Please welcome Cryptpad, an excellent Google Docs alternative from the free software community. For end-users, it provides online facilities of storage drive, text editor (pads), forms, spreadsheet, presentation, kanban boards, and a programming IDE. For self-hosting people, it is self-hostable with your own server and is able to integrate with OnlyOffice. Lastly, for everyone wanting to try it out, visit Cryptpad.fr to sign up and this article will help you getting started to it.
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CryptPad Drive (online storage)CryptPad Calendar
CryptPad Rich Text (word processor) CyrptPad Sheet (spreadsheet) CryptPad Markdown Slides (presentation)CryptPad FormCryptPad Whiteboard Free Libre Open Source Software
Multilanguage Support team collaboration
Secure with end-to-end-encryptionFast and lightweight
Responsive and mobile friendlyOnlyOffice integration
Getting Started to CryptPad
CryptPad is an end-to-end encrypted FOSS online collaboration suite for making text document, spreadsheet, presentation, forms / surveys / polls, kanban board, source code pastebin, pictures / drawing and more. Users do not need to worry to edit any document as there is history feature so every changes can be reverted back safely to its last point. To most people’s point of view, it is as an alternative to Google Online Services like Drive, Docs, Forms and many others. The easiest way to try CryptPad is by signing up freely at CryptPad.fr.
With CryptPad, you can do your daily tasks like making survey/registration forms or editing spreadsheet collectively in a team without worrying about software freedom, privacy, and security. For example, CryptPad is good for teachers who want to open an online course in computing with free software (and privacy) as an ethical and suitable entry point for the students.
On the other hand, the software behind CryptPad itself is free and available for everyone to download and self-host to create more CryptPad servers (“instances”) so more people can join. For people with system administration knowledge, the software is available at Cryptpad.org.
Finally, CryptPad loves to share. Every document you made with it can be shared online with a link. Not only that, you as the owner can determine if the recipient can either edit it or simply view it. Embedding the document into your web page can also be done through HTML code.
CryptPad Front Page
Once you are registered, the first page you will visit is the front page. From here, you can access all features of CryptPad.
CryptPad offers these facilities:
Your username opens all your saved files.
Calendar under your username opens the calendar.
Sheet creates a new spreadsheet document.
Rich text creates a new word processing document.
Kanban creates a new kanban board, often used for project planning.
Code creates a new programming source code or text book document.
Form creates a new form suitable for registration, survey, data input purposes.
Whiteboard creates a collaborative drawing space.
Markdown slides creates a presentation document.
In the front page, click your registered username, you will visit the Drive. This page looks like a file manager in web browser. You will see your files and folders listed here once you made some of them. Picture below displays my files, mostly registration forms used in our online course, and some spreadsheet documents. CryptPad.fr offers 1GB space for free account.
Calendar helps you schedule your work, publish them and create automatic reminders. It offers three views daily, weekly, and monthly. It supports import and export ics files, the standard format file of calendar software. Like the other documents, Calendar can also be shared publicly as well as privately, with or without editing access. This is useful, let’s say, to share class schedule to school students.
Above you can observe our real class schedules for October in brief. You can create one by first selecting view mode above, then select a date and give it a title such as “MATH CLASS” or “SCIENCE CLASS”, click Save and a schedule is made. To publish a calendar, click Gear button and select Share.
Sheet, the spreadsheet, helps you process numeric data like you did with LibreOffice Calc / Microsoft Excel and it is integrated with the Form Builder. You can create, edit, open, save spreadsheet documents along with the famous formula like sum and vlookup as well as “Excel Table” (the missing feature in Calc), charts and even Pivot Table. As an example, we can say this is ultimately helpful after using this as student registration management in our online course for months today. Especially when you are a teacher, you will find CryptPad worthy to use soon.
As you can see, picture above shows the form result in spreadsheet document. Further, you can save (download) the document as either xlsx or pdf and open it offline using LibreOffice Calc.
