Ask Zoho: What’s the difference between Zoho DB, Creator & Sheet?

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With the launch of Zoho DB & Reports on Wednesday, we now have 3 services that handle structured data. So the natural question that many people have asked is “What is the difference? Why have 3 services when one would do?”

Zoho Creator has gained considerable popularity as an online database and application creator. So it is particularly worth considering the difference between Zoho Creator and the new arrival Zoho DB. The primary objective of Zoho Creator is to be an online application creation environment, that happens to come bundled with a database to complete the application creation experience. We provide a variety of ways to import & export data, create views and so on, but Zoho Creator is not a reporting solution by itself, but a development environment . While the Zoho Creator database is an SQL engine underneath, the programmatic interface is not SQL, but Deluge, a scripting language we created, purpose built for easy application creation. Deluge is not primarily a query language, though it does integrate querying capabilities within, consistent with its mission to ease application development. Zoho Creator queries are primarily intended for application development purposes, so they are not as fancy as what you can do with SQL.

Zoho DB & Reports, is a database, that comes bundled with extensive reporting capability. Pivot tables, grouping, charts, SQL querying in multiple-dialects – these are some of the key features. What it does not provide is an application creation environment. It will provide APIs at the SQL level, so you can build applications backed by Zoho DB, in your own preferred language. With Zoho Creator, you have to use Deluge for the application creation, with the advantage that we host the application.

We will integrate Zoho Creator and DB in a future update, making it easy to create reports on the data your application generates in Creator. Initially the integration will focus on the data level, so your Creator application data is automatically available in DB, and eventually GUI level integration will also provided, so your applications can embed a Reports tab drawn from Zoho DB. Once such an integration happens, it would be possible for you have forms embedded in your website (coming from Creator) whose data is available for analysis in DB.

Now, the difference between Zoho Sheet & Zoho DB, particularly because DB adopts the familiar spreadsheet interface as a starting point. But once you dig deeper, you will realize that the products are quite different underneath. Some of the features of Zoho DB will eventually make their way into Sheet, and it will be possible to move some of the structured data from Sheet into DB, but the two products retain their distinctive core identity.

Extensive integration across these services is very much in our road map. We adopt a “depth-first” strategy – first evolve each of the products well, and then focus on integration.

Introducing Zoho Database & Reports

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Today, we are launching a new addition to the Zoho Suite – Zoho DB & Reports – An Online Database & Reporting Application.
Zoho DB comes with a simple spreadsheet like user interface. You can create online databases and analyze your data using different views and charting tools. You can start by creating a database from an existing XLS/CSV/TSV files or by creating blank database. Once you have the data in the database, you can create different views and do visual analysis on the data in your database.
Zoho DB lets you create multiple types of views – Tabular View, Chart View, Pivot View, Summary View etc from the ‘New’ button.

One of the core functionalities of Zoho DB is Data Visualization. The ‘Chart View’ option enables you to visualize your data in simple charts. This complex functionality is simplified with a very simple Drag-n-Drop interface. You have to play with it to really know the power of this feature.

This Drag-n-drop interface is also extended to creating ‘Pivot Tables’ in Zoho DB.

One of the unique features of Zoho DB is the ability to run SQL Queries of ANY dialect on the data. It understands SQL Queries/dialects from any of the supported databases which include Oracle, SQL Server, DB2, Sybase, MySQL, PostgreSQL, Informix and ANSI SQL. So you can run the SQL queries you already know on Zoho DB data to create custom tables or reports.

Ofcourse, once you have all the tables, views, charts etc created, you can share them with appropriate permissions or make them public (checkout existing public databases). You can also embed these views and charts on your website or blogs. Here is a sample chart from one of our public databases that has info on the population.

You can start playing with the application with your existing Zoho ID @ But wait….before you hop on, we recommend viewing the video below (for better clarity, use this one) for a quick intro on the capabilities of the application.

Now that the application is out, this will open up new possibilities for integration across other Zoho Apps. Stay tunes on that front. Meanwhile, do play with this new app and let us know your feedback.

ComputerWorld: Zoho Creator among five free web apps we can’t live without

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Sharon Machlis from ComputerWorld has a good article on “Five free Web apps we can’t live without‘. It includes Zoho Creator as one of the five apps. We are very glad to see the app picking up many users and fans along its journey. As Sharon notes…

Unlike word processors or wikis, I haven’t seen a flood of free Web sites for building database-driven applications. The few other database entries I’d tried were generally either limited, expensive or cumbersome. But not Zoho Creator.

Zoho Creator sports a surprisingly easy interface for creating your own apps — even those that include some table joins (that is, looking up information in one table for use in another, which helps put the “relational” in relational databases). With a few drag-and-drops, I quickly created data entry forms with text fields, drop-down lists, text boxes and so on.

My test applications ranged from simple (tracking charitable contributions) to complex (story tracking by writer, editor and status), and all ended up doing pretty much what I wanted.

Full writeup on Zoho Creator is here.

Zoho Creator is one of the early Zoho products (actually, its research stage pre-dates Zoho). It has come a long way these couple of years and it certainly has miles to go.

Zoho Projects : RSS Feeds, Language Options and more

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Zoho Projects is used around the world and what better way to access it than in your mother tongue! In addition to English, we have added the following language options – French, German, Japanese, Spanish, Dutch, Danish, Czech, Italian, Portuguese (European & Brazilian), Swedish & Russian. More language options will get added in future.

Adminstrators & managers can be up-to-date now, thanks to RSS feeds support. A couple of options available here – RSS at the individual project level and at the account level (combined feed for all projects). The feeds are HTTP authenticated and so use a RSS feed reader which supports authenticated feeds.

In addition to the already available ‘Duration’ of Tasks, you now have the option to specify the ‘End Date’ for each of your Tasks.

Test drive the latest Zoho Projects for all your project management needs.

Share option in Zoho’s Facebook App

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We just updated our Facebook application with Share option. Now, you’ll be able to share your documents directly within Facebook to your friends on Facebook who have Zoho application added.

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The sharing process is very simple. Click on ‘Share’ link beside the document, select your friends with whom you want to share and specify the access permissions and click on ‘Share’.

All the shared documents appear under ‘Shared Documents’ tab. Do give it a try and let us know other features you’d like to see in this app.

Wiki: Beauty & The Beast – Event

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Silicon Valley Web Builder is organizing an event today @ HE, Fremont. I’ll be joining the discussion about ‘Wiki of Beauty & The Beast: Usability & Functionality“. Other panel members include…

The event is moderated by Luke Wroblewski, Yahoo’s design guru. If you plan to attend, do register online for free admission.

Date & Time: 9/26/07 Wed 6:30PM PST

Location: Hurricane Electric, Building Two “The Matrix”

Address: 48233 Warm Springs Blvd, Fremont CA 94539