Among the latest Zoho users …

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… is this student Meredith, a teacher at the University of Virginia.

I really enjoyed learning about the Zoho services. I like having an alternative to the Microsoft Office Suite. Also, I like the ablity to access your documents from any computer. Students are not allowed to bring disks to and from school for fear of viruses. So, this would be an easy and safe way to let students work on their own papers or projects both at home and at school. I also shared the Zohos with my father who is a professor at the James Monroe Center of Mary Washington who is always looking for ways to help his students work on group projects easier.

‘The Hindu’ mentions Zoho again

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J Murali in his ‘Netspeak’ column at ‘The Hindu‘ has written about Zoho again. Previously, he’d written about Zoho Writer & this time it is about Zoho Show. From the ‘Netspeak’ column:

A stiff competition is brewing in the Web based office suite application realm. Many companies, including Google, are vying with each other to gain a rightful place in this fast growing lucrative segment. Zoho (http://zoho.com/), an on-line service with a wide array of products, is one such company eyeing the on-line office suite throne. Recently Zoho added the on-line presentation tool, Zoho Show (http://www.zohoshow.com/, for its office applications pack, which already has a good range of products such as Zoho Sheet and Zoho Writer.

Though Zoho Show lacks several features currently available with PowerPoint kind of products, it has some distinct advantages. The facility to import PowerPoint presentations is a notable feature. Yet another feature worth a mention is the facility to host remote live presentations. However, the current product is in beta and it may evolve into a full-fledged presentation application.

Thanks Murali! We are indeed bringing in new features to Zoho Show, even the last update had some.

Zoho Writer has another update

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We had a Zoho Writer update a couple of hours earlier. The update’s salient features below.

Tables now have headers. The first row of a table will have the header row by default. The columns of a table are now fixed. (before they used to vary as you type words into the cells). And the right click contextual menu for a table now contains a ‘Remove the Table Element’ option.

With the introduction of collaborative editing, a document that has been shared used to open in the ‘Preview’ mode. This has been changed for ease of use & all documents whether shared or not will open in the ‘Edit’ mode now. And do check the ‘Lock’ symbol on the top-left when sharing documents. A locked document (with a closed lock symbol) can’t be edited by others. Make sure a document is unlocked if you want the shared participants to work on it.

When you export Zoho Writer documents (‘Save As’ doc/odt/pdf etc formats to your desktop), the latest version in ‘History’ got exported previously. The last ‘auto saved’ version of the document will get exported from now on.

Zoho Show Update

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We did an update to Zoho Show yesterday. Many new features have been introduced. The release in a gist:

  • Import presentation files (ppt, sxi) of upto 5 MB (before it was 1 MB)
    • Import happens in the background while you can work without interruption
    • You get notified by email when import finishes/fails
  • Insert images from the web by giving URLs
  • Embed live charts, HTML code snippets & links
  • Set background color for objects
  • Keyboard shortcuts like Ctrl-S (Save), Alt-N (New), Alt-O (Open)
  • Bug fixes including some JavaScript memory leak issues

And, we have made a presentation to highlight the above! Click on this Zoho Show presentation & tell us what you think.

Update: Ramesh comments

Here is how you can publish a live chart from Zoho Sheet – http://blogs.zoho.com/sheet/publish-charts/

You need to copy the 1 line HTML code for publishing Zoho Sheet chart as mentioned in the above link and paste it into the Insert HTML window in Zoho Show. Changes to the chart data in Zoho Sheet will automatically be reflected in this published live chart in Zoho Show.

We also have plans to integrate this more tightly.

Zoho Creator – Script integration on a more micro level

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Noticed the ‘D’ icon next to every field in the ‘Edit GUI’ mode of Zoho Creator? Deluge, the script language of Zoho Creator is now more integrated into the GUI mode itself. Previously, the only way to include scripts was to click on the ‘Edit Script’ link. (you can ease this a bit by having separate browser tabs for ‘Edit GUI’ and ‘Edit Script’ views). Now, clicking on the ‘D’ icon allows you to write “on change action” scripts associated with a specific field alone.

You can write the “on submit” and “on success” action scripts by clicking on the “Form Actions’ link present at the bottom of the form. You can also create formula fields now in the “Edit GUI” mode itself by selecting the field type as “Formula” while adding a new field. All these give you more control & ease over what you want your application to do.

To know more about the scripting language integration in Zoho Creator, click here & here.

Zoho Creator : Form input validation

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An application that gives a free ride to input incorrect data is useless. So validating form inputs is one area that needs to be done carefully while creating applications. Zoho Creator allows you to accurately validate the form inputs and helps you to give clear feedback to the user when the form does not accept the data.

Here is an overview that will help you to utilize this feature in Zoho Creator to the fullest.

Validations during a form submit can be classified as

  • User interface validation
    You can specify the constraints for the fields you are defining while creating a form. If you define a field to be of type Email, Zoho Creator checks if the data entered in the form for that field is a valid emailid, else it displays an error message to the user. Half the validation is done if you choose the type of the form field appropriately. By default, Zoho Creator supports an adequate number of field types.
  • Writing algorithmic logic
    In addition to performing user interface validation, you might want to check the user input with the data that you already have. Zoho creator allows you to write deluge script(an on submit action) for custom validation that will get executed before the form data is persisted.

What really happens when you submit a form in Zoho Creator ?

  • Zoho Creator first validates the submitted data based on the type of the field and properties defined for each of the fields.
  • The on submit action gets executed in the server. The default action of an on submit script is to submit the data, so you need to do a cancel submit if you want to stop a form from being submitted. You can also choose to provide proper error message to the user while canceling.
  • The same form is then shown to the user to re-enter the data.
  • Please note that the data gets persisted only if the on submit action does not get canceled.

Lets take a recruitment application for example to understand better. This sample recruitment application has just two forms

  • File Application
    Applicants can add fill in their details here. The admin can write deluge code to check if the application being posted satisfies the basic requirements, else he can display an error message and cancel the form submit. View the sample form and deluge code here.

The on submit action that executed while submitting the “Post Application” form is given below.

on submit
{
opening = New_Opening [Position_Name == $Applied_For];
if (opening.Status == “Closed”)
{
alert “The job profile ” + $Applied_For + ” for which you have applied is not currently open “;
cancel submit;
}
}

The code snippet given below fetches the data corresponding to the particular position applied by the applicant. You can access all the details related to that position by accessing the variable “opening”.

opening = New_Opening [Position_Name == $Applied_For];

The code snippet given below checks if the Status for that position is currently closed and displays an error message to the user.

if (opening.Status == “Closed”)
{
alert “The job profile ” + $Applied_For + ” for which you have applied is not currently open “;
cancel submit;
}

You can also read deluge help to learn more on scripting. Do try this feature and let us know your comments / suggestions.