Scheduled maintenance of Zoho services

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The following Zoho services, Writer, Sheet, Show, Planner, Creator and Chat will all be down for a major server side update which is tentatively scheduled from 8:30 PM, Friday, October 6, 2006 PDT till 1:30 AM, Saturday, October 7, 2006 PDT. You will not be able to access the services mentioned above during this time period & this is an advance notice for you to plan your activities accordingly. Our apologies for the inconvenience.

Why scripting in Zoho Creator ?

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The first question that pops up whenever we demonstrate a cool new feature in Deluge is

Oops – Do I need to code ??

Most people want to create an entire application (even a complex one) interactively using the GUI. Doing it programatically is not the preferred option.

Zoho Creator does allow you build a data collection and viewing application like a Contact’s list without writing a single line of code. But if we are using Zoho creator for just creating trivial applications like these, then we are not utilizing its full potential. Users with such a requirement might even prefer to use an online spreadsheet like Zoho Sheet.

Zoho Creator is an application creator. You can create forms, configure default attributes for the fields and define relationship across forms interactively in the GUI mode. In addition, it also has a scripting language.

Though Zoho Creator could have had an interactive GUI (which will be done eventually), we have created a scripting language since

  • Complex data manipulations actually become simpler when you think programatically.
  • Deluge script is designed to be very easy and natural. It will be possible to understand the code even if a person looks at it for the first time.

To elaborate on it, let’s assume that a user wants to send a mail each time a form is submitted. It will definitely be very easy to do it if there are options to configure it in the GUI. And we do have plans for providing an interactive GUI for doing simple tasks like configuring a email. But if you wanted to create an application like a Library Manager (Read more about modifying data across forms – a usecase that involves rule evaluation and workflows), I am sure that it is not going to be very easy to understand it if it were presented graphically. Creating this application using an interactive GUI would have been tedious and even if it is done, the user interface is bound to be complex and later, it will be difficult to understand the logic involved in the created application.

Zoho Creator connects the graphical user interface with deluge scripting. The power of a usable GUI and a scripting language allows you to build powerful applications easily. It does have a slight learning curve but I think that it is worth the time spent.

Orca Desktop includes Zoho Apps

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If you have’nt tried Orca Desktop app (in Beta), you probably should give it a try. It is a well implemented virtual desktop application. You can try it here. [login as demo/demo]

Orca folks integrated Zoho apps into their desktop. You can launch Zoho Writer and Zoho Sheet from their Virtual Desktop. This is a good first step integration. Here is a screenshot.

 Zoho+inside+orca.PNG

Looking forward for more such integrations.

Range Voting using Zoho Polls

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One of our users of Zoho Polls has created this wonderful poll to demonstrate Range Voting.

http://zohopolls.com/brokenladder/2008-u-s-presidential-election-poll-using

We used to call it a rating poll, which is a type of range voting. From the above poll, we came to know about range voting and got introduced to rangevoting.org, the Center for Range Voting (CRV). Its goals are to educate the public about the advantages of range voting and comparative disadvantages of other systems and to lobby for its adoption.

We have always felt that range voting is the best approach to arrive at a general consensus. We have ourselves used this rating approach to decide on home page designs, song selection for performances, rating the food, deciding on the name of a product / service that we are building, etc.

As per the description of the poll featured above:

This mock election should help gain insight into the 2008 U.S. Presidential race, as well as demonstrate the superiority of Range Voting to other voting methods.

Rate any candidates you want to. You can just ignore any candidate that you don’t care about, or don’t know enough about to vote on; your non-vote simply won’t affect that candidate. The candidate with the highest average rating wins. Simple, huh?!

Finally, notice something interesting about this election? We’re running several candidates, giving voters real choice. With Range Voting, you don’t get the kind of Perot/Nader spoiler effect, where voting for a “third party” candidate effectively works as a vote for your least favorite candidate. That’s a quality that you won’t find in other alternative voting methods, like instant runoff voting.

That is the power of range voting. You get to rate each item in the poll and the one with the highest average rating wins. This will be inline with the general consensus of the voters. Visit rangevoting.org for more details.

That said, the normal voting / plurality voting poll is also useful in different scenarios. The type of poll basically depends on your need.

