In my post Religions of Rich Internet Applications I outline a couple of issues that I think need to be addressed before Rich Internet Applications can really be successful:
- The web-based applications need to be rich in features and functionality. The applications also need to be fast – people no longer like to wait while data is crunched, or sent back and forth to a server somewhere.
- Easy collaboration of content between users, while still maintaining a high level of security and privacy.
- Access to content when offline. The Internet isn’t everywhere, and users still work offline – during these times they will still want access to their content.
- The applications need to be easy to set up, configure and use. The web-based applications need to be seamless for the user. A user shouldn’t have to worry if they are online or offline, the application should be able to manage issues of connectivity.
Zoho Writer, that just had an upgrade mid November, rolled out another update that addresses accessing content offline. How Zoho addresses the issues I outlined above:
- Zoho Writer is quick and full featured, with many features comparable to a desktop based application.
- Using Zoho Writer, you can easily allow others to collaborate in your workspace.
- Zoho Writer previously had the ability to access content while offline, but the content was not editable, I saw this as a not fully implemented feature. Zoho Writer uses Google Gears to provide persistent offline storage. This gives Writer the ability to edit documents while offline.
- The Zoho Office Suite is easy to use. If you have used any type of word processor, spreadsheet or presentation tool you will be able to easily pick up how to use Zoho tools.
If you already have a Zoho account all you need to do is install Google Gears to start using Zoho Writer offline. If you don’t have an account on Zoho, there is no reason not to sign up (for FREE), the application is not dependent on a desktop operating system, and Google Gears is available for Windows, Mac and Linux.
Using Zoho Writer Offline
It is relatively easy to start using Zoho Writer Offline for the first time:
1. Open Zoho Writer
2. Clicking Go Offline, initiates the installation of Google Gears if do not have Gears installed.
3. Click Download and install Google Gears, and accept the legal stuff
4. If security stops the download, click Click Here, and then restart your browser.
5. Depending on your browser, you may be warned about running Google Gears, allow Gears to run, and you are set.
6. Click Go Offline, and your documents will be download to your local system. You will now be able to edit these files while not connected to the web.
By default, only 15 documents are downloaded, if you want more documents, select the drop-down arrow to the right of Go Offline, and enter the appropriate settings:
7. Allow Google Gears to connect to the server and download the documents.
8. You will receive notification that you are now working Offline, and have the ability to Go Online.
At this time you will be able to edit all the documents you have downloaded and save changes.
9. When you reconnect you will be prompted concerning the action to take between the changed offline / online file.
Zoho Writer Offline Video Walkthrough
As usual Zoho has an excellent online video that explains the updated features and functionality. This video will walk you through installing Google Gears and then how to use Zoho Writer offline.
Being able to edit documents offline is just one more compelling reason to give the Zoho Suite of tools a try. I see Zoho tools being an excellent solution for the following scenarios:
- You work on multiple computers, and don’t have a reliable solution for synchronizing the documentation between them. They can all access the same online content.
- You work on computers with different operating systems, but need to work on the same content.
- Easy collaboration between coworkers and colleagues.
- You don’t currently have a solution for document creation and management.
The above list is by no means a full list of scenarios or reasons to use the Zoho Suite of tools. I have mentioned this before, but I am continually impressed by the functionality of Zoho applications. Being able to edit content offline is just one more improvement in a long line of improvements that Zoho has made to their online office utilities.
One of the best assets of the Zoho team, is their agility in addressing public requests. Using and reviewing Zoho tools, I have made a few suggestions, that were quickly acknowledged, and fixed pretty rapidly. If you have need for this type of tool, give Zoho a shot. If it isn’t exactly what you want, don’t be afraid to leave the team a suggestion on how to make things better, or suggest additional features. Who knows with your input you might get exactly the online application that you wanted.