Improved community membership management with Zoho Discussions: Introducing Subscriptions

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One of the challenges of running an online community is who you invite or let in to participate.


While some communities are “open”, some other communities, as a result of their nature, tend to be a bit more vigilant about who can come in and read/post. 

Zoho Discussions has for long supported membership and provides fine-grained control over who can access and participate in a conversation, but today we are building on that and making it a bit easier.

We built a nifty feature that simplifies life for community admins:

membership requests



Membership requests allow visitors to apply for memberships that the community admin would then evaluate and grant. If adopted for your community, this subscription feature in Zoho Discussions will help you know your users better and also help reduce spam. This is also ideal for open communities where you would like to know your users better before you allow them in to participate. This feature also integrates well with the existing moderation options, by 

enabling you to provide subscribers a higher level of access to specific areas of your community. For example: you could allow everyone to come and read the posts, but then only allow posting to people who have been screened. Or you could allow read/post grants in certain forums, but access to other forums to only the users you choose.

So how do you go about setting one up? All you need to do is toggle a switch in your Portal settings. (you can read this in detail



Once you do that, users visiting your community will see a prompt in the portal specific login page (which you can


too). If your portal is open for guest access, a guest will see a prominent widget prompting for subscription.

You can view all subscription requests in the moderation panel and approve them one by one or in a single shot. 

Now you can make your user community spam free and more engaging! We invite you to try 

Zoho Discussions

today and let us know how we can help at

Announcing the Do-It-Yourself Dabble Db Migration Tool

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Any service that your business depends upon has got to be reliable.. Be it your

email service

, your

CRM tool

or even your

database software

. There cannot be any compromise.. But what would you do, when you find yourself in a situation, where out of the blue one of your service provider puts you in the doldrums. There is no activity nor there is an announcement which tells you that they are ceasing operations. You run.. Run like never before to find a suitable replacement and put it in place before the plug is pulled…

Dabble DB

customers panicked in exactly the same way, when

this announcement

 came out on June 10th. They needed to find a new service to manage their database applications. A huge clamor amongst a few database application platforms/services ensued – what with nothing short of a windfall coming their way and everyone wanted to cash in on the opportunity. We at Zoho Creator offered


migration, support and application building to anyone who came to us with their data.

A few months on, going by the number of happy migrant customers, we can proudly say, we did a good job. But the migration process itself was slightly convoluted. The probable customers got in touch with us.. Let us take a look at their application .. Then we helped them with setting up of their application and so on.. Altogether this whole process used to take at least a couple of days. Well, 2 days may be a looong  time in certain businesses.

it required a person to take the customer through the entire process..
Too much time and resource consuming this was becoming.

That set us thinking.. This process had to be made a lot more simple and straightforward.

We are glad to announce that, we have now come up with a Do-It-Yourself Migration Tool, so that users can come aboard Zoho Creator effortlessly.Sounds good?? 3 simple steps is all it takes to port your application to Zoho Creator and you are done! Head over to

this page

to read more on the exact steps. And yes, as always, should you face any trouble at all, moving into Zoho Creator, do drop an email to us at .

Welcome to Zoho Creator folks!! 

PS: Remember

Indiana Military Organization

? – Our famous DabbleDB Migrant customer.

@Zoho Invoice: Only 50 cents for receiving online payments

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our earlier post we told you we were going to be participating in
PayPal’s innovate 2010. At the conference PayPal, in addition to some
sumptuous techie talks will be launching “Business Payments”,their 50 cents pricing. With the introduction of Business Payments you can cut down your transaction fee to just 50 cents.
Us at Zoho Invoice are very happy to be a part of something which seems
like the future of all online transactions. Yes, you can use PayPal’s
Business Payments for receiving online payments from your Zoho Invoice account starting TODAY!

So what is PayPal’s Business Payments all about?

It is a simple and economical way to receive online payments against your invoices. The only prerequisite for business payments is that the payor-the person who pays you, should have a PayPal account. Lets say you invoice your customer who already has a PayPal account for
$100. Earlier you may have to pay a percentage of that $100 as a
transaction fee. If you choose Business Payments as your mode of
Payment receipt, you can receive the payment of $100 from your customer
at a transaction fee of just 50 cents. 

Besides the 50 cent pricing, what’s more interesting is that this being a PayPal account to PayPal account transfer, the payment will be credited to your account immediately.

