Zextras Team

What is Zextras Team

Zextras Team integrates a fully fledged corporate instant messaging platform inside the Zimbra WebClient, including Group and Corporate Messaging, File Sharing, Screen Sharing and informal Video Chat capabilities.

Zextras Team is not compatible with Zimbra version 8.8.11 and lower.

Frontend Features

Zextras Team includes the following front-end features:

  • Message delivery and read awareness

  • 1-to-1 Instant Messaging

  • Group Messaging

  • Corporate Messaging (Spaces and Channels)

  • Group Video Calls

  • Channel Video calls

  • File Sharing

  • Screen Sharing

  • Emojis

  • Mute conversations

Backend Features

Zextras Team includes the following backend features:

  • COS and User availability

  • Built-in TURN server compatibility

  • No core installation needed. Zimlet installation through a package manager.

  • No configuration needed

  • Peer-to-Peer WebRTC protocol to avoid server load

  • Dedicated audit log

Licensing

Zextras Team is licensed on a per-user basis.

Global Admins can enable its Advanced features for any number of users up to the limit allowed by the license, and only "advanced" users count towards any licensing limit.

The total number of users who have the Advanced features active can be seen in the output of the zxsuite core getLicenseInfo command under teamChatActiveCount:

zimbra@129efa51bd95:~$ zxsuite core getLicenseInfo

dateStart                                           2019-06-11 00:00:00 UTC
dateEnd                                             2019-12-31 17:00:00 UTC
expired                                             false
[...]
teamchatActiveCount                                 999
[...]

This count is updated every 15 minutes.

Zextras Team Zimlet installation

The `com_zextras_Team Zimlet can be deployed from the "Core" section of the Zextras Adminictration Zimlet.

No configuration on the mailboxd side is needed after the Zimlet has been deployed and enabled.

URLs and Ports

To build URLs and links (e.g. for External Shares) Zextras Team uses the default Zimbra settings for the domain of the account in use - the zimbraPublicServiceHostname property is used for the URL itself while the zimbraPublicServicePort property is used for the port.

Should any of the two not be set up, the system will always fall back to the zimbraServiceHostname and zimbraMailPort or zimbraMailSSLPort server-level properties.

For Video Chats and Instant Meetings, the following rules apply:

  • Team will work through firewalls and NATs as long as the peers can communicate each with the other - either directly or through a TURN server (which together with proper network rules is usually the solution to any WebRTC connection problem).

  • When no TURN server is set up, a default STUN server is used so clients should be able to send outbound traffic to ports 19305/19307. The actual P2P connection is established between the clients on a random unreserved port between 1 and 65535 based on the client configuration and network.

  • The default handshake/negotiation port used by most TURN servers is 3478 (incoming, UDP), but a different port can be used as long as it is properly set up> on the Team side the port is specified when adding the TURN server and the clients clients will be instructed to connect through it. The default P2P connection range when using a TURN server is 49152-65535 (usually configurable on the TURN side) so clients should be able to send data to that port range to the TURN server.

    • Most TURN servers can also be configured to use TCP insted of UDP.

Zextras Team administration

Zextras Team features can be enabled and disabled from the "Team" section of Accounts and Classes of Service in the Zimbra Administration Console.

The same options are also available via the zxsuite config command line utility:

  • Enable Zextras Team «Advanced» features

    • Property: teamChatEnabled

    • Available in: COS, account

  • Enable or disable the chat history

    • Property: historyEnabled

    • Available in: global, server, COS, account

  • Enable or disable Video Chat

    • Property: videoChatEnabled

    • Available in: global, server, COS, account

  • Enable or disable user presence

    • Property teamHideUserPresenceUpdates

    • Available in: global, server, COS, account

  • Enable or disable ability to receive a read receipt for sent messages

    • Property teamHideMessageReads

    • Available in: global, server, COS, account

Browser compatibility

Zextras Team features are available on all browsers officially supported by the [object Object] [object Object], with some client-side limitations:

Browser Version OS Supported

Microsoft Edge (Chromium)

Latest

Windows

Yes

Microsoft Edge (Chromium)

Others

Windows

Limited

Microsoft Edge (EdgeHTML)

Any

Windows

No

Internet Explorer

Any

Windows

No

Mozilla Firefox

Latest

Windows/Linux/OSX

Yes

Mozilla Firefox

ESR

Windows/Linux/OSX

Yes

Mozilla Firefox

Others

Windows/Linux/OSX

Limited

Google Chrome

Latest

Windows/Linux/OSX

Yes

Google Chrome

Others

Windows/Linux/OSX

Limited

Safari

Latest

OSX

Yes

Safari

Others

OSX

Limited

While likely to work, items marked as " Limited" are only supported on the browser’s two previous stable releases to the current one.

