "google docs", together with WHY, may help that person make a better decision.

I hope the "redundant" mod given to the parent is properly meta moderated, as it is unfair.

Google Documents (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25186803)

It's not FOSS, but Google Documents works pretty well for this kind of stuff.

Document Sharing - Dropbox (2, Informative)

Compholio (770966) | more than 6 years ago | (#25186805)

Well, for the "document sharing" and "editing rights" part you could use Dropbox [] .

I used google document... (0, Redundant)

fasuin (532942) | more than 6 years ago | (#25186815)

... and liked it. Share your doc or xls file, modify it and everybody will immediately see it. you can also use the integrated chat board

One Word ... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25186831)

gobby , does exactly what you are looking for in gnome. I'm sure there are KDE and Windows and OSX Clients too

iChat (0, Offtopic)

Foofoobar (318279) | more than 6 years ago | (#25186839)

My coworker is often out of the country and I need to work on code with him. We use iChat to share documents and workspace to work on code at the same time and share ideas. It has voice and video as well. I highly recommend this to everyone who has to telecommute.

Re:iChat (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25186887)

My coworker is often out of the country and I need to work on code with him. We use iChat to share documents and workspace to work on code at the same time and share ideas. It has voice and video as well. I highly recommend this to everyone who has to telecommute.

Okay apple fanboi, since when is proprietary apple software free and open source?

Re:iChat (1)

lokpest (1136949) | more than 6 years ago | (#25187095)

What part of FOSS was it you didnt understand?

Re:iChat (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25187113)

Sounds great, but most of my coworkers use windows, some linux and the marketing departament uses apple, can iChat work in this environment?.

Re:iChat (0, Offtopic)

Foofoobar (318279) | more than 6 years ago | (#25187193)

Well... you gotta comprimise. I have looked for a FOSS app that does everything iChat does and it just doesn't exist. There are some 'half-implemented' Jabber efforts which do it via a browser with Flash and are buggy but nothing that comes close to this good of a finished product. Honestly I do connect to most of my Linux boxes via shell anyway and with Bootcamp/VMWare, you can install Windows if you have to.

It may be proprietary but Apple has turned out to be the best portable environment for the developers at the last couple jobs I have been at; it's the reason I got one because all the java devs at my last job used Macbook Pros and they were able to telecommute and interface more easily than the Windows or Linux members of the team.

I love FOSS but this is where I drop it... when a good product makes me pay for it.
But then again, this is where FOSS's strength is; in finding these products that rely on a platform and replacing them with an open version.

Re:iChat (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25187323)

So your answer is NO, iChat will not work in this environment, force all employees to buy a mac is not an acceptable compromise where i live.

Re:iChat (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25187331)

Suggesting the majority of people involved each buy $1k+ new hardware is not a "compromise" by any stretch of the imagination.

Re:iChat (2, Interesting)

Foofoobar (318279) | more than 6 years ago | (#25187475)

Well depends on your priority. For me, having a decent portable environment that was easily compatible with all environments was very crucial. Good development tools, easy communication amongst teammates, etc. If that is not a priority in the longrun, then yes, I'd say don't spend the money. It was my team mates that tipped me over to 'the Mac side' and I still run most of my FOSS tools on it (Eclipse, OpenOffice, Gimp, etc) but the communication and collaboration tools were DEFINITELY something that enabled me to telecommute and interact with my teammates like no other platform or software package allowed.

So, mark me as a troll (even though I'm stil saying that FOSS will replace this) but for now, this IS the best tool on the market that's FREE for collaboration. It just happens to be tied to the Mac OS.

Re:iChat (1)

FishWithAHammer (957772) | more than 6 years ago | (#25189363)

In other words, it's not "free," because it requires a software (and hardware) dongle.

(Screw the OSS aspect, I'm just talking price...)

