Distributed Publishing with Zoho Writer

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Owen Kelly has come up with a great post on how Zoho Writer can help publishers publish their work online easily. He has a very good set of points on how easy the embeddable script code that Zoho Writer provides can help achieve this as against other methods available online currently. For the system to work, he recommends a few improvements to the present Zoho Writer. And he sees the implications as far reaching. From his blog post :

I found something that completely surprised me, and left me wondering what exactly was going on. The Zoho design team seemed to have solved a major problem without even realising it.

… if I have my curriculum vitae in my memi, why would I want to copy it to give to you? If I did that then the next time I altered or updated it you would be in possession of an outdated copy. Either I would have to remember to send you an updated version, or risk you continuing to distribute an old version.

In the same way, if I write a paper for an academic conference why would I want to send a copy to the organisers so that their web-master could format it and put it on their site? When someone kindly pointed out a factual error or typo I would be obliged to forward corrections to the organisers, hoping that they would ask their webmaster to update it. They might not and I might end up patiently answering emails from a growing crowd of conference attendees all helpfully pointing out the mistake I had already tried to correct.

This problem will not be solved by sending my contacts a link or an RSS feed. The conference organisers do not want to put a link to my paper on their site. They want to publish my paper, and all the other papers, in a uniform format on the conference site. Then, when the conference is over, they want to have them available in an online archive of papers.

The problem will not be solved by wikis either. Neither the organisers nor the authors are offering the work up for alteration and adaption – at least at this stage. They want to present the work as completed, while somehow allowing the author an easy way to correct, enhance, expand it or syndicate in the future.

What is needed to fill this requirement is a form of distributed publishing. This would allow me to publish my paper in my own memi, and then provide a simple mechanism that would allow other people to have the paper automatically published on their sites, using their style sheets. The paper would appear as a standard page on the site, but would be linked back to the originating site, and would be updated automatically to reflect any changes in the original.

The distribution of the linking mechanism would form the entire process of publication.

When you paste this [the code snippet of Zoho Writer] into any web page it calls a javascript function that inserts the content at that point in the page in such a way that it is styled with the page’s own CSS style sheet. Every time the page is opened the script is enacted again and the latest version of the publication is always loaded.

This means that if you post the code snippet on your site, everyone who takes it and includes it on their site will publish your articles in the style and format of their own site, while being certain that their published version remains in sync with the original version. In other words, out of the box, and with no announcement or discussion of the implications or the potential, Zoho Writer offers a version of distributed publication.

There are at least three obvious problems with Zoho’s current use of html.

The first and most important is the decision to make the normal use of the return key produce line breaks instead of new paragraphs. Open a new document; start typing as you might in Word; format a few headlines and then save. If you look at the html view you will find the headings are formated correctly but there are no paragraphs anywhere, only line breaks. On the other hand, if you open a new document and then (before typing anything) select the Normal style, pressing the return key will result in the closing of the current paragraph and the opening of a new one.

The second point is possibly less serious. Zoho marks up bold and italic by creating spans and then adding inline style to them, whereas WordPress, for example, marks them up correctly by using the strong and emphasis tags. This is correct theoretically because it avoids mixing up logical and literal mark-up. It is correct practically because it allows designers at the destination to apply whatever local styles they want: to put all the bold mark-up in a different font, and the italic in small caps, for example.

Dropping inline styles into documents intended for distribution and styling at the destination serves no logical purpose, and can only be the source of unnecessary problems.

The third problem is simple, and can be solved by simply adding another menu item. Zoho does not appear to offer a simple method for marking a paragraph as a block quote, something that is used frequently all over the web, and off-line in academic papers.

We see the merit in Owen’s idea and would be addressing the issues he’s raised. If you want to support Owen with his “distributed publication with Zoho Writer” idea, do embed the Zoho Writer script code of his article in your blogs / web sites. You can embed the script code of your own Zoho Writer documents too and see how easy it can be to publish your work in the same way. Also, please share your views in the comments below of how to improve upon Owen’s idea and what else needs to be done in Zoho Writer for more easier distributed publishing.

Owen Kelly is a writer, designer, artist and teacher. Currently he teaches digital interactive media at Arcada, a university of applied science in Helsinki, Finland. Thanks, Owen!

myDataBus integrates Zoho Sheet & Show

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Last Thursday I mentioned that myDataBus.com integrated Zoho Writer into its application. Less than two working days later, they integrated Zoho Sheet and Zoho Show. Thats fast. With this integration, they beat other online storage vendors in opening all major office file formats online without needing a local application.

As Brian mentioned in his blog post, Our Zoho Show API currently lets you view presentations online. We will soon extend the API to edit your presentations as well.

