Zoho Creator 2.0 Gets a Very Good Welcome

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The recently released Zoho Creator 2.0 was well received by bloggers and journalists alike. Some quotes from the web regarding the release :

Marc Orchant @ ZDNet :

Creator uses a very nice GUI construction interface and a script builder (Creator’s scripting language is called Deluge) to assist even completely ham-handed people (like me) in developing very powerful and attractive applications with little more than point-and-click and drag-and-drop actions. Despite this accessibility, there’s a lot of power underneath the hood and to date more than 30,000 applications have been built by people using Zoho Creator.

Lifehacker, Zoho Creator is like Microsoft Access online :

Forget learning Microsoft Access and Visual Basic: the newly-revamped Zoho Creator is an easy-to-use online database creation tool.Set up your database’s fields (like for an address book: Name, Address, City, State) and then build drag and drop custom entry forms with different input types like radio buttons, check boxes and dropdowns. Ambitious types can add custom logic to the application using the script builder, and the whole shebang can be added to your web site or blog (say, for a feedback form or survey).

Kristen Nicole @ Mashable :

This latest version has lots of drag-n-drop functionality, for creating forms, views and defining layouts. Have more fun with drag-n-drop with the improved deluge script builder, which lets you create scripts without learning the syntax. A new user interface graces the Creator 2.0 upgrade as well, with easier ways to share content and manage multiple forms.

Scott Gilbertson @ Wired Blogs :

Zoho Creator 2.0 also includes some additional new features that bring it up to speed with other apps in the Zoho suite, like the ability to share applications with other Zoho users, new ways embed applications in your website and the ability to export your data in multiple formats.

Thomas Willingham has a detailed walk-through of creating an application :

The updated version of Creator is flexible, allowing the creation of applications using numerous options including using forms, importing spreadsheets, applying a template from the existing application gallery, or scripting.

I realize that I barely scratched the surface of this program. The application I created was straightforward and relatively simple. This is the first time I have used Zoho Creator, and I found it very easy to use. The interface was intuitive, and help was very good. The online product overview videos created by Zoho are always a nice touch.

Benoit Descary @ descary.com :

Zoho Creator est sans conteste l’une de mes applications Web2.0 favorites. Grâce à ce service, vous pouvez créer en quelques minutes, un formulaire d’inscription à un événement, un mini CRM ou encore une base de données de vos recettes favorites, en fait les possibilités sont infinies. [rough translation in English] : Zoho Creator is without question one of my favorite Web2.0 applications. Thanks to this service, you can create in a few minutes, a form of inscription to an event, a mini CRM or a data base of your favorite receipts, the possibilities are infinite. Update : Benoit also has a screencast on Creator 2.0.

Mike Gunderloy @ Web Worker Daily thought Zoho Creator 2.0 wasn’t exactly MS Access + VB on the net and he had an elaborate review :

When you log in to Creator, you get a big “Create New Application” button as an obvious starting point. This lets you start from a gallery of pre-built applications (project management, help desk, and so on), a blank application, or an imported spreadsheet. From there, you add forms, which again can come from a set of pre-built examples or start blank. The Zoho Creator form builder is an easy to use drag-and-drop environment with plenty of helpful visual cues; I didn’t have to read anything to add radio buttons or textboxes, set labels, change the options in a dropdown, and so on. Each form you build can have multiple views (single record or list), with security being applied on a view by view and action by action level. You can arrange views into tabs and control who can visit each tab of your application. Behind the scenes, Creator is building a relational database to match your forms, and there is a reasonably obvious way to link forms and so create linked tables (well, reasonably obvious if you understand the basics of relational databases).

There’s also scripting, with a new language called Deluge. Not only does Deluge allow you to attach actions such as validation or sending e-mail to typical events, but Creator form definitions themselves are saved in Deluge, so it enables you to modify forms dynamically, which is actually quite powerful. Zoho claims that you don’t need to be a programmer to use this language, and they provide a drag-and-drop script builder to put together some simple actions. But the “you don’t need to be a programmer” claim was hogwash in Access and VB, and it’s hogwash here; if you don’t understand the rudiments of things like events and boolean logic, Deluge will make no sense to you, and you’ll stick to the easy user interface stuff.

Overall, Zoho Creator is quite impressive for its niche. The learning curve is very shallow, and it’s almost trivially easy to bang out quick data collection and editing applications. Deluge is not a difficult language if you have any experience with programming, though as I said I remain skeptical of its universal appeal.

Zoli Erdos @zoliblog

Here’s a good example of Christopher Conway, Professor of Literature, a non-techie in his own words building a course database in Zoho Creator – and that was in the “old” release. Getting back to the journalism question above: yes, it is useful if you can build simple database application, but you really no longer have to learn coding anymore. Don’t take my word for it: go ahead, play with it. smile_wink

Cale @ palmit.commentary :

ZOHO Creator makes it easy to create a simple, or fairly complex, database (complete with a UI) in minutes. They’ve made it really easy to share the UI for data-entry – you can even post a code snippet to your website or blog to make the data-entry UI available anywhere you want. It’s free, it’s slick, and I’m completely surprised more people aren’t talking about this.

