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Thread: Briefcase is here to stay - Post improvements

  1. #1
    bmw
    bmw is offline Special Member
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    Unhappy Briefcase is here to stay - Post improvements

    Since the Announcements forum won't allow me reply, I am posting this here.

    Earlier this month, Zimbra announced they will not be letting go of Briefcase despite the rollout of Horizon Suite which is not cost-effective and overkill for many Zimbra customers. VMWare will never get these customers to buy such a thing due to cost, lack of in-house IT competence and hardware limitations.

    Zimbra Briefcase is here to Stay
    "For all the Zimbra customers out there, we wanted to let you know that the Briefcase application in Zimbra is here to stay. For the passionate Briefcase users, please let us know how we can improve it for the future. Please log requests in Bugzilla or post here."

    I've been working with Zimbra since 2008 and ZCS 5 NE, especially, on Briefcase. The whole sales pitch of a drop-in replacement to MS Exchange must include the complete workflow and package that MS Server includes and provides end-users and that includes file/document management. The file server in MS Server is interoperable on all platforms. Unfortunately, MS Server gets cumbersome with various services not being unified and living independently of each other with myriad threads of connectivity between them.

    A small digression: Current Briefcase has odd behavior on various platforms. For instance, using Firefox on Kubuntu/KDE 12.10 drag-and-drop is gone and when uploading causes the open file dialog to open. This is unnecessary since it is an upload and not a download.

    With Briefcase, since the major portability and collaborative Zimbra experience in being a one-stop shop is over HTTP, WebDAV or some bridge protocol/connection like it must be used. While this is a very solid and standard way of managing file delivery that MS Server is conceptually based on, in Briefcase it is not stable over the three major platforms except for simple upload/download. Open>Edit>Save>, etc., type workflow is not consistent, and is complicated in versioning between on-the-fly editing and upload/download which are distinct functions.

    Think of it this way. A worker is on the road using their laptop collaborating with others on the same document. One is in the office editing on-the-fly and the other on a place downloaded the same file to work on it locally on their laptop. In Briefcase, this ends up being a kludge while in MS Server it doesn't. The advantage of properly working document management is to lock the file once it is 'checked-out' by a worker so that others cannot edit it at the same time; one at a time. This is so another worker doesn't overwrite or cause out of chronology edits.

    I'm not saying VMWare Zimbra is devoid knowledge and competency on this, they are pretty expert on working with me to try and solve the issue but it is not a priority at all, and for me, has not only hamstrung my office for the past five years but forced me to keep our MS Server still online and it has to be immediately taken offline as I don't want to put any more work hours or upgrade hardware into it.

    This situation has also caused a huge loss of my credibility and respect from other workers in choosing Zimbra over something else and having to break a critical workflow. I can't say it with any more emergency or importance.

    My big question has to be now is how does Zimbra manage its own document management and with what software? Other collaborative document management systems like Alfresco, Thinkfree and others, offer this kind of standard (as opposed to, robust) functionality so that office workflow doesn't get hamstrung after the migration to Zimbra from MS Server.

    Actually, Thinkfree Office has the three basic productivity apps integrated that is pretty much a relplica of the same apps in MS Office. Plus, it will integrate into Zimbra but at a modest cost being much less than VMWare Horizon Suite.

    What would have been a much easier solution is to adopt one of the third-party services and integrated into Zimbra. For me, Alfresco is more or less the best solution since they have an open-source version with tons of documentation, tutorials, videos and community support including regular gatherings to crowdsource improvements. Alfresco already has a Zimlet connector for Zimbra Mail but not for Briefcase.

    Now. that is okay because with ample Zimbra codebase available to create tabs and components, Alfresco (or any others) could be seamlessly integrated eliminating Briefcase altogether.

    I do not understand Zimbra's resistance to really bumping up the functionality of Briefcase so that it operates more or less the same way as an Alfresco or Thinkfree Office.


