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Macros For Dummies

I’ve never made a secret of the fact that my spreadsheet skills are somewhere at the level of what I learned using Lotus 1-2-3:-)  so the recent addition of Macros and Pivot tables to Zoho Sheet was really not my piece of cake.  Not that I would not recognize the techological feat when both Google and Editgrid said they couldn’t / wouldn’t do it…

Now I have to admit I occasionally tinkered around with Excel macros: not that I know Visual Basic, all I ever did was record the sequence I needed, then tinker with the resulting VB code.  That’s the capability Zoho just announced today: with a few clicks record, edit, re-run your macros, in the original Zoho Sheet or in any others you have access to.  Finally, Macros For Dummies like me :-) Here’s a summary video:

To the best of my knowledge no other spreadsheet can do it (other than GrandDaddy Excel)

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Web Forms Gain Popularity

Web forms are increasingly popular, as they provide an easy way to solicit user input, manage a database in the background, and display data in a controlled form. Typical uses are contact forms (this blog has one), surveys, signup-sheets.   Wufoo is perhaps the most popular standalone form builder, but as popular as they are, Google’s entry to the space will likely bring more visibility to Web form use cases. 

I set up a very rudimentary web form to demonstrate their use, but I am cheating: I took the data from Google Operating System and populated my database – sorry, Ionut, I don’t get anywhere close to your huge reader base.smile_wink   Please fill out the form below.

Although the form captures the time of entry, I am not displaying it below, to demonstrate that once can control the re-use of data after user entry.

You can manipulate the above data, filter it, sort it by clicking on the column headers, search the contents…etc. 

Oh… is this more than you’ve seen on the other Google forms?  And they’ve told you the lists were not embeddable?  Sorry .. I’m cheating: I’ve re-created Ionut’s  form in Zoho Creator. smile_tongue  (Disclaimer: I am an Advisor to Zoho – but I am making a point by doing this.)

 

Different people will always prefer different tools.  I don’t have any statistics, but I would assume the number of users for database-like tools (MS Access, Dabble DB, Zoho Creator & DB) is by an order of magnitude less than the number of spreadsheet users.  A lot of basic spreadsheet users don’t perform calculations, don’t use pivot tables – they just  create tables to track lists. (See my earlier rant on why JotSpot’s tracker is not a real spreadsheet).  For their sake it’s nice to be able to have simple form support inside a spreadsheet, which is what they can now get from Google.

Several reviewers of the new Google Forms were missing field verification, calculated numeric fields…etc. These features and more are supported in Zoho Creator, which in fact allows you to build mini-apps by dropping script elements, without actually coding.  Those who want more database manipulation can use Zoho DB. These are powerful applications, but which one to use when can be confusing to less technically inclined users (like yours truly).  Hence simple forms in a spreadsheet are a good idea.   But let me dream a little – here’s how I’d like to see web-based collaboration some day:

It won’t be about formats and applications – it will be about free-flowing thoughts and the data encapsulating them.  Of course there will be differences in application capabilities, but it’s entirely likely that what you can manipulate in your database application, I will access using a spreadsheet. Likewise, I may write something in a wiki, and you want to edit it in an online word processor.  It’s not a dream, we’re heading that way.  For example Zoho’s wiki and Writer apps share a basically similar editor, Zoho DB introduced pivot tables which will show up in Sheet in the near future.  I am impatient, would like to see this sharing happen faster, but have to accept the realities of how the leading Web companies work: individual products first, integration later.  But we’ll get there… to the vision of format-less web-collaboration.

Oh, and until then, Welcome Creator Mini Google Forms.smile_teeth

Related posts: Rev2.org, Download Squad, Digital Trends, Sunny Talks Tech, Webware.com, Compiler, Search Engine Roundtable, Googlified, Search Engine Journal, CenterNetworks, Google Operating System, TechCrunch, Google Blogoscoped, SEO and Tech Daily, Lifehacker, Gear Diary and Techmamas

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Zoho DB for Data Manipulation & Reporting

Impeccable timing: just days after Computerworld named Zoho Creator one of five web apps they can’t live without, Zoho DB is released today. While Creator is an application generator, DB is primarily for data manipulation, analysis and reporting. You can create a new database or import your dataset from an existing spreadsheet, be it Zoho’s own Sheet or MS Excel. The UI is instantly familiar, as it reminds us of a spreadsheet, but one with drag-and-drop goodness, allowing the user to easily analyse data, create charts, reports, which, as typical with Zoho apps you can embed in your web page or blog, and of course other Zoho Apps.

Fur deeper analysis you can create Pivot Tables with simple drag & drop. Zoho DB Supports Query Tables – tables created based on a select query from a different table. It understands queries in many SQL dialects: Oracle, SQL Server, DB2, Sybase, MySQL, PostgreSQL, Informix and ANSI SQL. This sets Zoho DB apart from the rest of the industry, and it’s made possible by leveraging another Adventnet (Zoho’s parent) product: SwisSQL. In the near future it will also allow users to import and export database schemas.

The best way to get a feel for the capabilities is to watch the video introduction, then get your hands “dirty” by diving into Zoho DB yourself.

Some of Zoho DB’s features will soon be available in Zoho’s spreadsheet application giving users a choice where they analyze their data – and of course you will be able to access the same data via applications built with Zoho Creator.

Attendees at the recent Wiki: Beauty & Beast event heard Zoho’s Raju Vegesna talk about how eventually Word processors like Zoho Writer and Wikis should morph into each other. This may sound off-topic, but it’s another hint to Zoho’s philosophy of allowing users access their data via their application of choice, no matter which other application they used to create it. It’s all about the (work) flow, not data formats.:-)

See also: TechCrunch, Read/WriteWeb, CenterNetworks, Zoho Blogs , Mashable!, Between the Lines,

Update: Ouch, Rod reveals Zoho’s most secret plans: Today – Zoho DB – Tomorrow – Zoho Beer

Update (9/6): Ask Zoho: What’s the difference between Zoho DB, Creator & Sheet?