Update : Zoho Writer & QuickRead

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Noticed anything different in working with Zoho Writer since yesterday? We have done some html compression tweaks that makes working with Zoho Writer a little faster. Loading of files & switching between tabs should happen faster than before. An exception in this update is the initial loading time when you login. It remains the same as before & we will be working on making it faster too.

Another cool update to happen is with Zoho QuickRead. You can now save an online document (.doc, .sxw, .odt, .rtf) opened with Zoho QuickRead to your Zoho Writer account directly.


Open up an online document with QuickRead & the top panel looks as above. Click on the ‘Edit’ link. If you are already logged in to Zoho Writer, the next screen will look as below


You can click on the ‘Save to My Account’ link to save the opened document to your Zoho Writer account directly.


Similar changes will be done to Zoho Sheet & Zoho Show – opening spreadsheets/presentations available online with QuickRead & adding them directly to your Zoho Sheet/Show accounts – soon.

Zoho Creator : Modify picklist items dynamically

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There has been requests from users like Ted Hughes for automatically filtering picklists based on selection in the previous picklist. This can be done very easily now.

Let us take a Bug Tracker application as an example. This simple application has just three forms.

1. It has a form to fill in the modules. e.g. In the case of Zoho Creator, it could be user interface design, deluge script etc. See a list view of all the modules added.

2. It has a form to fill in the team member details. It has the name of the team member and the module he works for. See a list view of all the team members (and the respective modules).

3. It has a form for filing issues. Each of the issues filed has to be assigned to the appropriate team member. Since we have already defined the person in charge for each of the modules, it will make more sense if the items in the ‘Assigned to’ picklist gets updated every time the module is changed, listing only the relevant entries.

If ‘Persistence’ is selected in the ‘Module’ picklist, only those members of the team, in charge of the ‘Persistence’ module should get listed in the ‘Assigned to’ picklist. In this example, Edward and John should get listed.

This can be done by writing an ‘on change’ event for the ‘Module’ picklist.

Deluge code snippet:

must have Module
    type = picklist
    values = Add_Module.Module_Name
    on change
        team = team_member [Module == input.Module];
        for each t in team


The code snippet given below fetches all the members of the team, in charge of the selected module.

team = team_member [Module == input.Module];

Since the variable team is an array, it has to be iterated to get the properties of each team member.

for each t in team

The names of those team members in charge of the ‘Persistence’ module are added to the ‘Assigned to’ picklist.


I have taken a very simple use case to explain this feature. But I am sure our users will exploit its full potential and use it in a lot more interesting ways to enhance their applications.

NetworkWorld reviews Zoho Creator

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Mark Gibbs has a very good review of Zoho Creator in his NetworkWorld ‘Web Applications Newsletter‘. Some excerpts :

Zoho has released a whole range of services and one in particular has really impressed me: Zoho Creator a weblication that creates weblications.

Sign up (the service is free) and you are presented with a polished AJAX-driven interface that allows you to create an application from scratch or copy (and modify if you wish) an existing application.

All of the views and forms can be embedded in your own Web site using a script that is downloaded dynamically from the Zoho Creator site (either as a simple reference or enclosed in an i-frame) or referenced via a “permalink.”

You can add code written in the Deluge language to drive your application. Some examples of the value of Deluge suggested by Zoho are:

* Perform an action when a row is added successfully or detect when someone adds a row to a form. For example, you might want to receive e-mail notifications as and when a row is added.

* Perform an action when a row is updated. For example, in the case of abug tracker, you might want to receive e-mail notifications whenever the status of the issue gets modified.* Validate the form data before persisting it.

* Add a row only if it satisfies a certain criteria and reject the other entries. For example, in a recruitment application, accept only those applicants who have more than two years of experience.

* Define formulas for calculations. For example, assume a student database has marks obtained by students in all the subjects and you want to display the total and average marks also.

* Create complex filters in views.

You can also export all records in a view in Microsoft Excel, OpenOffice spreadsheet and Zoho Sheet format (Zoho’s own spreadsheet service); as an HTML document; as a PDF document; as an RSS feed so that subscribers can watch changes inthe data; as a JSON (a Javascript-based, lightweight data exchange format).

I found a couple of minor problems with Zoho Creator: Performance was occasionally poor and embedding the views in my Web pages sometimes didn’t work. That said, Zoho Creator is incredibly ambitious and there’s a lot more to the service that I just don’t have space to cover. If there was ever a poster child for the Web 2.0 world, this is it! (emphasis ours)

Thanks for the comprehensive review, Mark! We are working on the performance aspect & you should be able to have a faster & uniform experience with Zoho Creator soon.

Zoho Office Update

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A cool & very useful update for the Zoho Online Office Suite happened just a few minutes ago. Ismael Ghalimi and a few other Office 2.0 patrons have been discussing about opening Office files directly on the web. With the latest update to Zoho, you can just do that.

If you noticed, Zoho Writer login page went for a re-design (tell us how you like it compared to the old page) & there are two new buttons right in the middle РQuickRead Plugin for Firefox and Internet Explorer. Install QuickRead and you can directly open documents, spreadsheets and presentations present on the web with Zoho! With Zoho QuickRead, downloading files to your computer & opening it with a desktop app becomes pass̩ :-)

Note : Zoho QuickRead works only for Office files on unauthenticated web pages



The above screenshot shows how a sample .doc can be opened with Zoho Writer. Notice the ‘Open with Zoho Writer’ option added to the right-click menu. ‘Open with Zoho Sheet’ & ‘Open with Zoho Show’ menu items will appear for spreadsheets & presentation files respectively.

