User appreciation for ToonDoo, Jambav, Zoho

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We have featured the friendly Technologist cum Educator, Barry Dahl of Lake Superior College before. Barry continues to be a strong Zoho (and ToonDoo, Jambav) advocate for more than a couple of years now. From a recent post of his,

At the risk of sounding too much like a fanboy – I just have to say it one more time – love Toondoo and Zoho. This is nothing new for me since I’ve been sort of an evangelist for the past couple of years now. However, they continue to surprise me with how much they pay attention to their users and how responsive they are to suggestions or comments. With regard to Toondoo, back in Dec. 2007, I included them in my end of year list of the Top 12 Web 2.0 Tools. In that post I lamented the fact that I had wanted to use Toondoo with the elementary schools kids where I run the after-school Tech Club, but that I wouldn’t do it because there was too much inappropriate content on the site – mostly lame attempts at adult humor in cartoon format. Within a day or two of that post I received an email from Toondoo telling me that they had added a safe search button at the top of each page and a personal setting that can be turned on to not show any content that has been flagged as inappropriate. I was impressed with their responsiveness, but not terribly impressed with the solutions.

Then, earlier this month I included Toondoo in my post of the free web tools that I would be willing to pay for. My caveat here was that I would be willing to pay for the tool in order to use it with the youngsters if they could give me a protected environment

Lo and behold, I received an e-mail from Rajendran D. of Jambav within just a few days of making that post. TPTB at Jambav thought that was a good idea and were especially intrigued that I had even offered to pay for it. They are proposing that I be a beta tester for their new branded sites opportunity. They will provide a unique URL such as and allow me to host the members of my choosing. They are thinking that this service will probably sell for about $50 US per year, but they are offering it for free to me as a beta tester to use it with the students and to report back to them with suggestions and comments. This isn’t yet a totally done deal, but I’m confident that I will be able to try this out with the Tech Club when school starts up again in the fall.

Jambav is owned by Adventnet, which is a profitable software development company. Zoho is also owned by Adventnet, which gives them a potent 1-2 punch in my book. The most recent moment of Zen for me regarding Zoho tools was when I was presenting at the Tennessee Board of Regents Summer Institute last month (TBR08). I did two sessions on Zoho tools that were well attended and well received. There were many times that jaws dropped during those sessions as people saw some of the functionality that they didn’t know existed, or hadn’t taken the time to investigate. I always say that I think the Zoho suite is far advanced over Google Docs and Spreadsheets, and a few Google users confirmed what I was thinking about the power that is Zoho. I also did a session there about Toondoo, and there were so many great ideas about how to use comic strips for both student projects and for other purposes related to online courses and programs. For example, (1) make a Toonbook of frequently asked questions, (2) have students prepare a comic strip to introduce themselves at the beginning of the class, (3) instructor-created comic strip or toonbook as a topic teaser (introducing a new topic before more in-depth study), and several others.

Deepa, who uses Zoho for her day-to-day activities, writes about her usage of Zoho Creator, “Zoho Creator :- Only intuition, no programming

I came across Zoho Creator, and have been trying it out for the past 6 months before making my first post about it here. I proudly admit the fact that I have integrated Zoho into my actual working environment, which has taken the load of report maintenance off my shoulders. These days, I spend only 2 hrs a week to consolidate my report. I use the free version, but sure have the plan to switch to business version soon enough.

The advantage of Zoho [Creator] lies in the fact that

  1. There is no huge download or installation.. Because this is a WEB APPLICATION
  2. The Registration is free
  3. You need not have any programming knowledge
  4. The interface is exceptionally intuitive
  5. Drag – and – drop allows you to design custom forms
  6. Logical flow of events will guide you to do the scripting.
  7. Embed the form in your blog and collect data
  8. Various choices on how you wish to process the data collected ( HTML, Excel, JASON, AJAX, Pdf , ) for novices and advanced users alike.
  9. The feeds can be integrated into feed readers, HTML displayed within iframe,.. possibilities are immense.
  10. Applications can be shared with any number of users ( say you have created the application and want you friend to moderate the content… go ahead and share it)

You can develop a simple form like Guest Book , which has minimum scripting ( auto date ), or , developing a complex form that allows you to generate and send email-verification code right from zoho form, which involves more complex scripting.

Bloggers have long loved interaction with their readers. After all, isn’t that why we enable comments? Here is something to take this level of interaction a step further. How about developing a custom application to cater to your needs?. Well, if you feel lack of programming knowledge, and the mind boggling software installation ( not to mention the price) is pinning you down, not anymore. Try Zoho Creator, I am sure you will eventually end up using it.

Thanks Barry & Deepa!

Do tell us how you are using Zoho, ToonDoo or Jambav. Email us or leave your comments below.

One, two, three – Export data from Zoho Invoice to Zoho Sheet

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Yes, three easy steps are all it takes to export your data from Zoho Invoice to Zoho Sheet. You can export and view all of your invoices, quotes, contacts, customers and items in Zoho Sheet. I am sure most of you would be using this feature already, exploring it for the benefit of others-

Let’s say you want to export and view all your invoices in Zoho Sheet, all you have to do is-

1. Select the “Invoices” tab.
2. Click on the “Export Invoices” link at the top.
3. Click on the “View” link in the Spreadsheet/CSV/TSV format.

That’s it! All your invoices will be exported and will be shown in a new window in Zoho Sheet. Now you can play with it as any other sheet document.

Hope you find this feature useful. We will be happy to hear your comments.

Just like Zoho Sheet, we will also be supporting Google Sheet shortly.

Happy invoicing.

