Webtop vs sogo thinking

It’s a technical decision. We had and still have a lot of problems with sogo: crashes, failures to restart, high system load, missing functionalities and support from the developers.
I’m biased because I always opposed to sogo, but I know that we chose it because it was the best option we had, even if it was far from satisfactory.

This is a community project and if the community want to support sogo or any other groupware I have no objections and will help as usual.

1 Like

I think I need to clarify some history behind Webtop.

The project exists since early 2000, and the main focus has always been “the web desktop”, that is: eliminate the need of installed software and rely mainly on the web desktop.
All of this, while outlook web was not an option, and while Zimbra was developing a similar software on the other side of the planet.
Webtop has been used by Sonicle and its customer for all these years, as a web solution, in a moment where all the cal/card standards were still being designed and implemented, and only imap was the real available standard.
For this reason we developed our internal contact/calendar solution, and its webtop services, while mail service relies on imap since the beginning.

Upon arrival of the new devices we had to make a decision on how to support these devices, and we found active sync was the best solution becasue it’s supported by every platform.
We quickly found that the imap implementation on active sync has many problems, so we deliberatly decided to disable imap support from active sync, and let users access mail thruough direct imap clients on their devices.

Now, during the last year and more, we’ve teamed with Nethesis to bring Webtop on their NethServer.
What happened is that we found a completely different view, where people still want to use their preferred clients, so actually it’s not Webtop vs Sogo, as it looks like nobody is using the Sogo interface, but just the cal/card interface to its data, and then the imap server for email.

So now, looking at the table from @kisaacs:

  • support for cal/card standards : this is something we’re working on for WT5

  • no support for imap in active sync: may be activated by commenting out some piece of code in z-push

  • legend #1 needs to be verified, I will discuss this with the team

Please also note that active sync support in both sogo and webtop is brought to you via z-push, so I strongly believe that imap via active sync on sogo will suffer the same problems we had on webtop.
Also keep in mind that Outlook wants to talk Exchange protocol, while active sync is a subset of the protocol: as always M$ doesn’t want others to enter their business. AFAIK the full Exchange protocol is not open.

I would also say that we expected more feedback on the web interface, rather than support for third party clients, because that is what we want to develop more, having and adding features and services not available on installed clients.

For example: what are you missing on the web interface that makes you still want to use another client on the same data?

Hope to have shed some light on the project, that is not just a market decision :wink:



First, thanks to @gabriele_bulfon for your detailed answer.

you’re right. It’s not very comfortable and also not customizable very well.

that are great news! [quote=“gabriele_bulfon, post:22, topic:2457”]
what are you missing on the web interface that makes you still want to use another client

there are some things I can mention:

  • it’s often usefull to have a 2 or 3 weekview
  • if there are more than 3 daylasting events you have to scoll
  • i couldn’t figure out to connect to an external imap-account on ISP-Server or to gmail-account
  • it’s not possible to adjust the timeintervall in calender view
  • there is only one mail-view. I’m used to have the preview on right side, not downside.
  • is there a possibility to show workweeknumbers?
  • I couldn’t figure out how to share calendars and give rights to other user - normally a simple task

This is not ment to be completed. Just a first quick look.
Maybe these are minor details, but they are impotand to me.
And one importand thing: if I have a problem with thunderbird or another client, I can ask “ant google” or the documentation. For the most problems you will find an answer within seconds, not so for webtop.

Please don’t understnad me wrong, I’m not against webtop. I like the look of webtop and the idea to have only a webinterface. No more troubles with the client software on different machine. Wonderfull!
But as I said before, without documentation it’s difficult to get successfull with an unknown and different software.

I’m willing to test webtop. I’ll try some thing more and will give you feedback about things that could be improved in my opinion, if you wish. If you have a beta of WT5 I’m also willing to test in an vm and I think we will find some other testers in this community. It is a symbiotic existence between developer and users, I think. Only with testing and as much feedback as possible, the dev has the opportunity to improve his software.

Wish you all a relaxed weekend.



