10 Reasons Why Zoho Wiki should be your Help Authoring Tool

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At AdventNet, our parent company, we offer a host of tools for the enterprise ranging from network management to help desk to log analyzers. We also offer frameworks for OEMs to build their own customized solutions. All these products have quite a lot of technical documentation associated with them.

I joined AdventNet in March 2001 and remember the days when our tech writers used RoboHelp for building the documentation package for our various products. RoboHelp’s a nice tool as it allowed easy arrangement of pages based on the Table of Contents, there was an automatic tree view generated in the left hand side panel, there were the Next, Previous arrows in each page for easier navigation, it had a spellchecker and it offered index, content searches. Once the documentation package for a product was done, it was made as a zip file and uploaded to our site. The zip file was then downloaded by our users and extracted to a local directory for consumption.

But the above method of doing help documentation had a good many disadvantages. We will see below how we have overcome these disadvantages by adopting Zoho Wiki and the top reasons for why you should choose Zoho Wiki as your help authoring tool-cum-hosting solution.

1. Accessible from anywhere
A help authoring tool is pricey and needs to be installed in each of the user machines. And you are tied to your PC or laptop for accessing your work. Since Zoho Wiki is available on the web, you can access your help contents for editing from anywhere. When you sign-up for Zoho, you have for free, two wikis with unlimited number of pages.

2. Collaboration
With the conventional help authoring tool, our team of tech documentation writers always found it difficult to collaborate. Each member had to work on a different page, topic or section and finally it was all brought together. Not so with Zoho Wiki. The wiki administrator can set page-level permissions allowing for fine-grained access control to who sees what. For example, when a product’s help pages are being created, the Read/Write Access is set to Group, meaning no one from the outside world can view it. Once the documentation gets done, the Wiki permission is set to Public and everyone is able to access those pages. The same’s true for new documentation pages getting added all the time to a Wiki.

3. WYSIWYG Editor
Most wikis need the wiki syntax to be followed. For example you have to write **Zoho** in order to make Zoho appear as bold. This is one reason why wikis haven’t proliferated as much. But we want Zoho Wiki to be a wiki for all. It has a powerful WYSIWYG editor which allows you to format text as you like, insert URLs & tables, play with pictures / images etc.

4. Page Organization
The sitemap provided by Zoho Wiki allows creation of sub-pages and lists them as a hierarchical index (folder view) of the wiki pages. Pages could be created and re-arranged easily by drag-and-drop.

5. Version Control
Zoho Wiki saves all versions of a web page. And the evolution of the documentation can be tracked as any two versions of a page can be compared. A page can be reverted back to an older version, if need be.

6. Search Engine Optimization
The zip file we had for our help documentation didn’t help when it came to search engine optimization. There were lots of valuable info in those pages which the search engines didn’t have access to. But all wikis made public in Zoho Wiki are crawlable by search engines. And the tags you add for wiki pages automatically make up the keywords meta tag. The name of the page is taken as the title tag. Also, Zoho Wiki has a good PR in Google. Since all the wikis you create are sub-domains of the Zoho Wiki URL, you have a nice chance of getting a good page rank, resulting in your pages turning up tops for related search queries.

Searches for Olympics 2008 stats, entrepreneurial marketing, CRM online help in Google all have Zoho wikis within the first 3 places.

7. No Expertise needed
There is typically a learning curve involved with any help authoring tool. It takes some time to know all the functions and master them. But with Zoho Wiki, you can hit the road running. Sign up for free with a username / password, get invited to the appropriate wiki and start working on the content right-away.

8. Searchable
The pages of a Zoho Wiki are regularly indexed and hence are easily searchable. There is a search box available in evey page where you can type page names, tags, words or text phrases within a page and search for them within a wiki.

9. Customization Options
With help authoring tools, you should have a thorough knowledge of HTML in order to make your web pages appear the way you want. With Zoho Wiki, there are a lot many customization options available. Like having the side panel to the right or left, including your organization logo, customizing the header/footer panes, choosing a skin color etc. There is CSS support too. If you know how to work with style sheets, you can easily make your wiki look unique (like this one, for example).

10. Easy maintenance
Before, we had to upload zip files to our site and it required webmaster’s help. Whenever there was a small change/addition to any of the documents, a whole set of steps had to be followed. The tech writer updates the specific page, a new build (a zip file) is made to reflect the changes, the zipped file is mailed to the webmaster team, the webmaster team uploads the build to a test site and mails back to the product team asking for approval, the product team downloads the zip from the test site and sees whether everything’s OK, gives approval to the webmaster for uploading to the site and finally the webmaster uploaded it onto the site. Now with Zoho Wiki, it is an one-click process. Make the necessary changes in the appropriate wiki page, save it and you are done. The latest changes get reflected on the site.

