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Zoho API Program - Overview

Program Overview

The Zoho family of APIs is an expanding portfolio of functionality and depth that provides partners and customers with a simple way to integrate several of Zoho's award-winning web applications into existing third-party applications, portals or websites. Some of the immediate benefits of API integration include:

  • Ease of use and integration: the Zoho API's can be developed in PHP, Java and integrated into any type of application environment saving a lot of time and energy as well as eliminating risk associated with complex deployments.

  • Extend the value and reach of your applications and services: Partners increase the value of their offering by combining the features and benefits of  integrated Zoho applications with  the services you already provide potentially increasing revenues and user retention.

  • Data can be stored locally while applications are accessed in the "cloud" This concept is one of the biggest benefits of the program. Many users want to leverage the benefits of cloud computing but prefer to have their documents stored on their servers or on partners' servers

  • Collaboration and Productivity: Many people want to collaborate online and do not like to open attachments, share files and manage several iterations of their documents. With the Zoho integration, users can open desktop documents in their browsers, invite participants to collaboratively edit and save a single copy of the document. The integrated Chat allows users to collaborate in real time while co-editing documents or using any of the other services.

The following services are available through Zoho APIs:

This section provides an overview of the different types of APIs and the various Zoho services that are available for integration in third-party applications. The overview also includes a summary of the API functionality.

Zoho API Types

There are two types of Zoho API each with a different set of functions and methods for data storage and account creation. The primary difference between the two is whether end user's data is stored on partner's servers or on Zoho servers.
  • Remote API
    • Data stored in partners' servers
    • No login or User Account creation required in Zoho

  • Data API 
    • Data is stored in Zoho's document servers
    • Users create and Zoho maintains a unique User ID
Remote API - Brief Overview

The Zoho office suite (Writer, Sheet and Show) provides some of the most advanced online productivity tools available today. The majority of our partner API implementations are of this type primarily because the office suite is so popular; everyone deals with documents in one format or another.

The Remote API allows for partner & third-party applications to make use of the feature-rich editors of Zoho's Office applications (Writer, Sheet, Show) by providing a means for users to transparently upload their content from within the third party application, edit them, collaborate in real-time using the Zoho editors and then save the updated content back to their document servers. The key distinguishing factor of Zoho's remote API is that the data is totally under partner's control and the Zoho editor only provides an interface for editing the content and saving them back to the partners' specified location. The key difference with this approach and the Data API is that no user account is created in Zoho.

In short, if you have a document management system of your own and want to provide a web-based editing alternative to the desktop versions for your Office documents then this approach is ideal.

A comprehensive and technical summary of remote api along with the visual work-flow is available in the remote api overview section.
Important Note: The Zoho Remote API model is partner hosted, where documents reside on the partner's servers and Zoho's
Document editors, exposed through the APIs, upload the document content, do the edits and push them back to
their servers. No document is stored in Zoho's servers.
Who should use Zoho Remote API?

Zoho Remote APIs are ideal if you are a partner or organization with an existing document management system or online storage solution or are a medium-sized business or an enterprise having an intranet/internet solution for document management. For partners; this approach provides users with enhanced productivity and a means for working online within the context of the partner application or service. For organizations wishing to eliminate costly Microsoft licenses and desktop maintenance, the API approach can be a huge cost saver - while in both cases, document management and storage is under your full control.

Zoho Remote APIs were created specifically to meet the needs of partners and organizations that are already providing some form of document management or document integration with their service. Examples include educational institutions with Intranets or portals, online storage vendors, content management vendors, financial application vendors, project management applications, and generally applications that deal with traditional desktop editing functionality. Here's a more detailed view of some use cases for the Remote APIs:
  • Education (K12 Schools/Universities) : The world is moving to the web at a fast pace and so are educational institutions. If you are a partner who has already developed a comprehensive online school information management system and sell your solution to school systems; or if you are an educational organization with a growing need to provide online access to documents and other data, then you are a perfect candidate to use the Remote APIs for integrating Zoho's cloud-based Office suite: Writer, Sheet and Show

    A typical scenario for school districts or universities and colleges is the need to allow online access to existing documents stored on school Intranets and portals. Once the Zoho Remote API is deployed, students/staff can submit assignments from home even if they do not have Microsoft Office installed on their computers. The Remote API integration also supports collaborative editing, encouraging group participation on projects.  Multiple students or staff can collaboratively work on a document in real time resulting in a single document instead of multiple copies spread out in various e-mail attachments. The Zoho Remote API provides a convenient way for students and staff to open, edit and save existing documents directly in the browser without having to launch the Microsoft (or alternative) desktop application.

  • Document Management Systems : Partners offering online storage and content management solutions can increase the value add to their services by allowing users to open, edit and collaborate on their office documents in Zoho's browser-based editors. Implementing the Zoho Remote API provides a simple and uninterrupted workflow with the added advantage of all the data remaining on partner's or in-house servers.

