Open source enterprise data storage/sharing software development project ownCloud has released version 4, the latest version of the ownCloud suite that includes numerous new features and functions. ownCloud already enabled platform-agnostic data access, multidevice data synchronization and open data sharing, and now offers capabilities such as versioning and encryption.

A Quick Review

ownCloud 4 has a lot of new bells and whistles. Let’s take a quick look at the highlights, broken down into a few broad subgroupings.

Tracking --One of the biggest problems with solutions such as ownCloud, which allow multiple parties to freely share and edit document is that it is easy to accidentally delete important content. Milestone 4 offers a versions application that saves old file versions. A tasks application syncs to-do lists.

Security -- A new encryption application encrypts files on the ownCloud server to a user’s password, and a migration/backup feature allows users to more easily move between primary and backup installations.

Ease of Use -- A drag-and-drop upload feature allows upload of files to the ownCloud server via user login, without downloading the full ownCloud client, while publicly defined APIs aid the development of new ownCloud applications and a viewer for open document format (ODF) files enables users to read ODF files in their browser with no download. In addition, a new ownCloud application store allows download and installation of third-party ownCloud apps.

ownCloud Wastes No Time

ownCloud is on a rapid development timetable, releasing version 4 only four months after releasing version 3, which included a new text editor based on the ACE JavaScript editor and offline access to documents with Web DAV mounting. On its site, ownCloud says version 5 will become available in August 2012, returning the open source solution to a three-month development cycle (version 2 was released in October 2011).

ownCloud is still a young project, only having launched in 2010 at a KDE free software developers community event. A recent posting on ReadWriteWeb credits ownCloud for adding features “fast and furiously,” and indeed ownCloud seems to be entering a period of ambitious adolescence. The project is coming into its own and discovering its potential by experimenting with new capabilities and ideas, and is rejecting internal limitations by taking an open source approach.

However, like any adolescent, ownCloud is also experiencing some growing pains. ReadWriteWeb cites “rough edges” around the project, including lack of a LAN sync option and some server instability. In addition, while ownCloud offers business and enterprise editions with paid support, the basic version is free, leaving much of the profit potential in the hands of third-party developers. But ownCloud is definitely one of the “smart kids,” and the future looks pretty good.