A little conversation at this end of the blogosphere

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There has been lots of examples of companies ignoring users getting punished in the long run. And with the proliferation of blogs, the reaction’s much more immediate.

Thanks to gurus and blogging evangelists like Robert Scoble, Steve Rubel, Seth Godin, Hugh MacLeod et al, Zoho has pursued and will continue to pursue the path of actively listening to what the blogosphere has to say of us. This is not something new to us though as at AdventNet (parent company of Zoho), we have been doing this for the last 10 years – listening to what our users and customers have to say.

While there are a lot many examples of Zoho’s active involvement with the blogosphere, I would like to bring to attention a little conversation that happened last month.

Yoav Ezer started this conversation when he published a very good and detailed report of how people are leaving sensitive information on the web while using web services like Zoho, Google Docs & Spreadsheets, Thinkfree and others. He pointed out that many people didn’t know they have actually made the info public allowing everyone to see.

The post got the attention of many including a long-time Zoho user – Rich, another blogger – SaaS-a-fras and obviously us too. Rich’s point was about how it isn’t the online services fault fully – it is like with blogging or YouTube, users should know they are using online services and realize that it is their actions and it is their sole responsibility.

Saas-a-fras countered with “people won’t blame the posters but will instead blame the software companies even though users should know better.  So even though the security of the providers system was not directly being questioned, the end result it that it would be.”

We don’t make documents as public by default (unlike say YouTube or del.icio.us where things uploaded are made public by default so that it gets social). Users have to click on ‘Publish’ -> ‘Make it public’ for doing so in our case. And yet, Yoah’s report had evidence of people publishing sensitive info. What we found out was this – all Zoho services have a demo account which we have had as a policy for not locking in the first time users, who are here just wanting to try out Zoho. If someone copies and pastes data into the demo account, it is there for the next person logging on to see. So, we immediately canceled the demo account for Zoho Writer. (we followed up by taking of the demo for Zoho Sheet and Zoho Show too later)

As you can see it was a small thing to do from our side. But the beauty of it was that the whole thing was initiated by the users and blogosphere. If it hadn’t been for Yoav’s report, Zoho services would have continued to have had the demo account. And if we hadn’t been actively tracking the blogosphere, we couldn’t have found this sensitive issue.

Thanks to Chris Kasten for chipping in.

ODP support in Zoho Show

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Zoho Show had a very important update minutes earlier. You can import ODP files
into Zoho Show now. Previously we had support to import only .ppt, .pps and .sxi (OpenOffice’s older version Impress) files. With the current update, Zoho Show now has full OOo support. Try the latest Zoho Show.

Add Table of Contents to your Zoho Writer docs

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We added this very useful feature that many of you have been asking for a few days back. Have a document that you would like to have a TOC at the beginning? Simple, click on the ‘Table of Contents’ button in the Zoho Writer toolbar and all the Heading tags in your document will automatically become part of your TOC.

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Try the new TOC feature in Zoho Writer.

Zoho in ‘End of 2006′ lists

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Earlier, Raju posted about Dion choosing Zoho as the best Office 2.0 Suite. Zoho also formed part of a few other lists too. Dr. Barry Dahl chose Zoho as his top web tool for 2006. More sweet was the fact that the other 11 top tools in his list included the likes of big guns like Flickr, Skype, del.icio.us etc.

Aner Ravon chose Zoho as one of his top picks of 2006 too. And we missed Mike Arrington’s list by a whisker. Hope Mike gets more dependent on Zoho as 2007 progresses!

Update : Zoho finds a place in Jay Fortner’s yearly list too. And Pluto, in his Italian blog Piggy Wiggy declares “office online = zoho“! Can’t agree more ;-)

Versioning support in Zoho Show

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We have added one of the most asked for features in Zoho Show – versioning support! Each presentation you (and your collaborators) create in Zoho Show is saved as multiple versions, allowing you to see how the presentation has developed over time. And of course you can revert to any previous version whenever you want. For accessing the version details, click on the ‘Actions’ link at the top-right and choose the ‘History’ menu item.

Other new features that this update brought in : The ‘Notes’ section of a Microsoft Powerpoint presentation file will get imported fine when you import the file into Zoho Show. And when a Zoho Show slide show is embedded in your blog or website, you now get a ‘View in full screen mode’ as an option in the bottom control panel.

Dion Names Zoho as the Best Office Suite of 2006

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It’s certainly encouraging when the first day of the year starts with an article that names you as one of the best software in the space the previous year.

Dion Hinchcliffe in his recent artcle named Zoho Suite as the best Office 2.0 Suite. In his words…

The Office 2.0 phenomenon become a true reality this year as just about any kind of business application could be found in a purely browser version. Zoho has been diligently releasing product and product this year and now has entire online productivity suite that has a word processor, spreadsheet, wiki, project management, presentation, contact management, and much more. While you can find the individual pieces from various other Web apps, Zoho provides a nice integrated, one-stop package that is very reminiscent of Microsoft Office. Microsoft and Google have been slow to get fully into this space and it may very well end up that smaller players establish dominance in an area that most expected the Big Two would dominate in this space. And an important space it is too: Online apps ultimately will be where our software and data is for most users, and establishing leadership in this product space with the Web as the only major new software paltform on the horizon is a major open opportunity.

As Dion puts it, we are moving towards a complete online productivity suite with all our releases in 2006. In his previous article for 2005, Zoho Writer (we only had one product then) came in as a runner-up. We are glad to graduate to the winner slot this time. All the credit goes to our stellar development team. Look forward for a more interesting 007.

Recap: Zoho in 2006

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On this final day of 2006 I want to take a few minutes to recap a great year for Zoho. There were many product releases, many many updates and other interesting news as well. Here is a short summary.

Here are the new product releases we did in 2006.

We also released some useful tools that enhance our offerings.

Product updates are as important as product releases. Here is a brief summary.

Zoho Writer – 30+ Updates
Zoho Sheet – 20 Updates
Zoho Show – 20+ Updates
Zoho Creator – 20 Updates

…and the list goes on.

We also announced partnerships with Intel & WebEx.

As we released each new product/feature, we received great support from you, and the same was reflected in traffic stats.

We are happy on our progress in 2006. There are interesting challenges ahead in 2007 and we are looking forward to them.

We want to serve you better than the previous year and wish you a very Happy New Year!!!