I’d like to thank myDataBus again for their integration. This also showcases the ease of integration using Zoho API. I hope to see more such integrations.

Scheduled Maintenance of Zoho Services

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The big moment is at our doorsteps and the mother of all Zoho updates is to happen from today. As announced earlier, we will be moving all of Zoho’s services to a new datacenter with more powerful servers over the next few days. The upgrade is to happen in a phased manner. There will be a downtime of a maximum of 8 hours starting 9 pm PDT for each of the Zoho services from today. The schedule to be followed for each of the Zoho services will be as follows :

First Phase: March 16, starting 9 pm PDT (Update : Completed)

  • Zoho CRM
  • Zoho Show
  • Zoho Creator

Second Phase: March 17, starting 9 pm PDT (Update : Completed)

  • Zoho Sheet

Third Phase: March 18, starting 9 pm PDT (Update : Completed)

  • Zoho Chat
  • Zoho Mail
  • Zoho Writer

Fourth Phase: March 19, starting 9 pm PDT (Update : Completed)

  • Zoho Wiki
  • Site24x7

You will not be able to access the respective Zoho services at the above said times. Our sincere apologies for the inconvenience caused. The benefits once the upgrade is over are huge compared to the downtime of a few hours to be experienced just once. We sincerely hope all of Zoho’s users will understand and take this in good spirit.

Zoho – Wallpapers

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I was looking for some fresh Mistubishi Evo wallpapers to fill my desktop, and suddenly I thought – ‘what about some wallpapers for zoho?’. So started my photoshop and created 3 sets of wallpapers. Each set has two wallpapers sized @ 1024×768 (standard desktop) and 1920×1200 (Ultra-wide desktop). Here they are available as downloads for those who love Zoho. :-) Drop me a comment.. if you like to give some feedback.
(To download, click the images or choose ‘Save Link as…’ using right-click)

Set 1 :

1920×1200:

Wallpaper 3 - 1920x1200

1024×768:

Wallpaper 3 - 1024x768

Set 2:

1920×1200:

Wallpaper 2 - 1920x1200

1024×768:

Wallpaper 2 - 1024x768

Set 3:

1920×1200:

Wallpaper 1 - 1920x1200

1024×768:

Wallpaper 1 - 1024x768
- Dharma

myDataBus.com Integrates Zoho

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We are very pleased to announce that another online storage vendor myDataBus.com that focuses on students, has integrated Zoho Writer using our API. Users can now open any Writer supported document such as .DOC, ODT, RTF or HTML from their myDataBus account in Zoho Writer, make changes and save it back without having to download the documents. When you click on Options for the document, the following screen appears with ‘Edit with Zoho’ link.

Brian Davis, in his blog post writes:

“….we are really excited to announce that we have incorporated ties to Zoho Writer (and will soon be adding Zoho Sheets!). “

Thanks Brian and BTW we recently released API for Zoho Show too. MyDataBus offers 5GB of storage space for free accounts. Other online storage vendors who integrated Zoho API include OmniDrive and Box.net

More information on Zoho Remote APIs is available here.

If you have any questions on our API, email us at api@zoho.com

Raju Vegesna gets interviewed for UTR

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Zoho Evangelist Raju got interviewed for the upcoming ‘Under The Radar: Why Office 2.0 Matters’ conference to be held on March 23, 2007. From the interview :

Our motto is “Keep it simple”. So tell us in less than 20 simple words what you do.
We do online office. We offer a broad set of online applications for SMBs at affordable price.

Ok, so you have customers now. Queue the trite but required question…Now that Google is in the office 2.0 game and with all the interest from the other office giants-.how are you going to stay relevant?
Our aim here is not beating the giants like Google. Our aim is to provide very good set of affordable applications and serving our customers well and building a profitable business. There is no market that is completely owned by a single vendor. There is always room for more smaller vendors like Zoho who offer good value to their customers.

What’s your biggest challenge today and what do you envision as your biggest challenge in 1 year?
Our immediate challenge is getting our applications well integrated and adding more functionality that are business friendly. Our challenge over time will be to evangelize the value of Zoho applications against the bigger players.

Zoho is one of the ‘Graduate Circle’ participants of the conference.

More Charts in Zoho Sheet

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We just rolled out an important update for Zoho Sheet improving our charting features. With this update, you can now create 21 different types of charts in Zoho Sheet (previously we had 4 types of charts).

charttypes.jpg

Of course, all these charts are embeddable. I created a sample chart below from this page using our ‘link external data‘ feature.So the graph will be updated every hour if the data changes.

Historical Prices for AAPL - http://sheet.zoho.com
There are more features coming…stay tuned. Please do give this a try and let us know what you think.