Thanks are due to to Craig Cmehil, Dennis Howlett & Ismael Ghalimi who beta-tested QuickRead.
What’s more, if you are like Ismael and not so keen on having browser plugins, try using the following URL APIs for opening files

Documents (.doc, .sxw, .odt, .rtf) – http://www.zohowriter.com/publicimport.im?url=<url of document>
Spreadsheets (.xls, .csv, .sxc) – http://www.zohosheet.com/view.do?url=<url of spreadsheet>
(or) http://www.zohosheet.com/publicimport.im?url=<url of spreadsheet>
Presentations (.ppt, .pps, .sxi) – http://www.zohoshow.com/publicimport.im?url=<url of presentation file>

(The QuickRead plugin is now downloadable from http://zohowriter.com for now. Links to the plug-in will be made available in Zoho Sheet & Zoho Show pages too soon. Update : It is now accessible from those pages too)

Now to some Zoho Writer specific goodies. Important Note : Do a Shift+Refresh (for clearing browser cache) before trying the below features.

Zoho Writer now offers category support for WordPress (and other metaWeblog API supported blogs). I’m posting this to Zoho blogs from Zoho Writer!



Click on the ‘Insert Table’ icon now & you will be in for some surprise :-)


For all those who have been struggling with Zoho Writer’s print functionality, we now have a direct ‘Print’ icon. (It is the second icon just next to the ‘Save’ icon & can be recognized easily)

Enhancements have been made to the right-click context menu. The menus will be context specific, ie., you will be offered the appropriate choices alone depending upon which part of the document you are.

Some bugs have been fixed too, the most notable one being the functioning of ‘Tab’ inside tables while in IE. You can now press the ‘Tab’ button and can move from cell to cell while using IE.

Do try the latest features added to the Zoho Online Office Suite & tell us what you think.

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How to embed your spreadsheet into any webpage/blog

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William Davidson, a new Zoho Sheet user, created an online spreadsheet today about his favorite topic – Films! (may we add that we love movies too!)

William made a simple sheet of the ten highest-grossing international movies (non-USA box office) of all time using IMDb’s list as his source. He shared this sheet with us, and wanted to know how he could embed this sheet into his blog.

We showed him how easily it could be done.

First, create the spreadsheet (you can create a new one or import an existing spreadsheet).

Next, use the ‘Make Public and Embed’ option to provide you the HTML snippet of your spreadsheet.

Finally, just use the HTML code in any of your web-pages or your blog – you can embed it in any of your Zoho Writer or Zoho Show documents also! Here’s a sample!

William, there you go! :-)

Amit Agarwal, the brain behind the Digital Inspiration weblog, has written this clear and concise tutorial/article about how Zoho Sheet can be used to embed interactive online spreadsheets into any HTML page, whether it’s your blog or your website!

Thank you, Amit. We’re glad to note that you found us easy to use! :-)

Zoho Creator : Modify data across forms

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In our latest update, we have just made zohocreator more powerful. We have empowered deluge scripting with the ability to modify existing data using our new ‘Update field task’. We already supported fetching of existing form data and now you can fetch and update the values.

Lets us see a library manager in action for illustration

Take a very simple use case : User is borrowing a book from the library

In library manager terminology, it is called ‘Issuing a Book’.

1). The following books are owned by the library.
The column ‘Status’ with values ‘Available’ and ‘Issued’, indicates whether the book is available in the library or is issued to any user.


2).Already the following books were issued to the users on the mentioned issue date.

(Note:This view is created from the form ‘Issue Book’ shown below this view.)
Issued details

3).Now, we are getting a scenario where the user ‘James’ is borrowing the book ‘The City of Joy’.

Use the ‘issue book’ form given below to get book name and user name.

(Note: The above view ‘Books Issued Details’ represent the data in this form. Also in this form, the field ‘Issue date’ is hidden and not shown to the user for filling.)
Issue form

In addition to getting book and user information, we need to do the following

  • Store the current date in the ‘issue date’ field(hidden from user) of the above form, indicating that the book is issued today.
  • Change the status of this book from ‘Available’ to ‘Issued’.(This data is available in different form i.e Book form)

As you can see, these two operations need not be done explicitly by the user as they can be automatically calculated.
This is where our ‘Update field task’ comes into play.

Especially in the second operation, we have to get the corresponding book (i,e. The City of Joy) from the book form data and modify it.

We can use the ‘on success‘ event block of the ‘Issue Book’ form to write the three lines of code , that is going to do the magic.

on success

//store the current time in ‘issue date’ field.
issuedate = zoho.currenttime;

//fetch the book row from the ‘Book’ form
myBook = Book [Name == input.book];

//modify the ‘Status’ of this book to ‘Issued’.
myBook.Status = “Issued”;


Below , you can see the changes done after submitting the form.

  • ‘Status’ of the book ‘The City of Joy’ is modified.


  • Current date is automatcally stored in the ‘Issue date’ field (See the new entry added at the top).

Issued details

Thus you can see that your applications created in zohocreator can just get the minimally required information from the user and modify any other related parameters anywhere in the application using the ‘Update field task’. It helps in incorporating a lot of intelligence into your application, moving away the unnecessary burdens from the end user.Your application can no more be a mere store and retrieval place. It can be more lively now.

You can have a glimpse of my library manager completely created from scratch using our zohocreator.

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