I would like to see if there are any offline options for version control.

The problem:

The basic set up is, that documents are stored on a central server, and everyone works on their own version of the document, with poor naming conventions, in addition, no communication between members within this office. This starts a few nightmare scenarios, where already open documents overwrite existing documents, edits and orders are mixed up and at the end of the day, it simply wastes company money.

Additional problems:

While I would love to learn how to use something like GitHub for this kinda thing, the people in this particular office are technologically challenged, and I feel my pitch for something complex might just frustrate them, leading them back to doing the same thing they were done before.

What I would like:

I would like something self-hosted, so I can put it on our internal network, and depending on my colleague's ability to adapt, allow it to be on the net at some point.

It needs to be somewhat simplistic, where at the end of the day someone can look at all the changes done to a certain file, and say accept X, Y or Z, allowing it to generates a new file with a specific naming convention.

I have looked at TortoiseGit/SVN and Gogs self-hosted. I don't know enough to say if this is the correct solution, or it's easy. All 3 look complex, but Gogs, seems to have a nice interface and well laid out.

I have seen a few of the threads on here, and poked at a few options people have mentioned, but, I am unsure.

Any help or explanation would be greatly appreciated.

My limitations

When it comes to something like TortoiseSVN, I can easily install that. When it comes to something like Gogs, I can probably install it with some decent instructions, but I won't pretend I know exactly what I am doing.

Thank you in advance.

  • 4
    I know a minimalist open source document management server that would fit, but it can not show "changes done to a certain file". That's actually quite a difficult requirement, as office files are quite opaque, and usually treated as binary blob (no diffs) by version control systems. Are diffs a strict requirement, or can I post an answer for that one?
    – Nicolas Raoul
    Commented May 18, 2017 at 7:19
  • 1
    This sounds like it could be a very common request. Could you please post your answer, when you get one, as I am sure that it woudl help many others in future.
    – Mawg
    Commented May 18, 2017 at 8:27
  • Certainly, post and I will investigate it. As it is, I was hoping there was a web based office version that allowed this. They are too paranoid to use google docs, so that's out of the window.
    – user980071
    Commented May 18, 2017 at 9:00
  • 1
    Speaking of Google Docs: there are several self-hostable Office solutions, as e.g. Collabora (which even integrates with ownCloud/Nextcloud). I have not tried them (no need yet), so I cannot tell how well they work with your multi-user-approach.
    – Izzy
    Commented May 18, 2017 at 11:24
  • Any extra development on this?
    – user980071
    Commented May 24, 2017 at 10:55

2 Answers 2


SVN is actually worth a shot. TortoiseSVN has facilities to diff Office files (at least, doc(x) and xls(x)), it looks like this:

Image from http://newgeeks.blogspot.ru/2006/08/word-document-management-using-svn.html

Though there are easy to install SVN servers with GUI like VisualSVN, an HTTP-based server is not even needed because TortoiseSVN can create and use repositories on the file system.

The only catch is the 3-way merge: I couldn't find any information about whether and how it's possible.

Git is even more convenient in the long run since it e.g. 1)allows to save incomplete work locally in stages and only upload it to the central server once it's complete and 2)allows to work offline. But it has a steeper learning curve.

  • Thank you for your time and effort! This looks like it would be the best and easiest solution to implement. Once I learn the ins and outs of this server, and the methods, I will teach the others. Thank you again. :)
    – user980071
    Commented Jun 27, 2017 at 6:32
  • @user980071 if you read carefully, an SVN server isn't even necessary, the repository can be on the file system, e.g. at a network share (I never tried this myself but that's what they say). Commented Jun 27, 2017 at 21:54
  • Ahh okay, I was under the impression that a server would be involved, just to log and show changes. Will test. Sorry, I haven't managed yet.
    – user980071
    Commented Jul 4, 2017 at 7:16

I assume that you are using Microsoft Office documents (vs. LibreOffice, etc.). If you can waive your requirement for being self-hosted, then I think Microsoft's solution to this problem is to use a Sharepoint site. Given that you said you might migrate to the net in the future, I'm assuming your preference for self-hosted is due to technical/control concerns not legal requirements.

Sharepoint is part of the Office 365 suite and costs money. You didn't specify that you want a free solution (although most of your examples are free). However, if your employer already subscribes to Office 365, then Sharepoint is available to you at no additional cost.

Sharepoint supports simple, linear versioning of documents, and integrates with the desktop applications for saving documents directly to the site, etc.

  • Sharepoint would be a great solution, however, there are many versions of office running here, and it wouldn't be easy to justify a unified upgrade when old packages work just as well in their eyes.
    – user980071
    Commented May 29, 2017 at 12:55

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