Zoho? What’s that you ask? Hmmmm, well, Zoho is a Web 2.0 Office Productivity Suite. Similar to what MS Office and Google Docs does. Yes, it provides users with a document editor, spreadsheet, and presentation creator, at the very basic level.
So, what does Zoho offer? Well, Zoho does not only provide the basic Office Suite to users. They have a whole set of applications ready to be used. They have:
- Zoho Writer – Word Processor
- Zoho Sheet – Spreadsheet
- Zoho Show – Presentation
- Zoho Meeting – Conference
- Zoho Notebook – Note Taker
- Zoho DB & Reports – Database & Reporting
- Zoho Planner – Organizer
- Zoho Projects – Project Management
- Zoho CRM – End to End CRM Solution
- Zoho Creator – Database Application
- Zoho Wiki – Full featured Wiki
- Zoho Chat – Instant Message
- Zoho Mail – EMail (Beta)
- Zoho Business – Business Solution (Beta)
Now, that’s a mouthful of applications ready to be used for free. Personally, I have yet to try out every thing they have to offer. I’ve just had a glimpse of their Word Processor – Zoho Writer. So, that’s what I’ll be covering in this posting.
My first impression with Zoho Writer is.. Wow!! This looks like a great application. I like the interface. It looks polished and friendly. I immediately felt at ease when first opening the interface.
Working with your document in the interface is also a breeze. The learning curve to use the interface is basically none existent. Most keyboard shortcuts such as CTRL+C, CTRL+V, CTRL+Z, CTRL+B works just fine. It’s got most, if not all, of the basic word processing functions plus a few additional features, such as smileys.
Of course, among the benefits of having an online document is the capability of working on the document collaboratively with a few users. There is a collaborative function in Zoho Writer. To collaborate on a document with your peers, a mail will be sent to your peers with a link to the document. Of course they will have to be a Zoho user to edit the document. But then, registration is free.
If you are familiar with Google Docs method of document collaboration, you will need to adapt yourself to Zoho’s way of collaboration. It seems that in collaboration mode, only one user is able to edit the document at a time. It utilizes the lock and edit method. You’ll have to first lock the document prior to making any edit. Thus, if the document is being edited by a peer, no one else will be able to edit the same document.
I’ve gotten into a situation where the person who holds the lock to the document is not able to edit. Another user is able to edit the document, instead. Strange.. could that be a bug? Another problem I’ve encountered is that if the person who locks the document were to logout without releasing the lock, then no one is able to do anything about it. I am unable to find a way to release the lock from the document without involving the person with the lock.
I haven’t really gotten the hang of this collaborative mode. I’m more used to Google Docs way of editing documents collaboratively. It is more user friendly, to me at least.
Version control is also part of the Zoho feature. Everytime the document is saved, the system will create a new version of the document. Thus, you’ll be able to revert back to any previous version if there is a need to do so. Another additional benefit of the version control is you can compare the documents. You can specify to compare one version from another. the difference will be highlighted to you in a yellowish background.
Zoho makes use of Tags to group documents. These tags, can be thought of as similar to folders. So, if your document needs to be grouped under more than a single folder, just create multiple tags for it. Thus, the single document will be listed under the tags it was created in. To list out the tags as folders, you just need to click on the tags (at the bottom of the screen), and select “Add as folder”. Upon which a folder will be generated at the side bar on the left hand side.
In this age of blogging, I guess, a word processor is deemed not up to mark if it does not support any of the blog APIs out there. Well, certainly, Zoho Writer supports the metaWeblog API. Among the blogging system it supports are Blogger.com, WordPress.com, Livejournal, and TypePad. I have to admit, it does a better job at Blog editing than most blog editors that comes with the blogging system itself. I have yet to test out this feature, but since blogging is such a norm these days, I’m pretty sure it functions just fine. Will test it out after this to be certain, though.
So, those are the few features of Zoho Writer. I do think that it’s a worthy replacement for MS Office. My only beef with it is it’s collaborative features. It’s a tad too complicated to work with. As I said, I had problems with determining who actually has editing control on the document.
Think it’s time to regain back a bit of disk space in this notebook of mine. Time to uninstall the MS Office I have and start creating my docs in Zoho Writer instead. They also claim that it’s possible to work offline. All that’s needed to enable offline mode is to download Google Gears. Will check it out soon.
So, you ready to drop MS Office and do Zoho instead? Otherwise, give Google Docs a shot. Here’s a thought.. Will Microsoft go the way of Google and Zoho? That is.. will they offer Word, Excel, and Powerpoint up for grabs as a free service in the near future? Perhaps so, but maybe not with the full blown feature set I guess. Hmmm.. they do however have Office Live Workspace which is in Beta. I’m not sure what that requires. Haven’t had the chance to check it out yet.
You might also want to take a look at this ZDNet interview of AdventNet’s CEO. AdventNet is the company behind Zoho.
We are currently using Wrike.com for collaboration http://www.wrike.com/. The system has tasks which you can assign to anyone in your team or share with your clients. You can upload relevant files too, so we can access them anytime anywhere. Not everybody in our team are ready to give up om MS Office, so this is a great chance for us to have our shared document online.
Thanks for the pointers Bill. I’ve already glanced through what Wrike has to offer. As a matter of fact, I’ve registered as a free user. Looks interesting. Will give it a shot in this coming few weeks and put up my findings in here.
Wow another web 2.0 ajax online office apps.
Anyway, thanks for adding me to you links.
I’ve added you as well.
Haha.. and more to be reviewed in here by the looks of it… oh yes.. thanks for the link as well.