  • WebOS and Netbooks : WebOS or Virtual Web Desktop is another cloud computing shift taking place in the industry. WebOS providers focus on extending the traditional desktop into a service that runs on the Internet rather than on the local computer. The Zoho Remote API can be a powerful value added benefit by providing a low-cost means of giving users access to their documents inside the browser as well as providing an online storage service.

    Netbooks: A whole new generation of browser-equipped devices are replacing and augmenting the traditional laptop paradigm. The main advantages of these devices include: lighter weight, smaller size, speed and cost. Almost all of the devices support Wi-FI wireless networking. Users can instantly access the Internet without launching Windows or other operating system gaining direct access to their online applications. Many users have more than one device such as a laptop and use the Netbook for travel and convenience. This means there is an excellent opportunity to increase the value of the Netbook experience by integrating the Zoho Remote API. Users then have access to all their documents from any device from almost any location. .

Data API - Brief Overview

The Data API's on the other hand, provide partners and their third party applications with a more tightly integrated access to the various Zoho applications, while the end-user data is stored on Zoho's secure infrastructure. It also requires that end-users create an account (consisting of e-mail address and password) with Zoho.

Data APIs provide a deeper level of integration with various Zoho services and are used by partners who wish to provide their users with access to the full functionality and feature-set of Zoho services. For example, document sharing and collaborative editing. The end-result is a tightly-integrated, richer end-user experience while maintaining the integrity of the work-flow from the partner's site.

For a detailed technical summary of data api along with the visual work-flow please refer to the data api overview section.
Target Audience : Who should use Zoho Data API?

The Zoho Data API provides partners and organizations with a more tightly integrated means of interacting with Zoho's applications and secure storage and document management infrastructure. The main difference from the Remote API approach, as indicated above, is that user data is stored with Zoho and a user account is created.  This approach is ideal if you do not have your own document management system or wish to eliminate it. In addition, the Data API approach can be integrated into an existing document system system extending the range of functionality. Partners can build their own applications and leverage the collaboration and document sharing capabilities of the integrated Zoho services. Here are a few examples:
  • Document and Storage Management: Data APIs for Zoho's office suite - Writer, Sheet & Show - provide a wider feature-set with more collaboration capabilities and manipulation of document data. The Data APIs also provides a means for document storage so that partners can focus on their core applications and services rather than build and manage a storage solution..

  • Online Meeting/Web Conferencing Service: The Zoho Meeting API provides partners and organizations with a means of integrating Zoho's powerful web conferencing and desktop sharing application into an existing website or portal. Partners can build a profitable value added service right into their existing site or application; while businesses can easily create a seamless user experience of scheduling and conducting web-conferences including information on meeting topics, presenter and participant e-mail addresses, as well as the date and time of each meeting.

  • Project Management: The Zoho Projects API,  provides organizations with a means of creating  a project management application mashup with an existing web application. Partners can leverage the API to build customized solutions for Project management, billing & invoicing, as well as time tracking and other web-based products.

  • Data-driven web applications: The Zoho Creator API provides a flexible way of combining existing applications and websites with the power of Creator's application development and database functionality. The API provides organizations with a means of creating an almost unlimited range of data-driven web applications such as expense tracking, task managing, IT asset managing, helpdesk functionality and CRM, to name a few,  in any programming language with the data stored in the secure and massively scalable Zoho Infrastructure.

  • Powerful Data Analysis & Reporting Tool: The Zoho Reports API, leverages Zoho's powerful CloudSQL technology providing a cloud based means of generating reports on any type of data, while freeing it from its desktop chains. With the API, organizations can access and manipulate business data stored across several Zoho applications (CRM, Sheet, Creator etc.) or other Web-based services. For example, data collected from a finance or ERP application can automatically be stored in Zoho Reports. Reports then generated by the Zoho Reporting application can be re-embedded back into the finance (or ERP) application interface creating a powerful dashboard that combines both applications into a single user interface.
A note on the Remote API:

As noted in this document, the key advantages of using the Remote API include the ability to remotely access the document editors while storing the data back to your servers. However, the Zoho editors are not the fully functional editors you can access from Zoho.com.  Due to the inherent limitations of no user account creation, they are a slightly scaled-down version of our online editors with some features and functionality missing. In Zoho Writer, these include: no pagination, document revisions & history, in Sheet: no pivot tables, document tagging, document publishing and a few other features. Partners who need to provide access to these features can opt for the Data APIs if data storage and account creation with Zoho is not an issue.

Performance: As each call to the Remote API involves an upload and download operation to and from partners' servers, the speed at which the document either gets loaded to Zoho's editors or gets saved back to the repository will depend on the document's size, internet connection and response time from Zoho's document servers. There will be times when partners may experience latency or sluggishness during data transfer. Zoho Data API solves the above problem due to the fact that the document content gets stored in our own secure servers.

In any case, we are aggressively working on performance enhancements and this will improve over time

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