Some of the tech documentation that we have on Zoho Wiki : Zoho Invoice, Zoho CRM, Zoho Wiki‘s itself, Zoho Show, ToonDoo and more. Going forward, we plan to host almost, if not all, of AdventNet’s / Zoho’s web pages on Zoho Wiki in a phased manner.

Switch to Zoho Wiki now for all your help documentation needs.

Live Olympics 2008 Dashboard – Powered by Zoho Reports

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Olympic fever has gripped many of us. This edition could provide a much closer finish at the top of the table with China and USA running head-head. China being the host nation, could have the home advantage to topple US leadership this Olympics. Anyway let’s wait and watch….

Some of the Olympics enthusiasts here at Zoho thought about building a Live Olympics 2008 Dashboard for a quick preview of the latest trends. We used Zoho Reports to upload the latest Olympics results periodically and built some insightful reports. We designed a live dashboard using Zoho Wiki collating some of the top reports created. You can access this @ http://olympics2008.wiki.zoho.com

Some of the reports available:

1. Day by Day Medal progress in Olympics 2008 of top performing countries
2. China vs USA head-head comparison
3. Top 7 countries – By Overall Medal count, By Men Event Winners, By Women Event Winners
4. Performance of a Country when being a Olympics Host vs as Non Host
5. many more…

You can also access the entire public Olympic 2008 database done in Zoho Reports.

So just bookmark the Olympics Dashboard, keep track of the progress and enjoy the games…..

Clarence
Zoho Reports – Online Reporting & BI service

Zoho Wiki : Watch Wikis and Wiki Pages

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You have created a couple of Zoho wikis and have shared it with your team or made it public. Now you would like to be notified whenever someone edits your Wiki or a specific Wiki page. And here’s one more scenario – you want to watch a public Wiki that you are interested in. Zoho Wiki’s ‘Watch this Wiki/Wiki page’ option comes in useful.

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You can either choose to watch a specific wiki page or a whole wiki.


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And you will be notified by email whenever there’s some edit happening to that wiki page or wiki. Use this Zoho Wiki feature to keep yourselves up-to-date on wikis you own or your favorite wiki.

Export/Backup Options in Zoho

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We get this question quite often -

Does Zoho offer a backup function which will let me download all my data?

We have various options depending on each Zoho service.

Zoho Writer : Offers a variety of different formats that you can export a document to – doc, docx, pdf, odf (odt), latex, sxw, html, rtf & txt. Click on Export to see the options.

Also integrates with Google Gears. Offers upto 50 documents to be downloaded to your desktop. You can access these documents from http://writer.zoho.com/offline. Click on Go Offline to download Google Gears and your Zoho Writer documents

Zoho Sheet : Click on Export. Again offers a wide variety of options from xls to pdf to ods to xml. There is also a batch export option available from the sidebar.

Zoho Show : Open a presentation. Click on Export and you will see the options available (ppt, pdf, pps and odp)

Zoho Projects : Export all your tasks as an xls or csv file. Under Tasks and Milestones, click on Export button

Zoho Creator : Export all your data as xls, pdf. Also as RSS, JSON feeds etc.

Zoho Wiki : You can download all the pages of your Wiki as a zip file. Available under Settings -> Click to download the backup

Zoho CRM : Choose the module (Leads, Contacts etc) and click on Export. You can also export all your CRM data in one go also. We charge a nominal fee of $10.

Zoho DB & Reports : Export your reports as csv, pdf or an image file

Zoho Invoice : Export each invoice, estimate as pdf. Export customer’s info as VCard (vcf).

Zoho Notebook : Has an Export as mht option. The exported page can be viewed in Internet Explorer.

We will be coming up with more export options in upcoming updates.

Recent blog posts mentioning Zoho

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Curtis Partridge at Small Business Tech blog in a post titled ‘Zoho Portfolio Continue to Grow‘ says,

One company that has been quietly building a stunning collection of applications is Zoho. They now offer an impressive array of software including office applications, invoicing, project management, and customer relationship management, database, and more. They have formed world-wide alliance partnerships around the globe to assist small business with using their products. They seem much more serious than others about developing a cloud computing business beyond the geek crowd.

In the coming weeks, we are going to dig more deeply into each of the Zoho applications and compare functionality with other online-based products.

We are eagerly waiting to hear what you would have to say about Zoho, Curtis!

