Sat 25 Apr 2020 11:34AM

Digital infrastructure/protocol

M mike_hales Public Seen by 132

We hope to have a more focused collaboration following Open2020. One aspect of this is a digital commons-infrastructure for collaborating, communicating, coordinating and coproducing. For commoning our work on the commons. At Open2020 we’ll need to home in on this. Assemble some views and options here, pre-conference.


mike_hales Sat 25 Apr 2020 11:36AM

@Bob Haugen What export options does Cryptpad have? Do they work? What’s it like to use, generally - compared with gDocs, Etherpad.

Have you used HackMD? Or AN other shared markdown app/platform?

I ask bcos Oli wants Open2020 to adopt a protocol that includes, among other things, digital infrastructure for collaboration. Coming off gDocs is a part of this.

Would you say that going into the git framework for team communication is worth considering? I feel alienated by it myself but that may be bcos most usage of it is minimally communicative, very geek-culture and deliverables-oriented, with little contextualisation or reader-considerateness. But somehow it seems intrinsically opaque to me.


Bob Haugen Sat 25 Apr 2020 12:41PM

What export options does Cryptpad have?

.html and .pdf

Do they work?

Yes. .html seems to work better than ,pdf, but I have not tried either very much.

What’s it like to use, generally - compared with gDocsEtherpad.

For general collaborative document editing, works pretty well. The encryption means you can collaborate on truly private documents.

Does not have comments, but does have chat. So you can discuss the document contents with collaborators etc, but cannot connect a comment to a selection of the document.

Some hosted Etherpad offerings have comments. The comment feature is broken in some of the hosted offerings. I don't have recent test results on that problem, but I just retried comments in a disroot pad. Worked fine in firefox, not in chrome.


mike_hales Sat 25 Apr 2020 11:38AM

I like the transparency of etherpad. But it won’t export to anything in the disroot instance that I use. The export-to-markdown is broken on the disroot instance, and disroot don’t seem eager to fix it. It’s free software, and we could have our own instance, with many plugin options. But the fact that it remains unfixed on disroot suggests that managing an instance isn’t 100% simple.

There are numerous public instances. I tried the framapad instance. Exporting there is different than disroot - so export options are configured per-instance. But I tried pdf, msword and html, and all fail miserably to render styles in the exported document. The markdown export in the disroot pad was cool - in the old days, when it worked. So thumbs down on etherpad? 


mike_hales Sat 25 Apr 2020 11:48AM

I’ve dabbled in hackMD but somehow it felt a bit klunky and I wasn’t encouraged to go further - at least until I had somebody else to ‘talk to’ in that framework. @Graham d’you use it? Does it work well as a collaborative writing environment? Personally I favour a tool that talks markdown - and preferably, has it explicitly up-front, as the writing space, rather than just being an export option.

Hack MD is oriented to web sharing of docs, within a framework of teams - it’s a bit Slackish. It’s not so much a document writing tool (where export option matter, to traditional formats like Word or PDF), as a team communication and documentation archive? Is that what we need? 

The file system seems pretty poor. And the interface with the file system is rudimentary. Searching seems rudimentary - within docs, across entire domains of docs. The interface is a bit geeky but has some geek simplicity as distinct from pseudo-MSword bells&whistles. 

HackMD has password access to (group) accounts - I think we need a defined membership of this tools commons (as in the present Loomio instance)? What do others think?. Public publishing of docs from the private group space is simple. Privileges can be specified for shared versions. I might be willing to learn to use HackMD well, within a defined collaboration, where partners were willing to be disciplined in filing docs under a limited number of team headings. But if it gets too ‘open’ the whole thing will go to pieces, and material will be unfindable.

So. . . unsure whether the tool will fit the community. Is it a disciplined team we want to equip? Or a load of disparate folks who really need some kind of social media? Plus a standard document format for sharing - as distinct from a collaborative writing space?

Actually, it’s CodiMD you use isn’t it @Graham ? Part of the Cloudron stack. https://notes.typo3.org/. Intriguingly, that url was listed on the etherpad site an etherpad public instance. So, somebody migrated? Is CodiMD same as HackMD?


Graham Mon 27 Apr 2020 7:31AM

CodiMD and HackMD look identical to my untutored eye.


mike_hales Mon 27 Apr 2020 7:48AM

Me too.


Chris Croome (Webarchitects Co-operative) Sat 25 Apr 2020 11:51AM

I'm looking at doing some work with some other co-operative across Europe on hosting BigBlueButton with Nextcloud integration, see this project, if it works well it could be a great solution, but is isn't going to be ready for a little while. Nextcloud comes with a very nice Markdown editor.


mike_hales Sat 25 Apr 2020 12:03PM

@Chris Croome (Webarchitects Co-operative) can you comment on costs and practicalities of going with Nextcloud? Would WebArchitects want to host a NextCloud instance for OpenCoop? Is there some ballpark idea of monthly/annual cost with WebArch? The ‘project’ would need to crowdfund, if we’re hosting our own instances (or subscribing to existing platforms, like collective.tools), rather than using free public platforms like disroot, framasoft, etc

The collective.tools package of NextCloud apps seems to be offered at a reasonable monthly cost. D’you know if they are in the BBB project too?

@Graham what’s the cost side of being with Cloudron/DigitalLife? Are there standard rates?

Well need to start thinking crowdfunding or paid membership for post-Open2020?


Chris Croome (Webarchitects Co-operative) Sat 25 Apr 2020 12:20PM

We can provide basic Nextcloud hosting for £115 a year (based on a shared server, this isn't yet listed on our website) but the BBB integration will probably require Nextcloud on it's own virtual server, see our Nextcloud packages.

I believe that collective.tools are involved with the BBB project, I should know more as the plans firm up over the next week I expect.


mike_hales Sat 25 Apr 2020 12:22PM

£115 = £2.30 per year, across 50 people. That doesn’t sound too painful.

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