How does this change things for Zoho Invoice?

this month we introduced a little change in the way you receive online
payments. We started providing an option to select a payment gateway at
the time of creating an invoice. So now you’ll see an additional option
PayPal Business Payments, when you select your online payment receipt

Thanksgiving and Black Friday sales just around the corner. PayPal is
making a statement loud and clear. “Shop more, pay less”. Agree with
you PayPal!

Zoho @ Zoho: Courier Management, the Zoho Creator way

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Distribution of couriers among
employees might seem like a simple everyday task and may even raise a
few eyebrows when we say, “We at Zoho have a dedicated application to
manage and track it”. The front office personnel have plenty to attend
to, ranging from managing cars being parked on premises to routing
incoming calls. Amidst all this, the mail and packages too had to be
delivered, which was painstaking. We thought how we could make life a
little bit easier for them. Certainly, nothing could be done about


service entrance or guiding visitors around the campus. So we stuck to
what we were good at; Automating processes. Here is why this application
came about and is saving us time and effort ever since.

receive mail and packages everyday. Both official and personal stuff.
Sometimes the number of packages is high, making the job of identifying
the recipient and delivering it by hand, a very tough one. The mail-man
visits our office, same time everyday, to deliver the mail and take with
him, the ones awaiting dispatch. These packages would usually be at
with the front-office. The security personnel had to individually inform
each person of the package (or letter), which they would pick later.
First, the employee had to be tracked using Zoho People, our online people
management tool, and then informed over phone. This was very


Raman Kumar

of Webmaster team thoughtfully did was to come up with an
application in

Zoho Creator

, the

online database application builder

. This application

two forms

and feeds on data from

Zoho People

. The first one is to look up the employee to whom the package
is meant for, and a second one to generate an automated email
notification. When a search for an employee is done, all the matches are
returned. The personnel then selects the exact recipient. On selection,
the application proceeds to the second form. Here, employee information
such as name, identification number and email address are populated
automatically. Other details such as sender information, number of
packages waiting to be collected and which of the three security desks
it is available at, need to be filled up manually. On submission of this
form, an email containing the above information is  sent to the
concerned employee.

booking a courier too, we couldn’t expect the sender to be present when
the mail-man stopped by. So we provided an option of leaving the
package, fully addressed, at the front-office. When the pick-up truck
pulled over, the packages would be handed over to them by the security
personnel, and the waybill tracking details would be entered in this
form along with the employee details. To distinguish between sent and
received parcels, we included a radio button as one of the fields. This
eliminated the need for a separate form.

putting this application together was quite simple a task,

just of
about six hours

, the time and effort it has saved for us is notable.
That is why it found its way here. On days when mail and packages add up
to more than 200, delivering them becomes more of just an activity than
productivity. This simple yet highly capable application is all we did
to overcome the futility, and it has been serving us well for quite some
time now.


Courier Manager Application

is available
at the Marketplace

for you to try

. Do check it out!

Apps showcased till now:

Rebranding ManagementHall of ShameTweet Stream,  Ad TrackerReseller PortalDownload TrackerIT Asset ManagementSupport Call TrackerNew Employee RecordTravel ManagementCourier ManagementCab Booking

that was first of the series, Zoho@Zoho.

“Zoho Challenge is a dream come true” – Anand More, More Training Consultancy Private Ltd

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Anand More of More Training Consultancy Pvt Ltd. (MTCPL) has been an
ardent fan of Zoho Challenge for quite some time. More Classes, a unit
of  MTCPL, provides supplementary training to the students of Mumbai University, ICAI & ICSI. Over 750 students from his classes take
their assessments using our very own quiz maker app, Zoho Challenge.
Thanks to Zoho Challenge, almost all of them take these tests
from multiple locations.
Over the weekend, we talked to him about how Zoho Challenge has helped
him administer tests better to his students. Here’s what he had to say:

What made you look beyond the pen and paper based model of testing, for
an online testing solution? Was the traditional way of testing
inadequate for your needs?

We provide structured, supplementary coaching to students as well as
workshops to corporate executives. Our students appear for exams
conducted by external institutes. Our aim is to guarantee success in
such external examinations. The success of our coaching is determined by
the understanding of the students.

Many of the Subject Matter Experts (SMEs), due to their schedules,
are either unable or unwilling to do the assessment of the candidates.
Lack of assessment reduces our ability to convince the parents or in
some cases even the corporate client about the effectiveness of our
training programmes.In such cases, it becomes all the more necessary for us to
help understand how the candidates understood their subject. It becomes
an indirect assessment of the SMEs too.

