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Sunday, 13th August 2006

All Zoho All the Time: A Growing List of Free Web-Based Tools Getting Better (and Growing)

The ResourceShelf team has been a long time fan of the Zoho suite of services and have (of course) mentioned them on the site several times. We're thrilled to see them getting more and more attention. Just launched, Zoho Show. More on this service later.

Zoho services are more than worth a look (especially for the web-based apps/Web 2.0 junkies out there). Plus, since budgets are always an issue, almost all of Zoho's web-based services are free.

So, here's just a taste of what's new from Zoho along with a few faves from previous posts. Again, complete access to all of these tools is completely free. When you think of the gobs of new companies out there (call them Web 2.0 if you like), Zoho is not only developing useful web-based services for even the most basic computer user but continues to improve on what they already offer.

Now, let's review.

Zoho Writer
This web-based and increasingly robust product is our web-based word processor of choice. One thing we've noticed is that the Zoho Writer is much quicker in all aspects. From logging in, to saving, to outputting. Kudos.

+ NEW: Real Time Collaborative Writing & Editing

Multiple users can work on a document simultaneously.

Very powerful and a potential big time saver especially when some members of the group are located throughout the world or just a few cubicles away.

+ Another useful feature for those of you who want to learn more about Zoho Writer is how easy it is to use and test the product even before registering (no big deal but a few seconds saved is what many of us want and need). Just login as a demo user. As registered users, we also find the new "quick create" feature another plus.

+ Work created using other word processing tools and in numerous formats can be quickly imported. Microsoft Word (DOC), OpenOffice text (ODT & SXW), HTML, RTF, JPG, GIF & PNG files are Zoho writer friendly.

+ Work completed can be quickly--and we do mean quickly--exported into PDF, DOC, ODT, SXW, RTF, HTML & text files.

+ Saving material from a web page and storing it or maniputing it is easy with the Zoho Writer Bookmarklet.

So, that's Zoho Writer. However, Zoho offers many other services as well.

Zoho Sheet
+ A robust web-based spreadsheet program. Like Zoho Writer, you can test the service out without having to register.

+ Supports more than 300 functions.

+ Easily create Draw bar/line/pie 2D/3D charts and then it's only one click to embed them directly into blog postings or Zoho Writer documents. Example here. Cool!

+ More Zoho Sheet features.

New: Zoho Show
+ Web-based (and free) WYSIWYG presentation creator.

+ Create presentations using content from other Zoho services like Sheets and Writer.

+ Import PowerPoint Presentations or OpenOffice Presentation (.sxi).

+ Examples: Zoho Show #1 and what a Zoho Show presentation might look like.

+ Flickr users:

Pull publicly shared images from your Flickr account into your presentation.

+ A Zoho Show can be viewed online or exported. Presentations can be made public (here's an example of a couple of slides I was able to create in about 3 minutes) and then with one click obtain a url. Of course, presentations can also be invite only or totally private. Exporting to HTML is also just a click away.

Finally, these are just three of Zoho's collection of web-based apps. Others in the works, in different stages of development include:

+ Zoho Polls
Create online polls in just a few clicks. Free. As with other Zoho products, no need to even register to test the service.

+ Zoho Creator
Free. Create web apps with little programming skills.

+ Zoho Planner
Online organizer. Free.

+ Zoho Web Site Monitoring (Free)

+ Zoho Virtual Office
Free for up to 10 users.

+ Zoho CRM
Free for up to 3 users.

Bottom Line: A few minutes at Zoho will quickly show you that this is one company that offers great services. Perfect? No. But what is perfect? The good news is that Zoho not only continues to develop new offerings but, and this is key, to improve on what they have already built. At the least, knowledge of the Zoho suite of tools is essential for just about every web user.

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