Zoho preps another Web app: Notebook

Zoho continues to roll out useful Web apps. The latest: a OneNote competitor, Notebook.

Rafe Needleman Former Editor at Large
Rafe Needleman reviews mobile apps and products for fun, and picks startups apart when he gets bored. He has evaluated thousands of new companies, most of which have since gone out of business.
Rafe Needleman
2 min read

There are several Web start-ups that I see over and over again at new-tech conferences but none that launch a new product at each show. That's certainly what it feels like Zoho does. "Look, it's another conference! Let's launch another product."

Zoho Notebook takes on OneNote Zoho

So here we are at Demo 07, and of course Zoho's got something new: Notebook. If you've used Microsoft's OneNote, you'll grok it pretty quickly. It's a content editing system that lets you create multiple sheets in one document. You use tabs across the top for major sections, and into each section you can add pages as subtabs that are displayed along the right. I've used OneNote, and like Zoho, its notebook metaphor works well for keeping notes and for organizing your thoughts on big, complex projects.

Zoho's product leverages Zoho's existing word processor and spreadsheet apps, and you can insert those types as pages into your files. You can also easily add in URLs, pictures (photos or freehand drawings), videos, calendars, RSS feeds, and more. Feeds get their content displayed in boxes, NetVibes-like.

Zoho Notebook's biggest advantage over OneNote is that you can turn your Notebooks into shared work spaces. That fixes the biggest flaw in OneNote: using it feels almost like using a wiki--except for the fact that it's not multiuser. You can also share individual items (such as an RSS feed or a single word processing tab) with colleagues. Zoho also has a more traditional wiki service.

Its biggest disadvantage is that it's a Web app, and it doesn't work when you're offline.

One problem in both Zoho and the version of OneNote I used is that it's hard to change your organizational schema once you've begun work. If you want to make a tab into a section, for example, there's no easy way to move your content around. I'm told that an upcoming version of Office will fix this problem. Zoho Notebooks is still in alpha; hopefully, the team will find a way to address this before the product's public launch.

By the way, I gave up on OneNote a while ago and started using the simpler (and free) tag-focused EverNote as my note-taking application. I've been very happy with it.

Zoho Notebook should be available in March.