Omnidrive, one of the more compelling online file storage services, has just announced the first of several integrations with the Zoho application suite. Taking advantage of a robust API (Application Programming Interface), Omnidrive users will be able to edit Word compatible documents via the Zoho word processor without downloading to a local computer. This is a significant accomplishment on the march to total offline to Office 2.0 interoperability. Here’s why:
Omnidrive’s storage capability is fairly robust, allowing you to generate documents on a local computer and synchronize them to Omnidrive through a client side synchronization component. So, when you have access to your regular work – or home – computer, you can generate Word compatible documents with your favorite word processor. Upon saving these documents in the designated Omnidrive folder, they are synchronized up to the Omnidrive server. That part seems simple enough, right? It’s the next step where the wizardry of the Omnidrive/Zoho solution really begins to shine.
Let’s say that you want to access the document you created, and saved to Omnidrive, while you’re another computer. Now, through the magic of the API integration, you can access your document on Omnidrive and edit it inside Zoho Writer all online. There is no need to download the document to any computer to view or edit. All the work is done inside a web browser, on the cloud. When you’re done editing, just save the document inside Zoho, and the document is updated in Omnidrive. When you return to your primary computer, the edits you’ve made are waiting for you locally, via the sync capability. This is really powerful stuff.
I gave this a whirl over the weekend, and was pleased to see how seamless the process is. My ultimate Office 2.0 goal for 2007 is to generate, edit, and manage all of my documents via an Office 2.0 solution, but where connectivity is an issue (mostly an in flight issue for me) I will still rely on local Office tools. When saved to the Omnidrive folder, these documents will then be synched to Omnidrive the next time I connect, thereby enabling anywhere access and editability.
Another, really important capability makes this incredibly useful. I’ve got piles of Office documents that I have no plan on converting to Office 2.0 formats, but still want to be able to access them from time to time. By placing these on my Omnidrive, I can now access them within a browser anywhere I can get a net connection. In the past, I’ve stored these documents online, but then had to go through the added burden of downloading them to the local drive to view them. Not anymore, now this can be done effortlessly online.
My weekend testing did uncover some rough edges, including browser errors, but this integration is still in beta. Clearly this shows a practical way to bridge offline Office solutions with Office 2.0 solutions. Omnidrive and Zoho have promised similar spreadsheet (Excel) and presentation (PowerPoint) integration in a few days. Zoho has begun to prove Omnidrive’s differentiating storage strategy of real productivity via a web browser a real success. I can’t wait to see this stuff evolve in the coming months.