Mashup with External Data in Zoho Sheet

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Zoho Sheet has this “Link External Data” functionality, which can be used to mashup with data on the web. It can sync your Zoho spreadsheet with data in public CSV files, HTML tables and RSS feeds. Zoho Sheet will basically fetch data periodically from the configured URL and update the spreadsheet automatically. You can then analyze on the external data by applying formulas or drawing charts. You can also publish / embed the resultant chart or a specific range or the whole spreadsheet. It gives you ample possibilities to mashup data from the web. A word of caution: While fetching data periodically from external websites, especially HTML pages, make sure you agree to the terms and conditions of the website.

Here is a short presentation which walks you through the various steps involved in configuring External Data in Zoho Sheet. It takes an example of automatic import of data from a public Zoho Creator view. The same can be done on a private Zoho Creator view by enabling private permalinks in Zoho Creator.

(view the presentation in full screen for better clarity)

Are you using this feature already? If so, let us know how you are using it.

Support for pre paid taxes in Zoho Invoice

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Sometime back one of our beloved customer had asked us to support “ritenuta d’acconto” in Zoho Invoice.  Yes, you read it right!  “ritenuta d’acconto” in Italian stands for tax that is pre-paid by the seller.

In some countries (especially Italy) it is a common practice for the sellers to pre-pay the tax.  Say for example (I am using the same example posted by our customer) a $1000 consultancy made by a professional would have a +20% VAT on its price and a -20% “ritenuta d’acconto” (a pre-tax paid by the seller) on its price.  The total would amount to $1000.  The law however requires both the tax and the pre-paid tax be shown on the invoices.

Now you can do that!  Just add the tax as is it and add the pre-paid tax as a negative tax.  Shown below is a snap of invoice that I had created for the above example.

Pre-paid Tax Invoice

You can see the original request here.

Hope this feature will come handy for our other customers also.  Give this a try and let us know your comments.

Happy Invoicing

Office Alternatives

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InfoWorld did a good analysis of MS Office alternatives (Slideshow here). They picked couple of vendors from the cloud (Zoho and Google) and couple from the Open Source world (IBM and OpenOffice) and did some analysis to see if they stand any chance against MS Office. Full article is available here. Here is the summary.

InfoWorld Office Alternatives

Glad to see Zoho lead the pack (along with IBM) with our current apps.

Bottom Line:
If you’re ready to embrace the SaaS future, then Zoho could be the productivity suite you’ve been waiting for. Zoho can provide both personal productivity and business back-end applications, and with Google Gears, you can keep working on documents even if you can’t find the Internet. Zoho is the only suite here that you could easily use to run a complete business. It’s also the only one that can run virtually all the Excel macros you might have developed

The good news is, the applications are improving at a very rapid pace. If you have noticed, its been a while that we rolled out a new app. The focus lately has been more on integration between apps and enhancements to the existing ones. In the longer term, we think cloud based productivity suites can go far beyond desktop software. We’ll see this happen over the next year or two.

While InfoWorld looked at Word Processor, Spreadsheet and Presentation apps, the productivity suite goes beyond these three (Wiki, Email etc are others). Also, you’ll need more apps to run your business than a productivity suite. In the bigger picture, we are trying to build a suite of apps to run your business. As we often say, we want to be your IT Department.

Thanks Curtis for the analysis.

Update: ComputerWorld did similar analysis here.

Swisscom Selects Zoho

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We are delighted that Swisscom (incumbent telco in Switzerland) has chosen Zoho for a six month pilot for its Zoho Business Suite which is now available on their Software-as-a-Service portal Teamnet.

Zoho and Swisscom have teamed up to create a custom version of Zoho Business, with Zoho Writer, Sheet, Show, Notebook and Meeting now available to its 300,000 business customers. Even though Swisscom is the incumbent telco operator in Switzerland, it is taking a bold approach by extending its offerings to the SaaS space.

Increasingly, Service Providers are looking to add value on their existing networks and have started to include online applications like Zoho to their portfolio of services. In the past, one would not turn to the telephone company for productivity applications, but this is changing with the wider adoption of SaaS in the marketplace. We are glad that Swisscom is taking a lead in this regard and will keep you posted on other developments and partnerships as this trend picks up momentum in coming months.

“The goal of the pilot is to provide our business customers with a value added web offering they can evaluate as part of a turnkey solution from their service provider. Zoho is an ideal partner that combines a wide and very innovative range of applications as well as a very solid engineering team to deliver the capability we wanted.” said Michael Gmuer, Head Business Process Optimization of Swisscom.“.

Teamnet Integration

Zoho and its Alliance Partner Program offer service providers multiple paths to increase ARPU (average revenue per user), the holy grail that telcos seek to maximize by adding additional services to their existing infrastructure. The program offers partners a flexible means to bundle various Zoho services for both consumers and business users.

While we are starting small with the Swisscom project, it is a significant step towards a broader Zoho distribution channel in Europe. This follows our recent partnership with Baihui in China.

Thank you Swisscom for choosing Zoho and for your investment in the project. We look forward to feedback from your users and to a successful venture together.

Zoho Writer Update : Issues related to Safari browser fixed

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We had a minor Zoho Writer update in which the issue of document content not getting displayed in Safari Browser on a Mac has been fixed. Users who have reported this particular issue in the past couple of days can try accessing Zoho Writer documents in their Safari browser and the content should come up fine for editing in the Writer editor.

Zoho Writer provides limited support for Safari browser as of now and hence some of the feature may behave inconsistently in it. We suggest Mac Users to access Zoho Writer on Firefox 2.0+ browser versions for a better experience. Full support for Safari browser will be provided in our next series of updates. It’s in the works right now.

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