Eating one’s own dog food

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Pandurang Nayak, one of our long time well-wishers had asked :

Would the AdventNet sales team use Zoho Show? (Would they? Really?) Or would their finance team create all of their balance sheets and tax calculations for they year on Zoho Sheet. (Really, again?) Or would they expect their technology teams to create 3000-page product and technical documentation on Zoho Writer?


T
he answer to his last question is now public. Zoho Projects had an update just minutes before and its help documentation is now available. It was fully created and is hosted on Zoho Writer.

Other Zoho documentation on Zoho Writer currently include the Zoho Writer FAQ page, pages for the Zoho API (the application form for getting the API key is on Zoho Creator) and the help page for Zoho Plug-in for Microsoft Office. Thanks to Ahmed and Nithya who created all the content. And I expect all future technical documentation for Zoho to be hosted on Zoho Writer.

Coming back to the Zoho Projects update, users can now be notified by mail when a task is being assigned to a user and when a forum post is being made. And while sending feedback, you now have the option to post your feedback directly to the product forum too.

Check out the latest in Zoho Projects.

The latest news about Zoho

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Mathew Ingram writes an article titled “In sync with Zoho” at globeandmail.com. From his article :

Zoho … has been making some advances in one of the most crucial areas for Web-based software, and that is the ability to synchronize online documents and offline documents. This week, the company launched several plugins for Microsoft Office products that effectively allow users to save their desktop files in folders on Zoho’s servers, where they can be retrieved and worked on from any PC with an Internet connection.

In other words, if you are working at the office on Microsoft Word or Excel (but not PowerPoint as yet), you can save that document on your desktop PC — but at the same time you can also save it in a Zoho folder so that you can work on it at home or at another location. Zoho even offers desktop folder icons for its Web services so that you can simply drag a file over to a folder icon and have it automatically saved at Zoho.

Zoho has also released an API, or application programming interface, for its products, which means that other companies — online storage providers such as Box.net, Carbonite or Mozy, for example — can easily build support for Zoho’s services into their own products. In that way, Carbonite could offer a service package that included integration with Zoho so that all of an individual or small business’s documents would be stored on Carbonite’s servers whenever they were saved.

One of the biggest benefits of online software like Zoho Writer and Google’s Writely is that you can collaborate with others on a document a lot more easily. So if you need to plan a soccer or hockey schedule, or put together a menu for an event or even work on a project with a partner, online services make it easy to do so without having to email Word documents or Excel spreadsheets to all the participants and then wait for their changes.

And with the synchronization features that Zoho has just launched, you can use both your desktop software and online services seamlessly without having to choose between the two.

Martin Veitch at “the Inquirer” writes “Zoho webilises Office 2007

WHILE MICROSOFT yesterday had its big coming-out party for Office 2007, a somewhat smaller company is pointing ahead in a direction some watchers say Big Green should be looking.

Zoho, one of a crop of companies making web-based productivity apps, has just released a plug-in for Office 2000, 2003 and 2007 that webilises Word and Excel, letting users save files to their Zoho accounts so they can still work on the web when away from their PCs.

And Mike at Techcrunch points to this cute Web 2.0 Poster from eboy.

Glad to note that Zoho forms a part of it. Find out the Zoho logo out there!

More on the Zoho Plug-in/API and the Desktopize Widget

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Thanks everyone! We had a very wonderful response for yesterday’s update. Particularly, everyone liked the Zoho Plug-in for Microsoft Office. And thanks to those who had blogged about it and for those who had sent us valuable feedback mails.

The update post we had didn’t have much on what the plug-in, the API and the desktopize widget do, but the bloggers did a very nice job of writing about it all. For those yet to get the whole picture of it all since the first report in TechCrunch, I’m quoting below excerpts of what the blogosphere had been saying about the update.

According to Huw at Gizbuzz, “Zoho blurs the line between web and desktop”.

… the plugin for MS Office and the Desktopize for Zoho releases are a clear attempt to blur the line between desktop and web apps.

With the office plugin release, Zoho is hoping that people will chose to store all their documents with them, and then when they don’t need collaboration they can use their desktop suite, and when they do they can switch into online mode.

Ryan at CyberNet put it as, “Zoho Brings Interactivity With Microsoft Office“.

The plug-in is for Microsoft Office and will allow you to save and open your Microsoft Word/Excel documents to Zoho from within the application itself. So you could look at Zoho almost as being another storage spot on your hard drive.