Re:iChat (1)

Count Fenring (669457) | more than 6 years ago | (#25189495)

Except the poster did, in fact, specify FOSS in the question. Also, if they don't work exclusively Mac already, it's not free. Bundled with the OS doesn't mean free, it means "costed as part of the OS." That's part of why OEMs can say "With thousands of dollars worth of software!" when they sell these things. Also, the poster specified that it is a small (thus, unlikely to be able to afford computer replacement) game development project (thus, unlikely to be targeting OSX anyway). No one's dissing iChat... it just doesn't meet like 90% of the poster's requirements.

Re:iChat (1)

Foofoobar (318279) | more than 6 years ago | (#25189687)

Well I agree. You do have a point. That was the original specification. But people who are unaware of Macs and think iChat is only an IM app may not be aware of how good of a collaboration tool it is above all others that actual cost. I think the post above yours put it best by saying that the sofwatre was free it just requires a software (and hardware) dongle. :)

Still my point was to offer to a fellow developer an app that has been really helpful in bringing telecommuting developers together to coloborate. It may only work with Mac but it works well with all platforms.

Re:iChat (1)

Count Fenring (669457) | more than 6 years ago | (#25190049)

Elaborate on what you mean here?

It may only work with Mac but it works well with all platforms.

I don't believe that the screen sharing is open-protocol or anything like that; thus, it seems very single-platform, at least for the use case that is presented.

Re:iChat (0, Offtopic)

archkittens (1272770) | more than 6 years ago | (#25191107)

if you dont mind proprietary solutions, might i suggest cisco meetingplace. it works very well, even with "express", which we've recently shown off to the C-level parade at my workplace

being a rather medium sized organization (muni level government organization with approx. 3880 employees), we paid a bit more than a smaller company would for the product, but let me brag about it for a moment:

  • screencasting
  • integrated chat
  • runs as a browser plugin
  • integrated conference calling
  • scheduled or ad-hoc meetings
  • high quality streaming video
  • LDAP integration
  • integrated presence

the list can go on for quite a bit. cisco is premium, but i can honestly say you get what you pay for. scott adams seemed to like it, anyways... []

Citrix, gotomeeting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25186847) has worked for me in the past--it's not free, you need a good network connection--and of course it only works with windows which makes it miserable in any suitable environment. But I did get it set up for the executive types, and between its ability to broadcast the desktop, and shift focus between individuals it worked pretty well.

Re:Citrix, gotomeeting (1)

Foldarn (1152051) | more than 6 years ago | (#25187413)

I second this. My workplace also utilizes GotoMeeting ( and while it's based off of VNC if I remember correctly, it seems to perform far better. Like it was said above, it's not free, but it gives a lot. It also provides audio conferencing if everybody calls Citrix's phone line and enter the meeting ID. This means nobody needs any kind of audio conferencing solution since they provide it.

AbiCollab for Document sharing? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25186849) ?
I haven't tried it personally, but if it's any help, yeah. (:

Personally I would abstract this away from the app (5, Interesting)

Froze (398171) | more than 6 years ago | (#25186863)

For really simple interactivity, I would suggest something along the lines of []

Let one person do the application hosting and get your committee to VNC to that host. Then everybody can do everything, including applications that don't have shared edit features built in.

VNC (0, Redundant)

tg2k (895772) | more than 6 years ago | (#25186869)

Any number of VNC server/clients can do this, though passing control is probably not as easy as with something designed for meetings.

But as others have said, use a version control system for anything offline. I recommend Subversion if you want FOSS, but there are tons of alternatives such as Git, Mercurial, etc.

Re:VNC (1)

Visoblast (15851) | more than 6 years ago | (#25187363)

I've used VNC for this sort of thing before, but on a LAN and everyone was pretty close by. Even so, it let us all look at the same document, and edit it and see the changes live. It may take some tweaking to get good performance over the internet, but I think it's doable.

After this, the document is saved on the system with the VNC server. Then it can be put into a revision control system.

Shared remote desktop with VNC (1)

Fryth (468689) | more than 6 years ago | (#25186883)

You could start a VNC server on a computer running applications that you'd use in your meeting, such as office applications. Then have everyone connect using a shared session. TightVNC [] is what I use, but the feature is standard across any VNC implementation. In the options dialog, you can "Request Shared Session."

