Caption by: Christian Harris
Over the past couple of years, AdventNet has launched a range of online applications and utilities, nearly all with APIs, under the Zoho banner. The company is steadily improving its large range of online products, making them a intriguing alternative to Google Apps on the one hand and Microsoft Office on the other.
Zoho Show is an online-only presentation application. Not only is it relatively powerful, but it's completely free to use. Whether you're a businessperson, teacher, student, sales rep, or anyone looking to create a cool presentation, Zoho Show is well worth a try if you can't justify the cost of Microsoft's PowerPoint (part of Office) or find Google Docs too simplistic. It's not as powerful or versatile as PowerPoint, but Zoho Show 2.0 includes more features than Google Docs: its closest competitor is ThinkFree Show, which comes in both online (free) and offline (paid for) versions.
Zoho Show is a straightforward to use thanks to its pre-built themes, clipart and shapes, coupled with handy features like drag-and-drop. In fact, anyone familiar with using the web should be able to put together a decent-looking presentation in just a few minutes. And, of course, you can access your presentation from any computer, so long as it's connected to the internet.
Because it's an online program, you don’t have to worry about carrying your Zoho Show presentations around on your notebook, memory stick or backup media: instead, you can simply share them with your colleagues or customers via a regular web browser — perfect for clients who are half a globe away. Experienced users can even make their presentations public by embedding them into a web site or blog.
Version 2.0 of Zoho Show has a number of enhancements — most noticeably the new user interface, which has been completely redesigned. The UI is now less cluttered and more intuitive to navigate, and the floating toolbars are a real boon. Support for themes has been improved too, and the application now has over 50 default themes to get you started. Eventually this will evolve so that you can create your own themes and add them to the library.
Zoho show 2.0's user interface is more intuitive, and its functionality closer to the desktop counterpart.
Shapes and ClipArt libraries have both been expanded, which is useful when creating flowcharts and the like. Improved editing capabilities make working with text and bullets easier, and images can now be rotated and flipped. If you're importing your presentations (PPT, PPS, ODP, SXI) into Zoho Show 2.0, you'll notice that the import quality of the presentations is better than the previous version.
There are improved editing facilities in Zoho Show 2.0.
Finally, Zoho Show 2.0 integrates much better with Zoho Meeting, an online desktop sharing tool from the same stable. The major benefit here is that you can now quickly and easily switch between applications to share your desktop with the participants viewing your presentation. And Zoho Chat allows you to chat with your audience during remote presentations.
You can import and export PowerPoint presentations to and from Zoho Show 2.0.
Zoho Show 2.0 offers a capable feature set, but it's still a long way from being a PowerPoint killer. It does beat PowerPoint in some areas though, including version control, sharing, online collaboration and the ability to embed finished slideshows on your web site. Although you can now import PowerPoint (and OpenOffice) files — a big advantage over most other free products — there's a 1MB upload limit on those files. On the plus side, Zoho files can be exported to PowerPoint or put on the web with a single click, whereas some applications export to HTML.
Zoho Chat is now integrated with Zoho Show 2.0, allowing you to interact with web-based viewers of your presentation.
Zoho Show 2.0 is very good for creating, editing, showing and sharing online presentations. And the fact that it now has integrated chat plus full-blown conferencing and desktop-sharing application (via Zoho Meeting) makes it an attractive option. It does lack the multimedia versatility of PowerPoint in terms of slide transitions, animations and SmartArt graphics, but many business users abuse these features anyway.
Zoho Show 2.0 is great as far as it goes, but don't rely on it exclusively: you'll need an internet-connected PC to use it, and the feature set is still relatively limited.
Caption by: Christian Harris