Firefox users must be sure to be running at least version 66 of the browser to be able to use the Screen Sharing feature.

Mobile App

A dedicated Zextras Team mobile app is available for both Android and iOS.

google play badge app store badge

In order for mobile message delivery to work, the Zimbra server must be able to communicate with the notifications.zextras.com service on port 443

Notifications on Android Devices

Several Android devices manufacturers have strict default settings on which apps can display notifications, sometimes causing the Zextras Team App not to be able to notify new messages.

To make sure that your device allows all required notifications, follow these steps:

  1. Log out from the app;

  2. Access the device’s Settings, then enter the "Apps & Notifications"1 menu;

  3. Select the Team app from the list of all installed apps;

  4. Enter the "Notifications"1 section;

  5. Enable the notifications (first option on the top);

  6. Enable the banner notification on the "Chat", "Group" and "Spaces & Channels" subsections;

  7. Log back in, notifications should now work;

Entries marked as (1) might have a different name depending on your device’s manufacturer and UI.

User Interface

Team Tab

The Team Tab is a fully fledged Zimbra feature tab that can be accessed in the same way as all other feature tabs (e.g., Mail or Calendar). The Zextras Team UI is seamlessly integrated with the Zimbra Web Client.

The Team Tab is the full-sized Zextras Team UI, which contains all corporate instant messaging features such as Spaces and Channels. The tab itself is available for both Basic and Advanced users, but corporate features are only available to Advanced users. The tab appearance changes depending on which of the textual or video conversation feature is used.

Textual Conversations (Chats) and Spaces

Team allows to communicate with single (1-to-1) or multiple users at once. Besides text, file sharing is also possible.

The Team tab is divided into three main parts:

  • The left-hand side column, which contains the list of conversations (both 1-to-1 chats and groups), spaces, and active instant meetings. It also allows to create new communication channels (chats, groups, spaces, instant meetings)

  • The central area, where the messages in conversation are shown, grouped by day. Moreover, in case a Video Conversation takes place between the users, also its start time and end time are shown in the flow of messages.

The time is reported according to the configured timezone on the user’s workstation.
  • The right column, which displays information about the current conversation or space and allows to either mute notifications or remove all the chat history.

The Team Tab Graphic User Interface

team tab

When the Video Chat or Instant Meeting are used, the UI changes, see section Video Conversations (Video Chats) and Instant Meetings.

Video Conversations (Video Chats) and Instant Meetings

Video Conversations allow single user or members of spaces and groups to join a video call for real time verbal communication. Screen sharing is an additional feature of chats, that allows to show either a single window, one screen, or all the screens of a user’s workstation.

In this case, the Team tab is composed of four parts. However, there are slight differences when using Video Chat (i.e., a call between two persons) or the Instant Meeting (i.e., a video call among three or more users). The latter also features two alternative UIs, namely Cinema Mode, which is similar to Video Chats, and Grid Layout.

The UI parts common to Video Chat and Instant meetings, are:

  • The left column, which contains the text chat

  • The central area, which contains the video stream

  • The right column, which contains a miniature of the other participant (or participants in an Instant Meeting)

  • The bottom bar, which is a self-hiding bar that allows to control the video call and the UI itself. From the bottom bar you can hide the chat, maximise the central area to full screen, disable microphone or webcam, share the screen, or close the call.

  • Additionally, the first participant to access a Video Chat or an Instant Meeting will hear a sound and see visual animation until another user joins.

When using the Instant Meeting in Cinema Mode (see Figure Video Conversation in Cinema Mode), these additional features are available:

  • A miniature for every participant is shown in the right column

  • A button to hide the list of participants is added to the right of the bottom bar

  • Another button to switch between Grid Layout and Cinema Mode is added to the center of the bottom bar

  • If the video stream of a person is shown and another participant talks, the latter’s name is shown on the top right corner of the central area, with a green frame

Video Conversation in Cinema Mode

cinema mode

Moreover, an icon shows whether the microphone or the webcam of the participant is turned off. At any time it is possible to pin the video of a participant: Indeed, the stream shown in the main area it is not the one of the talking person.