Sharepoint (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25186885)

If you are serious about developing this game, you *will* need to be in touch with non-nerd crowd.

I would dance with the devil and choose Sharepoint - as a service. There are several service providers who provide Sharepoint sites for you for mere 10-15 euros per month.

wiki / trac / subversion (0, Redundant)

sugarmotor (621907) | more than 6 years ago | (#25186891)

trac / subversion / wikimedia?


Wiki is essential (1)

toby (759) | more than 6 years ago | (#25187011)

I've used Trac a lot for distributed projects - the integration is very nice.

This guy seemed to want real time colloboration, though, which is why I referenced Eclipse Communication Framework in other post, rather than a wiki.

Re:Wiki is essential (1)

sugarmotor (621907) | more than 6 years ago | (#25187297)

I see, ok. Wasn't clear to me.

Then I guess, simply, just have a chat then and let one participant make the changes in a wiki or similar.

Is there a way to access a shared desktop over the network simlutaneously? So then you'd say in the chat "let me write" and then that one person moves the mouse, type, etc... .. take turns, etc. This way, any application would become "shareable" without any code change (OO / IDE's / Gimp / etc)

Just need to set up a machine that can be accessed by all.

Re:Wiki is essential (1)

Count Fenring (669457) | more than 6 years ago | (#25189509)

VNC is what you need there... although it'll feel boggy as hell.

Dabbleboard (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25186903)

Check out Dabbleboard. It was written by a friend of mine. There is a video showing you how it works.

Gobby (5, Informative)

siDDis (961791) | more than 6 years ago | (#25186935)

Gobby [] is an open source client-server application which supports multiple documents in one session, document synchronisation on request, password protection and an IRC-like chat for communication.

kablink, (1)

simoncrute (468690) | more than 6 years ago | (#25186963)

Icecore now known kablink may be what you need.

It's the opensource version of Teaming + Conferencing now owned by Novell (used to be SiteScape)

Disclaimer. I work for them and I've not used this software.

Eclipse Communication Framework (4, Interesting)

toby (759) | more than 6 years ago | (#25186993)

ECF [] is an integrated Jabber (XMPP)-based protocol that allows collaborative work. Introduction here. [] "Real-time communication and collaboration features for teams using Eclipse such as peer-to-peer file sharing, remote opening of Eclipse views, screen capture sharing, and real-time shared editing."

Other Jabber products you might find useful are Coccinella with whiteboarding, etc.

Re:Eclipse Communication Framework (1)

jd (1658) | more than 6 years ago | (#25189177)

If you then add the MICE MBone tools, you get the remainder of what's wanted - video, audio, whiteboard and primitive shared text editor. It's a damn shame MICE stopped development of the tools because they are good, easy-to-use and modular. Modular is very important. Most modern videoconferencing tools are monolithic, all but impossible to extend and are just not designed for anything I'd consider "real work". They're toys. Powerful toys, but this is something software developers really need to grasp. If you can't make a program do more than what it was designed for, it really is just a toy. If you can't maintain it (won't isn't important) or extend it (and that includes meaningful 3rd party plugins as well as your own code) then it has no sustainable value.

Windows XP has a lot of immediate value, but it's not sustainable so is just an executive toy no different from a top-end Ferrari. Hey, you can get places in a top-end Ferrari, so there's clear immediate value there too, but closed-source cars and closed-source OS' cannot be maintained and must eventually fail beyond any hope of recovery. The only benefit they have given, beyond the merely functional which could have been obtained other ways, was momentary pleasure. That is the function of a toy. Airfix and Matchbox produced equally good toys for younger children.

The same is true in the videoconferencing world. You absolutely do not want a toy for serious work, because toys break and you can't afford things that break. Jabber is good in that respect. It is not a toy. Netmeeting is. The MICE tools are not toys, though they lack a maintainer. Internet Phone and White Pine's version of CU-SeeMe, from the same era, are toys because you can't use them at all now.