Thanks everyone, for your reviews & feedback! More to come in Zoho Creator …

Zoho Notebook Update: Auto-save & more

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After opening up Zoho Notebook recently, we got very good response/feedback from many users like you that kept us busy enhancing the application. In the last three weeks we made several updates to notebook enhancing different aspects of the application. You can track all our updates in this notebook which can also be accessed from the ‘Updates’ link inside the application.

One of the issue mentioned by some of the users is related to save. Some said they lost some data. We apologize for this. We take this issue very seriously. Our recent updates addressed this issue in particular. There were several enhancements we rolled out for saving content, but I want to share few key ones.

  • Auto-save: We implemented Auto-save for Notebook. Active notebook will now be auto-saved every one minute if there are any modifications.
  • Save on Close: If you make any changes to your notebook and close the browser window without saving changes, all your content will still be saved
  • Page Navigation: When you navigate across notebook pages without saving, the pages are saved automatically

Many users asked us how a book can be renamed. You can double click on the Book/Page tab to rename a book/page. In the latest update we also provided ‘Rename Book’ and ‘Rename Page’ option under the Edit Menu. We are working on contextual menus (for Book and Page) which might be a better way to provide options like Rename. Here is a proposed design. We’d love your feedback on this.
BookDialog.jpg

Any comments?

Donation Coder Review names Zoho Writer as the Winner in Online Word Processor Category

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The long title of this post says it all. Donation Coder did a very extensive review of Word Processors available in today’s market. This is arguably the most comprehensive coverage of all the word processors. In the review all the available options were categorized into three parts – Major Word Processors, Second-Tier Word Processors and Online Word Processors. I am not going to talk about the first two categories here, but in the Online Word Processor category, Zoho Writer is selected as a Winner and Google Docs is the runner-up.

Here is what Donation Coder has to say about Zoho Writer.

Zoho Writer combines the best of both word processing and HTML worlds in one online package. You can even use a CSS file as a template for your documents (more support for this on the way, too), making Zoho Writer a natural frontend for blogging. Faster than any other online app reviewed here with regard to upload speed, UI responsiveness, and navigation — you really get to see what AJAX can do here. Zoho Writer doesn’t waste space, either. By combining text, icons, toolbars, tabs, buttons, a sliding sidebar file explorer, along with a tight workspace, it clearly is built for productivity. Good design is when you take the best of others and bend them to your needs. With Zoho Writer you can get right to work with no learning curve at all. Even better, you can create (or learn!) a lot of cool HTML, and to a lesser extent CSS code with the documents you create using it. After using it for a short while, I’m willing to bet you’ll like it better than your desktop word processor — it’s that good.

We are honored to be selected as a winner in this category. Zoho Writer is a work in progress. We can do magic with these online apps. Stay tuned for some good enhancements coming your way.

Set margins to your Zoho Writer documents

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Zoho Writer’s latest update enhanced the setting up of margins. Clicking the ‘Document Properties’ button, one can set the top/bottom & left/right margins.

For user convenience, the left/right margins have now been made draggable. Please note that the margins are calculated as percentage of screen area. Try the new feature out.

ps: From the feedback we have received so far, setting the margin properties globally is one that’s been most requested. We will try having this soon

Zoho Creator 2.0 Launches

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One of my personal favorite Zoho apps, Zoho Creator just went through a major upgrade few minutes back that involves some key changes. Our team calls this update as Zoho Creator 2.0.

So, what’s new in Zoho Creator 2.0?

Brand New Interface

With this update we just rolled out a completely new user interface for creating applications. You can now create forms with simple drag and drop, create views and define layouts.

Deluge Script Builder

If you like using our Deluge Scripting, you’ll love our new Script Builder. We are introducing a script builder that lets you create scripts with simple drag-n-drop without having to learn the syntax. Here is a quick video intro of our Script Builder.

Other Goodies

We obviously have other Zoho Creator goodies like the ability to share your applications with other Zoho users, embed your applications in websites/blogs, export your data in multiple formats etc.

For those of you who are not familiar with Zoho Creator, I’d define it as an online database application creator. But one of our users defined this as ‘Online Visual Basic + MS Access‘. I think I like his definition better :)

The video below provides a brief intro to the Creator 2.0. Here is a video for Script Builder.

Do give it a try and let us know your feedback in the creator form below.

Zoho Creator Scheduled Update

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We have scheduled an update for Zoho Creator. Hence Zoho Creator service will not be available from June 11th 2007 22:00 hrs PDT to June 12th 0600 hrs PDT.

We regret for the inconvenience this may cause.

[Update] : You can now access ZohoCreator. The update is over. We will be posting a separate blog on the updates. We once again apologize for the inconvenience caused. Thanks for your patience and understanding.

[Update] : Please see here for more information on the update.