They also have a program from Desktopize that will make Zoho feel even more like a desktop application. It will provide things like shortcuts on your desktop, drag-and-drop uploads, and system tray icons so that your files will be easily accessible without that hassle of fumbling through websites or opening a sluggish program.

Zoho Zoli, one of our advisors, had a nice post too explaining the update with very good screenshots. A few more screenshots from us as a embedded slide show using Zoho Show :


Launch as slide show

Amit Agarwal, in his trademark simple style, captured the whole thing in a beautiful way.

The new Zoho plugin greatly simplifies the online-offline workflow. You can create a new document in Microsoft Word locally and directly save it from the Word program to the web [Zoho Writer]

Alternatively, you can download an existing document from Zoho Office, edit it offline with Microsoft Word and publish it again to the web.

Effectively, you get [the] best of both the worlds – the speed and flexibility of editing inside a desktop program that you are so much used to plus the sharing and collabarative environment offered by an online service.

In a post titled “Zoho fills Office vacancy“, Elsa Wenzel wrote,

Zoho wasted no time filling the gap that Microsoft left between its new Office software and the Web. There’s no online version of Office 2007; nor has Redmond built a bridge for consumers to quickly migrate desktop files to an online folder for anywhere-access.

But now, if you spend a minute to download this free plug-in for Office, you’ll get no-brainer buttons within Word and Excel that save work to Zoho’s servers. Zoho’s buttons show up within the Add-Ins tab on the Office 2007 Ribbon toolbar.

When away from your desk, you can log into Zoho from a browser and edit Office documents within the Zoho Write word processor or the Sheet spreadsheet maker. You can open Zoho files within Word and Excel, too.

Matt Marshall at VentureBeat had this to say about the plug-in :

The plugin makes Zoho what Microsoft’s online applications (dubbed Live) should be. It allows Zoho documents to be opened and saved in MS Office with a click (Word and Excel, at least; PowerPoint doesn’t work yet with Zoho, but will come). If you’ve got Microsoft office documents on your local drive and want them available online, you can get them via Zoho with couple of clicks.

And about the API,

The APIs will allow other developers to use Zoho applications. For example, online storage companies will be able to let users open documents through Zoho and save them back to their service without having to download the documents locally.

Chris Harris at Infomancy,

Zoho’s new Microsoft Office Plug-In makes it possible for you to have your documents and use them too. Recognizing the need for bloated full-featured office suite at times, Zoho’s plug-in makes it possible for you to still step away from the office and have full access to your documents and spreadsheets. While it may be easier for me to just use Word when I am sitting at my desk, it will be very handy to be able to “open,” “save,” and “add to ZohoWriter” directly from Word.

Believe the above snippets from around the web captures what yesterday’s Zoho update was all about. We will be coming up with suitable Help pages on the above said topics soon.

And last but not the least, there was a very good side benefit of yesterday’s update that went unnoticed (or no one explicitly mentioned). It is the ‘close-to-perfection’ of the ‘Import’ feature in Zoho Writer and Zoho Sheet. Many a time you would have found that while importing complexly formatted .doc and .xls files into Writer/Sheet, some formatting may have got lost. Now, when you do it using the plug-in (exporting directly from inside Microsoft Word/Excel to Zoho Writer/Sheet), the file comes out quite fine.

Give the all new Zoho Plug-in for Microsoft Office a try. And if you are a developer having ideas for creative mashups between your application and Zoho Writer/Sheet, do apply for the Zoho API key. Not to forget, try the Zoho widget by Desktopize too.

Zoho Announcements – How about three of them?

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Today, we announce three different additions to Zoho.

1. Zoho Plugin for Microsoft Office
2. Zoho APIs
3. Desktopize for Zoho (Download)

We are very excited about the plugin for Microsoft Office as this extends the Office functionality online offering mobility etc….or should I say ‘This is what Office Live is supposed to be’ :) The screenshot below may not do justice to its functionality. I recommend trying it out if you are a Microsoft Office user. Writer and Sheet connects in to Word and Excel respectively.

Opening Zoho files in MS Office.jpg Zoho-plug-in-open.jpg

Zoho APIs is our first major step towards opening up our applications to be integrated into other services. With these well defined APIs, other web apps can now integrate closely with Zoho applications.

Desktopize, our partner customized their offering for Zoho making our applications behave more like a desktop application. If you like desktop shortcuts, quick tray access, Drag-n-drop documents into Zoho apps, I recommend installing this application.