Re:Eclipse Communication Framework (1)

jasonm23 (905854) | more than 6 years ago | (#25190555)

Yep I was going to say, ECF plus any other collaborative tools (Trac, Jira ... RedMine! as long as they have a SCM integration, ticket tracking and a Wiki ... the rest is a bonus or fluff.) You also should implement SCM for product versioning control... immediate collaboration is one thing but historic control of the project is also EXTREMELY beneficial. Git or SVN are both nice. (despite SVN bashing by Linus T) Quick note: SubEthaEdit (mentioned below) is like ECF but drawbacks are... 1. Propietory/Closed/$$$ 2. Lacks integration.

Microsoft SharedView (4, Interesting)

figleaf (672550) | more than 6 years ago | (#25187055)

One more alternative you can look at: SharedView [] . It works over the firewall unlike several other apps.

Re:Microsoft SharedView (0)

rundgren (550942) | more than 6 years ago | (#25191733)

He's asking for FOSS, and you give him M$ ?? AND it gets you a +5 Interesting.. *Sigh*

OpenDocMan (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 6 years ago | (#25187093)

Not exactly what you want, but Opendocman works very well for document sharing and control: []

Wiki (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25187125)

Have you considered setting up a password protected wiki?

Online editing, version control, and you can upload any documents (at least with mediawiki, if you change LocalSettings to allow uploads of .doc or .pdf files).

Out of the box on OLPC (1)

CustomDesigned (250089) | more than 6 years ago | (#25187163)

The "write" activity on olpc supports collaborative editing out of the box using Jabber as a transport. I think it is a derivative of Abiword - but in any case it is open source.

I actually use it quite often, having a group document is a favorite activity among the olpc g1g1 kids - the usual take turns adding a sentence to a silly story type thing. (I never fully grew up.)

Microsoft Live (-1, Redundant)

Dartdog (1374159) | more than 6 years ago | (#25187199)

In addition to the shared view, Microsoft Live has shared doc libraries, among numerous other features, and is beta on Mesh services, Synch, file and desktop sharing,... with that set you can do about all you've asked, free.

Inkscape (3, Interesting)

molo (94384) | more than 6 years ago | (#25187209)

This is only for whiteboarding (not document sharing), but Inkscape can share a workspace over XMPP (Jabber) protocol. The feature is sometimes called Inkboard.

More info here: [] and here: []


Re:Inkscape (1)

jimmyhat3939 (931746) | more than 6 years ago | (#25191467)

Mod parent up. Inkscape is a great product for the whiteboarding side of this problem.

37signals (1)

ceejayoz (567949) | more than 6 years ago | (#25187253)

37signals [] has a number of apps that do these things. Campfire is web IM (with logging, file upload, etc.) and Basecamp is essentially a personal wiki with calendaring and other features.

Re:37signals (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25187343)

i 2nd basecamp+campfire
u get project management with timelines,milestones,whiteboard,IM,to-do lists, and some message board thing. document sharing is available in the paid version only

FOSS? And you use MSN? (1, Interesting)

bucketoftruth (583696) | more than 6 years ago | (#25187259)

Use openfire and a Jabber client like Psi [] /Gajim [] /Pidgin [] .

Use Alfresco [] for document sharing.

RCS, or depends on document type... (1)

Willbur (196916) | more than 6 years ago | (#25187263)

There are three possibilities that I see here:

    i) Use a revision control system. There are a bunch of good ones: git, monotone, darcs, bzr, subversion... This will give you ability to have people edit and share the documents.
      It'll work better if you use document formats that are text based. e.g. unzipped ODF or latex for 'word processing'
      These systems are very much collaborative, but are move away from 'instant' communications to 'parallel' editing with an assisted merge step.

    ii) If you move away from RCS based thoughts to direct collaborative editing, then things get more complex. I only know of collaborative editors that edit one type of document. (and there is good reason for this - see [] )
    I know that inkscape (FOSS SVG editor) has a collaborative editing module based on Jabber comms. There are numerous collaborative text editors that people might point you towards.

      iii) The third option is Google docs. For text this is ok. For images you can try to use their presentation software, but it is clunky for that purpose - use inkscape instead.

