Get your bugs off other bug trackers and into Zoho

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Here’s a piece of exciting news! Get your bugs off other bug trackers and into Zoho with the brand new Import Bugs option. We’d work hard to make your migration from other bug tracking services quick and hassle free into Zoho. While this is a great feature, we request you to take care of few things before you start the Import.

Few points to ponder :

  • Only CSV file format supported and must be UTF-8(Unicode) encoded
  • Supported date formats: DD/MMM/YYYY, DD/MM/YYYY, DD-MM-YYYY, MM/DD/YYYY, MM-DD-YYYY in CSV file
  • It is recommended that you test the import with a sample test file before your actual import.

Well, log into Zoho BugTracker, go to bug settings and import your bugs right from other bug trackers as a CSV file in quick steps. We’ve also put a user guide to help you get started at Import Bugs.

Bug Settings wears a new look and feel
Peep into the Bugs tab and you’ll spot a refreshing Bug Settings view along with an array of good looking icons. In addition to import bugs, we have also added couple of exciting new features like Fields and Email Settings.

What’s special about Fields ?
Previously we did not allow you to rename the fields like severity, module. But after this update, you can customize it as per your need for example – you can change the “Severity” name to “Priority“. Furthermore, we’ve consolidated the default and custom fields all in one place under Fields view.

Here’s a picture of the refreshing new Bug Settings view with Fields

Custom Fields

Configure mail forwarding with Email Settings
Configure and automatically fetch your emails from your custom domains mydomain/Gmail Mail as bugs in Zoho Bug Tracker with the new Email Settings.

For Example,  if you wish to track your mails from from in BugTracker you must configure your email server to forward a copy of your Bug emails to this forwarding email address in your Gmail.

The syntax followed is <portalname_projectstring>

Your Benefit : Before, only project members can submit bugs in Zoho BugTracker but now any user can file a bug by sending an email to your domain email

Learn more about how to configure mail forwarding in custom domains at Email Settings.

Note: Field Renaming and Bugs Import are available for all the plans. Email settings feature and Custom Fields are available for Enterprise ($599 yearly and $80 monthly) customers of both Zoho Projects and Zoho BugTracker. See Plans and Pricing

If you haven’t tried Zoho BugTracker yet, this is the best time to give it a try and we’re curious to hear your feedback on how the migration of your bugs went about as comments here.

Record advance or multiple invoice payments at one go!

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As the new year unfolds, Zoho Invoice and Zoho Books brings glad news to one and all especially those weary folks troubled by monotonous work.

Our developers had been elbow deep in some amazing coding this past few weeks and now we bring to you a revised and revamped customer payment feature. You can now record advance payment and record payment for multiple invoices all from a single screen.

Let’s say your customer makes a one-time payment for three different invoices. How would you show this in your Zoho Invoice account? Click on the video below to unravel the secret.

Whoa…was it that simple? Yes it is. Not just in Zoho Invoice, but it is possible even in Zoho Books along with some crucial accounting principles taken care of in the background.

Was something missing with the old invoice payment method?

 Effective as it was, the old process was time consuming because you could add payment only to individual invoices. With the new additions, payment received from a customer for multiple invoices is possible from one single screen.

Did you know advance payment received is not actually your income…yet?​

 Companies need to record advance payment received from customer as ‘unearned’ revenue and not earned revenue as the service is not yet delivered. If the amount is recorded as sale/income, you will get a bloated figure in the financial statement which is not the accurate picture of your business’ performance.

Let’s see how this is smoothly tackled in Zoho Books.

Joggle your memory and from the video you’ll recollect that an advance payment of $200 is recorded for Jane’s next project. Our super cognitive accounting software will reflect the amount in the cash flow statement as ‘Unearned Revenue’. Cash Flow when recording Advance Payment​At the time of Jane’s next invoice payment, you decide to use the excess payment available. From the remaining balance of $200, you use $100. The Cash Flow will now reflect as belowCash Flow after recording Advance Payment

Cool isn’t it!​

Do visit our help page for more information on Advance Payment and Multiple Invoice Payment.

