NextCloud is our recommended tool for collaborative writing and file storage
This page needs to adapt/update the GMC Handbook's section on G-Drive
There's no GMC Wiki entry on G-drive. Just the material in the Handbook<(big>
The Handbook entry needs to be heavily adapted for NextCloud and the Markdown editor
Collaborative writing, file storage
NextCloud is part of our communication/collaboration tools, which is gradually replacing our use of Google Drive. It has a dual function: serving as file storage for the group and allowing us to create collaborative documents.
NextCloud is a content collaboration platform that uses "consumer-grade solutions like Dropbox and Google Drive". It develops software for decentralized and federated clouds to help move away from centralized cloud services.
What we use NextCloud for
NextCloud is a space for us to store files, create collaborative documents and share a work calendar. We will take a look at these functions separately.
If we open the NET.LABS folder you will find the main folders pertaining to Networking and LABs. Within those folders are the documents and subfolders for nested topics within the main folder. The nested folders are based on necessity and common sense, and most follow the labels corresponding to groups and subgroups in Trello, although this is not true for all. If we have trouble finding a specific document we use the search function or ask another member for help.
It is also important to know when to use NextCloud for storage, as opposed to Loomio or SpaceTime. We attach files on Loomio and Trello when they are specifically relevant to the conversation/action at hand. There are a great number of Loomio threads and Trello cards and we don't need a corresponding number of folders in NextCloud. So, for example, if someone is working on a funding proposal in NextCloud, she would attach the NextCloud file to the card for this specific proposal. It is possible to upload files from a Loomio thread or Trello card for redundancy, using our best judgment.
In general, NextCloud is used for mid- and long-term (rather than specific) actions or tasks. Any NextCloud-native files that are important to the conversation or task/action can and should be linked to the corresponding Loomio thread or Trello card. We also use NextCloud for large files, as the other tools have an upload limit. It is important to remember that the system is only useable thanks to a certain degree of flexibility, meaning we don't have to adhere 100% to this if does not make sense in a specific case.
Turning to documents we use NextCloud to write shared texts, spreadsheets and presentations. It is where we write collaborative texts, such as handbooks, publications, and presentations, which are then formatted for web, PDF, Mobi, Wiki, etc. Spreadsheets are used similarly: we share a spreadsheet when it needs to be easily accessible to the whole team and updatable in real-time.
What NextCloud is (and isn't for)
NextCloud IS for:
- Writing collaborative documents
- Creating shared spreadsheets
- Attaching readily available documents for larger tasks
- Uploading large attachments
NextCloud ISN'T for:
- One on one conversation, off-topic convos and quick check-ins (use Mattermost)
- Working circle real-time communication (use Mattermost)
- Having long discussions, making announcements everyone needs to see and acknowledge or voting on decisions (use Loomio)
- Figuring out how we work and how we go forward (use Loomio)
- Workflow and project management (use SpaceTime)
- Specific tasks. (use SpaceTime)
- Attaching documents that have to do with specific tasks. (use SpaceTime)
- Setting precise deadlines in tasks (use SpaceTime)
- A searchable repository for information (use the Wiki)
How we use NextCloud
We have an introductory document, explaining how NextCloud works, for those just joining us - but documents are essentially the same as a word processor. We have several guidelines on how to collaborate best in them; some are optional and others required.
- Close the document when you are finished reading/working on it.
- Make sure that when you highlight a piece of text you take action, so others know what is going on there.
- Wait for others to finish what they are typing before adding/changing anything to their text.
- Keep edit access and comment access.
- Avoid typing large amounts of text above where someone else is typing.
- Comment +1 to comments you agree on
- Address a comment before resolving it
- Leave the document name as is, so others can easily find it.
- Try not to set the document back to 15 minutes ago continuously ... this makes it hard for editors, as their edits will disappear.
- Submit each comment one by one, not a bunch at once.
- Do not add yourself as the author, without permission from the original author
- Do not add Appscript making alerts pop up.
- Allow those who did the work to share it with the team.
Also, please make sure new docs are created in the most appropriate folder, not "in the wild". This is fairly intuitive, but we are happy to help if there is any confusion. Also, whenever a document is relevant to a Loomio thread or Trello card, please hyperlink the documents there using Markdown. This system of "redundant ways to find stuff" helps create efficiency and resilience, as the machine runs smoother when baseline-workflow processes are legible to everyone and shared.
The remaining guidelines are as follows:
- Highlights: In docs a yellow highlight means either pending or needs revision. Red is a signal to eliminate. Not so much in texts, but in spreadsheets, use the following color codes to signal progress:
- Green: Deliverable COMPLETED
- Light Blue: Deliverable mainly completed. Follow up tasks pending.
- Blue: Deliverable Currently Underway.
- Yellow: STARTED/PLANNING STAGE. Needs to get underway.
- Red: Deliverable CANCELLED but moves to next funding/project unless otherwise specified.
- Comments: Feel free to make comments. However, once there are more than 5 comments or so, that signals we should take the conversation elsewhere. Depending on the importance of the comments, this will be held in Mattermost or Loomio. Once you feel a comment should be resolved, write "(rs)" on the comment. The person/s you are addressing can then resolve it to keep the document clean (unless there is something important to add). Try to clean up documents as much as possible.
- Headings: Use headings wherever possible. They allow us to organize, visualize and navigate the document better (including direct in-document links). It also helps us to format WordPress more easily when needed.
- Suggest edits: when editing someone else's writing, please use suggest edits, which is the same as track changes on a word processor. Exceptions are: a) fixing misspellings or minor typos (do it directly). b) large rewrites (put it in as a comment). Use commons sense here.
- Formatting: (recommended) Most of our documents are written in Georgia 12 for legibility. Headings are in Arial and bold.
We've already covered most of the ways in which we use file storage above. Here are some quick reminders for reference:
- Create docs or spreadsheets inside of the shared folder, not "floating" about.
- Store documents in the shared DisCO Folder, not your personal Google drive.
- Be mindful of when it's best to attach something on Loomio, Trello, NextCloud (or both or all three). Ask for help if you're not sure.
- Does a new folder need to be created or should an existing one be somewhere else? Talk to your DisCO Buddy or, if it's a big deal, raise it on Loomio.
If we take our tool workflow as a narrative, we began by setting a timer with Clockify, then we had an informal, real-time discussion in Mattermost which turned into a longer form, team-wide exploration in Loomio — where we agreed to take on a specific task. The task's progress and its to-dos happened in Trello and (maybe) using some of the tools we find in NextCloud. What do we do at the end of this process? We document what we have learned, share it publicly as a commons and then use this knowledge to kickstart new iterations. The tool we use for documentation is Mediawiki.
The Community Calendar is a place to reflect all meetings and their times, recurring meetings, general availability and holidays.
This allows the community to know when is a good time to contact you (or not) and when you might be available both through synchronous and asynchronous communications.
It is important to keep the calendar updated, with your availability each week, to avoid miscommunication and frustration when a member is unavailable but doesn't explicitly say so.
Please check your calendar daily!