Here is a pie chart which depicts the percentage split-up of voting and rating polls created by the users of Zoho Polls. Even though the number of rating polls is less than voting polls, 37% is still a very good number.

Poll types usage in Zoho Polls - http://zohosheet.com
Chart powered by zohosheet.com

We are also discussing with rangevoting.org and betterpolls.com, another poll service, on how we can work together for the improvement of the service.

Zoho, part of bloggers’ poems

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Found a couple of poems with Zoho in them.

Yo ho ho
I discovered Zoho
I created a doc
web-based (no shock).
With just a little moxy
I tried out 30 boxes
Input a few dates
and I’m feeling just great
But it’s getting kind of late
And this rhyme’s begun to deflate………….

T.Tallent

It’s Monday night, my brain is fried,
But I want that player, so I tried.
First in Zoho, but it wouldn’t blog,
So now in Writely, I continue to slog.

It’s really cool, many uses I can see,
Plus advantages for you and me.
Open anywhere, no discs, no fuss.
Of all the tools, this is a must.

So goodnight, bloggers fair.
I’ll try to post this, do I dare?
Third time is charmed, I hope and pray,
Because it’s way too late to play!

The Happy Reader

Aint that cute to have Zoho form a part of poems? :-) Thanks folks!

A note for those of you (like ‘the Happy Reader’) not being able to post to blogger.com blogs from Zoho Writer : We are facing some intermittent problems when posting to blogger.com blogs due to something being wrong with Blogger’s Atom API that Zoho Writer depends on to post to blogger.com blogs. This thread has the details. We are waiting for the Google Blogger team to find the root cause of this issue & have a permanent solution. In the meantime, please try reposting to your blog after a few minutes & it may succeed (it is working for me now).

If the posting to your blog still fails, please try the workaround posted here :

http://forums.zohowriter.com/viewtopic.php?p=53287#53287

Do try posting using the above methodology. If you still face any issues, you can write to me at aravind[at]zoho[dot]com.

Sorry for the inconvenience caused. Kindly bear with us till we get this issue fully resolved.

Powerful ’sheet-level’ sharing with your Zoho Sheet

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Did you know that Zoho Sheet’s ‘sheet-level’ sharing options can be a powerful tool in enhancing your ‘online collaboration’ experience?

Whether it is

  • Sharing different sheets in the same workbook among a group of power users with different access privileges (for example: preparation of an organization’s typical quarterly financial statement which may contain multiple worksheets like balance sheet, schedules, income statement, cash flow statement – each individual sheet with different access privileges for different users based on their ‘need-to-know’ status) or
  • Sharing the entire workbook among different users withe options to control access to each individual user or for the entire group (for example: a project activity tracker, with ‘modify data’ rights to managerial users and read-only access to others).

You can share entire workbooks with users, hide individual sheets from users whom you don’t want it displayed while displaying it to others at the same time, or just form your own group of users granted with different access privileges depending on your specific needs.

As soon as you’re done creating a spreadsheet that is ready to be shared, you can find that Zoho Sheet contains an easy-to-find menu option called ‘Share’ (placed conveniently in the top menu bar – you can’t miss it).

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The ‘Share’ option offers you a small controls platform using which you can allow/restrict people to access your spreadsheets.

xyz.PNG

You can choose between multiple options – marking your whole workbook (Entire Document) as ‘Shared’ – with ‘Read Only’ access to some users and ‘Read/Write’ access to others, or marking individual worksheets as ‘Shared’ with different privileges for different users.

mnb.PNG

On clicking the ‘Share’ option, we find that it contains two tabs – ‘Share’ & ‘Shared Details’. The ‘Share’ option helps us set the above-mentioned sharing privileges, while the ‘Shared Details’ contains information about the sharing levels set & helps us view the share options we’ve set for our spreadsheet when we return later.

dfg.PNG

You can change/remove your settings from the ‘Share’ menu or access it even from the sheet name tab.

ffh.PNG

The potential uses for such sharing are many and can be used by users across all walks of life – whether you work in an organization where multiple users need to process/work on the same worksheet with different access levels provided to each user depending on hierarchy or responsibilities or you are a Marine Biologist performing research with collaborators across continents or you are a University Lecture Assistant who needs to collate intra-department/class results internally with other departments before publishing collated results to students – Zoho Sheet’s ‘sheet-level’ sharing is for you! :)