Now we are onto our next work item with great gusto and in the meantime, please drop us your feedback in the comment section.

You asked, We listened. More control over your CRM

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@headhunter: @zoho ROCKS … new CRM GUI is just simply STUNNING….Would  have to be one of the best web apps I have EVER seen – EVER – Usability PLUS!

This was one of the responses to the public launch of our new UI.

It has been just a month since we launched the new look of Zoho CRM and the response we received was encouraging. The whole idea of the change was to make all our customers more productive at work.

Most of you liked the change. But, not everyone’s tastes are the same. We understand. A few of you who were still accustomed to the old UI felt that you were missing some functionality.

You asked, we listened and here are the updates that we have made…

Reflect your priorities. Customize Business Card View

For Sales Reps who just want to focus on selling and not on data entry, the business card view gives instant access to customer information. As a user, you could also change the fields – so, if you prefer to see the contact’s mobile number instead of the email id, you could set it from a list.

While this is very helpful, some of our users also asked for an option to change the priorities of the fields. For example, here’s a comment we received in our forums:
The problem with the business card view is that it does not reflect my priorities, but someone else’s. When I click through on a contact, I do not want to see my own name. Nor would I have chosen the items you have chosen…”

We now have that option. You can not only select the fields but also change their order. There’s more. In case you feel that you do not want to see the instant information, you can hide it too.

How do you benefit from this? More customer information on the screen and minimal scrolling. Less scrolling means you can get to your information faster.

Do not want the Quick Actions? Hide It.

Quick Actions – these are the basic actions you can take from a record’s detail page. For example, if you want to add a task related to a contact, it’s easy to do so right from the contact’s detail page itself.

This is a time-saver! But it is not necessary that you’d want to use these links always. Like this comment we received: “These ‘Quick Actions’ to the right of the new business card also have no useful function for me. Sorry to be so negative, but this is the truth. I just don’t use them...”.

You can now choose to hide the Quick Actions from a record’s detail page and work the way you want to.

Wide Screen? No problems now!

Previously, we had set a fixed width of the page. Customers who are using wide screens or high resolution monitors told us that this wasn’t pleasing to the eye. “We rely heavily on the wide screen view for all of our data to be visible and this new UI does not scale automatically…“, was a comment we received.

With the latest update, you can choose the layout that you prefer. Fixed or Wide Screen, Zoho CRM fits your screen just the way you want it!

Sticky Recent Items

In our new interface, we changed the Recent Items list to a drop-down at the top menu bar. It could be clicked and used whenever needed. But then, you could not keep those items in view always.

This is another option we have provided now. You can pin the Recent Items list to your screen while you navigate within your account. You can always close it once you are done.

Let your CRM match your company’s image

A cleaner, clutter-free look. This is what we achieved with the colors that we had selected for the new UI. Color preferences can vary, of course. For example, we received a comment like this: “But if I could “skin” my UI to match my company colors, I’d feel a little more in control of what changes were coming my way…

Zoho CRM already had the ability to add your company’s logo to your account. And now, with custom themes, you can set the colors for your tabs and also choose a different background. Your account will look unique and match your company’s brand image.

We understand that every user has different work patterns. Thank you very much for your feedback and we hope that you like these updates.

Any other ideas? Let us know in the comments below.

- Sharanya R

Zoho Invoice simplifies a law firm’s billing process

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law firm invoicingWe are aware of the fact that Zoho Invoice has helped a lot of small businesses, freelancers and service providers to streamline their invoicing process. Here is an example of a full service law firm, HMLC that is based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The law firm that has a multi-lingual team of attorneys and consultants has benefited by using Zoho Invoice. HMLC has several branches across three continents. The firm efficiently and accurately sends numerous estimates and invoices every month using our invoice software. A few weeks back we had a discussion with Eric Alksibati, a senior lawyer with HMLC and a specialist in commercial and corporate law.

HMLC was previously using a local invoice software in Dubai. Over time they felt it was inefficient as they had to fix numerous errors at the time of creating an invoice and the result was they were unable to send out invoices on time. The law firm first used Zoho Creator and then discovered Zoho Invoice. Now it has been using our invoice software for so many years and our software facilitates to organize the law firm’s time management and client billing needs.

