People who follow my cloud-based traces will know that I am a big fan of Nextcloud. Once split-off from ownCloud, founder Frank Karlitschek and many fellow people forked Nextcloud - which was in 2016. Three years (and seven major versions) later Nextcloud 16 is stepping in, still shaping the user’s ideal image of a self-hosted, private cloud environment. While other solutions seem to slow down, Nextcloud and its partners advance with full throttle, striving to show that a private cloud and Privacy go hand in hand. What was once "just" a fork is a key solution that shows that everyone can build a safe and private cloud in today's World Wide Web nowadays.

The last two Release Candidates were already a good sign that the final version of Nextcloud 16 was about to arrive very soon. Now Nextcloud 16 has entered the stage and is told to be smarter than ever, with machine learning to detect suspicious logins and offering clever recommendations. The well-known group folders now sport access control lists so system administrators can easily manage who has access to what in organization-wide shares. As a good company the team also introduces Projects, a way to easily relate and find related information like files, chats or tasks. Security-related optimizations and bugfixes are also part of this next major release.

AI everywhere

While suspicious login detection uses a locally trained neural network to detect malicious login attempts, there are recommendations shown in the web interface suggesting the files you have most worked with. So even Nextcloud goes the way of AI (Artificial Intelligence) to shape the way of how users best collaborate with the solution.

In addition, the classic file-server seems to die - not only Microsoft states this when putting SharePoint and OneDrive in the spotlight. Nextcloud joins this way with introducing support for access control lists to fill a role traditionally held by file servers like Windows Network Drive. System administrators can set, on every file and (sub)folder in a group folders-share, specific access rights. These are inherited by default, so a ‘no write access’ for a specific user or group will apply to all files and subfolders, unless overridden again at a deeper level by the system administrator.

Collaboration par excellence

With the new version of the „Projects“-app as stated above, Nextcloud gets a deeper integration between the different file types users work with. One „red thread“ is the link between documents of all kind, gathered in a certain, central place. As an example, conversation of the „Talk“-app can be linked to files the participants are working on, a calendar in which they schedule their calls and a project board with their tasks in the „Deck“-app. Reminds on Redmond, but seems to work out quite well!

Talk, talk, talk

With Nextcloud 16 comes a major new release of Nextcloud „Talk“ in version 6.0. This release introduces a series of improvements, including the brand new commands which allows administrators to define actions users can call from a chat. There are also major usability improvements, persistent one-to-one conversations and more. Of course, Talk also supports Projects, enabling users to connect a chat to files, folders and tasks. The Android and iOS apps for Talk were also updated with new releases bringing support for sharing files into a chat, persistent conversations, @all support, security features for Android and screen sharing support to iOS. Did I mention Microsoft Teams or Slack here?

The Privacy Thing

As it comes to privacy we all know that privacy is under attack more than ever before. Nextcloud is stated to be explicitly designed to help users escape the privacy-invading cloud providers, offering a replacement to well-known solutions in the file-sharing and collaboration-business. What does privacy mean for the users, and how can Nextcloud help them to keep their data under control? Nextcloud 16 introduces the Privacy center here, where users can see where their data is and who has access to it.

Last but not least further changes were made - surely too much to name them all here, but the focus is on the following key aspects: A better app-configuration which is also QR-code driven now, implementation of the „right click“-feature (which was a separate app before), a new document viewer and - of course - more speed when it comes to larger objects. Further changes may be found at the official blogwhich also provides different blog posts to the single key features of Nextcloud 16.

Conclusion

You see - there have been a lot of changes below the surface. Many optimizations are rather more visible and show how versatile Nextcloud has become over the last three years. A great feature set from the very beginning accompanied by a lot of great apps from the store deliver a solution that can be tailored to suit your own (cloud-) needs. There’s no stagnation if being compared to other Open Source-related projects and the progress of Nextcloud finally justifies why I switched from the predecessor without any hesitation in 2016. Give it a try and take a deep dive - you won’t regret it!