Blog Post

Zoho Writer 2.0: A User Interface That's More User Friendly

writerlogoThere is very little reason to depend on a hard drive-based application for your word processing needs these days. Google Docs provides everything most users will ever need; you already have it if you have a Gmail account, and it works offline, thanks to Google Gears. Another solution, Zoho Writer, which also works offline thanks to Gears, just got a major interface overhaul in its 2.0 incarnation, and now is more poised than ever to provide a complete alternative to Office and other similar programs.

The problem with Zoho, until now, has been one of constant improvement. That may not seem like a problem at all, but when that improvement involves adding more and more features, but keeping the interface the same, it can get a little unruly. The new redesign tries to make sure Zoho doesn’t overwhelm you visually, which in turn makes it easier to work with.

The old Zoho Writer menu

While some liked the old UI, I found it too cluttered, because I normally like to edit in full screen, and like as little chrome as possible in my browsers. The changes to the top menu give you a bit more room, but more importantly, they group and hide a lot of commands so you aren’t left feeling crowded. The new “MenuTab” feature groups similar commands under general headings. You can access these commands either by clicking the tab, which changes the button set available on your toolbar (much like Microsoft’s “Ribbon” UI for Office) or by clicking the little arrow next to them, which opens a drop-down menu without changing your toolbar.

The new Zoho Writer 2.0 "MenuTab" interface
The new Zoho Writer 2.0 "MenuTab" interface

It makes sense, and it suits multiple tastes. You’ll be comfortable if you’re used to working with Office, or if you’re used to working with drop-down menus like you’ll find in a lot of web apps. Zoho plans to use MenuTab in all of its other applications in the future, too, so even if you don’t like it, plan on getting used to it!

I won’t go into detail about Zoho Writer, since we’ve covered it before. It’s not new, but I still love Zoho’s tabbed management of open documents. I much prefer it to Google’s opening of new browser tabs for each document, although that makes much more sense when you take into account Google Chrome’s handling of each tab as a separate process. And I still miss Google’s full-screen edit mode too much to make a permanent switch.

Still, if you’re a Zoho user, or if you tried it out before but didn’t like it because of the interface, Zoho Writer 2.0 gives you ample reason to take it out for a second spin.

Do you use Zoho Writer? What do you think of the new UI?

7 Responses to “Zoho Writer 2.0: A User Interface That's More User Friendly”

  1. admiraljosephcappuccino

    I’ve been using zoho for what in two weeks will be 3 years exactly and it’s gradually replaced every other office suite in my life. I haven’t tried google docs since then but I didn’t like it because it was a little too simplified …and I guess ugly. As far as my tastes go, zoho was the best balance of the 5 or 6 online word processors I used between, simplicity, features, working fast, and looking nice.

    I was a little adverse to the new UI update at first, but since I’ve been using this thing for all sorts of homework, I’ve needed all these formatting options and they were simple to get to. I approve.

  2. These are great enhancements to Zoho Writer. I’m glad that it’s been streamlined and the tab functionality is perfect for quickly finding commands. At GoEverywhere (which is currently a free beta) we hook into Zoho via our online webtop and I know our users will be excited to see these changes.

  3. New Zoho Writer looks good and feels fast, even faster than Google Docs IMHO. I must admit, Zoho products made a huge progress recently. I admire them even though their Zoho Projects are our direct competitors))