More on Zoho Creator

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Zoho Creator went Live some ten days back. I suggest everyone to take a look at the tag cluster to get an idea of what purposes it can serve. I expected to find normal databases for managing expenses, CRM and so forth. But users have created (thankfully, public :) ) applications that help in a wide variety of tasks such as managing book lists, tracking recruitments and even a weight tracker! The homepage of Zoho Creator actually suggests what applications might be appropriate for whom.

Similar minds, rejoice, for, you can not only copy existing applications created by a random user (saviour, rather) but also create an application using existing templates. Given that this is all web-based, there might be a time in the near future when every application you wanted to create was already thought of by someone else and hence already exists. Like how most researchers feel these days. Although, unlike researchers, it is encouraging to know that someone has already thought of an application that you wanted to build. Very much in keeping with, “Share and Share alike is fair”.

More on Zoho CRM

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As we get ready for the last hurdle before the launch of Zoho CRM 5.0, thought I will post a few more interesting teasers of what’s in store. Zoho CRM’s got this handy Outlook plugin which allows you to import & synchronize your contacts. Also, an email you’d received from customer in your Outlook mail client can be added as case/ticket in Zoho CRM.

More to come.

Social Networking

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This post’s been brewing for a few weeks now. Google’s acquisition of Writely can be called as a trigger pulse for this post.
Orkut is still a very popular social networking site, atleast among the school and college community (which forms a large group of web users). Since its launch two years back, it has grown in magnitude and it is sort of a social status symbol to have an Orkut Profile, owing to its “Invite only” nature. Although it has grown over the years in terms of the number of users, feature-wise it is still primitive, considering how quickly Google is trying to give it’s products and services a face-lift by using AJAX.

Social Networking sites have a lot of potential, and if only a service with some of the following features were to be introduced, it’ll be a huge success. (Like what Meebo did, and how everyone else was grateful to Meebo for it :) )

Firstly, a strong ‘Search within website’ service. Not only Profile search or Community search, but search for keywords within the Community and Profile – something similar to Blogger Profile Search. The present Social Networking websites do not allow that. For instance, it is not possible to look for all the people who’ve listed ‘Web 2.0′ as an interest in their profile. That should be enabled, for such sites are a hunting ground for people who are looking for fresh talent.

Secondly, a conversation tracker. Newsvine, which was launched recently has a similar feature. A user can find out, which article they commented on recently by a simple mouse-over action on Newsvine home page. Handy. For social networking sites to be useful, there should be provision to find out if anyone has replied to a thread posted (Newsvine does this with a field ‘Comments since you last checked’); also there must be a tracker for all the messages that a user posts a comment.

Although this is quite unnecessary, given the above mentioned two requisites are met, it would be great to have a conversation archiving feature similar to what is offered by Google Talk’s  or Zoho Chat. The archiving feature could store the recent five conversations for easy access and reference.

Probably the poor organization of many social networking sites can be attributed to these reasons.  Many communities contain great resources and not organizing the conversations properly will probably maintain the status of most social networking sites are to be merely a prodigal waste, save for the occasional “stumbling upon a long lost acquaintance” event.

Web Services + Software: Engineering Elegance

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Did you notice the quote ‘Web Services + Software: Engineering Elegance’ in our www.zoho.com home page? I am not sure how many people really understood the meaning of this or even cared to think about it. If you are someone like me, you would have probably ignored as some marketing junk.

There is certainly a powerful message behind the statement. What does this mean? Simply put, for every Zoho Service you see listed in Zoho.com, you’ll see a product along with it and for every product, you’ll see a service for it.

This means, a product like Zoho Virtual Office will also be available as an online service and a service like Zoho Writer will also be available as a product (….and it doesnt just stop with that :)).

Both Service and Product have their own advantages and disadvantages. Not all are happy with just one. With this model, we let users pick service/product, whichever meets their needs.

I would rephrase it as ‘Web Services + Software : Zoho’

Raju

Google buys Writely

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Google buys Writely

Om mentioned it yesterday in his blogs about Google in talks with Writely for a possible acquisition. I thought it is yet another rumour, but turns out, it is true. The news is final and is announced in Writely’s blogs. Google buys writely. This should be certainly exciting for our friends at Writely.

It’ll be interesting to see how Google deploys Writely as Google’s deployment is mostly on Linux and writely works only on Windows.
Raju

Search based UI Navigation, Toolbar customization & more

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We had an update yesterday that introduced this new concept of search based UI navigation. Just type in a few words of what you would like to do in the ‘Search’ box of your Zoho account. You will be provided with link(s) that take you to the respective destination(s). The screenshot below shows the links for exporting your Zoho Writer docs to pdf/sxw/word formats.

Finding all those toolbar buttons a triffle too much? You can customize the toolbar now. Select only the buttons you use frequently.

Many of you had asked for easier handling of email IDs when you share docs. Zoho Writer now allows auto-completion of email IDs.

You can also ‘Insert’ from a set of email IDs.

When you post to your blog from Zoho Writer, there is this limitation of time being set to PST. WordPress bloggers can now have the time of posting set to their localtime.

Update: To answer Snyder’s comment, posting below a screenshot of where the timezone can be set. (click on the ‘Options’ link at the top-right & then click on ‘Account’)