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FOSS Multicast Document Sharing? 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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FOSS Multicast Document Sharing?

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  • Abiword (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 28, 2008 @04:21PM (#25186787)

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

  • Google Docs (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    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 (Score:4, Informative)

      by johnkzin ( 917611 ) on Sunday September 28, 2008 @06:11PM (#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.

      • Personally I use Google Docs for this purpose.

        While I agree that it is not technically 'open source'... From the Google Data API:

        Google gives you a personal, worldwide, royalty-free, non-assignable and non-exclusive licence to use the software provided to you by Google as part of the Services as provided to you by Google (referred to as the âoeSoftwareâ below).

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by master5o1 ( 1068594 )
      nah nah mate... this [] is much better.
  • by Noksagt ( 69097 ) on Sunday September 28, 2008 @04:22PM (#25186795) Homepage

    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.

    • 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?
      • by AvitarX ( 172628 )

        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

        • by Anonymous Coward

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

      • 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 ch

    • by Jawdy ( 864553 )
      Thanks for all of those! Our biggest problem is definately images, and Coccinella looks like it'll fit the bill. I had used Marratech before, and it's whiteboard feature allowed you to load images which can then be "edited" or painted over, which Coccinella looks like it'll do. Thanks!
  • OpenH323 (Score:5, Informative)

    by Zarhan ( 415465 ) on Sunday September 28, 2008 @04:22PM (#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). []

  • by aachrisg ( 899192 ) on Sunday September 28, 2008 @04:22PM (#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.
    • by SenseiLeNoir ( 699164 ) on Monday September 29, 2008 @05:53AM (#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.

  • by Compholio ( 770966 ) on Sunday September 28, 2008 @04:22PM (#25186805)
    Well, for the "document sharing" and "editing rights" part you could use Dropbox [].
  • One Word ... (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

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

  • by Anonymous Coward ?
    I haven't tried it personally, but if it's any help, yeah. (:

  • by Froze ( 398171 ) on Sunday September 28, 2008 @04:28PM (#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.

    • by Jawdy ( 864553 )
      I hadn't even thought about using VNC for "multicast" purposes. Heck, I didn't even know it could be done! This one will definately help regarding some of the more obscure or cpu-hungry apps and editors that we have to use. Thanks!
  • 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."

  • Dabbleboard (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 28, 2008 @04:32PM (#25186903)

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

    • by Jawdy ( 864553 )
      This looks incredibly useful! The "upload other images to use in dabbleboard" part is exactly what we need! Looks like we may start using GoogleDocs for text and this for Images! Thanks!
  • Gobby (Score:5, Informative)

    by siDDis ( 961791 ) on Sunday September 28, 2008 @04:35PM (#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.

    • Dang, looks like perhaps the Gobby Web site went down under the load. Anyone have a mirror? I just set up a Gobby server [] and want my coworkers using Windows and Mac to be able to try it out, if clients exist for those platforms.
    • by Jawdy ( 864553 )
      Their site didn't load for me - but Wiki shed some light on the project! Looks good, and has all the collaborative items in one client/server setup. Definately going to investigate this one further, thanks!
  • 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.

  • by toby ( 759 ) * on Sunday September 28, 2008 @04:44PM (#25186993) Homepage Journal

    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.

    • by jd ( 1658 )

      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 y

      • 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/Clo
  • Microsoft SharedView (Score:5, Interesting)

    by figleaf ( 672550 ) on Sunday September 28, 2008 @04:52PM (#25187055) Homepage
    One more alternative you can look at: SharedView []. It works over the firewall unlike several other apps.
  • Not exactly what you want, but Opendocman works very well for document sharing and control: []
  • 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.)

  • Inkscape (Score:4, Interesting)

    by molo ( 94384 ) on Sunday September 28, 2008 @05:11PM (#25187209) Journal

    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: []


  • 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.

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

    Use Alfresco [] for document sharing.

  • 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

  • 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

  • by RatPh!nk ( 216977 ) <[ratpH1nk] [at] []> on Sunday September 28, 2008 @05:38PM (#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
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • If you can handle the limited nature of their word processor.
  • 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.
  • but subethaedit [] has some cool text editing collaboration functionality.
  • by Gocho ( 16619 )
    Here you go... [] It integrates with Asterisk and it has Video Conferencing capabilities.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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!)
  • 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 (Score:2, Informative)

    by Conficio ( 832978 )

    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.

  • [] seems to have most of what you are looking for and is open source.
    • by Jawdy ( 864553 )
      You're absolutely right, it does have (almost) all that we need! I've got so many apps to choose from - you'd think that I could find these things from the right sort of Google search and use of keywords...
  • 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 Rese
  • (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".)

  • I like Wikis.

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

  • 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.

  • (Score:2, Interesting)

    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.
  • 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.

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

  • 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.

  • Maybe a Wiki will help you. As for exchanging files, a perhaps an FTP/HTTP/Samba server? Or each one of your running such an app?

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