The Great Groupware Challenge. Part 1

Tuesday, 7. July 2009

eGroupware 1.6.001

eGroupware has all the features you would expect in a full featured enterprise groupware. This is why I have been using it for my company for the last two years.

It rates as one of the easiest LAMP applications I’ve ever installed, and has more features and applications then most commercial and open source groupwares. Actually, a few too many applications in my opinion.

One thing you will notice right away, is the user management. It’s totally granular. Most modules have access control lists (acls) that can drill all the way down to a single users use of a single function in an application, all the way back out to the ability to control entire applications based on group membership.

Granular control is great, but it can add to your administration overhead. And if you have a few hundred users, you will probably want to delegate some of that responsibility to others.

Some other high points of eGroupware are:

  1. Fetchmail Email Module
  2. Group Planner View in the Calendar
  3. Resource Management
  4. File / Document Management

Although most of eGroupware’s UI is well thought out and easy to use, there are a few things that would be nice, like accessing attendees free/busy info when setting up a calendar item. I’d also like to see some actual “styles” that can be downloaded to change the look of the interface. I find the single available style to be acceptable, but have gotten comments from clients calling it “unprofessional”.

eGroupware is totally web based and proud of it. I personally don’t like web based email, but found the fetmail client to be adequate for most email needs. That said, what I really want in my organization is an enterprise calendar and contact management system that will easily communicate with a desktop based email / calendar client.

To be fair eGroupware  talks to some clients. I have gotten it to sync to Sunbird, and the Thunderbird extension called Lightning, But I have had no luck getting anything to sync the contacts data to an address book.

There is a real push to try to come up with a universal standard for remote synchronization of address books and calendars, and for now, the apparent winner in that arena is GroupDav. eGroupware supports GroupDev, as well as XMLRPC and SOAP, so maybe, just maybe, there will be a solid usable desktop client interface reliably supported.

— Stu


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