Zimbra, the open source Web Office vendor, today announced the launch of the Zimbra Collaboration Suite (ZCS) 4.0. It includes the launch of Zimbra Documents, a WYSIWYG tool for creating, sharing, and publishing documents online - and note that this includes spreadsheets as well as word processing documents. Other new features in ZCS 4.0 include upgraded support for mobile devices, user access controls, and other enhancements.
Zimbra's product up till now has mainly been an email and calendaring client, albeit with a lot of advanced mashup functionality - see my review of Zimbra a few months ago. The addition of word processing and spreadsheets really pushes Zimbra into the Web Office suite territory, competing with the likes of ThinkFree and JotSpot. And in time, Microsoft.
Here's what Ross Dargahi, Zimbra co-founder and VP of engineering, said in the press release:
"We’ve gotten so much positive feedback from the Zimbra community about offering a light-weight, Web-based collaboration client with as much or more functionality as a desktop application, and today we’re extending that Web functionality beyond email and calendaring to include documents and spreadsheets."
Another exciting aspect of Zimbra Documents is that it uses ALE (AJAX Linking and Embedding), which Dargahi says "provides the ability to embed rich content into an editable document that users can share, publish, and edit all within a Web browser."
Here's more info from the press release:
Zimbra Documents allows users to create and share documents and spreadsheets using a simple WYSIWYG editor, then share them internally or publish them externally with a simple URL. It is the first application to use the innovative AJAX Linking and Embedding (ALE) technology that Zimbra introduced in April. Access control limits (ACLs) allow users to set permissions for internal and external parties to view or edit content at the page, spreadsheet, or subsection level. Zimbra Documents supports Zimlets, which enables integration with third party information systems and allows content to be made "live" by means of a simple mouse-over.
"The introduction of ALE was a watershed moment for Zimbra’s engineering efforts, and the launch of Zimbra Documents delivers on ALE’s promise by creating a new sharing model. Users can share documents with anyone on the Internet, users and groups in their own domains, and external parties," said Satish Dharmaraj, Zimbra co-founder and CEO. "ZCS 4.0 is an important step towards true collaboration, expanding our capabilities beyond email and calendaring to include documents that can be created and shared."
Note that the ZCS 4.0 Open Source Edition of Zimbra is free, and the commercially-supported Network Edition is $28/mailbox/year.