Announcing Zoho Projects for Google Apps

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Some
time ago, a Zoho Projects customer from Australia -who happens to use
Google Apps as his e-mail solution- wanted us to provide an integration
between Zoho Projects and Google Apps so that he could use both
seamlessly. His main concern was that his employees use Google Apps
everyday for email and intranet information, so he wanted to have the
Zoho Projects information easily accessible there
.

After
checking with other customers, that seemed like a good scenario for us
to implement, but at the same time we were busy giving our users a
better way to organize their projects and making project management
more social with Zoho Projects 2.0. But even the core Zoho Projects
team was busy, our IAM  (Identity Access Management) team who is
responsible for Single Sign On within Zoho & other federated logins
took this up – and provided our support for signing-in with a Google
Apps account. This really made creating
Zoho Projects for Google Apps a lot easier. That is one reason why having small teams distributed works better than having one central team.


Ok, so what is the integration with Google Apps you are talking about

Zoho
Projects for Google Apps allows customers to enjoy the functionality of
Zoho Projects while at the same time having an integrated experience
with their Google Apps account. Currently, Zoho Projects for Google
Apps includes:

Single Sign-on with Google Apps
Customers
can now login to Zoho Projects with the same username and password they
use for Google Apps – no need to keep track of a separate account
.


Upload documents from Google Docs
Upload
Google Docs documents to your project in Zoho Projects. This way your
documents stored in Google Docs can be shared with all the members in
your project. Of course, you can still continue to attach documents
from Zoho Docs and directly from your personal desktop
.


View your project milestones in Google Calendar

Keeping
track of your projects milestones is now even easier. You can have your
milestones, tasks and meetings from your Zoho Projects appear
automatically on your Google Calendar
.

Get Zoho Projects inside Gmail, iGoogle and Google Sites
Finally,
you can also get your Project Stream (the latest activity happening
around your project) inside iGoogle or a Google Sites page by embedding
the Zoho Projects gadget.
This makes the whole experience smooth – Zoho Projects updates come to you.



How easy is it to use Zoho Projects into Google Apps ?

Short version: it’s dead easy.
Long
version: Here is a short video which explains the different
possibilities for Google Apps customers to manage their project in Zoho
Projects – all it takes is to login with our Google Apps credentials
and off you go.

This
is just the beginning of this integration – users like you will surely
come up with new integration scenarios that we should throw in here. We
keep our ears wide open to listen to our customers and improve our
products accordingly. So please pour your ideas on making this even better
.


Wait… are you still competing with Google Apps?

Sure!
The Zoho suite of services now comprises more than 20 different
Software-as-a-Service products. Some of them are bound to overlap
with other someone’s products. So yeah, 4 of them do overlap with
products included in Google Apps. And we continue to compete in that
arena (for the record, we do think ours are better, and other people
seem to agree – check the recent
award from Infoworld). Some people might call it coopetition.
Anyway – in  the end, customers and their needs come first – and we
have a track record of allowing other competitors to integrate with our
products, so we do the same
. And of course, our goal is to reach as many customers as possible and offer then great products at affordable prices.

Other similar products from Zoho will come to Google Apps customers in the future. Stay tuned!

Why are simple things made so complex?

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I got a feature request to import Yahoo finance live quote in Zoho Writer document. I went to Yahoo Finance & by getting the quote for a symbol in “Get Quote”, I found the URL “Add Quotes to Your Web Site”. I thought by clicking this I will get the iframe code which I can embed in my document in Zoho Writer. But it’s not that simple.

It redirected me to http://finance.yahoo.com/badges/. There I clicked on the “Start Now” button & I am redirected to Sign in page. I don’t understand why should I Sign in but I decided to Sign in.

This redirected me to a Wizard page ( http://finance.yahoo.com/badges/wizard/select ) which showed 3 steps. The first step is “Select on of the Modules” & there are 3 options. I selected one of the option & went to step 2. The second step is “Choose what your content look like” & I filled the information. At the end, there is an licensing confirmation. I clicked on “I agree to licensing terms” & clicked “Get code” to get the iframe code.

I still don’t understand why they want me to sign in. Is this an effort to increase the sign up’s? If so, what’s the purpose of increasing sign up? In Zoho, we offer demo login for users to try the service before they sign up. We don’t want to pain users with registration even for trying the service. Are we doing anything wrong here??

Can anyone help me understand why is this so complex?

When will you support “Single Sign On” in Zoho ?

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Recently we have been getting more request from users for “Single Sign On” (SSO) for Zoho services. Single Sign On allows users to register just once to use all Zoho Services.

Recently Priya Ganapathy from RED HERRING finds this annoying to sign up separately for each program ( http://www.redherring.com/article.aspx?a=18050 ). I, being one of the frequent user of Zoho services ( Zoho Writer, Zoho Sheet, Zoho Show, Zoho Planner & Zoho Creator ), I can understand the pain.

We have been working hard to get this out soon. The delay is due to the data migration. We have come close thrice but since we are not fully satisfied with the way we handled existing users, we just decided to change the design.

Having our own Identity Access Manger software ( http://www.securecentral.com/products/iam/index.html ) made it simple for us to support Single Sign On. But handling existing user base with no ( or minimal ) impact is the real challenge we are figuring out to solve. We are happy that most of the features we required were already supported in IAM & this saved lot of time for us.

We apologize for paining you without Single Sign On. We will do our best to get this out real soon.

Stay Tuned !!!!

Sales Presentation using Zoho Show

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Here is the sample sales presentation which embeds charts from Zoho Sheet & forms from Zoho Creator. Please fill your feedback in the form embedded in the presentation after seeing the presentation.

http://www.zohoshow.com/public/mani/Sales_Presentation
Steps followed ( Just 5 simple steps to follow ) :

1. Create chart using Zoho Sheet.
2. On mouse over in chart, you can see “Publish” option. Click on that to publish your chart.
3. A HTML code snippet will be given in the popup. Copy that HTML code snippet in Zoho Sheet
4. In Zoho Show slide, click on “Insert HTML” toolbar button ( <> ). In the popup, paste the HTML code snippet copied from Zoho Sheet.
5. Close the popup & you will see the chart embedded in your Presentation.

You can follow similar steps in Zoho Creator to embed the form in your presentation.

Try using Zoho Show for your next presentation & share your experience with us.

Is Zoho focused?

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The question about “Focus” for Zoho has been raised recently ( Competitors differentiates with Zoho by pointing the Focus angle ). To show you how focused we are, I am just giving the statistics of updates ( new features, bug fixes etc., ) we have been doing in each service. I have only taken the 4 services ( whole office suite + Zoho Creator ) as sample here to show our focus & commitment.

You can verify this statistics with those of competitors to see the difference for yourself. I am pretty confident that our pace will either be higher or on par with competition.

Here is the summary of updates for each service

Zoho Writer

Alpha Released on Sep 30 2005
( Update ) Beta Released on Dec 21 2005
22 updates in 10 months

Zoho Creator

Beta Released on Dec 21 2005
10 updates in 7 months

Zoho Sheet

Beta released on Apr 6 2006
7 updates in 3 months

Zoho Show

Beta released on June 22 2006
4 updates in 1 month

Here is a public sheet with the details http://www.zohosheet.com/public.do?fid=32310