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’


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.

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’)

Zoho Creator is LIVE NOW!

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You may notice something special about Zoho Creator now.

We have quietly and completely moved out of the closed beta test…into a public beta.
Now everyone can visit Zoho Creator, browse popular / public applications, copy them and customize to their needs or create their own application from scratch.

We are delighted to report that during the private beta we got 1000+ registrations, 400+ applications created from scratch and countless of them being copied (well, some for testing and some for use).

Let me give you a quick update on what we were working under the private beta wraps.

  • Create application using a template
  • Create View with pre-set criteria
  • Add Tags to your applications
  • Filter, Search and Rearrange Columns in Views
  • New Skins
  • New UI
    and loads of enhancements everywhere…

Some of the feedback we received during the private beta test:

“ZohoCreator which lets end-users create simple web applications with no coding knowledge can certainly be put into the innovative bucket.”
~ Phil Sim, http://squash.wordpress.com

“It’s pretty safe to say that a tool that allows anyone to create a web application to their own requirements is pretty darn useful.”
~ Stephen, Shadows in Motion

“Zoho Creator makes it remarkably easy to create very simple tracking applications, and parent-child relationships are handled so well you don’t even need to know what that means to use it.”
~ http://brainpipe.wordpress.com/

“I have given it a try and I love it. Works great. I love how you can make the application public. Nice work.”
~ Brian Benzinger, Solution Watch

We thank all the beta testers and the bloggers who gave their feedback and made the difference.

Thank you indeed!
~ Roughic


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Newsvine was launched a couple of days back and is running full steam ahead. For the uninitiated, Newsvine is a social News website that features stories from Main Stream Media and amateur writers alike. The best part about Newsvine, apart from the AJAX interface for Seeders or people who submit content, is that it is a comment and chat enabled site. Which means readers can comment, discuss and argue about a news item, apart from contributing their own. Also, using the ‘Link’, option, a person can link to a story from a popular news site or cross-post a blog entry. Tagging is the new web standard, and Newsvine is no exception. They have something called the “Code of Honor” which is a rule book that, apart from the usual instruction, says, “Write descriptive Title” and “Tag correctly”

Clearly, Newsvine is an improvisation of existing News Aggregators. And they are trying to organize News better with current web trends like Tagging. Also, by having both popular news sources and bloggers seed [contribute to] their site, they are having the best of both – the authority and variety. Smart.

Oh, and did I mention that they have web-based live chat enabled to their site? Something like 3Bubbles.(via) So it’s Reading/Writing/Commenting/Arguing/Having a live discussion all under one roof. Now when a popular news source makes a mistake in an editorial, correcting them is a few keystrokes and a click away.

On Maxthon

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TechCrunch published an article yesteray about Maxthon browser. It strongly recommended Maxthon as an alternative to Firefox and Opera. Daily Om also reported recently that Maxthon crossed 50 Million Downloads. So what are Maxthon’s strong points that make it popular?

Firstly, the features it offers. Tabbed browsing and built in RSS reader have become the standards of any web browser after Firefox’s success. Maxthon has these, and more. Tabbed browsing is a lot easier in Maxthon. Tabs can be given a “Sticky” short name to page titles, so that when having something like 20 tabs open at a time, one doesn’t have to fish out too much. Tabs can be aligned too.
Also, Maxthon requires fewer Extensions than Firefox. Built in Flash support, right click enabled almost everywhere, a customizable Utility manager on the toolbar for easy access of frequently used Computer utilities such as Notepad, URL aliases – something that can be done in Firefox by installing an extra extension to use a short URL. Most of the features require no extensions to be installed.

But many of the ready to use features make it look clumsy as opposed to the sleek elegance of Firefox, which is, by the way, a lot faster than Maxthon. Also, in terms of Searching within the browser, Firefox is a lot less painful to use – albeit it requires a few extensions such as “Context Search” to be installed. Also, Mozilla’s Mycroft Plug-in site provides more plug-ins that can be installed for searching within the website – apart from the standard Google, Yahoo, Amazon search, one can include BitTorrent, Answers.com and many other reference websites. Maxthon supports Wikipedia and IMDb, in addition to Google Search. Not much, really.

Atleast as far as browsers are concerned, more doesn’t mean better. A lot of features that Maxthon comes packed with are not useful really. This is why I disagree with the TechCrunch article. Firefox’s idea of “Provide some really useful features as a basic package, and let the users download extensions if they want more” is great because the requirements of each user vary. This article provides insight into various browsers. But there is no “the best browser”; Firefox 1.5 has its share of flaws (or “The Dark Side” as the above mentioned article refers)

Really, the browser wars will never end.