Are e-mail attachments the bane of your existence? Do you hate having to download files from e-mail in order to view them? Do you lack the necessary applications to view some files?
If you answered yes to any of these questions then Zoho, the maker of a popular suite of Web-based office applications, thinks it has the solution for you.
Zoho Viewer is a free, Web-based application that makes it possible to easily upload your documents to the Web and then e-mail people a link to the document rather than an attachment. And when people receive this link, instead of having to download and open the file, they can simply click the link and view the document online through the Zoho Viewer, even if they don’t have the necessary applications installed on their desktops. It is also possible to embed a document in a Web page using Zoho Viewer, such as in this PowerPoint example.
Zoho Viewer supports a number of standard file formats, including all of the core Microsoft Office formats. However, in my tests I was less than completely impressed with the capabilities of Zoho Viewer.
To test the service, I uploaded a number of files, including Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint files and Adobe PDF files. Of these, the Word files rendered the most faithfully.
But when it came to the other formats, results were less than satisfactory. If the Excel files included any kind of formulas or macros, these weren’t effective in Zoho Viewer, with the file essentially becoming a static Web table. The PowerPoint files basically come through as an image slideshow and in several of our test files the formatting was incorrect. And when it came to PDF, unless it was a very simple text document, Zoho Viewer had a hard time handling them. In most cases the PDF files were a mess and difficult to read, with images and text nowhere near where they were laid out in the original PDF document. Also, there is currently no way to delete a document from the Zoho service once it has been uploaded.
But even if the service worked perfectly, I would still be a little skeptical of the whole idea of online document viewers. In some cases it makes sense, for example, if you need to send a document to someone who only has access to a kiosk system or are dealing with a recipient who can’t receive attachments.
However, if the goal is to do serious business with a document, than the view from Zoho Viewer is definitely not clear enough.