Zoho Wins in CRN’s “Best Ajax-Based Apps” Review

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CRN has come up with a review of Ajax-based sites in six categories – calendars, e-mail, information managers, spreadsheets, webtops and word processors. Zoho Writer is the Winner in the word processor category. And Zoho Sheet is runner-up in the spreadsheets category. From the review article :

Word Processors
The Winner: Zoho Writer
Ajax-based word processors may be good for collaboration, and they can offer solid basic functionality. But for power features, I fully expected that I’d have to turn to their desktop-based counterparts.

Wrong, at least as far as Zoho Writer is concerned. This site gives you all the collaboration tools you’d expect in an Ajax application, along with a suite of features that any power user would love. In fact, for some purposes, such as creating graphics-heavy documents or documents for which you want an HTML version, it beats Microsoft Word.

For a start, it includes very good text-handling, the ability to change font color and size, a spell-checker, undo, and more — pretty much all the solid basics of a word processor. It’s all accessible via an intuitive toolbar whose icons look much like Word’s.

It excels in creation of HTML pages, because it automatically creates an HTML version of any file as you type. You can toggle between normal and HTML views, and you can easily add your own HTML tags. It also includes dialog boxes for coding links, anchors, and graphics. In addition, Zoho Writer’s insert-image feature outstrips Word’s, because it lets you customize spacing and alignment — and it then automatically converts all that to the proper HTML code.

Zoho Writer can also export files to many formats, including Word .DOC files, Rich Text Format (.RTF), text files, PDF, HTML, the Open Office .SXW extension, and OpenDocument’s .ODT format.

As for collaboration, it’s got what you need as well. It’s simple to invite others to view or get read/write access to the document. Bloggers will appreciate its ability to link directly into accounts for Blogger, LiveJournal, WordPress, and TypePad, and to upload your current document as a post.

There is one downside to this site: I found it to be slow to load, and the initial load often took a few minutes. But that’s a small price to pay for such a power-packed word processor. The only hard thing to believe about Zoho Writer is that it’s actually free.

The Runner-Up: Zoho Sheet

Zoho Sheet is a close runner-up to Google Spreadsheets, and in fact bests it in several ways. It lets you create charts, for example, and you can export to more formats than Google Spreadsheets, including Excel, OpenOffice, .CSV, HTML, and PDF.

Where it falls down is collaboration. You can invite people to share your spreadsheets, and you can give them read-only or read-write access. But despite multiple efforts, I couldn’t get it to work properly; edits made by one person didn’t show up to the other person working on the same sheet and vice versa. In time, this bug may be worked out, and Zoho Sheet could end up the winner.

Thanks to the CRN reviewers Preston Gralla & Barbara Krasnoff! We sure will be addressing the issues pointed out. And congrats to the other winners.

Zoho Creator – Tip of the Day #7

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#7 How to hide a tab to everyone including the owner?

In the Edit mode, click on Tab properties icon Tab Properties Icon. Click on “Hide this tab”. In live mode, this tab will not be available to everyone including the owner. This will be useful if you want to use a tab as a scratch pad.

Hide Tab

Zoho Creator – Tip of the Day #6

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#6 In how many ways, can one create an application?

There are many ways to create an application.

Create Application

1. Entirely from scratch: If you are regular visitor to ZohoCreator and you know what is what about ZohoCreator, you can start with a blank application.

2. Pre-built Form and View: If you are a first time visitor and want to know the basics what ZohoCreator has got to offer.

3. From Templates : There are totally 11 templates for you to choose from. Choose this if you have no time to build from scratch and want to quickly have an application ready for you. More templates will be added in the coming days.

4. Paste your spreadsheet data : Just copy paste the data from your spreadsheet and get an application out of your data. ZohoCreator supports xls data, comma separated values(csv) and tab separated values(tsv). More..

5. Import your spreadsheet file : If you have multiple sheets in a single file, you need not go around copy pasting the data. Just import the file and all your sheets will be loaded. More…

6. Deluge Script : If you want to make your application powerful, choose this option. You can write deluge script, a natural online scripting language integrated in ZohoCreator which helps you to perform actions when a row is submitted or updated. Some of the actions include validating a form and sending an email. It also helps you to define complex formulae and filters.

7. Importing a Deluge Script file : Write a deluge script offline or download a public application script file using “Copy Application” link and import it here.

8. Copy a public application : Impressed at a public application? You want to have it with few modifications? Just follow the “Copy Application” link and you will get a clone of your favorite app.

Kim recommends Zoho Office

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America’s Digital Goddess, Kim Komando has the following to say about Zoho’s Office Suite.

Zoho offers Zoho Writer, Zoho Sheet and Zoho Show. These are free counterparts to Word, Excel and PowerPoint, respectively. You won’t find as many features as you’d find in Office, but there are just enough to be useful.The sites are similar to Microsoft Office, so there are no big learning curves. All files are saved online. You can start a document at work and finish it at home.

All three sites open and save files in a variety of common formats. For example, Zoho Writer will open a previously created Word document, HTML or rich text file. It will also save any file onto your computer’s hard drive as a Word, pdf, txt, rtf or html file.

Google Spreadsheets is less complete than Zoho’s program. It is fine for basic number crunching and the maintenance of lists. But it lacks the capability to create graphs like Zoho Sheet.

Thanks, Kim! Kim’s Columns here – http://www.komando.com/columns

Update: The above Kim’s column got published in USATODAY too.

Zoho Creator – Tip of the Day #5

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#5 How to share few tabs to some and the rest to others?

By default, all the tabs are accessible to everyone who visits your application. If you want to keep few tabs visible to you alone, few to your friends and the rest to everyone, it can be done very easily in one place.

Follow “Manage Users” link in the Edit GUI mode and add users in the “Users/Groups” tab. Then select “Sharing” tab and then select the user. Then select the tabs you want to give access in the right hand side.


What is Success?

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Jason Fried of 37Signals makes a comment about what defines success for a small company when faced with a giant competitor. This is a gem so I wanted to share it here – particularly to those who often speculate that “Zoho is doomed because Google or Microsoft will finish them off”. To quote Jason

Google doesn’t define our success. We do. “Winning” isn’t a zero sum game. This isn’t a 100 yard dash or a boxing match or a F1 race. It’s building a sustainable business. There’s lots of room for lots of those.

We don’t have to match Google’s userbase, or even have 1/10th of Google’s userbase to be nicely profitable and build a sustainable business.

That is success to us. Being able to provide a great service to our customers, follow our vision, generate enough revenue to build a sustainable long-term business, and enjoy doing the work we do everyday is a success to us.

So far so good.

I couldn’t say it better, even if I tried. We are not here to “beat Microsoft” or “beat Google”. We have built a profitable business at AdventNet serving customers well, and we will continue doing it with Zoho too. We enjoy the work we do, and as long as that is profitable and customers keep coming, that is all that matters. Isn’t Intuit a successful company at one 25th the size of Microsoft? Isn’t MySQL a successful company at one hundredth the size of Oracle?