The Grid Layout of an Instant Meeting (see Figure Video Conversation in Grid Layout) allows to show all the participants in the central area. The differences with the Cinema Mode are:

  • There is no left column as it is part of the central area

  • In the bottom bar the button to hide the list of participant disappears

  • The stream of the person who is talking has a green frame

Video Conversation in Grid Layout

cinema mode

Instant Messaging and Corporate Communication

In the left-hand side column it is possible to create new instances of Chats and Group Chats, Spaces and Instant Meetings. The User Experience has been improved and now the process of setting up a new instance is the same: First, click on the Chats, Spaces, or Instant Meetings, then on CREATE. In Chats (See Dialog window to create a chat), choose whether this is a 1-to-1 or group chat, then simply add participants from the dialog window that appears. For Spaces and Instant Meetings, you can also add a title or topic.

In order to create a Group Chat or a Space, at least three persons (one host and two more participants) are required.

Dialog window to create a chat

team chat

The process to create a Channel is a bit different, as this is a feature internal to spaces. So, to create a Channel it is necessary to set up a Space, then click on the Add Channel button in the right column. Now. you’ll see a window similar to the one above, where you can add a title and a topic. The Channel will appear underneath the space name, indented, to underline that it is tight to the space.

You can not select the users in a channel, because participation to channels is optional and open to all members of the space.

A space with a channel

space channel

Once you have set up an instance, you can immediately start a textual chat with all the participants or start a video call by clicking on the camera icon on the top right corner of the central area. Next to that icon, an arrow icon allows to minimise the Zextras Team tab.

Recent conversation appear in the left column, for a quick access.

The main features of the various communication means are described in the remainder of this section.

Groups

Groups are used to communicate with multiple people at the same time (by default up to 5 in total). Those are non-persistent entities not tied to any specific space. Any user can create a group inviting people, and any group member can invite more people in the same way. When all users leave a group, the group itself ceases to exist.

Groups Features

  • A user in a Group can add more users to the Group itself up to the allowed limit.

  • A user in a Group can chat with all of the others. All members of that Group can view all messages sent to the Group.

  • A user in a Group can send files to all of the others. Files sent in a Group are available to all members of that Group.

  • An user in a Group can start a video chat with all of the others. Group video chats can be joined at any time by all members of the Group.

Global Administrators can change the allowed maximum number of group members in the Zextras Team section of the Global settings in the Admin Console.

Spaces

Spaces are a themed container that can hold any number of Channels. Think of a Space as a community center where people gather to discuss different topics in dedicated areas (named Channels).

Spaces Features

  • Each space has a unique name and topic. You may change both the name and the Topic by clicking on the relevant field in the Space’s settings.

  • Members can leave a space at any time.

  • Space Administrators can create new channels and invite new people to the space using the appropriate buttons.

Space Settings

Its General Channel Info defines a Space’s settings (see below).

The Space’s creator is also the first Space Administrator and can grant the same rights to any other user by clicking on the crown icon in the appropriate entry of the participant list.

Only Space Administrators can invite new participants, create new channels, kick people, and delete channels within the space.

Channels

Channels are topic-defined areas inside of the same space. Those can contain any number of users, and unlike Groups, users can autonomously join any Channel in a Space they are in instead of being invited to it by a member.

Each new Space has a "General" channel automatically created within it, which defines the space’s properties (e.g., Title and Topic) and which all users automatically join when they join the Space.

Channels Features

  • A user in a Channel can chat with all of the others. All members of that channel can view all messages sent on the Channel.

  • A user in a Channel can start a video chat with all of the others. Channel video chats can be joined at any time by all members of the Channel.

Mute Conversations

When receiving a message or attachment in a 1-to-1 Chat, in a Channel, or Space, notifications like sounds, mini-chats or other pop-us are used in case the browser with Teams, the Android app, or the iOS app are in the background.

This standard behaviour can be changed to mute all or some of the notifications, even if users that are communicating are on different server. This mute or active status is stored and maintained in the properties of each Chat, Channel, or Space and is kept even in case a Mailbox is moved to a new server.

Instant Meetings

Notifications for Instant meetings can not be muted.

File sharing

Users can easily share files via Team to Chats and Groups by dragging and dropping the files directly into the chat interface (both in the minichat and in the Teamtab) or by clicking the "paperclip" icon on the right of the message input field. Multiple files can be uploaded at once, and image files will show a preview of the file while other common filetypes will display a custom icon.

Clicking on a file within a chat window will download it to the local client using the browser’s own download interface.

Files shared via Team will be stored inside a protected root folder the sender’s Drive called Team sent files, thus counting towards the sender’s mailbox quota, and will remain available for download in the chat window for all participants until deleted from Drive by the sender.

Autocomplete

Autocomplete in Team is split in two different categories: Internal Autocomplete and External autocomplete.

Internal autocomplete kicks in when selecting a target for 1-1 Chats, Group Chats, Spaces and Channels, while External autocomplete is only used for Instant Meeting attendees.