Whilst I agree with @flatspin about the hazards of configuring individual client software and the fact that allowing the majority of users to only use a web-based interface, I can also see the importance of allowing client based software.

As an example, I have a Android based phone / watch (Excelvan / ZGPax S55 running Android Kitkat / v4.4.2) that has a 1.5 inch screen which I use to display Caldav based upcoming events and to integrate Carddav contact information, obviously using a full blown Web UI would be impractical on this type of device.

Also, what if an organisation wished to incorporate their contact records with a 3rd party CRMS software (such as incorporating their Staff contact records into SugarCRMS or a 3rd party HR software), without access of Dav APIs, this would be so much harder to achieve.

1 Like

Thanks to you, @flatspin : I’m gonna check your points with the team.
The first things I can answer:

  • at the moment the mail service is mono server, for performance and caching reasons: multiple accounts on the same server are added in the shared folders as shared account. Using an external mail server may not support all we have for granted and tested on Nethesis Dovecot and Sonicle Cyrus imap, so what we usually do is create a new account to receive emails (copy or move depending on user decisions) via fetchmail periodically, and share the new webtop account to the user. As a last resort, you may also create a new account and via admin change all its setting to the external account, but this will only be visible logging in with this new account, not sharable. We are stil thinking if support for additional /external accounts should be added on WT5, because this may bring in many problems depending on the remote imap server.

  • the mail view can be swapped using the icon on the view: while reading an email in the view, on the right of the subject you can see the icon to move the view to the right or to bottom. This state is saved.

  • what do you mean with workweek numbers? day numbers and week numbers are visible as tooltips on hovering the mouse on the days of the small clandars on the left pane

  • in WT4, you can access all user sharing options by going to the options pane (top-right menu). There you find a sharing pane where you can select the service to share, select a user and add it. in WT5 we’re making it all easier through context menus

I’m sure that with the cooperation of Nethesis, it will be soon easier to find documentation and answers to problems.

About WT5, we’re looking forward to have a stable beta during september, so we will give a public URL for testing it.



Thanks @medworthy , we have received the inputs from the community that cal/card support is important for many reasons.
As I said, this is going to be included in WT5.


sorry, it’s bad english from german. :blush: What I ment was week numbers.

On the left side (31 … 36) is was what I ment:

Thanks for the hint with the day and week numbers. That works. But for a quick overview I prefer the static view like above.

I found the sharing pane. But how about right’s? In other solutions there are mostly 3 types: public, confidential and private events and to that you can give different rights like see only, change everything, see only time and date or no rights. As example: I and my secretary can change my public events and all others can only see that I’m not available. My private events can only be changed by myself and the secetary can only see them and so on…(I found the privat checkbox, but nothing seems to change).

1 Like

All excellent points. I appreciate the history of development and rationale for the existing structure.

In principle I am very much in favour of a web based interface. And if that is all that is required, Webtop is aces.

The issue that I face (both for myself and many other small business owners) is the need for a) our corporate email/calendar/contacts, b) multiple client email/calendar/contact access. This can be solved in one of two ways:

  • multiple tabs to multiple servers in a browser (then you must look at multiple tabs to coordinate events)
  • thick email client to all servers (showing calendar/contact/task overlaps etc)

Thunderbird is one such client. There are others as well. I use Thunderbird to access SOGo (which they state is their target audience), memotoo (using SOGo’s plugin), Exchange server (using DAVMAIL plugin) and a couple of others. I have one calendar page (for all calendars), one task page (for all servers) etc.

Truthfully, if that were possible in a web-interface (e.g. webtop), I would go there in a heartbeat. It would give me the total access from “anywhere” not just my laptop.

1 Like

At the moment, @flatspin, there is just the possibility to share it rw or r only.
In any case, private events will always be shown as private.
WT5 has a more fine grained acl subsystem.

