Sunday, December 31, 2006

My Top 12 Web Tools of 2006 - Number 1

My favorite web tool for 2006 is actually a suite of tools. I am a big fan of Zoho, the group of developers in India who are working hard to develop web-based office applications along with a whole flotilla of other tools. Here is a brief interview with company CEO Vembu about the company and their plans. Extreme Tech also gives an overview of Zoho. Gizbuzz posted a podcast interview with the Chief Architect of Zoho, Raju Vegesna.

Here is a screenshot showing most of the tools they offer. I haven't used all of these yet, but I have used many of them and the amount of progress being made on the development of these tools is amazing.

zoho_apps

They have released several new things at the end of 2006, some of which I haven't even had the time to play with yet. Read their announcement about the Office plug-in, the Zoho API, and the Zoho Desktopize widget. TechCruch also reviewed this.

zoho_downloads


I use Zoho Writer quite often. PC World Magazine ranked it number one of the online word processing tools. It is great for collaboration with others without passing around Word documents ad nauseum, and it renders very well as a webpage, which is not something that anyone can honestly say about MS Word. I especially like using Writer for presentation materials for workshops and seminars. Not only can anyone access your materials after the workshop, but you can make heavy use of links to other sources and it is very easy to increase font size on the presentation screen by toggling the +/- keys. The Zoho Writer Blog has lots of good info.

Here are three of the presentations that I've made using Zoho Writer during the past few months:
  1. Web 2.0 Whirlwind at League CIT in Charlotte
  2. Web 2.0 for Administrators at MnSCU Deans/CAO meetings
  3. Faculty Peer Review of Course Design at WCET in Portland
Zoho Sheet is similar to MS Excel, but not as full featured or powerful. However, it works great for the more common spreadsheet tasks and formulas. I especially like the fact that you can easily embed an active spreadsheet, chart, or both into a webpage. Here is the chart showing how nearly 3,000 students in Minnesota Online answered the question about what their plans were for taking online courses. I made the following chart using Zoho Sheet (check out the Sheet Blog). Here is one man's opinion preferring Zoho Sheet over Google Spreadsheets. FWIW, I agree with him.

MnOnline Student Survey Question about Current Plans - http://sheet.zoho.com

Zoho Wiki is brand new just being released on December 20, 2006. I use wikis quite a bit but have never settled on a preferred one, using pbwiki, Jot, WikiSpaces, and others. I'm guessing that I will start using the Zoho Wiki more extensively since it:
  • uses the WYSIWYG editor from Zoho Writer that includes spell check
  • it uses the Zoho Single Sign-on, so you can use your existing Zoho ID
  • you can embed many different kinds of objects into your Wiki pages like a Zoho Sheet, a Zoho Show, a Zoho Creator application/form or a YouTube video.
I have also used Zoho Show several times (here's the Show Blog). It is one of several useful ways to put presentation slides on the web. However, I am doing that less and less these days, preferring to find other ways of making presentations if at all possible. Here is an embedded show that I have used previously on one of my blogs.

I've also used Zoho Polls and Zoho Planner, and plan to check out Zoho Chat, Zoho Projects, and Zoho Challenge.

BTW, their number one ranking in my list has nothing to do with being picked as the first Zoho Featured User back in September. Pure coincidence I tell ya, pure coincidence.

2 comments:

Raju vegesna said...

Barry, Thanks for your great support. Users like you motivate us in releasing new stuff and articles like these make our day.

Happy new Year.

Arvind said...

What can I say, other than thanks a million, Barry! It is a great pleasure and honor indeed, Zoho making it to the top of the tops on an educational technologist's list of the year. We will be striving hard to retain the position in 2007 :-)

Wishing You a Joyous and Happy New Year!!