Zoho Show Unleashed

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Today marks a very significant milestone for the Zoho range of web services. We have just released Zoho Show, the tool for making presentations online. Zoho Show joins the other two Office 2.0 products Zoho Writer, the online word processor & Zoho Sheet, the online spreadsheet application. With Zoho Show, you can

  • Create your presentations online
  • Import your presentations from MS PowerPoint & Open Office
  • Invite people by email & control your presentations from remote
  • Pull-in public images from your Flickr account in your presentation
  • Upload images from your desktop
  • Publish your presentations & have others view it
  • Drag-and-drop text, components within a slide & in between slides
  • Duplicate slides easily

Do try the application & tell us what you think. You can mail your suggestions & comments to feedback@zohoshow.com

Zoho Creator: Why Edit Mode? Why Live Mode?

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We got few queries on “Why does Zoho Creator has got two modes – Edit and Live?” after my previous post on Zoho Creator demo. We replied back each user with our reasons behind it and I thought it would be better to blog it for the larger audience who have not questioned us so far.

Zoho Creator has two kinds of audience using the service. One – the application ‘Creator’ and the other ‘User’. A creator is the one who has a requirement and creates the web application to meet his requirement (for eg: Project Manager who needs to keep track of his projects, creates ‘Project Tracker’ application) and the user (for eg: team members of the project) is the one who access the application.

There’s no doubt that the two activities – creating and accessing need to be closely associated. But I’m not sure they should be done on the same screen. Sometimes, clean demarcation between two tasks – creation and access can make things easy and simple.

So we took up the challenge to design two totally different environment. Edit mode in ‘Fresh Green’ theme with all the tools and settings to create the application and Live mode for the users to enter the data. In the Live mode user can dress up the application with three different themes – ‘Professional Blue’, ‘Professional Grey’ and same ‘Fresh Green’ theme as of the Edit mode.

Zoho Creator Edit and Live mode

Now let me give you brief insight on how Zoho Creator user interface supports two different roles (Creator and User)-

In the edit mode, a creator can:

  • Keep both Form and View in one tab or Form on one and View on another
  • Display View as ‘Table’, ‘Calendar’ or as ‘Summary’ (we just added it)
  • Make the application as public or keep it private among friends
  • Share the whole application with friends or just share few tabs
  • Generate auto filters or Custom filters with own conditions
  • Set, whether others can edit/delete data
  • Set, records display per page to 10, 20,….or 100

In the live mode, a user can:

  • Enter the data
  • View the data
  • Manipulate data using filters
  • Search among data
  • Sort data
  • Export data as spreadsheet, html, pdf, tsv and csv formats

We have worked hard to make both the modes 100% obvious and increasing rate of applications created each day proves it just right.

~ Roughic

Settings – Reducing clicks

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Before I start, let me say this is my first blog at blogs.zoho.com. Hello guys ! 😉
Fine. Zoho CRM is going to face a step-by-step upgrade in terms of usability. The Settings will be the first thing to receive a usability tuning. The tuning will start with reducing the number of clicks to access a particular information or completing a task.

Say for example, to edit the details of the user, it takes 4 clicks + one scroll.

1. Click the “Setup” link on the top

2. Click the “Personal Settings” link on the left

3. Click the “Account Information” link

4. Scroll-down the mouse wheel once

5. Click the edit button

ZOHO CRM - Settings

There is one sixth click, which counts-in when the user click on the field that he/she wishes to edit. It is time consuming with visible screen refreshes.
Now the tuning will result in a responsive UI, where in the user :

1. Clicks “Setup”

2. Clicks “Account Information” (Grouping the Personal Settings + Account Information + Password ) into one single link

Upon clicking the Account Information, the right hand side will display the details of the user. The “password change” will be available as a clickable link/button as one of the fields. Clicking that, will display a mini layer pop-up with “Old Password, New Password, Confirm new Password” text boxes. A Web 2.0-istic fashion.
3. To edit other information, the user can click the “Edit” button on top right or the bottom right portion.

Now the clicks are reduced by half the count. Like this, we will be making constant tuning to Zoho CRM in coming days !


Zoho Writer’s latest update

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We had one more Zoho Writer update yesterday. The update addressed quite a few issues that creeped in when we moved over to the grid. It also added a few cool features.