    Respectfully,
    Bruce Wolfe

  2. #2
    dik23 is offline Advanced Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by bmw View Post
    I do not understand Zimbra's resistance to really bumping up the functionality of Briefcase so that it operates more or less the same way as an Alfresco or Thinkfree Office.
    Personally I took that announcement to be a positive thing. Briefcase could be so much more than it is now but this announcement says to me that Zimbra have decided to "care" about it now where previously there was talk about dropping it.

    I've asked our people and a common theme is what you mentioned about being able to check documents in and out, making them read only in the process. This is essential for any kind of document collaboration where people aren't online at the same time as each other.

    A client, similar to what dropbox etc offer, for people working on their own machines who want documents to be stored locally would be another good move, as would the ability to be able choose to encrypt sensitive documents stored on the server.

    There's quite a lot of RFEs in bugzilla, let's hope that some of them start getting looked at, and that Zimbra have some good ideas of their own to make the briefcase reach it's full potential

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    phoenix is online now Zimbra Consultant & Moderator
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    Quote Originally Posted by dik23 View Post
    There's quite a lot of RFEs in bugzilla, let's hope that some of them start getting looked at, and that Zimbra have some good ideas of their own to make the briefcase reach it's full potential
    Don't forget that you should add your votes to RFEs that you're interested in seeing implemented and encourage others to vote for them. If there's any suggestions from this thread then they should also be added to bugzilla as bug reports (if that's what they are) or feature requests, that gets the attention of the developers not posts or feature requests (however desirable) in the forums.
    Regards


    Bill


    Acompli: A new adventure for Co-Founder KevinH.

  4. #4
    bofh is offline Elite Member
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    yes its a good thing it stays but it bothers me mcuh they even thought about and announced the removal

    dont give much trust in th willingness to support foss over the next 10 years.

    anyway. briefcase is a very troubly topic.
    if you use zdesktop your filesizes bekocome incorrect and even dataloss is possible.
    if you use it as a webdav mounted drive you get issues there too

    what we really need to bein with is a multiplatform synctool.
    like dropbox to avoid many many issues.

    for expample you cannot save a office 2010 doc on webdav anymore if its not using the iss structture. so usrr have to save to desktop and then copy.

    i would love to see samba integratin too but this might be a very hard part (using samba to acces briefcase files and vice versa) but at least a sync would be good.

    sadly even the only real useable webdav sync app on android cant work with zimbra with big files over one meg.

    so mayby thats way vmware said lets make it right in horizon and drop the briefcase

  5. #5
    bmw
    bmw is offline Special Member
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    bofh wrote:
    "what we really need to bein with is a multiplatform synctool.
    like dropbox to avoid many many issues."

    This is why I suggested something really solid like Alfresco or Thinkfree Office. If Zimbra wants to remain somewhat FOSS, then why not mash-up with other FOSS applications? It just makes sense from an open-source perspective. Resistance to it leaves one suspicious as to intention.

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    jerryboi is offline Special Member
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    Bruce,

    please explain "The advantage of properly working document management is to lock the file once it is 'checked-out' by a worker so that others cannot edit it at the same time; one at a time. This is so another worker doesn't overwrite or cause out of chronology edits."

    On the Briefcase tab's filelist a right-click invoked context menu offers the option to 'check out file'. This downloads the file and locks it for edits until it is 'checked in'. Users can avoid their files being overwritten by checking them out -- or at least so I tell my users. Isn't this a solution for you?

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    jerryboi is offline Special Member
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    If Briefcase is indeed back in active development, then why don't you implement this >
    Future of Zimbra Workspaces
    I understand how this is a lot more complex and a workspace can have many collections besides the webdav (webdav can even be unselected) but that activity stream in the middle of the screen is very attractive. This part of workspace might even be already written. I imagine having one activity stream in every briefcase folder. And actually the streams could be channeled forward so they can be added as streams on the telligent desktop. Wow, this could even get the nod. Should I just write an RFE?

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