Looking for a free or affordable project management app? David Glumac from Budapest, Hungary suggests some ‘alternatives to MS Project‘. David writes about Zoho Projects,

The team at Zoho is one of the coolest “Web 2.0” companies out there. Their online office suite includes tools for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, databases, note-taking, wikis, CRM, project management, invoicing and other applications. Being web-native, all Zoho applications are operating system independent. It supports creating tasks, ownership, setting deadlines and tracking milestones; working with calendars, Gantt charts, reports, share supporting files—all the cool features expected in a project management package.

Anali at the MCLC Library Tech Talk blog in her ‘Talking Tech Friday – Zoho‘ post does a brief overview of some of the Zoho apps.

 Just to prove that Google doesn’t rule the world, I thought I would do a brief overview of the Zoho suite of online tools.

[Zoho Sheet] looks very much like Excel, and also allows you to import or export .xls files from or to your computer. You can embed sheets into a blog or website, collaborate with others, and use a broader variety of tools than with Google Spreadsheets, including macros. One feature I just noticed here, and is the same for Writer, is you can export in a wide variety of formats, including .xls, xml, html, pdf, open office, etc. Very handy!

The [Zoho] wiki uses a nicer WYSIWYG interface than many wiki or blog editing applications I’ve seen. No silly wiki text markup (the bane of my existence), and it looks nicer to me than the PB Wiki design. However, the wiki allows you to choose your own editor, set your own brand and logo, and manage editing and viewing permissions.

Enda Madden at his SaaS Technologies blog says ‘Run your business with Zoho‘.

The last few months I’ve been road testing the Zoho applications by using it for my own company’ day to day administration. Originally Zoho was best known for their meeting application software which was a great substitute for WebEx. Over the last year they’ve constantly added new useful apps and at this stage have almost anything that any SME business would need.

One of my personal favourites is Zoho Invoicing which is a quick and very smart way to generate estimates and invoices http://invoice.zoho.com/login/jsp/login.jsp).

Better still it integrates into Zoho CRM.

Thanks to all the above bloggers!

Zoho Wiki : Improved Free Plan, Domain Level Permissions etc

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Zoho Wiki’s latest update added the below goodies :

  • Free plan improved
    • Number of wikis per free account increased from 1 to 2
    • File attachment storage space for each Wiki increased from 10 MB to 25 MB
  • Domain and registered users permission settings
    • Provide permission to your domain users (your company/organization’s email domain) to create/edit/view/delete pages & post comments to your wiki. No separate invitation mail need to be sent, just signing up with Zoho is enough for accessing your wiki [a short help page explaining domain level permissions with a screencast]
    • Provide permission to Zoho’s registered users to create/edit/view/delete pages & post comments to your wiki
  • Set Permissions for Page Creation / Deletion
    • Provide permission to who can create pages in your wiki
    • Provide permission to who can delete pages in your wiki
  • Block Users
    • Block users who are mis-using your wiki by Zoho User ID or user email address
  • New Image options
    • See your latest uploaded images and thumbnail view of images
  • Delete file attachment versions
    • Delete unwanted versions of a file attachment. Comes in handy for reclaiming attachment space [Caution: you cannot revert back your content once you delete a version]

Try the new Zoho Wiki and we would love to hear your feedback comments.

Zoho Wiki Update : Backup, Page Options, Customizable Footer etc

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We’ve rolled out some important changes in Zoho Wiki over the last couple of weeks.

Wiki Backup : Taking a wiki backup has been one of the top requirements of our users. The wiki owner/administrator can now find this option under Settings -> General -> BackUp -> ‘Click to download the backup’. You will get a zipped file containing all the pages of your Wiki as HTML files.

Page Options : In the previous update, we brought in page level permissions. Now, there are even more options for each of your wiki pages.

  • Duplicate Page : You can make copies of a page now. This comes in handy when your Wiki consists of almost similar pages. Create a template page & make duplicate copies of it.
  • Copy to (another Wiki) : You can copy a page to another Wiki which is yours or which you are subscribed to.
  • Print Preview : Print a Wiki page (without the Wiki side panel etc)
  • Other options like delete, rename, adding a sub-page, setting a page as the Wiki’s home page, seeing/changing the page’s permissions, viewing all/public/group/private pages are part of the ‘Recently Changed Pages’ module in the Wiki’s side panel

Customizable Footer : Another new customization option which will give a more native feel & individuality to your Wiki. Click on Settings -> Customization -> Use customizable footer and set your own footer.

Other changes in this update include :

  • An option to specify whether you would the visitors of your Wiki to send feedback to you by email
  • The order is maintained now during drag-and-drop of all pages in the wiki’s Site Map (previously, the order wasn’t preserved in the root level pages)

The above changes illustrated using a Zoho Show slide show below.

Try out the new features in Zoho Wiki and as always, we’ll be glad hearing your feedback!

ps : Help documentation for Zoho CRM & Zoho Show are now available as Zoho Wikis!