In terms of document sharing: (1)

Angostura (703910) | more than 6 years ago | (#25187267)

I'd recommend DropBox. Not, FOSS I know, but you get 2Gigs of storage gratis, and it is great. Skype is going to be the obvious solution for IM and voice, leaving you witj whiteboarding

Google Docs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25187295)

Especially works great if you're using other Google stuff like Gmail & GTalk.

iChat and SubEthaEdit (3, Informative)

RatPh!nk (216977) | more than 6 years ago | (#25187421)

Very sweet solution if you have access to OS X. SubEthaEdit [] has very nice integration with iChat and will likely do much of what you ask right out of the box including multi-person live editing. Good luck

Cosider a wiki (1)

einar.petersen (1178307) | more than 6 years ago | (#25187435)

If you collaborate on documents I would seriously consider a wiki - [] is extremely simple to set up. You get revision control - Plug In structure for ODF/PDF export, easy editing etc. Plus a wiki is accessible even from a simple mobile browser with no extra installation needed. Multicast... well - More or less accessible to all at the same time. Looking forward to see this thread develop, as it could prove to be immensely helpful for any FOSS organization/project.

Use monotone (1)

hendrikboom (1001110) | more than 6 years ago | (#25187527)

monotone -- a distributed revision control system -- everyone has a copy of the entire repository. The style of use is to commit frequently, even before any kind of code review, sync frequently, and decide which of the things committed and synced are in the final system later, after discussion, by certifying the revisions you decide to use.

google docs? (1)

buddyglass (925859) | more than 6 years ago | (#25187567)

If you can handle the limited nature of their word processor.

red5 server + openmeeting (1)

ogrisel (1168023) | more than 6 years ago | (#25187643)

The red5 [] opensource flash application server along with the openmeetings [] video conference / whiteboard application might help for organizing voice + video meetings. Clients just require a flash 10 plugin in their browser. opeenmeetings allows for uploading/sharing office files with live preview using openoffice + pdf2swf and image files with imagemagick and also add a nice desktop sharing feature.

Not FOSS and Mac Only (1)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 6 years ago | (#25187697)

but subethaedit [] has some cool text editing collaboration functionality.

How is that not just Wiki + IM? (1)

MartinSchou (1360093) | more than 6 years ago | (#25187715)

How is that not just Wiki + IM?

Set up a Wiki with authorization required to do anything, maybe put it on an odd port too.

The wiki will tell you if someone else is editing a document if you click edit.
You always have stuff published with the newest changes.
You will have history to check changes etc.
You can comment on documents without it changing the document.
You can attach files to your documents.

The only thing it won't really do without some added plugins is live multiedit and whiteboard for pictures/diagrams etc.

IM ... well, you already said it can be multiple programs.

The only wiki I've done any kind of work with is JSPWiki, and that has the above mentioned functionality. Others may have more/less features, so just find one that fits your needs and programming skills (if you want to make new plugins that help your team)

VMukti (1)

Gocho (16619) | more than 6 years ago | (#25187797)

Here you go... [] It integrates with Asterisk and it has Video Conferencing capabilities.

Virtual World (1)

Dazza39 (1374193) | more than 6 years ago | (#25187809)

Why not use something like a Project Wonderland [] ? It gives you application sharing (VNC on win32 and X on Linux, etc). Also gives you 3D audio, chat, an avatar, a whiteboard and even the ability to phone into the world from a landline (hardware allowing). You can customize the area, add photos using Flickr [] . Worth considering IMHO.

not oss but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25187949)

it's freeware, and it's working great!

Dropbox []

Create and share documents... for FREE (1)

ywharton (1188443) | more than 6 years ago | (#25187977)

Try [] It gives you access to Buzzword, ConnectNow, My Files (file locker) and the ability to create and share documents... and best of all, its all FREE.

