Omnidrive connects Excel files to Zoho Sheet

Back in January I wrote about the rich Word file integration between online storage company Omnidrive’s service and Zoho’s word processor. Well, to follow up on that, Omnidrive has now successfully integrated Zoho’s spreadsheet application to Omnidrive giving you a feature rich read/write/edit capability for Excel files on the cloud. As I mentioned before, this is really powerful stuff. Excel files that are stored online with Omnidrive can be accessed and edited on Zoho, and then saved back to Omnidrive – all without downloading the file onto a client desktop. How many times have you wanted to quickly check a figure on a spreadsheet, but were afraid to download it onto someone else’s desktop? I know I’ve had this issue from time to time. This is one scenario where this integration eliminates the ‘fear factor’ of leaving behind data on public computers. As these integration points onto online productivity tools continue to grow, the most adaptive online storage services have the best chance of creating a unique foothold in the market – and maybe even outmaneuver the Googleplex.

Box.net now integrates with Zoho Writer

It was just a few days ago that I wrote about Omnidrive’s integration with Zoho Writer.  Now Zoho’s announced that another online storage company, Box.net, has also rolled out a similar integration.  By opening up their tools via an application programming interface (API), Zoho’s ecosystem has the potential to grow leaps and bounds in the coming months.

Googlified posts about Google’s possible PowerPoint killer

One of the prominent Google watcher weblogs out there posted this morning about a possible Google online presentation program called Google Presently. Details are sketchy at the moment, but it’s not surprising that Google has a presentation application in the works given that most people have come to expect a true ‘office suite’ to include word processor, spreadsheet, and presentation capabilities. My hope is that Google begins the daunting process of tightly integrating all of their applications sooner rather than later. With the guys at Zoho setting a torrid pace on the integration front, Google has some catching up to do.

Zoho Notebook takes Microsoft OneNote’s appeal online

As you know, I’ve been steadily moving my work habits toward an Office 2.0, work anywhere, approach. One of the more difficult habits to wean myself off of has been using the free-form note-taking capabilities of Microsoft’s OneNote. Zoho’s Notebook, announced today, may make this transition a no-brainer. Jump over to the link to take a look at a great sneak peek video on the site. From the site, here are some highlighted points:

  • Intuitive user interface with white boarding and custom layout capability
  • Quick “add” buttons for adding text, graphics, photos, audio, video, RSS feeds and documents
  • Combine and add Notebook pages from other applications such as Zoho Writer and Zoho Sheet
  • ”Content level” sharing and versioning providing fine grain control of what is shared with others
  • Firefox and IE plug-ins for instant web clipping
  • Real-time, simultaneous editing and sharing of content
  • Skype integration for instant chat and IP telephony

Zoho expects the Notebook to be available to the public by March.

UPDATE:

Marc Orchant and Ismael Ghalimi have had private beta access to Zoho Notebook for a few days.  Both concur with my first thoughts that Zoho is quickly becoming a game changer in the Office 2.0 space.

Omnidrive and Zoho hookup to give us a glimpse of the future

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.

A great post about online storage on Burnham’s Beat

In the last year or so, the concept of storing large volumes of personal data online has begun to take hold among mainstream computer users. Online data storage has become abundant and cheap just as consumers have migrated to high speed data connections. While most people are still not comfortable with managing their files online – In my opinion this has more to do with clunky access to online files than with privacy – services like Mozy and Carbonite have ‘revolutionized’ the concept of data backup. Bill Burnham, however, provides some sobering thoughts about the rush to online data storage.

I think Bill is correct that we haven’t reached the online storage ‘holy grail’ yet. Services like the two I mentioned above are really nice and easy to use, particularly for those who don’t have the patience or foresight to backup on a regular basis. In fact, I use Carbonite to maintain a backup of my primary computer. I also, however, maintain an imaged backup of that same computer on another disk drive that is connected directly to it, and not dependent on internet connection speeds. Maybe I’m paranoid, or just the victim of previous backup disasters, but I like the added security of having the two pronged approach. Anyway, I think the online backup process will continue to improve and still should be used by those who don’t have any other standard approach to maintaining a reliable (albeit slow) backup process.

Carbonite is really easy to setup, and run….set it and forget it. The downside to a service like Carbonite is that it doesn’t offer remote access to the files that it backs up. The backup is done in an inaccessible, (and I’m assuming) proprietary format that can only be accessed to restore files, not to access them for general use.

This second part is where my frustration lies with the current set of online services. I’d like to be able to access my entire file structure in a manner that doesn’t require installing some proprietary software onto the PC that I happen to be using at the time. I’ve heard rumors that Carbonite may be introducing accessibility features in an upcoming release, but right now those are just rumors.

In the long run, as my Office 2.0 migration plans shake out, I plan to build and manage all my critical files directly on the internet through applications like Google Docs, Zoho Spreadsheet, Gliffy, and the like. In the meantime, I will continue to rely on a combination of Carbonite and local backup to keep my precious files safe.