Quite some time ago I was searching for the possibility to have a server side storage for documents, and to work on them together with others. Sure, in principal you can realize that with KOffice and kparts where you access and store all data over ssh on a server. But first of all that is not supported by OpenOffice, and it would be cool to have this also with some kind of web interface to check the versions of the documents, etc. So I continued my search – and found PengYou.
PengYou is an attempt to provide a server side storage for all kinds of office documents which you can access from OpenOffice.org or from MSOffice (and also from others if someone implements it, it is Free Software). The client software is embedded directly in the office software and is quite easy to use:
Besides the basic functionality of uploading (“publishing”) and downloading documents to work on them PengYou also supports document versions – you can access every version of the document ever uploaded. Also different users are supported to see different versions of different users of one document.
The client software integration is realized by add on packages – there is no need to recompile for example OpenOffice.org. You just download the OpenOffice package (zip), load it into OpenOffice through the package manager, and that’s it. The current software package even comes along with a configured test server so that you can give it a try (basic downloading and version checking of documents).
I’ve tested a bit around with the client package, and I am very impressed: it does what it promises, it is integrated, and it is very easy to use. It just works! Sure, you have to set it up once (e.g.: enter a new server address and your user name and password), but that’s it, after that you can just point&click through it, and it just works. PengYou is still in early development (first release was in November 2006), but is already very promising.
Also, if you have a look at the home page you see that the developers put quite some effort and thoughts into the software – and even have a good flash designer 😉
I hope that PengYou evolves to a real alternative for other, often very expensive software in this sector: as soon as you leave your home desktop you need a place to centralized store and share your documents so that more people can work on the same document at least once in a while. And PengYou can fill this gap.