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[zoho creator]





summary of the application

zoho creator is a form creation and hosting application. with zoho creator, you can create interactive web-based forms, have a place to store all the data you collect via the forms, and then create summaries and reports on the data. any or all of the forms and reports you create can then be embedded in a page on your site, created in iframe spaces on your site, or even simply linked to from your site. there is some, but limited, customizing capabilities for the interfaces on your site. the most basic approach to creating a form is to find one in the public gallery and copy it. you can then create a unique url for your new application, give it a name, change the color scheme, and whammo slammo, you are the proud owner of you're own web form. hit the "embed this page in your site" button at the top of any application and before you know it, you'll be live on the net. very elaborate databases with multiple entry forms and multiple reports are possible in zoho creator. for the more complex operations, zoho creator uses a coding language called deluge, which they claim will become the visual basic of the web. all of this comes to you from zoho for free.

personal effectiveness xxx


the thing i like about zoho creator is that it means i may never have to learn php or mysql or the like-ever. zoho creator takes the database management out of managing a database! now truth be told, most of zoho creator's competitors do the same baseline hosting and managing. so all of the online database applications will get a bump up in my ratings because they really do take away a huge part of this type of work. a part that most people don't understand nor wish to.


but zoho creator is the application in hand for this review. the functionality of zoho creator is very good. by sticking to the core of database structure and management, they are empowering some very heavy duty capabilities. you can easily set up a form to validate against duplicate entries. you can build multiple reports from the same data. sending notifications and alerts triggered by data entry or by content in the database is relatively easy as well.


at the beginning of july '07, zoho launched a significant upgrade of zohocreator.  they definitely made some improvements to the creation of form and views.  there is less need to go to directly editing the deluge code.  however, the user interface has gotten a bit more confusing.  i'm still struggling with how the tabs hierarchy works.  they have provided a small amount of control over the look and feel when you embed a form or view in your blog or webpage, but it still is limited and still often results in bad display on your page.  that this problem isn't resolved in version 2.0 after continual complaints by users is really shocking and quite disappointing.


after months of use both here and on learning circuits blog, there are problems with zoho creator that have nearly lead me to drop use of the tool.  first is a number of unannounced "upgrades" that lead to forms not being available for use at very inconvenient times and changes to views that resulted in information that wasn't supposed to be displayed being displayed publicly.  it's inexcusable for a company to make changes to a product without informing users of upcoming changes.  zoho has regularly left it to users to discover changes before they announce that they have made the changes.  second is regular outages of the service.   this has been due, primarily, to the popularity of of zohocreator overloading their capability to serve all the usage.  however true this may be, it's caused problems for users.


deluge seems a bit daunting when you first approach it, but, as they claim, it's pretty straightforward, especially when you get the hang of it. however, their user documentation could be far better. why do technical writers still insist today on keeping everything focused on the functionality of the software versus a problem or task based approach (ie, you can do xyz with zoho creator and here are the steps you can take to make it happen.)


zoho creator, unlike most of its competitors is free. they are also on record as saying that there will always be a free version.


learning effectiveness xxx


one of the givens in designing learning interventions is that you need to know where you are starting from. i'd say that a tool like zoho creator is going to play its greatest role in the design and administrative roles of a learning organization. gathering current state data becomes a much easier task with zoho creator.


the push back a training department will get is that company data is sitting on someone else's server. given what i know about zoho, i'm relatively sure they have that base covered, but i haven't dealt with the issue myself.


because of its ease of use, zoho creator may find great success also with ad hoc surveying of groups and organizations. which could be a nice way to drive informal learning initiatives as well. when they get the functionality around the css for embedding zoho creator forms in your website so that they will seem part of your website, rather than some odd thing an alien dropped on your pages, it will be even more powerful.


coolness xxx


i previously said that "zoho creator is just a few tweaks here and some minor reprogramming there form being very cool." unfortunately, the new version went the other direction. that the css issues with embedded forms is still a problem is quite disappointing. the disregard for user concerns and the effects of interrupted service is very uncool. the functionality that zohocreator provides is still powerful and I still find it the easiest to use of the programs that provide this service. but i'm definitely up for a better tool and better customer service at this point.


personal effectiveness =
learning effectiveness =
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content last edited 8/21/07


do you know a competitor to this application?




if you know of a competitor to zoho creator and it's not in the list below, feel free to add it to the list by filling out the form to the right. that will put it on my radar screen for possible review.





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