Zoho Writer in Steve Whitaker’s Podcast

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Steve Whitaker, in conversation with Roger Geyer in his ‘Podcast 2.0‘ series discusses how educators can leverage Web 2.0, online word processors in particular. Steve is technology director for the Center for Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning (CASTL) at the Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia.

Some very good insights in that podcast like how word processing is such an essential thing for all students, how a group of four or five students along with their teacher can collaborate easily, how 92% of digital students use the internet for doing their home work, assignments etc. Thanks Roger & Steve for those nice insights.

Listen to around the twentieth & thirty second minutes of the podcast for their views about Zoho Writer. Here’s the link to the post.

Zoho on CNET

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Zoho’s been noticed by atleast 3 authors at CNET recently. Elsa Wenzel has a very good review of Zoho Writer. From her review :

Zoho packs most of the functions along the top of the document pane, with familiar graphical icons, such as a disk that you click to save a file. We like the bottom icons that display the document’s tags and sharing status. You can also keep multiple Zoho files open at the same time, which ThinkFree doesn’t allow. By default, Zoho Writer organizes your open documents within tabs, which we prefer over the way Google Writely beta pops up a new browser window for each document.

And her summary :

The good: Zoho Writer beta is free and works in any Web browser; easy-to-learn interface; lets you collaborate with other users; exports to Word, PDF, and other file formats; posts to blogs; tags documents by topic; Zoho offers a complete productivity suite.

The bad: Zoho Writer requires Internet access; lacks advanced editing features; doesn’t import or export WordPerfect files; operational quirks.

The bottom line: If you enjoy steady Internet access, Zoho Writer beta offers intuitive controls and can replace Microsoft Word for basic editing and formatting, if you can tolerate its beta glitches.

Thanks Elsa. Zoho Writer is still rapidly evolving & the issues you mentioned should get addressed soon.

Rafe Needleman starts one of his Alpha Blog posts with, “I’m a fan of Web-based applications, such as Writely and Zoho Writer“. We are glad to have you as a fan of Zoho, Rafe :-)

And in an article titled Best sites for students, Julie Wildhaber mentions Zoho as one of the sites in the online applications category.

Web 2.0 In the Enterprise Session

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We were invited to be in the Web 2.0 in the Enterprise think-tank session hosted by SAP yesterday. It was a way for SAP to engage the enterprise-oriented web 2.0 companies, exchange views and learn. The SAP folks are well-connected and know exactly what is going on in the industry – in fact, I came across a couple of companies I hadn’t known before. Here are some things that I learnt from this event:

  • Enterprise software has been about process automation, the new web software is about enabling many-to-many collaboration and collective intelligence
  • Most existing enterprise software is about “normal” business processes, but most people within enterprises are handling exceptions most of the time
  • The value of “good-enough” software in the enterprise – in the sense that not everything is highly transactional requiring high reliability, scalability and so on. As an example, a corporate internal blog is a really useful medium to enable informal collaboration, but that doesn’t have the same reliability needs as their ERP system, and it doesn’t need “Big IT” to care and feed it

The personal highlight for me was that Craig Cmehil, active in our Zoho Creator forums was mentioned as leading the charge for scripting languages for SAP. I had interacted with Craig through the blogs and our forums, but didn’t know he worked for SAP, so that was a surprise.

Import Spreadsheet – Here, Here or Here

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When it comes to managing data, people have been relying on spreadsheet more than anything else. Finance people, todays marketing executives, tomorrows managers and friendly support executives rely on it to get their day to day activities done.

So Zoho Creator is providing users to import their data from the spreadsheets quickly and efficiently.

I would like to tell you the fact that creating an fully functional application is not single day job (though you can in minutes), but it is an incremental process. As you go on using the application, you get more visibility on your requirements and the needs. You add some, delete some, rename few and tweak the application a bit here and there to suit your needs. So the application which you are working on should be flexible enough to give you the best result what you wanted it to, each day, everyday.

Keeping the flexibility in mind, we have provided options to import spreadsheet data at three different scenarios. You can make use of them whenever you need.

# Create Application Window
This will be your first step in creating an application. If you have data in a spreadsheet (.xls .csv or .tsv). Select ‘Import .XLS .CSV’ option and import your data either by copy/paste or by importing the whole file.

Zoho Creator - Create application window

# Create Form Window
You have imported the spreadsheet file easily enough to create the application. Now you wanted to create additional form by importing another spreadsheet. Now what?

In the edit mode, just click on ‘Create Form’ button and select ‘Paste your Data from .xls .csv file’ option. Paste the copied data in the area provided. Your form gets created automatically with the required fields.

Zoho Creator - Create Form window

# Import Data in the live mode
When you have missed the above two options and have landed in the live mode but still wanted to get those data into Zoho Creator which are lying in your spreadsheets. What can you do?

We have thought about that too. In the live mode click on ‘Import Data’ which is at right top corner of the form header, select ‘ From file’ and upload the spreadsheet file. Thats it, data will be imported to the application.

Here in this case, you need to make sure that the field labels in the form and the column names in the spreadsheet are same.

Go ahead, bring in all those spreadsheets which are used extensively by you and your colleagues. See your spreadsheets transforming into web application, beautifully.


How businesses can benefit from Zoho

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Albert F. Case, Jr., at TechSpend makes some good points regarding businesses using web-based software. From his article,

I’ve read a lot about Google’s online spreadsheet and Zoho’s ZohoWriter and related products. I’ve also heard a lot of “Who needs it?” That attitude amazes me. During my “informal” survey of a few dozen Excel users I know exactly 0% used pivot tables and charts! Sure, I know people (like me) who do – but the reality is most don’t. Just like most people using Microsoft Office don’t do much more than write reports in Word, send Email in Outlook and do simple spreadsheets in Excel. Now, at $200 to $400 per person, how many thousands of dollars are spent for licenses of Microsoft Office in a company that has 1,000 or 2,000 or 5,000 PCs?

He goes on with how a web-based spreadsheet application (like Zoho Sheet) can help a company.

Think of the creative new applications of an online, sharable spreadsheet. A spreadsheet Wiki! The company home phone list can be instantly updated. Prospect lists can be shared. Budgets can be tinkered with in group fashion. I can think of hundreds of uses for this technology in the average corporation.

And, he has this to say about Zoho CRM :

Zoho has some paid applications as well – such as ZohoCRM. $12 per month per user! Whither goest Oracle/Siebel from here? This could be a real challenge to hosted CRM leader Salesforce.com.

Great thoughts, Albert! Like you, we believe more & more people have started realizing the endless possibilities that affordable (and often times free) web-based software like Zoho is creating for businesses around the world.

Zoho for lawyers

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Robert J. Ambrogi in the ‘Law Technology News‘ column at law.com has a nice article on how Web 2.0 can help lawyers. He writes,

Why use the Web as your platform instead of your desktop? For lawyers, the strongest reason is collaboration. Lawyers working jointly on a project — whether across town or across continents — derive enormous value from being able to work together in a platform- and location-neutral environment.

About the online Office suites, he has this to say :

Several companies now offer suites of office tools comparable to those you would buy for your desktop. They combine word processing, spreadsheets and graphical presentation applications.

One such suite is ThinkFree, which allows you to create Microsoft Office-compatible documents, spreadsheets and presentations.

Another, Zoho Office Suite, goes a step beyond ThinkFree. In addition to document, spreadsheet and presentation tools, it offers a “Virtual Office” of group e-mail, group and individual calendaring, document-sharing and instant messaging. Zoho’s word processor and other office tools are free. Its Virtual Office is free for up to 10 users, then priced starting at $295 a year.

Thanks, Robert!