Coword & CoOffice (1)

Hitechwizard (1147603) | more than 6 years ago | (#25188257)

There is an application called CoWord & CoOffice ( that sounds like it will do what you are needing to do. It requires M$ Word, but it was the only thing we found that allowed multi-user simultaneous document editing. Maybe one day this same functionality will show up in OpenOffice (HINT HINT!)

wiki (1)

doktorjayd (469473) | more than 6 years ago | (#25188577)

use a wiki.

i've been using confluence for a couple of years now, and cant imagine any sort of collaborative document writing without it.

there are plenty of plugins, including a recent whiteboard thing ( havent used it myself ), and you can always use skype/msn/other instant messaging in the background.

KabLink (2, Informative)

Conficio (832978) | more than 6 years ago | (#25188919)

You might have a look at [] from the former SiteScape (now Novell). I'm not sure if their current open source offering includes the voice collaboration server. I think it used to. Also lots of collaboration tools, although id does not seem to include a collaborative white board in the FOSS version. (1)

grandrollerz (557606) | more than 6 years ago | (#25189381) [] seems to have most of what you are looking for and is open source.

I Wrote That Once.... (1)

adavies42 (746183) | more than 6 years ago | (#25189397)

I wrote almost exactly that spec at an internship a few years back. It was a generic collaboration package, had whiteboard, chat, "email", hooks for writing new modules, even a crappy voice chat (raw PCM over UDP, since I never could figure out how to make the Java Speex module work). The only real problem was that the primary deployment was LAN-only, so I never had to optimize it for internet speeds/latencies. I have no idea who the code belongs to, I was working for a civilian agency in DoD (the Army Research Institute), so I suppose there's a chance it falls under one of the "government products are public domain" rules.

Draftastic (1)

vruba (652537) | more than 6 years ago | (#25189731)

(Warning: self-link.)

Draftastic [] is a web-based collaborative editor that avoids lock contention issues and works without JavaScript, among other good things.

It's free for a single document. Paid accounts get more documents, a permission system, and so on.

(Not OSS, but built using mostly open-source technology. We've contributed a few patches already, and are hoping to find other ways to "give back to the community".)

dimdim (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25190485)

try dimdim

PBWiki (1)

Veggiesama (1203068) | more than 6 years ago | (#25190721)

I like Wikis.

Haven't used it in a while, but I used PBWiki to organize all of my online table-top RPGs.

Mac app (1)

matria (157464) | more than 6 years ago | (#25190923)

This is not exactly a direct response to the question as asked, since it's not F/OSS. That aside, Mac users can use SubEthaEdit [] , and share a single document with each user's focus and changes being highlighted with a selected color. It uses the Apple "bonjour" protocol, but the concept shouldn't be all that difficult to implement in other software. I'm not aware of any at the moment, however. (2, Interesting)

KristofferG (1374353) | more than 6 years ago | (#25190985)

Make an account at it features everything you need. Supports: Direct filesharing, SVN, IM jabber server, Wiki, Scrum, Trac, Mercury aso Its without doubt the best alternative for low-budget or no-budget software development.

WBM (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25191011)

Install skype and try out whiteboardmeeting.

More info at

Plus there are other whiteboard programs for skype aswell that you can try and that allow simultaneous editing of one document.

Lotus "Bluehouse" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25191335)

Have you given Lotus "Bluehouse" a try. It is a SaaS collaborative offering from IBM. As of now in Beta mode but supports versioned document sharing and provides sametime for chat. As it is a SaaS offering you would just need your browser + sametime client install.

You can go here - to check it out

Zimbra (1)

Exter-C (310390) | more than 6 years ago | (#25191545)

Hi There,

Zimbra is an open source email platform which has a document store and wiki-esq functionality. The latest version also has an instant messenger etc.

Do like Canonical. Use (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25191623)

I am doing exactly this for a modding team... (1)

Simon Brooke (45012) | more than 6 years ago | (#25192481)

And the answer we're using is MediaWiki [] . Before we used MediaWiki we used GoogleDocs, but MediaWiki suits us better.

vic, vat, wb, nte, sd (1)

GMC-jimmy (243376) | more than 6 years ago | (#25192949)

Years ago there used to be a collection of FOSS software [] that did just what the poster was describing. I don't know the status of those pieces of software are today, but its all been done before.

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