Further, when an experienced SME leaves,
we are left with no knowledge about how the assessment was done by him.
We suffer from lack of organizational knowledge bank, and our procedures
remain as effective as the SME only.

The traditional pen and paper method emphasizes on testing the
presentation skills and what we want is testing the level of

Elaborate arrangements just like examination [halls] involve considerable costs, are time consuming and are labour intensive
for us.
What we wanted was a solution which will give us:

  • total control over assessment, 
  • streamlined processes for initiating, conducting and assessing the tests
  • control over cost of printing
  • automated evaluation 
  • organizational knowledge bank of how to assess the preparation for a subject
  • collaborative and location independent platform for accommodating varying schedules of SMEs
  • search-able storage of student performance for future reference.
  • ability to deliver the tests at any location
  • ability to reuse the questions once created
  • empower the SMEs with a
    dashboard indicating KPIs of the students, or tests based on his choice,
    without spending his time on mundane work.

This is where
Zoho Challenge came to our rescue. Although our wish list is unending,
Zoho Challenge with its ever co-operating support staff has always come
with innovative and stable solutions.

2) How did you stumble upon Zoho Challenge? How long
have you been using it?

I am a member of the eLearning Guild. In one of the weekly newsletters, there was a mention of Google Docs and Zoho Docs. That was my introduction to Zoho. I got hooked to
both Google Apps and Zoho for my coaching activity. Somewhere in 2008 (to be precise on September 19, 2008) I stumbled
upon Zoho Challenge. At that time, Zoho Challenge 1.0 was at a nascent
stage. I was fascinated by the potential of this product. The
fascination is still continued.

3) Could you please
name 3-5 specific features that made you stick to Zoho Challenge?

  • Hosted solution
  • The structure of Question Banks: Multiple tests and test reusability
  • Importing questions
  • Multimedia enabled questions
  • Batch feature and IP restricted tests

4) Has Zoho Challenge helped you in administering tests
faster, quicker and more efficiently? What benefits have you gained out
of using our quiz maker?

Yes, my organization has benefited

on all the following counts

  • Reduced paper cost
  • Reduced efforts in coordinating with SMEs to get the question papers before test dates
  • Reduced pressure and costs in arranging the location for the tests
  • Providing error free and unbiased assessment

My subject matter experts have become decision makers rather than data gatherers. For students, testing has become fun just like online gaming. We are even planning to use Challenge to give scholarship to the most deserving candidates

5) What would you say to those teachers and schools
who are planning to switch to online tests, but haven’t jumped the gun
yet? Should they do it as soon as they can? What are they missing out?

is an old saying – when the pupil is ready the master appears. In our
case the master has already appeared in the form of Zoho Challenge, only
the pupils, (i.e. the schools) must be ready to work with the master.

For all the schools waiting to jump in, I can tell that the value proposition put by Zoho Challenge, i.e.

  • to enable the SMEs with student’s understanding
  • to give a hosted, subscription based solution to testing
  • to bring fun in testing & assessment
  • at a very low cost

is a dream come true. This is how technology should be used to make an efficient, productive and responsible society.

Zoho Challenge exists to make tests easy and we were thrilled to see yet another case of it being used to deliver tests to a large number of students in one go. If you’re another such passionate user of Zoho Challenge, talk to us on how you’ve been using it in your classroom or organization: email us at We’re all ears!

Workflow Automation in Zoho Recruit

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The world continues to morph us with ever faster lives. And we no longer can expect recruiters to do everything manually as it’s not a smart use of resources. 
For instance, let’s say the Sales team in an organization creates job openings for the clients. Once the job openings are created, the recruiters start to work on different stages of the recruitment process – source, track and hire candidates. When the candidate gets selected and hired for the job opening, the recruiter changes the candidate status to hired. Now, the recruiter should keep the sales team updated about the candidate hired information, to process the invoice for the clients. Doing these frequent updates manually makes the work more hectic.
Processes must be streamlined in a better way to cater to the needs of the new generation. The more your work flow is automated, the better it is. 
Zoho Recruit - Applicant Tracking System now allows to set your workflow, to trigger customized email notifications to all the specified recipients – on status change of candidates and job openings. This workflow automation helps you to enhance your team’s collaboration and productivity.  

We hope you find this improvement useful. Thanks again for using Zoho Recruit and do let us know your feedback.