AJAX e-mail and more

Zimbra launches Version 4.0 of its Collaboration Suite, reaching beyond whizzy AJAX-based e-mail to document creation and sharing

A unique amalgam of Linux mail server and open source development platform, the Zimbra Collaboration Suite (ZCS) combines truly integrated e-mail, calendaring, and contacts with a mashup-friendly AJAX client and easy extensibility using Zimlets, which are XML/Web services widgets for initiating content lookups or actions (such as a VoIP phone call) from within messages. Version 4.0 of the suite, announced today, takes collaboration up a notch to document creation and sharing.

ZCS 4.0 allows users to create and edit formatted text documents and spreadsheets, using only their Web browser, and share them via REST (Representational State Transfer) URLs, meaning the server spawns links to the documents -- and simple, memorable URLs -- that can be e-mailed to co-workers. Calendars and contacts can now be shared in the same way.

A feature called AJAX Linking and Embedding allows users to insert objects, including text, images, charts, and so on, into Zimbra browser documents, which are based on XML. According to Zimbra co-founder and CEO Satish Dharmaraj, ZCS will support the OASIS Open Document Format by the end of the year,; document versioning and differencing will be added in a future release.

ZCS 4.0 is available in a free Open Source Edition and a commercially supported Network Edition that costs $28 per mailbox, per year.

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