CryptPad Rich Text
It is the word processor of CryptPad. It helps us create, open, edit and save rich text document easily. Basic editing works such as formatting (bold-italic-underline), inserting (tables and pictures), alignments, etc. Surprisingly, it supports also equation editor powered by the academically popular LaTeX technology. It is able to save as txt, md, doc and even pdf. However, it can only import md and html. Like any other document at CryptPad, it can also be shared publicly as well as privately with or without editing access right.
Picture above shows a built-in example rich text document in CryptPad.
Kanban Board is widely known method useful to track and promote progress in a team work. It has a very simple user interface yet intuitive to use, can be published with or without edit access to anyone even if they do not have CryptPad account. To use it, simply write tasks under To Do, then move one to In Progress if being done, then move it to Done if it’s done, and repeat. See example below.
The picture above is an example of a kanban for tracking an author progress in writing a book or article. Red is to do, yellow is in progress, and green is done. Firstly all tasks are in the red, we wrote them, then as the author is done with first paragraph, we move that task to green, while we move one to yellow as he is now continue writing the second paragraph. When all tasks finished, green will be the only one full.
Code / Markdown is an online text editor with excellent MarkDown support. With this, you can write / paste code in any programming language and publish it with syntax highlighting. You can also author a decent book using its MarkDown facility combined with complex mathematics support (MathJax), as well as visual diagrams and charts e.g. Flowchart, Pie Chart, Gantt Chart, and even mind map. However, please note that this does not include compiler / interpreter software so it is not an IDE.
With Form Builder, you can create online registrations, surveys or similar things. It is a straightforward Google Forms alternative you were looking for. Pictures below will explain more. Note: we apologises as they are in Indonesian language used from our online course.
Picture 1: Form Creation
Once you clicked Form, a new Form Builder will open like picture 1 above. You can start editing by Set Closing Date for example, then allowing Guest Access, before making up the rest of the questions.
Picture 2: Form creation viewed by owner
Picture 3: Form viewed by audiences
Above is what it looks like when viewed by your audiences. The mandatory questions will be marked “required” in red.
Picture 4: Result Example
Lastly, above is the report viewed by owner after being filled by audiences. Noticed something important here? Yes, the report can be read right in the browser as well as downloaded as Calc/Excel document. This is the excellent part, as CryptPad is integrated well with OnlyOffice Spreadsheet so you can edit and save the document later also without leaving your browser. This helps you reading and evaluating the data. See next section.
Whiteboard helps you draw freely, doodle, even mix pictures online alone as well as collaboratively in team. The use is pretty simple, choose either Brush or Select tool, then play with mouse clicks to draw lines with colors, then use Select to delete items. Resulting pictures can be saved and downloaded as PNG. It will be greater if the participants work together using tablet pen input. Picture below shows our doodles with some colors and a PNG logo inserted to the corner.
Markdown Slides helps us to create presentation and publish it online. As its name suggests, user should write text in MarkDown rules and it will translate automatically to slides, side by side. Picture below shows an example of making slides in CryptPad.
Third Party Instances
CryptPad.fr is the official CryptPad online service from the developer team themselves. However, CryptPad.fr is not the only one, as there are many other third party CryptPad servers you can register to freely and use too. They are called “CryptPad instances”. Visit cryptpad.org/instances.
CryptPad as a software is free/libre open source software licensed under GNU AGPL developed by the France-based company Xwiki. Because of that, unlike Google Docs, everyone else can download Cryptpad source code and then install it in their own server either with personal or professional capacity. That is self-hosting and that allows everyone, both persons as well as organizations, to be independent with good and useful software for they need. Given the features and ability we could see, CryptPad is truly a self-hosting bliss. Visit the software web page at CryptPad.org.
Finally, CryptPad is blessed with good documentation in English. It includes User Guide, FAQ, Developer Guide, Administrator Guide, and also Contributor Guide. For example, most users will love to start with Spreadsheet guide under Applications section while self-hosting people will love to start with Installation guide under Administration section. They are written in a formal but friendly language everyone can understand. We wish success for CryptPad Project!
Picture 1: Spreadsheet User Guide
This article is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.