Exclusive: Zoho Notebook Sneak Peek

Zoho continues to rock along, releasing new products every few weeks (see Zoho Wiki for example) that have turned their Ajax office suite into the best on the web, bar none. See here for all of our previous Zoho coverage.

Today they’ll release their newest product – Zoho Notebook – into private alpha for selected users. After a feedback and testing period they’ll release this to the public in March. Notebook is a product that allows users to create, aggregate, and collaborate content in an online whitespace from other Zoho services as well as any web content. Embedded applications will work just fine as well.

Not surprisingly, Notebook follows a notebook metaphor, consisting of books, with pages that you can drop content from services like Zoho Writer and Sheets onto. The pages currently supports adding spreadsheets, word processor, task, planner, contacts, and calendars as pages or embedded widgets on the pages. Other embedded objects consist of text, images, video, HTML, RSS, javascript, Flash embeds and webpages. Images, video, and audio can be drawn from third party services or recorded right from within the program using recorders from Flixn. Notebook will also come with a browser plugin for Firefox and IE you can use to cut and paste web clips into the notebook. If you can’t find what you need on the web they also have some simple drawing tools (text, box, circle, line, comment bubble) to get the job done. Each object on a page can have its z-depth changed.

Click on the screen shot above for a larger view.

This goes way beyond what Google Notebook offers, which is really just a content clipping service for websites. A good analogy to Zoho Notebook is Microsoft OneNote, a desktop application. But with sharing and versioning.

Each notebook allows very fine grained access control. You can publish a book publicly to a static URL, share just a page, or share just an object on a page by granting read and write privileges to other Zoho members. They’ve also integrated Skype status right into the objects, pages, and books so that you can chat to collaborate with the users you’re sharing with. In the release, they plan on also adding a Zoho chat box to provide another way to connect for members not on Skype so you can edit in real time. Each object and page has version controls as well.

Project Manager Raju Vegesna shows off Zoho below: