REVIEW: OpenGoo Removes Some of the Liabilities of Web-Based Productivity Apps

 
 
By Jason Brooks  |  Posted 2009-08-27 Email Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Unlike Web-based Office productivity apps such as Zoho Office and Google Apps, OpenGoo is distributed under an open-source license and can be run from any LAMP server. The do-it-yourself OpenGoo is also offered in a commercial version called Feng Office that provides technical support. OpenGoo is fairly polished for its age, but it has some catching up to do to compete with rivals' functionality.

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 organization 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.

Click here to view the Labs' gallery of images of OpenGoo. 

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 centers, 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 per month, with the per-user fee dropping to about $5 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 organizations in search of an inexpensive way to improve collaboration without limiting deployment or customization 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: http://demo.opengoo.org/en/index.php?c=access&a=login.



 
 
 
 
As Editor in Chief of eWEEK Labs, Jason Brooks manages the Labs team and is responsible for eWEEK's print edition. Brooks joined eWEEK in 1999, and has covered wireless networking, office productivity suites, mobile devices, Windows, virtualization, and desktops and notebooks. Jason's coverage is currently focused on Linux and Unix operating systems, open-source software and licensing, cloud computing and Software as a Service. Follow Jason on Twitter at jasonbrooks, or reach him by email at jbrooks@eweek.com.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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