Zoho Gets All Wiki

Online office suite Zoho continues to quietly, and quickly, release new products and features on a regular basis. Last month they launched a Microsoft Office plugin that lets users save files directly to their Zoho accounts. Today they add a Wiki product to the mix.

The product itself contains all the bells and whistles of competing standalone, hosted Wikis (good comparison chart here). The feature set includes separate read/write permissions, RSS feeds, an admin dashboard for overall wiki management, and a number of skins to choose from. The underlying engine is Zoho Writer, and the popular keyboard shortcuts also work in the Wiki. The Wiki pages support HTML, CSS, JavaScript, etc.

For an example Wiki page, plus some additional information about the product, see Zoho evangelist Raju Vegesna’s sample page here.

Two things make this product stand out. The first is that the Wiki supports embedded data from other Zoho products. For example, a spreadsheet from Zoho Sheet can be embedded directly into the Wiki. Any changes to the spreadsheet, whether they are made in the Wiki or in Zoho Sheet, will be synced. The Wiki product also has a single sign in with other Zoho products.

Second, the entire Zoho suite of products is on the same overall architecture, making syncronization and new feature releases much easier between applications. Contrast that to Google’s suite, including two acquired products (Writely and JotSpot) and one mostly home-grown one (Spreadsheets). It will never be as homogenous as what Zoho has created.

In fact, it’s not clear (from a cost or speed standpoint) that Google will be better off by buying best-of-breed office applications one at a time and then integrating them. The Zoho project is not a small one by any test – they’ve been working on Zoho applications for two years and have 80 developers currently working on the project. But 75 of those developers are in India, where costs are far lower than here. My guess is that the overall investment by Zoho has been less than Google’s, and they have far more to show for it at this point.

Zoho, which claims 150,000 registered users, continues to develop an excellent product, that is ripe for picking off by someone other than Google. Whoever does it, will have the best online office suite at that time. Yes, their logo sucks. And yes, these guys don’t speak American English without an accent. Their product releases don’t get nearly the attention that Google’s do. But they are kicking ass and gaining a lot of respect along the way.