A New NetOffice?

There has been no activity on Netoffice for some time now. I contacted the current admins about taking it over some time ago but received no reply. So I’m thinking it might be about time to fork and start doing my own thing with it. I have a couple of thoughts:

  1. I’d like to redo the header/footer and remove all presentational HTML so the look can be customised easier with CSS
  2. Delete the ‘Client Site’ facility. None of my clients actually use it – it just gets in the way
  3. Delete the ‘Support Requests’ for the same reason
  4. Streamline the workflow – make it simpler to update a task and log time in the one step
  5. Add project & task templates – make creating a new project simpler
  6. Improve Milestone handling
  7. Improve some of the reports
  8. Add RSS feeds for project/task updates

Yep… that’s a bit of work. I know these posts are being read… Are there any other thoughts out there?


16 thoughts on “A New NetOffice?

  1. I like point 4, who’s the genious that thought if that? 😉

    Also, i’d make 1 other major change. Reduce the home page weight. currently it is:
    Documents (1 file) 154 kb
    Images (52 files) 15 kb
    Style Sheets (3 files) 17 kb
    Scripts (12 files) 343 kb
    Total 529 kb

    The size of the scripts are rediculous, considering I don’t see half the javascript being used anywhere (although I undertand that Tinymce script is being called on every page). But then the document by itself is amazing. This is mainly due to the collective display of eveything in the one place – even if some of it is in hidden divs.

    So I’d try to preserve bandwidth, only call what you have to when you have to, and with the home page, perhaps have a page reload when changing views from ‘current tasks’ to ‘current projects’ for example.

  2. 1. I agree i think if we could customize these areas this would keep netoffice a lot fresher maybe customize monthly. It would be good if we could have a couple of different stylesheets which allows us to customize simple things link background and text colours.

    2-3. I think we should delete all facilities that we do not use, as this will make for less navigation icons and less confusing for inexperienced users.

    4. I think we should be able to log time, project completetion and percentage completion in one step, similiar to what we were discussing for CMS ver 3.

    8. RSS feeds i can not see the advantages of this.

  3. I hadn’t actually measured the size of the home page – that will need attention – absolutely! Yikes!!!

    RSS feeds will help the project manager know what’s been completed in (almost) real time. Instead of having to run a completed task report every day, just have your RSS agregator running and as tasks are completed you’ll know about it (depending on how frequently it’s set to refresh of course).

  4. hi,

    you are right, i do take a look at your post once in 2-3 days.

    i like your idea of taking this yourself, i can help you to fine tune netoffice, like the html edito suggestion.

    let me know if we can work together?


  5. Would it be more work to streamline netoffice or start from scratch? Not that I am suggesting starting from scratch. Streber is trying this, but already looking to have to many features to satisfy too many requirements.

    It is the general problem of this type of app. Everybody wants things slightly different. And by the time everyone is satisfied, it becomes so hard to work with, that no one is satisfied.

    netoffice and and its parent phpcollab have hit a wall for a reason. It would be some comeback.

  6. I’ve toyed with the idea of a ground-up rebuild, but that’s a big job and I need something that works now. The source code on phpCollab/NetOffice is a little hard to get your head around to start with – and it’s certainly not the ideal solution – but it’s where I’m leaning at the moment.

    Of course, after attempting to implement some of the things I want to do, I may well end up hitting that wall heading down the ‘fresh start’ path instead!

    But either way, I’ll be making something that does what I need it to do as simply and smoothly as possible. Suggestions will be taken on board – if it’s an improvement in my eyes I’ll include it, but if it’s something that *I* won’t be using I won’t be adding it in. That might sound selfish, but I think that’s the secret to avoiding bloat.

  7. 1 or maybe 2 people to run the show is the only way it will work. Democracy is not always the answer.

    Best of luck.

  8. Hi,
    Just ran into this page while looking for a netoffice theme. I just installed netoffice, and while the functionality is great, i find the interface super cluttered and not friendly at all. I’d be happy to contribute to a more streamlined, lighter, more easily skinnable and tableless version. Let me know if you need my help!


  9. I’ve been using NetOffice v2.5.3-pl1 since 2004 for running my web design projects. It does a good job and I’ve also found your hacks useful (I’ve had to backport them to work in 2.5.x).

    I agree with your modifications EXCEPT the client site and support request deletions. My clients like the ability to create tasks themselves and it saves us both alot of time. They also make use of viewing the real-time status of their project as I work on it and the ability to upload project-related documents directly to NetOffice instead of it getting lost in 100s of e-mails. Although the client site needs improvement it’s a great service to have around.

    I do agree that NetOffice needs a better workflow and a cleaner, CSS based design. It would be nice if NetOffice could include invoicing functionality too… right now I have to use a seperate app to do all of my invoices and it’s annoying to keep the two in sync. I might wind up backporting the invoice code in PHPCollab 2.5 to NetOffice sometime if the NetOffice project remains stale.

    Best of luck!

  10. Hi,

    We are currently looking at netoffice and found a good product, there is of course room for improvement. After we realized netoffice development is stopped we are looking at alternatives just in order to get some support.
    I’ll keep reading this as it sounds great.
    We’ll let you know if we have any new features idea.
    The idea of the RSS feed looks good,


  11. Thanks for the link Reverb – The Dwins version has been around for a while now but he’s heading the other direction to me: adding extra features rather than smplifying it. Reid, the Dwins version might be better suited to you as well if you need the Support Requests and Client Site features, as they will probably disappear (or at least be substantially changed) from what you see now.

  12. Jason,

    I’ve used phpCollab, Netoffice, and recently switched to the Dwins Version. I like the Dwins version…it works..but the time tracking feature is buggy. I agree that it contains a lot of additional features that I don’t plan to use. Several forum members have made some good suggestions and contributed code. But the code is update infrequently, bug fixes sometimes take a while.

    My thoughts:

    Client Sites
    I like the idea of client sites, but I’ve never used this feature and I’m not sure that I will in the future. Other projects handle client access through permissions.

    Time and Expense Tracking
    Dwins tracks time, but not expenses. A couple of extra user defined fields would be all that is needed to track expenses.
    Dwins also tracks some other items, time spent in meetings, work hours and task hours as separate pages. I don’t see the need since this can be handled though specifying a code for the hours.
    Additionally, Dwins make too much use of arrays specified in the language files. Some of this data should be put into tables to allow entry from Netoffice.

    I’m not sure I have ever figured out permissions. A least in Dwins they don’t work the way I expect.

    CSS Based Design
    I agree that this is a necessary feature.

    By the way…I’ve followed some of your comments and modifications in the past. Great work and thanks for being willing to take on this project.

  13. Thanks Joe,

    Haven’t really given expense tracking any thought – how do you feel that should work from the end user’s view?

  14. Jason,

    I would prefer keeping it simple. Make a expense entry form, identical to the time entry form. Instead of time entry, use the form to enter:

    Task (optional)
    ExpenseType (Mileage,PassThrough,Supplies,PerDiem, etc.)

    The record would need to be associated with a team member and the date of entry.

    Also, I don’t track time at the task level, just at the project level. It would be best for us if we could track time at either the project or project/task level.

    Thanks again Jason.

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