Billing clients on time is vital to any law firm. With Zoho Invoice we send quotes and invoices to our clients on time and get paid fast. To be honest, it’s very easy to use, great software. I highly recommend Zoho Invoice to anyone. – Eric Alksibati


Generating client invoices from billable time records and accurately billing its customers on time ensures that the law firm gets paid on time. Click here to read more on the law firm’s success story


New in Zoho Creator: Searchable Lookup, Exposed Formula Field and Flexible Custom Actions

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There has been plenty of activity going on at Zoho Creator lately; regarding Forms, Views, and everything database. The changes they bring are intended to achieve greater convenience in terms of usability, and it comes as a result of increasing responsiveness and customization. To name a few,

Searchable lookup:

You know Look-up fields. That list which you use to pick values from fields on other forms? It just got better. If you are looking up tens of records, then it wouldn’t make a big difference, but if you have tens of thousands of records, then you’d have known how long the browser takes to load them all.

Searchable Lookup fieldsNot any more, no matter how many records you have. We’ve given it auto-complete feature. In addition to the pick-list, you can also type the value. As you type, it automatically suggests the possible entries you are looking for, leaving out the rest. That way, you don’t have to scroll through the entire list to pick the last value.

Exposed Formula fields:

Formula fields are primarily to perform calculations using the values entered into other fields. And, they were hidden on forms. But now, we’ve made it optional to display formula fields to users. As and when users fill up a form, they can see the value of the formula field change instantly. The formula field shown below will add the values entered into the three number fields. Try?

Custom actions, custom place:

Though you reordered columns on views to the desired order, the Custom Action button always remained the last one. Previously, it could not be reordered. With 3 or 4 columns, it is not a big task, but if you have 70 columns on your view, then every time you need to execute a custom action, you had to scroll all the way to the last. Now, you can place it first one on the View, and execute them easily. You reorder it just as you do any other column; drag-&-drop.

custom actionWhile you check these out, I’ll go fetch the other things to be declared open. Stay tuned.

Our Friday Outage and Actions We Are Taking

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On Friday, January 20th, we experienced a widespread outage that affected all Zoho services. The outage started around 8:13 am Pacific Time. Zoho services started coming back online for customer use at 3:49 pm, and all services were fully restored at 6:22 pm PST. We absolutely realize how important our services are for businesses and users who rely on us; we let you down on Friday. Please accept our humblest apologies. 

The cause of the outage was an abrupt power failure in our state-of-the-art collocated data center facility (owned and operated by Equinix) in the Silicon Valley area, California. Equinix provides us physically secure space, highly redundant power and cooling. We get our internet connectivity from separate service providers. We own, maintain and operate the servers and the network equipment and the software. The problem was not just that the power failure happened, the problem was that it happened abruptly, with no warning whatsoever, and all our equipment went down all at once. Data centers, certainly this one, have triple, and even quadruple, redundancy in their power systems just to prevent such an abrupt power outage. The intent is that any power failure would have sufficient warning so that equipment, databases most importantly, can be shut down gracefully. In fact, the main function such data centers perform is to provide extreme redundancy in power systems, provide cooling for the equipment and provide physical security. Absolutely no warning happened prior to this incident, which is what we have asked our vendor to explain, and we hope they would be transparent with us. I do want to say that Equinix has served us well, they are a leader in this field, we have never suffered an abrupt power outage like this in 5+ years. But they do owe us and other customers in that data center an explanation for what happened on Friday. They restored power quickly, but the damage was done because of the abruptness of the outage.

As of today, while we have a substantial level of redundancy in the system, we still rely on our data center provider to prevent an abrupt power outage (it happened once, so it could happen again), and we are scrambling to prevent another power outage from becoming a service outage of the duration that happened Friday. Those are literally the first steps we are taking. This includes having our own separate UPS systems (in addition to all the UPS systems, generators and cleaned-up utility power that our vendor provides in the data center), and database servers that have batteries in them so they can be gracefully shutdown in an event like this.

