Now You Can Really Zoho Offline

As much as I am a certified web-app fan, I’m not naive enough to believe I’ll always have 100% broadband availability. Crazy shooters, limited conference availability, or just traveling to less covered areas (and I don’t mean here) – there will be times when we need our documents offline.

That’s why I’m happy to see Zoho Writer get offline editing capabilities today. The offline implementation is based on Google Gears, which, ironically, has yet to show up in Google’s own Apps. This video tutorial walks you through the new features – note, the steps to install Google Gears are obviously required only once. After that, you just click “Go Offline”, and can access your documents at When you’re connected again, click “Go Online” and Zoho will sync your changes back to the original document.

The features are more than covered by all the “big names”, including TechCrunch, Read/WriteWeb, GigaOM, /Message, Digital Inspiration, CenterNetworks, and Wired – to name just a few. I’ll focus on what’s still missing, and a few comments.

Yes, this is not a perfect solution – yet. Going offline has to be a planned activity since you actively need to click the option while still online; this is the way Google Gears works for now. But life produces unexpected situations, like the other day when I had to hop on a train, and was staring at an empty Google Reader as I had forgotten to click “Offline” at home (Google Reader’s offline capability is also based on Gears). But Zoho never stops enhancing their products, and they plan to tackle auto detecting online/offline status and periodically sync the contents of online and offline documents.

Some reviewers compare Zoho’s approach to full integration by Live Documents. I find it rather funny: since when can we compare a PR release to existing products? GigaOM’s headline is also quite surprising: Zoho Seeks to Replace, Not Embrace, Microsoft Office. Again, this in comparison to yet-to-be-launched Live Documents‘ “embrace and extend” strategy. What this comparison forgets to mention is that Zoho has their own MS Office plugins, so, using their analogy, Zoho’s strategy includes “embrace, extend or replace”. The choice is up to the users, as it should be.

Last but not least, the little birds are singing that the next Zoho announcement will prove that web-based apps can be on par with their desktop counterparts: care to guess which application I am talking about? smile_wink


  1. Interestingly, Remember The Milk syncs all your data constantly in the local database, and already auto-detects status. Why Google and Zoho haven’t done this, I have no idea.

  2. I put this elsewhere, then realized it was under an old post. So I’m putting it here now on a current post where it needs to be.

    Yesterday in the morning, when I checked out my document list, a document was there belonging to a complete stranger. It was someone’s private notes on their love of rap music. The ramifications of this, as you will appreciate, are substantial.

    I complained to Zoho support and naturally received an apology and excuses. However, I’ve experience other bugs with Zoho as well. I love the concept and what they are trying to do, but I don’t think Zoho is ready for serious use. Perhaps in another 6 months.

  3. Stephen:

    We again apologize for this. We put a fix to the issue and are monitoring this very closely. This is an important issue and we are taking this seriously. We will keep you posted.

    Regarding the other bugs you are referring to, is it possible to provide some insights? I am raju at zoho dot com. I’d like to chat with you if you have some time to discuss in more detail.


  1. […] my forum post was still not there, so I decided to comment on a blog about Zoho. You can see that here. Then just over an hour later, I get a reply to my comment, as you can see in the blog. Someone at […]

  2. […] somewhat ironic that Zoho is always first to implement Google Gears (is Zoho doing Google’s testing?)  but if the past is any […]

  3. […] feature will be killer. I know Zoho Writer has had this for a while, including the ability to edit offline, but they started with just viewing; Google took longer and launched with all the […]

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