Nice observations @kisaacs, I will check your points with the team.

the main issue is that webtop is almost a closed project… in SF there are files dated 2011… using google there’s at least no results.
I know it was already discussed here, but…
moreover, webtop is java based (IIUC) and it isn’t a plus (regarding resources and debugging headaches)
I think that users needs mostly groupware features, so daemons to have mail (imap in primis), sharing addressbooks and calendars, sync with mobile devices…
in this perspective no web interface is needed, no webclient… everyone is free to use what he’s confortable with, were it TB, outlook or $whatever
finally, and please don’t get me wrong, we have no assurance of any kind about licensing changes in the future… sogo changed the access to their repos but it is still available (and the source code too)
we (all of us) saw many good things changing in the past:

  • zarafa, dropping outlook support and this made people angry
  • zentyal
  • other distros or just good pieces of code, becoming closed or available only paying

sure, but it wasn’t took by the community, but, reasonabily, by someone that made some market driven choices

1 Like

As agreed with Nethesis, sources will be pushed and available at github soon but only for WT5.
We’re looking forward for a stable beta before starting to release and push sources to the public.
We stopped pushing sources of WT4 in 2011 because we had no time for a community at that moment.
There is no reason to push them now: WT5 will be the new starting point.

In my previous posts I tried to clarify that we have received the input from the many of you (the need for full support for cal/card standards) and we’re working on wt5 for this.
Though we understand and will work to bring more compatibility to external softwares and devices, still I want to insist on the fact that Webtop is not only a groupware platform, so the specific features won’t be accessible there, but only on the web interface or specific device app we may decide to create.

Finally, and don’t get me wrong :wink: , Sogo is php based and, as stated by @filippo_carletti , suffered “crashes, failures to restart, high system load, missing functionalities and support from the developers”. I don’t see the point about java and resources/headaches : in our cloud we manage many instances of webtop in a multi-domain environment, all running inside a zone 24x7, and we’re never experiencing “crashes, failures to restart, high system load”.


1 Like

Just for the record, it’s mostly Objective C.

Sorry, I had in mind the threading code I reviewed from Roundcube :slight_smile:

Come on Steph :slight_smile: that’s a bit unfair
NethServer is a community project, made by the community and for the community, supported by a company. Business helps to sustain development, I think that FOSS is much more effective if people are actually paid to work on the things.

Most of the decisions, discussions are taken here in community, and think that most of these guys can confirm it what I mean. We’re not perfect, we can fail, we have room for improvements.

Regarding, SOGo vs Webtop, I was a huge fan of SOGo (as I stated recently) but

  • many of our users asked us, several times, an outlook/exchange replacement,
  • SOGo has closed its rpms and we are forced to build and maintain packages by ourself
  • we can’t follow the outlook connector way, simply they don’t work and you have to pay for them.

WebTop seemed a great chance to achieved all of this, besides the fact that we have the opportunity to work close with Webtop Developers, as we’re doing the same with Nextcloud developers (news soon!)
Thanks to @gabriele_bulfon who has answered to all doubts and requests, giving a sneak peek at the webtop future.

As @filippo_carletti stated

if the community want to support sogo or any other groupware I have no objections and will help as usual

NethServer is an all in one solution, one choice doesn’t exclude the other.

1 Like

When I look the zentyal history…(quite) all softwares let to the community care were not really developed after.

The zentyal chief (cannot recall his name) call it the darwin stage of development :smiley:

If you don’t develop it, sure it is because you don’t need it :@

for the records, I can be a bit provocative, even if it is difficult to not exceed an acceptable level in a language that is not mine :expressionless:


Man, I love your provocations and advice. Simon Sinek stated

“When we are closed to ideas, what we hear is criticism.
When we are open to criticism
What we get is advice.”


I encountered this all from very close since I was one of those community members that tried to get the community from the ground. You probably refer to Ignacio Correas, the CEO of Zentyal.
I greatly disagreed with his vision to drop modules and leave them for the community to maintain. Since there were literally 0 (zero) community developers in the Zentyal community, it didn’t take rocketscience to predict that all those modules would get deprecated for good.
Learning from this all, NethServer shouldn’t fall into the same trap. And I do see a bright future ahead. Focusing on a solid community driven project the options are infinite. We will do our very best to get members motivated to contribute to NethForge repository.
I hope we get the knowledge in the community to add whatever Groupware application so you get to choose whatever you like best.