Now let me acknowledge that it took us way too long to recover, and let me explain first why it took so long, and then explain what we are going to do about it in the future. In a nutshell, when every database cluster and every server went down, the sheer amount of testing and recovery work overwhelmed our human-in-the-loop recovery system. There was never any issue with the safety of the data itself. 

We have a massively distributed system, and the design intent of such a distributed system is that everything would not fail at once and parts of the system can and do fail without impacting overall  service availability. The problem was that when the entire system went down, it required manual recovery. We had about 20 people working to restore services, but there are well over 100 clusters, of which about 40% of them had errors – basically the redundant database servers within a cluster were out of sync with respect to each other. The inconsistency across replicated instances is usually very slight – perhaps a few bytes off in a 100 GB instance, but the only thing that matters is that there is inconsistency, however slight. This is recoverable without any data loss (except for the data that was entered just at the exact moment when power went down). This process is necessary to ensure that there is no data corruption and all data is consistent across the replicated instances. In most instances this was fast, but in some instances recovery took time, and the number of such slow-to-recover instances caused delays in the overall recovery. In fact, the first few clusters we tested were OK, so we relied on that to provide an estimate of recovery time that proved too optimistic, based on later instances that had a problem. There were way too many such clusters that took time for the 20 people to recover them in parallel. In effect, the human system was overwhelmed by the scale of the problem. That’s why it took us so long to bring all services back up. 

We do have all data mirrored in a data center in the New York region (also owned and operated by Equinix) and that data center was not affected by the power outage.  All the data was present in that secondary data center, so there was never any possibility of any data loss, even if all our primary servers had been wiped out completely. But we do not have sufficient capacity to run all Zoho services from that secondary data center as of today. We have 3 copies of your data in the primary data center, and usually 1 or sometimes 2 copies in the secondary data center. That means that we do not currently have: a) sufficient data redundancy in the secondary data center by itself to run all the services - i.e assuming the primary data center is totally dead, or b) sufficient computing capacity to process all the traffic by itself in the secondary. Our secondary data center serves to protect customer data but it could not serve all the traffic.  We intend to address this issue ASAP, starting with some of our services first.

Our first focus is on preventing an outage like this from happening again, and the second is faster recovery when disaster strikes. We have been working on this second problem for a while already and we will accelerate this process. Additional steps we are taking include: a) offer better offline data access so customers never have to go without their mission-critical business information b) offer read-only access to data on the web quickly, so at least access is preserved while we work to recover the editable instance and c) more automation so recovery from a large scale incident can happen with less manual intervention.

During this entire episode, our first priority was to make sure customer data remained safe. No customer data was lost, but because incoming mail server queues overflowed (the mail store went down), some mail bounced back. We are working on preventing such a thing from happening again, with a separate mail store instance.

We will keep you steadily updated on the progress we are making on each of these priorities. Hardware progress is going to be the fastest (buy and install new systems), and software is going to be the slowest (implementing better automation for faster recovery is going to take time), but we will keep you posted on all the progress we make. That is our promise.

This was, by far, the biggest outage Zoho has ever faced. We absolutely understand that many businesses rely on Zoho to go about their work on a daily basis. We can understand how many customers were disappointed and frustrated by this outage. We too, are extremely upset about this incident. 

In the coming days we will be refunding a week’s worth of your subscription to each and every single customer, whether you complained or not. We know money will not give you back the time you lost, or compensate you for the hassle and trouble, but we hope you’ll accept it with our deepest apologies. While the money is not going to mean anything to any single customer, at an aggregate level, it does affect us, and that punishment would serve as a reminder to ourselves not to let this happen again. That is ultimately the best assurance I can give.


Zoho Apps are now restored

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All Zoho Apps are now restored. They should be working normally. There are some backend services running to restore full service.

Today is not one of our normal days. We sincerely apologize for the outage. We requested a root cause report from our colocation provider on what caused the power outage. We will do a detailed followup post with the postmortem report and will expand on how we are going to overcome such issues moving forward.

We’d like to apologize for the outage and thank you all for your patience.