More detailed posts about each of these releases will follow. Do drop us a line about your views on these announcements.

Update :

# Techcrunch covered this Zoho update. Thanks to Natali & Mike!

# For details on Zoho API, see the Zoho API developer guide

# Download your copy of Zoho Plug-in for Microsoft Office now.

Play the Griddle on Zoho Sheet

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David Millar, one of our users, put up this public sheet yesterday, wherein he creates a very interesting grid puzzle, aptly titled by him as ‘The Griddle’.

You can play this ‘loop-de-loop’ game right here, or visit our Public Sheets and look for ‘Griddle’ there. You can also copy such public sheets and use them for your individual needs or improve on them and create your own sheets and publish them for the benefit of all.

David’s grid puzzle hooked us up so much that after he put up this yesterday, every single one of us here in the team ended up playing it, trying to complete it faster than the other! :)

Thank you very much, David – would love to see more such puzzles from you!

So, all ye folks who love solving a good puzzle – have you tried playing Griddle today?

And all ye folks out there with ideas for other nice puzzles, what are you waiting for? :)

Nobody does Web Office better than Zoho

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Ok, we didn’t say it but “The Student Newspaper for the University of Houston Law Center” says it. From their blog :

Imagine if Microsoft Office was completely free and you didn’t need software or a hard drive to use it. Well, that’s the idea behind Zoho, a suite of productivity software that lives entirely on the Web and doesn’t charge individuals (corporations can pay for a more powerful version). Zoho offers a word processor, spreadsheet, and Powerpoint-style presentation program. It also offers email, calendar, and planning software. None of these programs are as powerful as Office, but that’s not really the point. Zoho gives you the essentials, and quite a bit more, for free. And because it’s Web based, you can access your documents from any computer (Mac, Linux, or PC) and even share them with your friends. Also, you can import and export documents for use in Office or another program. You can even print to PDF. Google’s Docs and Spreadsheets service is simlar to Zoho, but not quite as full-featured. Microsoft will eventually offer its own version. But for now, nobody does Web Office better than Zoho.

Thanks, UHLC!

Zoho from around the net

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We are seeing Zoho gain good popularity among various cross sections of the net. Vinnie Mirchandhani, in a recent post of his has some good things to say about us. Some excerpts :

His [Sridhar's] view towards customers is epitomized in the quote from Gandhi on his site. His pricing philosophy is summarized in the guest column he wrote a few weeks ago. He sponsors Jambav a site aimed at kids for special needs. He hires teenage kids who realistically have zero hope of ever going to college and ever being hired by India’s services firms, and encourages them to code and test.

Ok, so he probably will never approach YouTube’s valuation and media appeal. But it sure is a treat to meet an entrepreneur who marches to a different beat. Customer before investor. R&D before marketing. Values before valuation.

Lee Lalka, a teacher from Korea has made good use of Zoho Show. He has got a couple of nice slide shows made up in his site, “The Wisdom Tree”. Look for the “What are you thankful for? Presentation” and “Thanksgiving Food – Presentation” links in this page.

Thomas McMahon in his “Blog on a Stick” blog is using Zoho Creator for tracking his bugs.

I’ve started a bug tracker application to keep all the bugs, and feature requests, for my Firefox themes in one place. My goal is to not miss out on any requests. Check out the full bug tracker or the quick submit bug form.Basically, just fill in a few fields, hit submit and I’ll be notified via email. It’s that easy. It’s even got a developer comments area where I can respond to any issues.

Ashish, in his Life 2.0 blog, finds Zoho Sheet perform much better than Google Spreadsheets.

I started with Zoho Sheet, since spreadsheets are my preferred format for documentation over plain (or formatted) text. The first thing that struck me was just how much more responsive it felt as compared to Google Spreadsheets. I had learned to ignore the lag I felt in Spreadsheets as a compromize for using a web app over a desktop one and expected the same, if not more from Sheet. Not done, the Chennai guys seem to believe. Zoho Sheet genuinely feels and responds as smoothly as a Microsoft Excel on my desktop!

He feels Zoho Writer is a tad slow though compared to Google Docs. Thanks Ashish, for doing the performance test and nice write-up. We will definitely be improving our performance as regards Zoho Writer to match, if not exceed our competitor’s. And thanks to Vinnie (and Zoli for arranging the meet), Thomas & Lee too!!