Monday, March 2, 2009

Day 1: Impressions of Zoho

I had my first full day working in Zoho, mostly using the calendar and spreadsheet application, and I came to some conclusions:
  • The interface is remarkably fast -- much moreso than Google's apps.
  • The calendar is fancy, featuring drag-n-drop, yet it lacks certain advanced features that Google's calendar has -- namely, the repeating event dialog is much more limited.
  • The event creation in the calendar isn't well designed. If I click the calendar in "Repeat until," shouldn't the radio button be selected instead of leaving the selection on "Never?" When I choose a contact under "Invitees," why should I also have to click ">>" to add him/her?
  • The spreadsheet has some annoying bugs. It hung on my once. Row numbers don't line up with the rows themselves in some cases.
  • The interfaces aren't similar between applications. I have the same complaint about Google. It makes sense that the name change dialog, for instance, should be the same across all the document-using apps. Writer has a tabbed document interface. Sheet doesn't. The other file functions (Open, Save, etc.) are also all in different places.
  • Apps nicely remembers what documents I have open when I switch to and fro.
  • Gmail doesn't like being in a frame, so it won't work when added as a Zoho app. Yahoo! Mail, however, does.
  • Wiki is much less powerful than Google Sites is. Sites integrates well with other Google Apps, allowing you to insert documents, pictures, and videos (although it won't help you set the proper sharing settings on documents you share, possibly leaving the page blank...).
  • I didn't spend a lot of time screwing around with getting the interface to work for me like I did with Google. The dashboard already does that for me.
I did some reading and watched some videos on the Zoho site. The marketing ("evangelist") team says that 2009 is the year that will see much more intergration between apps. Zoho needs this. For that matter, so does Google. I don't see any reason to have lack of integration in an on-line apps suite. You know that the user will have access to all the applications, and they are one platform -- they should present the same loon and feel, interoperate well together, and re-use as much information as possible. Google is half way down this road already, and Zoho is just starting the journey. I look forward to a couple of years from now, when the integration is complete.

Zoho offers offline use with Google gears, alread installed on my machine.

Off the topic of Zoho, I installed Open IT Online. The site says:
Thanks to Open IT Online users can choose to use different online services to open their documents and images: the most popular are Google Docs, Zoho and Vuzit for documents; Pixlr, Picnik and Snipshot for the images.
This Firefox add-on will help me with limiting my file manager use.

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