This page is about Collaborative Editing for LibreOffice, a feature that is under development.
Definitions and terminology
Collaborative editing (synonyms: co-authoring, parallel editing) means that multiple users can work together on a document, spreadsheet or presentation, over the inter/intranet (e.g. saved in a CMIS). This term comprises real-time and offline collaborative editing.
Real-time collaborative editing (synonyms: real-time parallel editing, real-time co-authoring, simultaneous collaborative editing) means that multiple users can simultaneously edit the same document. If anyone else is working on the document, the user sees their presence and the changes they're making in real-time.
Offline collaborative editing (synonyms: offline parallel editing, asynchronous collaborative editing, synchronised collaborative editing) means that the user can keep working on the shared file, independently whether he/she is connected. When the user goes offline, the application switches from real-time collaborative editing to offline collaborative editing. If there are others editing the same document, they won't be able to see the changes while the user is offline. When the user goes back online, he/she will be notified of any changes that are available, and other users will see the changes made by the user.
There are three ways to trigger synchronization (whereas the first is superior as it is actual real-time): 1. real-time exchange of changes; 2. constant saving the file every few seconds (autosave); 3. synchronization after user saves the file. In way 2.&3 the others' changes and the user‘s shared changes can only be seen by others after the file was saved.
There are two exchange options (whereas the first option is superior): 1. Exchanging only new changes; 2. Exchanging the entire file for synchronization.
Are we there yet? Is it Ready Yet?
The closest we have at the moment is the LibreOffice Online.
If you're a developer, check out the #Development section below.
- Within the TDF, work on parallel collaboration by adding the concept of changes (or operations) to ODF Toolkit
- Email (Apr 2020) describing status quo of ODFDOM changes, with several links
- ODFDOM page on ODF toolkit (https://odftoolkit.org/)
- Short mentioning of LibreOffice cloud development in Charles-H. Schulz blog (January 15, 2015)
- MMeeks presentation (Based on message-passing via telepathy tubes) - 2013-10-09
- Historical bug report: tdf#62722 - abstract telepathy backends better ...
- Pengyou project was started for OOo - (now defunct)
- tdf#133984 - EDITING: [FEATURE REQUEST] Enhancement: Support for real-time and offline collaborative editing in LibreOffice (desktop)
- tdf#73831 - EDITING: [FEATURE REQUEST] Collaborative work for writer
- tdf#97282 - EDITING: [RFE] Enhanced Change Tracking/collaboration proposal - immutable XML
- [RFE] Ability to collaborate on documents over GIT
- Microsoft Office (desktop) supports real-time and offline collaborative editing on files saved in MS OneDrive or MS Sharepoint. Support in desktop applications (version 2019/365) varies: Real-time "co-authoring" in MS Word, Powerpoint, but MS Excel only via AutoSave. If the user is online: the user sees the presence of other users and the changes they're making in real-time. When the user goes offline, the application switches to offline collaborative editing and the user can keep working on the file. When the user goes back online, he/she will be notified of any changes that are available, and other users will see the changes made by the user. Collaboration is possible between desktop applications and MS Office online applications.
Want to help out with collaborative editing?
Start at the developers page.
You'll need to get up to speed with the LibreOffice project and our development style:
- Get the code; build it
- Join dev list, introduce yourself
- Do a couple of Easy Hacks to get familiar with the workflow. This is also a good way to show people that you're committed to writing code for the project :-)
- Finally: Ask what's on the TODO list for collaborative editing.
Code is here:
More info here:
- Presentation 2019 on Interoperable Office Collaboration (Svante Schubert)
- Presentation 2018 on Interoperable Office Collaboration by Svante Schubert (more detailed than 2019 presentation)
- Paper "The Next Millennium Document Format", ACM Digital Library 2019. The paper shows that changes are important, as when you are working in parallel you are working on local copies like when working with GIT. You have to be able to ask your coworkers for their changes to be able to merge them into your copy. (Svante Schubert)
- Draft of ODF 1.3 specification by OASIS SC Advanced Document Collaboration
- Website of OASIS SC Advanced Document Collaboration
Reports from the Press
- 2012 - Ars - Demo of collaborative editing
- 2012 H-Online - LibreOffice collaboration over instant messaging demonstrated