New In Zoho Sites: Code snippet, LinkedIn widget and more

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We’ve been fortunate to have our feature priorities be continuously questioned by the community. As a result, we are announcing 5 new features that, we believe, would make a difference to most of you who have been repeatedly asking for these.

Third-party widgets and scripts via code snippet
The Embed widget has had an upgrade; in addition to HTML code, you can also insert scripts and code snippets now. Widgets and apps from most third-party vendors demand that you to insert few lines of script into your website. You can add them all now. That includes scripts that work behind the scenes, like tracking and in-page analytics. (See how.)

Custom Page URL
You can now customize the URL of a page. This is important on the SEO front, as it is on the aesthetic front, allowing you to optimize your pages for hot keywords.

LinkedIn Widgets
Previously we introduced widgets for Facebook and Twitter. But of course, you need to work too! Now we’ve added a LinkedIn widget for you to add your company profile, personal profile, and Share button to your website.

Custom 404 page
Whenever a visitor accesses a wrong URL of a webpage, a 404 page comes up to direct the visitor to other pages on that website. This is increasingly becoming an opportunity for creativity and a way to excite visitors when they least expect it. So we now leave it to you. Customize your 404 page however you want.

Revoking a published site
Just as you publish a site with ease, you can now bring down your website as well. But why would you want to do that? Well, we figured you might want to perform some periodic maintenance, and this would be the easiest way to do it and get back up when you are ready.

Try them out, and let us know.

Rethinking On Typography With Google Web Fonts

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“Big type, even huge type, can be beautiful and useful. But poise is usually far more important than size — and poise consists primarily of emptiness.” – Robert Bringhurst

Picked that up when researching web fonts, and realized how very true it is with typography, just as it is with anything else. Typography is the easiest decision you can make towards achieving a dramatic difference in website experience.

We experimented with web fonts on our own websites and blog, and found that the outcome was indeed much better than what we had been shackled to. As a measure of passing on the goodness, we integrated select fonts into Zoho Sites, and plan to expand. Every website created on Zoho Sites will now have the web fonts edge.

Another good thing about it is that, unlike most other font libraries, it is open source. And, they can be downloaded for use locally as well. Google’s deep library of web fonts are reported to be used in well over than 100M web pages already, and is well on its way to becoming the new standard. We believe this is a refreshingly new way to rethink on overused conventional fonts.

Now Possible: Scheduled migration of data into Zoho Creator from MS Access and MS Excel

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Migrating data between services is a pain, regardless of the services. We’ve always been for simplifying these tedious tasks, because most of Zoho Creator users have the need to synchronize data from in-house applications (ERP system for example), with their custom apps in Zoho Creator.

The Zoho Creator migration tool was a result of a conscious effort to simplify data migration. The tool made it easy to create new apps during migration or migrate data into existing apps. Now, we have enhanced the tool to support command line option for uploading data from files. This version of the tool allows you to perform tasks on Zoho Creator, right from within the command line interface. You can

Create an application
Create a form
Add records
Update records
Add or Update

This makes way for cron jobs; customers can schedule synchronization of data from in-house apps like MS Access or MS Excel, with their custom Zoho Creator application, without manual intervention. The tool reads popular XLS, XLSX, CSV, MDB and ACCDB formats. Here is a detailed guide on how to do it. Try it out.

Zoho Creator’s Calendar View Evolves Further

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Dates are important. Every transaction, every deadline, every memory, every milestone has been date-driven. In Zoho Creator too, be it scheduling emails, calculating due date or restricting form activity to working hours, date fields are irreplaceable. That urged us to push them further. The makeover has left the date fields and calendar views better than before. Here’s what has happened.

One, is the ability to restrict the days on which appointments can be requested on public calendars; working days and working hours. Users will be permitted to create events only within this duration. We’ve made it customizable to suit your locale and culture because Friday is not the end of the week in all countries (Russia, for instance).

The second enhancement, is support for week and day views, in addition to the month view. You can now pick the desired view to filter the appointments.

The third, is rescheduling events as you would do on any other calendar application. Drag the event around the calendar to reschedule it, and pull the end to lengthen or shorten it.

Use this calendar here to try these new features. Let us know what you think.

A letter of appreciation for Zoho Sites

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Six months ago, we launched Zoho Sites. It has been a wonderful journey since then, with memorable events along the way; customization of themes, password protection, checkout buttons and Zoho Mail integration. But it is letters like this that keep us pushing for more.

Friends, colleagues, even some gallery directors have urged me for years to build a website for my artwork. “It’s the most effective and sophisticated marketing technique ever devised to reach a global audience”, they said. With an online gallery, I’d be representing not just myself, but other artists whose work I felt was worthy of a shot at international attention. So, what does one in that situation do? One Googles.

Web building software, No HTML code required, Widgets, themes, drag & drop… Hell, I barely knew what any of that stuff meant. Then, about half way down the first page, “Watch out, Google…” It was an article about an up-and-coming challenger to the corporate giant’s hold on web building, hosting, and email services. Good place to begin my research.

The site was friendly and easy to navigate, and the tour was enlightening. HOW MUCH, was my next question. And after checking out the affordable pricing, I WAS sold. And now, a couple weeks of using it, I’m not just sold. The girl at the bakery counter today is probably still talking about the man who kept saying: “Yeah, just head to Zoho Sites!”

The true test of my partnership with Zoho was when I needed directional guidance. I received it promptly, professionally, and with a most comforting and respectful personal touch. It’s quite ironic, really. Little did I know that the second I teamed up with the people and technology at Zoho, I’d already made my first cyber allies.

Sincerely,
Rico

Introducing a Visual Editor for Customizing Website Themes

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Website is one place where people judge by the cover, and are mostly right. That is why a good looking business website has a significant effect on the business. Zoho Sites had already made it easy for anyone to build such business websites easily. Today, we are making it even more friendlier on the design front.

Introducing, a visual editor to customize themes.

Till now, theme-customization could only be done with a bit of CSS. But not anymore. You can now customize visual properties of a theme, such as background image, menu, color, size and font face of text. Without a speck of HTML/CSS, of course. You can preview the changes as and when you make them.

What’s exciting about this visual editor is, using this, you can create umpteen different versions of the same theme. The themes in our gallery are ready-to-use, but you can re-paint them, so that they look just how you want, in every way. The customization of themes, together with flexible layouts and drag-drop builder, makes Zoho Sites the easiest way to create a business website, all by yourself. Try it out.

Announcement: Zoho Creator API now supports Authentication Token

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Previously, an API included a ticket that had a lifetime of 7 days, after which it would expire. The API had to be updated with a new ticket once every 7 days. This was getting tedious as there was no way you could automate this process. As a measure of minimizing manual effort involved, we introduced Authentication Tokens to API’s.

The Authentication Token is bound to an account. Generating it is a one-time activity, and is valid for eternity. This token can be used in all your API calls. All the tokens associated with your account can be managed in Zoho Accounts.

Authentication Token is certainly better in every way, so we strongly recommend all Developer API users to switch. Here is how you can generate the Authentication Token. In order to enforce this better alternative, we intend to discontinue support of API tickets and API key. API users will be notified well in advance.