You can now post to your blog even without having to sign up to Zoho Writer. Just invoke the feature rich Zoho Writer editor through the ‘Quick Create‘ button, type your blog post (you can even embed images), click on ‘Post to Blog’, give your blog configurations details & you are ready to publish.

Previously, we allowed uploading of documents (doc, html, odt etc) from your desktop. Now you can upload (import) documents into your Zoho Writer account directly from the web.

Want to insert html code snippets? Previously you had to toggle to the HTML source view, locate where you wanted to insert & then paste the code. It’s now been made a lot easier. Below’s an example of embeding a Zoho Sheet chart.

Impressed with Zoho Writer & want it to introduce to your friends? We have made it easier with the ‘Tell a Friend’ option. Just type your friends’ email IDs & we will post them a mail inviting them on your behalf to join Zoho Writer.

A few issues are being looked into now & fixes should be available in the next update. This includes intermittent problems in posting to blogger.com blogs & cache issues in IE6 – the docs listed in left panel disappear, new docs not getting listed even after getting successfully saved, shared mail info not being visible etc.

More on Office 2.0 going mainstream

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This is in continuation to Ismael Ghalimi’s post ‘Office 2.0 is going Mainstream‘. Yes, web apps being put to use by journalists & getting mentioned in MSM is the next logical step in the right direction. Zoho Writer was mentioned in ‘The Wall Street Journal’ too by Jeremy Wagstaff sometime ago. (the article requires subscription to be viewed)

We have received feedback from a very diversified community that’s put Zoho Writer to good use. Schools use it as teachers give presentations & assignments online while students collaborate on projects easily (no emailing of documents to & fro), librarians recommend it (Gary Price uses Zoho), writers use it (we have got mails from a few budding authors who are using it to pen their novels/books), bloggers post to their blogs as Zoho Writer is compatible with WordPress, Blogger, TypePad, LiveJournal etc and this got us surprised – even doctors find Zoho Writer useful!

The same’s the case with other Zoho applications too. This shows how web apps in the Office 2.0 space are making a significant impact too, in tandem with their more famous social networking cousins like Flickr, del.icio.us, YouTube etc.

The New York Times mentions Zoho Writer

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Damon Darlin at ‘The New York Times’ in an article titled, “Now, Free Ways to Do Desktop Work on the Web” mentions Zoho Writer. The article lists many free web services that users can take advantage of. Instead of installing costly desktop based software like Microsoft Office (that costs around $400), users can make use of these services. About Zoho Writer, he writes,

If you don’t want to wait for Google[‘s Writely], a similar browser application is already available called Zoho Writer at www.zohowriter.com. (I wrote most of this article on Zoho with as much ease as writing with Microsoft Word.) Writeboard (www.writeboard.com) is a competitor. Another program, called Ajax Write (www.ajaxwrite.com), lacks the spell checking and word count functions that Word has taught us to rely upon.

Nice seeing Zoho Writer being put to use by journalists for their word processing needs. This sure will make strong Web Office advocates like Ismael Ghalimi proud. Thanks a lot Damon, for using Zoho Writer & mentioning it in your article!

Take a Zoho Creator Tour

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We launched Zoho Creator demo (8 minutes) recently to showcase some of the useful features and different ways of creating an application. Above all we wanted to get more eyes to look at it and understand how useful Zoho Creator is.

We have split the demo into three sections, same as the three ways of creating an application.

Zoho Creator demo

1. Create application – FROM SCRATCH
You can create customized business/personal web application for your needs, in few mouse clicks. You don’t even need to know HTML or PHP to create an application.

2. Create application FROM TEMPLATE
Zoho Creator has bunch of popular application templates like -Project Tracker, Help Desk, CRM, Expense Tracker, To Do, Issue Manager and more…You can create your application using the templates and customize to your needs.

3. Create applicationBY IMPORTING DATA
When you have data in the form of a spreadsheet (.xls .csv) and want to manage it collaboratively over the web, you can create application by importing data from your file. You can import data either by simple copy and paste or import the whole file.

Watch the demo and if you have people in your office/neighbourhood who want to create application on their own, make sure you get them to watch it with you.

We welcome your feedback and suggestions.