Copy Database, HTML Import, Intelligent Chart Creation and Themes support in Zoho DB & Reports

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After the recent Zoho Sheet Pivot Table support which is based on Zoho DB & Reports, we have rolled in good set of useful features into Zoho DB & Reports. I have summarized the important ones here below. 

Copy Database:

With the new Copy Database feature, you easily create a copy of an existing Zoho DB & Reports database. This feature provides an option to make a copy of the database with or without existing data. If you copy without data, then only the tables and report definitions are copied. If you copy with data, then all tables, reports along with existing data in the database would be copied.

You can make a copy of a database following the steps given below:

  • Go to “Existing Databases” section in the home page
  • Under each database that is listed you will find a “Copy” link
  • Click on the “Copy” link for the database that you wish to copy
  • It will popup a dialog where you could provide the name and description for the new database that is to be created
  • Check/Uncheck the “Copy with Data” option depending on whether you would like to make a copy of the database with tables, reports and existing data OR just the tables and reports definition alone

Copy Database

With this option you could also copy any of the demonstrative Sample Databases that is provided by Zoho DB & Reports.

HTML Import:

Zoho DB & Reports now supports importing HTML table contents into Zoho DB & Reports. This enables importing data in any HTML table into Zoho DB & Reports as you import CSV data. The HTML file should contain at least one Table inside it for importing.

You can import data from a HTML file through any of the following means:

  • Copy/Paste the HTML code into the “Import Wizard”
  • Load a HTML file from a local folder
  • Load a HTML from any publicly accessible Web URL

More intelligence & convenience for designing Chart/Pivot/Summary views:

So far, while designing chart or pivot or summary view, you had to drag and drop fields listed on the left to the right-side design area and construct the view. Now we have provided checkboxes to just select the fields that are to be used to design the chart. This is apart from the existing drag and drop support.

Zoho DB & Reports intelligently identifies the appropriate position to place the selected field in the design area. Also as another step of intelligence, Zoho DB & Reports even selects the right function to apply on the field which is added to the design area.

Just Click

Filters & Search across all tabular views:

Filters and Search (Quick Filter) was introduced into Zoho DB & Reports in one of our previous update. It was initially supported only in Tables. Now you could do Quick filtering across all table based views in Zoho DB & Reports. This includes Tabular Views, SQL Query table and tables shown for displaying View Underlying Data in Charts, Pivots and Summary Views.

Color your Zoho DB & Reports interface with Themes:

Zoho DB & Reports now supports themes. You could apply the theme you like by choosing the “Themes” menu at the right top corner of the screen. Currently we have only two packaged themes available (more to come very soon….). The theme you choose will be set to your preference and applied across logins. I guess you would have already noticed that the snapshots embedded above in this blog post were all taken with our New Blue Theme.

Keep track of the  Zoho DB & Reports Feature Trail to know about all the features that are rolled-out into our service regularly. Try out the new features and let us know what you think….

Quality Products, Low Prices

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My favorite grocery store is Trader Joe’s. As I was waiting in line at the cash register today, I saw this message, handwritten on a black board:

High quality products
Ridiculously low prices
But talk is cheap
We invite you to shop and compare

Normally this kind of thing would sound, well, a bit cheesy. But at Trader Joe’s it somehow fits perfectly, because they actually live up to it, day in and day out. I am always surprised by the quality of the goods on offer there, and the prices at which they are offered. And they consistently come up with surprises, making it even fun to shop there – I say this as a person who absolutely hates shopping.

They are such a unique grocery store that they even have a fan site, TraderJoesFan.com – when was the last time you heard of a grocery store with a fan website?

At Zoho, our guiding philosophy has been “Quality products, Low Prices”. Trader Joe’s has been a continuing inspiration, every time I shop.

Maximizing the Zoho Writer Editor

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Here’s a query we often get from our Zoho Writer users :

How do I increase/maximize the editing (working) area in Zoho Writer? (or) How do I make Zoho Writer behave like a desktop word processor?

You have quite a few ways to get more writing area.