This can be changed by setting the teamCrossDomainSearchMode COS property to either local, extended or global using the zxsuite config [get/set/empty] CLI toolset.

  • local mode, in which Internal Autocomplete will draw its information from the GAL, while External autocomplete will draw its information from the user’s Contacts and GAL.

  • extended mode is a superset of local that also matches full email addresses of any user in the same infrastructure as internal users.

    • This allows to initiate a 1-1 Chat with or to add to a Group/Space/Channel any user that is on the same infrastructure but out of the GAL as long as the exact email address is entered.

  • global mode is a superset of extended that does not require an exact match on the email address to autocomplete users in the same infrastructure.

    • This allows to autocomplete any user in the infrastructure as opposed to the strict email addres match required in extended mode.

connect_autocomplete_management.jpeg

The default setting inherited by all COS is local.

Presence

Presence is managed automatically in Zextras Team: whenever a user logs in, regardless of whether the Team Tab has the focus, they appear as online.

As part of the user presence system, all messages get displayed with a variable number of check symbols:

connect_message_delivered_1.png

  • 0 checks, message not delivered to the server

  • 1 check, message delivered to the server

  • 2 checks, message viewed by all users

Unread Messages

The number of unread messages in any conversation (Group, Channel, space, instant meeting) appears on the right side of both the Chats, Spaces, Instant Meetings label from where the message originated, and in the list of conversions underneath, next to the actual chat generating the message.

Edit, Reply, Forward and Delete Messages

Right clicking on a message or hovering on a message and clicking on the arrowhead that appears on the right side of the message bubble displays a context menu that shows the available actions:

  • Edit: change the message’s content. The "edited" string will appear next to the message delivery icon.

  • Reply: reply to a message. The reply will be in the same chat and will not be private

  • Forward: forward a message to another chat, group or channel.

  • Delete: delete a message. The message bubble’s color will change to gray and the "Deleted Message" string will appear instead of the original text.

The following table recaps all message interactions:

Type

Can be edited

Can be deleted

Can be forwarded

Text Message

(Only own messages)

File Attachment message

(Only if description already exists)

Conversation Status message

Edited message

Forwarded message

Deleted message

Chat History

Chat History for each 1-to-1 Chat, Group, and Channel is available in the very same window (e.g., enter a Channel to see all of that channel’s history) and messages delivered to offline users appear in the appropriate IM conversation, Group or Channel.

STUN/TURN Server

Since WebRTC is a peer-to-peer protocol, all users in a video chat must be able to reach each other’s client for the connections to get established.

Should this not be possible, because of NAT rules on the network or because of a Service Provider’s policy, using a TURN server ensures proper communication between all peers. Zextras Team is designed to allow using a STUN/TURN server out of the box by simply adding the TURN server’s URL and login information in the zimlet configuration.

Setting up Zextras Team to use a TURN server

A dedicated set of TURN configuration tools is available via CLI through the zxsuite team iceServer command:

zimbra@mailserver:~$ zxsuite Team iceServer

Edit the list of ice servers which will be used to establish connections for video calls.
Configuration available for global(default), cos or account.

  add                      - add ice server candidates using global (default), cos or account
                             zxsuite Team iceServer add {turn:turn.example.com:3478?transport=udp} [attr1 value1 [attr2 value2...]]

  remove                   - remove ice server candidates using global (default), cos or account
                             zxsuite Team iceServer remove {turn:turn.example.com:3478?transport=udp} [attr1 value1 [attr2 value2...]]

  get                      - get ice server candidates using global (default), cos or account
                             zxsuite Team iceServer get [attr1 value1 [attr2 value2...]]

The "add" subcommand is used to add a new TURN server:

Syntax:
   zxsuite Team iceServer add {turn:turn.example.com:3478?transport=udp} [attr1 value1 [attr2 value2...]]

PARAMETER LIST

NAME             TYPE      EXPECTED VALUES
url(M)           String    turn:turn.example.com:3478?transport=udp
username(O)      String    myuser
credential(O)    String    mysecretkey
account(O)       String    user@example.com
cos(O)           String    default

(M) == mandatory parameter, (O) == optional parameter

Usage example:

zxsuite Team iceserver add turn:turn.example.com credential mysecret username myuser
zxsuite Team iceserver add turn:turn.example.com credential mysecret username myuser account testaccount@example.com

Multiple TURN servers can be added to handle different users or Classes of Service (defined through the user and cos optional parameters of the command above).

On the TURN server side, it is strongly recommended to have a single user, authenticated with a username and secret key, for ease-of-use reasons as a 1:1 correspondence between Zimbra users and TURN users is not necessary.