Performance Improvement Updates are Rolling In

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For the past several weeks, the highest priority for Zoho development teams has been performance. Of course, this is the top requested “feature” from users too. We are happy to report that we have made considerable progress towards this goal, and have made a series of updates across Zoho services. CRM, Projects, Sheet, Writer, Wiki, Planner and Creator have had one round of updates recently, and you may have noticed the difference. There are still more areas where we can improve, and further performance-oriented updates are being planned over the next few weeks, across all Zoho services. These software improvements are happening alongside the fact that new users are coming in at an increasing rate, and the usage from existing users is going up. We also have significant amount of new hardware being added in a month, to scale to the next level of user base and usage.

We are committed to provide world-class performance and service levels across Zoho. AdventNet, the parent company of Zoho, is known for infrastructure management software, and we like to eat our dogfood. If you encounter a performance problem with a particular Zoho service, it would help to know your location and the particular operation on which you encountered difficulty – there are still some unoptimized code paths we need to tighten up, so it would help to pinpoint where we should focus our immediate attention.

Wikicamp.in

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Some news from this part of the world – Zoho’s home city, Chennai, India. Wikicamp.in, an event to better understand the role that Wikis play in today’s world is to be held this Sunday, February 25, 2007. The participants list has very different profiles of people and shows that Indian enterprises are indeed interested in this new platform.

wiki-camp

Zoho is one of the sponsors of the event. See you there :-)

Sync up your spreadsheet with remote web pages

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Last week we added a new feature in Zoho Sheet which helps you to sync up with data available in the form of HTML tables in public web pages. We had this syncing up with public CSV files earlier, and now we have added support for tables of data in web pages. So if you want to have your spreadsheet filled in with data automatically updated from a particular web page and do some analysis on it, then this would be quite useful. If you have used Web Query in Excel, then you will be able to relate to this feature.

Here is a sample spreadsheet which makes use of web query:

In the above spreadsheet, the exchange rates are fetched daily from http://x-rates.com. Based on the exchange rate, the total sales in USD is calculated (refer cell F21).

And here is how you can configure your spreadsheet to make use of this feature. Use the ‘Link External Data’ feature available under the ‘More Actions’ menu.

Link External Data Menu

How are you using this feature? Share your story on our discussion forums.

Apart from this, we have improved the page loading speed (especially when you login). More performance improvements are coming.

Zoho on Safari

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No we dont officially support Safari yet, but if you still want to use Zoho apps in Safari, there is a way to do it.

Download the latest Webkit from Webkit.org and use Safari that comes with it. You’ll be able to use Zoho Writer, Sheet and other apps as well (though we say we dont support safari yet). I have been playing with it for a few days and I didnt face many issues apart from some minor ones.

Interstingly, the version of Safari that comes with Webkit is the same (including the build number) as the version I had on my Mac.

We plan to support Safari after Leopard release.

For Entrepreneurs and Small Business Owners

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Aviva Directory has a very good post listing the Top 25 web services that small businesses can benefit from. Delighted to find Zoho in the list. From the article :

If you are running a small business, you know that to be successful you need to be a jack-of-all-trades. The smart way to manage everything from company finances, to client relations, to marketing, is to use the right tools – tools that are simple enough that they won’t require you to spend a lot of time and money you don’t have setting them up.

The 25 applications selected were chosen both on the basis of their usefulness for the individual small business manager as well as their effectiveness in providing community support and networking opportunities for users.

Zoho has one of the most well-rounded offerings of web-based tools for the entrepreneur/ business person, including an Office Suite (Writer, Sheet, Show, Wiki, Virtual Office), Productivity Tools (Projects, CRM, Creator, Planner, Chat), Polls, and website monitoring. One of the most useful applications, however, is Zoho Challenge, which lets you test and evaluate job candidates using a combination of multiple choice and descriptive questions. Candidates can then be emailed results for one or more tests. Perhaps the best feature is Zoho Writer, a superb web-based replacement for Microsoft Word. Zoho Writer’s only limitation is its own popularity, which has been known to cause slow server response times. By using a web-based writing program, your employees and clients will be able to access their work at any time without the need for email attachments.

Thanks to Aviva Directory for featuring Zoho. About Zoho Writer being slow sometimes – users of Zoho and regular readers of this blog might know that we are working on the performance front. Some work has already been done and you should be seeing much difference in performance across many of Zoho’s services than before. This will continue for the next few weeks and performance will get enhanced further.

Zoho CRM:Finalist for 2007 Steppin’ Out Award

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Maybe some of you haven’t heard of this award, but its a real honor for us. Its Paul Greenberg’s brain child, best selling author of CRM at the Speed of Light: Essential Customer Strategies for the 21st Century, we are in pretty good company competing for the honor with Microsoft, Salesforce.com, Netsuite, Neighborhood America and Reardon Commerce.

The finalists were distilled from a list of over 100 vendors, further refined to about 40 before six were selected. While Paul’s focus is on CRM, the most interesting aspect of the award is his sweeping view of the marketplace focusing on companies that have or could have a disruptive impact on the industry this year.

According to Paul: “They (Zoho) get the 2.0 world that we’re dealing with now so they get how to handle the new generations of customers and business people – which puts them ahead of most of the companies that vie for the small business space. They are constantly innovating with new ideas for products and services. In other words, they may be at the Sundance Festival right now, but they have a serious shot at an Oscar. Watch these guys closely. Real closely”.

While Zoho CRM is not as well known as some of our competitors it gets top marks from a growing customer base and will continue to build momentum. Stay tuned for alot more coverage on this dynamic product.

For a recent CRM roundup and review, check out Ismael’s ITRedux
Here’s a link to the full Steppin’ Out finalist award post.

Zoho Projects Update : Performance tuning and printing

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Zoho Projects had an update yesterday and the focus was on performance. You should find Zoho Projects much faster than before. We are working further on the performance front and you should be seeing much more improvement over the next few weeks.

Print functionality has now been added. You can use your browser’s ‘Print’ menu and print any of your Zoho Projects pages. The update also fixed a few bugs.