  • The left/right margins are 10% each by default. Minimize them (you can easily drag them) to get more space
  • Click on the Maximize Editor icon writer-maximize-editor.jpg , found next to the Delete button at the top-left of the Zoho Writer toolbar. You will find the left panel that lists your documents give way to more editing area. You can click on the same icon (which is now Minimize Editor) to return to the default editor.
  • Click on Options -> View Buttons. You can uncheck some of the button groups that you don’t typically use. This depends on your word processing needs. Or, you can click on Options -> Settings and uncheck the Show Toolbar option
  • Click on the F11 button (for both Firefox & IE). This will result in the tool & menu bars at the top / bottom disappear and the screen area getting larger
  • Use Mozilla Prism. Since each web application runs in its own window, Prism mimics a desktop-like experience. You can combine Prism with the above options to get more screen area

Want to tell us more on ways you are using Zoho Writer? Please feel free to leave your comments.

Recent blog posts mentioning Zoho

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Curtis Partridge at Small Business Tech blog in a post titled ‘Zoho Portfolio Continue to Grow‘ says,

One company that has been quietly building a stunning collection of applications is Zoho. They now offer an impressive array of software including office applications, invoicing, project management, and customer relationship management, database, and more. They have formed world-wide alliance partnerships around the globe to assist small business with using their products. They seem much more serious than others about developing a cloud computing business beyond the geek crowd.

In the coming weeks, we are going to dig more deeply into each of the Zoho applications and compare functionality with other online-based products.

We are eagerly waiting to hear what you would have to say about Zoho, Curtis!

Looking for a free or affordable project management app? David Glumac from Budapest, Hungary suggests some ‘alternatives to MS Project‘. David writes about Zoho Projects,

The team at Zoho is one of the coolest “Web 2.0” companies out there. Their online office suite includes tools for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, databases, note-taking, wikis, CRM, project management, invoicing and other applications. Being web-native, all Zoho applications are operating system independent. It supports creating tasks, ownership, setting deadlines and tracking milestones; working with calendars, Gantt charts, reports, share supporting files—all the cool features expected in a project management package.

Anali at the MCLC Library Tech Talk blog in her ‘Talking Tech Friday – Zoho‘ post does a brief overview of some of the Zoho apps.

 Just to prove that Google doesn’t rule the world, I thought I would do a brief overview of the Zoho suite of online tools.

[Zoho Sheet] looks very much like Excel, and also allows you to import or export .xls files from or to your computer. You can embed sheets into a blog or website, collaborate with others, and use a broader variety of tools than with Google Spreadsheets, including macros. One feature I just noticed here, and is the same for Writer, is you can export in a wide variety of formats, including .xls, xml, html, pdf, open office, etc. Very handy!

The [Zoho] wiki uses a nicer WYSIWYG interface than many wiki or blog editing applications I’ve seen. No silly wiki text markup (the bane of my existence), and it looks nicer to me than the PB Wiki design. However, the wiki allows you to choose your own editor, set your own brand and logo, and manage editing and viewing permissions.

Enda Madden at his SaaS Technologies blog says ‘Run your business with Zoho‘.

The last few months I’ve been road testing the Zoho applications by using it for my own company’ day to day administration. Originally Zoho was best known for their meeting application software which was a great substitute for WebEx. Over the last year they’ve constantly added new useful apps and at this stage have almost anything that any SME business would need.

One of my personal favourites is Zoho Invoicing which is a quick and very smart way to generate estimates and invoices http://invoice.zoho.com/login/jsp/login.jsp).

Better still it integrates into Zoho CRM.

Thanks to all the above bloggers!

Equations, LaTeX and Vanishingly Small Probabilities

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As we announced yesterday, Equation Editor (with LaTeX support) is the latest feature in Zoho Writer. This one has deep personal relevance to me. My first “programming language”, in the sense that I wrote a lot of code, was actually LaTeX. It is a programming langauge for accurate typesetting of documents, that in many ways anticipated developments like HTML/CSS.

