Zoho Projects goes out of Beta!

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Zoho Projects had an update minutes earlier. With this update, it joins Zoho CRM as the second Zoho service to move out of Beta. Salient points of the release include :

# You can now have multiple projects by signing-up for premium plans. The one project free version continues to be there
# Zoho Projects will completely be free for Open Source projects
# Zoho Projects now has a secure connection through SSL
# Zoho Projects now provides Unicode (UTF-8 character set) support allowing international users to type in their language.

Check out the new Zoho Projects. For more on premium plans click here.

Versioning Capability in Zoho Sheet

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If you’d noticed, we’d added an important feature in our previous update more than a week back – Versioning. You now have revision control capability in your spreadsheets!

You can find a new tab (quite modestly named) ‘More Actions’ in the main menu – on the top section – of your Zoho Sheet. Opening this tab will reveal a few options, namely :

  • Save as new document
  • Mark as new version
  • View version history
More Actions Tab on the Main Menu

Needless to say, they’re self-explanatory. One thing you need to note is that you need to specifically ‘mark’ your versions. ‘Marking’ means nothing but placing an identity to a particular version so that you can revert back to that stage of your sheet when you need to.

Typically, you can mark a version before doing some notable change to your sheet or before you share your sheet with others. The user(s) you share your sheet with can also mark his version(s) after he performs any changes (but no worry, only if he has ‘Write’ access granted).

Version History

The ‘Version History’ feature allows you to view all your sheet-specific version information (along with their date/time of creation), revert to an old version if you need to or delete your older versions.

Just an additional reminder: ‘Fill Series’ feature is now supported too!

Zoho Single Sign-on is On!

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The long wait for a unified Zoho sign-in is finally over. This post is about how to get the best out of Zoho Single Sign-on or Zoho Accounts – one of the major milestones to happen at Zoho. All the existing users and new users registering with Zoho can now access the following Zoho services – Zoho Writer, Zoho Sheet, Zoho Show, Zoho Planner, Zoho Creator & Zoho Chat – with a single user name (or email ID) and password. More Zoho services will be brought under this unified system in the near future.

We have tried addressing as many scenarios as possible.

Scenario 1 : You have an account with only one of the Zoho’s services
If you have an account with only one of the Zoho’s services, you will be able to access it as before. There is an exception here though – assume you have a Zoho Planner account that you have been accessing through your user name, say, “johndoe”. Due to the merging of different Zoho services, there may be other “johndoe”s registered in other Zoho services. So, your user name ‘may’ have got changed to “johndoe1” or something similar. If you are not able to login with “johndoe”, use your email ID that you had associated with your user name. It should work. If you get a password error, click on the “Forgot my password” link & you will get an email on how to get a new password.

Assume you have an account with only one of the Zoho services, say Zoho Writer. You can use the same email ID & password and login to other Zoho services as well which have come under the Zoho Accounts now – Zoho Sheet, Zoho Show, Zoho Planner, Zoho Creator & Zoho Chat. This applies to new users also who are signing up to one of the Zoho services as mentioned above. You can access the other Zoho services without signing-up separately.

Scenario 2 : You have accounts with multiple Zoho services, having used the same email ID to associate with your different user names
If you have accounts with multiple Zoho services, having used the same email ID to associate with your different user names, you can access the multiple Zoho services with that email ID as before. The change comes only if you have used multiple passwords, as only a single password will work now. The order of precedence is Zoho Show, Zoho Creator, Zoho Sheet, Zoho Planner, Zoho Chat & finally Zoho Writer (as applicable with whichever services you have accounts with).

Scenario 3 : You have used different user names to register with the different Zoho services (or different email IDs to go with your different user names)
If you have used different user names to register with the different Zoho services (or different email IDs to go with your different user names), you can merge them to come under a single email ID that you prefer. Note that a user name will be assigned by Zoho automatically and this cannot be changed.

You will be getting an email from us shortly which will list all the Zoho services you are registered with and a few other details. Login to one of the Zoho services and you will see a ‘My Accounts’ link at the top-right. Clicking on it will lead you to the Zoho Accounts page. You can merge your different accounts there.

Let me explain this with an example. You have a Zoho Writer account with “johndoe@yahoo.com” and a Zoho Chat account with another of your email IDs, “johndoe@gmail.com”. Assume you wish to have “johndoe@yahoo.com” as your single Zoho ID from now on. Going to the Zoho Accounts page of “johndoe@yahoo.com”, you will have Zoho Writer listed as the service you have an account with already. Zoho Chat will be listed at the bottom table. Click on the ‘Merge’ link to the right of ‘Zoho Chat’, give your email ID (as “johndoe@gmail.com”) & password there and click on merge. You will see Zoho Chat added to the top table. From now on, you can access your Zoho Chat account as johndoe@yahoo.com

Refer the Zoho SSO Help and Zoho SSO FAQ pages for more.

If you face any issues in accessing any of your Zoho service accounts or have trouble in moving to the unified Zoho Accounts system, do write to us at accounts@zoho.com.

Scheduled maintenance under progress

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As informed earlier, the Zoho services Writer, Sheet, Show, Planner, Creator & Chat are all down for a scheduled maintenance. As some of you guessed it right, it is for introducing the Zoho Single Sign-on as all the above services come under a single ‘Zoho Accounts’. Once the services are up again, you will able to access them with a single user name/email ID and password. A detailed post follows elaborating on how to migrate to Zoho Accounts and merge your different email IDs/user names and passwords (in case you use them) for the different Zoho services.

Living a week in a browser

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Since Ismael Ghalimi first took the plunge, (anyone out there who did it even before him?), it is becoming quite frequent now for others to try getting rid of one’s desktop based software and live on a strict ‘web-based productivity applications on a browser’ diet. Oliver Rist of InfoWorld is the latest. He lived for a week like that here’s his final verdict :

Zoho is definitely the standout in the group. It’s the only one that not only offers most of the apps I need but also seems to have a clear vision of where it’s going. And it’s free. ThinkFree and gOffice are similar, but neither has the breadth of apps, features, or collaboration that Zoho does.

There are a lot more insights in his very nice & elaborate article titled “Can Web-based applications outwit, outplay, outlast the desktop?“. Thanks a lot, Oliver & InfoWorld!

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.