As a graduate student at Princeton, I spent countless hours writing and rewriting papers for publication using LaTeX, first with inputs from my advisor, and later from anonymous reviewers at publications like The IEEE Transactions on Information Theory. Of course, my entire PhD thesis was written in LaTeX as well. The most important aspect of LaTeX I loved was its easy facility with equations. You would type in something like (Ampere’s Law – thank you Wikipedia!)

\Delta  \times  \mathbf {B} =  \mu_0  \mathbf {J} + \mu_0  \epsilon_0  \frac{\partial  \mathbf {E}}{\partial t}

and the LaTeX compiler would generate

Or the integral form of Ampere’s Law:

 \oint_{\partial S}   \mathbf {B} . d \mathbf {l}  =  \mu_0 I_S + \mu_0 \epsilon_0   \frac{d {\Phi}_{E,S}}{dt}

 

It was pure magic to see the compiler generate such beautiful forms. I spent four years of life with equations like that – pretty much every section, every page in my thesis had them. As a graduate student, I used to wonder if such equations could be generated via a friendly user interface – keep in mind that MS-DOS still ruled the world at that time and graduate students like me had Sun workstations. I myself had little interest in software at that time (I was going to prove theorems, so I looked down on programming as a lowly activity!) so never pursued that thought further. If someone had predicted at that time that I would end up founding a software company one of whose key products is a word processor, and LaTeX would play a role in it, I would have just laughed the idea off as absurd or in technical terms, “of vanishingly small probability”, a phrase that sticks in mind after seeing those epsilons and deltas (or \epsilon’s  \ and  \ \delta’s in LaTeX terminology!). I used to practically dream in epsilons and deltas during that period – so many of the mathematical proofs depended on them being close to but not quite zero. 

I am very happy to see the Equation Editor in Zoho Writer give shape to that user interface idea. There is a lot more potential in typesetting using LaTeX like ideas, and you will see us pursue them in due course.

Thinking back, what is surprising to me now is how little of my PhD I remember. I retrieved my PhD thesis from its long-forgotten closet, dusted it off, and it is all Greek to me. I can scarcely even believe it is my own work I am staring at. I used to be really, really passionate about proving theorems, so it seems even stranger that I would just completely abandon it. The only thing I would have gotten right with all my PhD training was to recognize that vanishingly small probability events can still happen.

Zoho Writer : Import from Google Docs & Equation Editor (LaTeX) support

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Today’s Zoho Writer update introduces three key functionalities

  1. Import Documents from Google Docs to Zoho Writer
  2. Equation Editor
  3. LaTeX Export

1. Import Documents from Google Docs to Zoho Writer

After we accepted Google and Yahoo! sign-in to Zoho (and Google Apps accounts sign-in), we were asked to implement import capability to Zoho. We have added this feature in this update. And now you can import your Google Docs into Zoho Writer. Here are the steps :

  • Login to your Google Docs account & choose the documents that you need to export to Zoho
  • Click on More actions -> Save as HTML (zipped) to your desktop
  • In Zoho Writer, click on Import -> Import Google Docs, select the zipped file path and click Import
  • All the Google Docs documents in the zip file will be imported into your Zoho Writer account & will be displayed in the left panel

We certainly don’t want to trap your information in Zoho. We will soon provide a mass Export option to take your documents to other services.

2. Equation Editor
As you may know, a significant % of our users are students. We got a lot of requests from this user segment to build an Equation Editor into Zoho Writer. And Zoho Writer has it now.

You’ll see a new Equation Editor icon (last one in the second row of the toolbar) which brings up a simple UI to create your equations. If you are a LaTeX guru, type your equation away and we automatically generate an image of the equation on the right. If you are not a LaTeX expert (like me), you can simply select the equation symbols with your mouse and we automatically build the equation for you. Once done, the equation image is inserted into your document.

After you insert your equation, if you want to make any changes to it, right click on the image and select Edit Equation.

3. LaTeX Export
As you see in the above slide show, we support LaTeX, the document markup language widely used by mathematicians, scientists, engineers and scholars in academia. We have a new option in Zoho Writer under Export, to save such files involving equations in LaTeX format as well.

Try the new features in Zoho Writer now & we will be glad knowing your comments.