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DIY: Make Jolicloud your cloud tool

Jolicloud can be a creative solution for small businesses looking to save money and still have a pseudo presence in the cloud. Learn how to tweak Jolicloud to make it work for your shop.

I usually shy away from anything related to the cloud, but there are some instances where tools such as Jolicloud are helpful. Although Jolicloud is more of a means to manage a cloud-based desktop of icons (most of which only open websites), it also allows you to have access to a special desktop wherever you are. The desktop might be a collection of icons that launch various web tools, or it might be linked to social networking tools. I'll show you how simple it is to tweak Jolicloud to make it work for your small business.

Linking a Jolicloud desktop to Google Docs and Dropbox

From the Jolicloud desktop, Google Docs, Office Live, and Dropbox can be linked; this is probably the best reason to adopt Jolicloud for your small business PC desktop. Also, in the case of Google Docs, the documents can be edited from within the Jolicloud desktop (as long as the browser used is supported).

When a Jolicloud desktop is connected to both Google Docs and Dropbox, all documents and shared folders will show up in the Folders tab of the Jolicloud desktop (Figure A). This makes for a very convenient one-stop-shop for company documents. Figure A

Here is my Techrepublic folder from my Google account, connected to my Jolicloud Desktop. (Click the image to enlarge.)

In order to connect Jolicloud to Google Docs and Dropbox accounts, follow these steps:

  1. Click the Folder icon in the Jolicloud desktop.
  2. Click the Connections button.
  3. In the Connections control panel, click the Add button associated with the service to be connected.
  4. When prompted, enter the necessary credentials in order to connect with the specified account.
  5. Repeat until all services are added.

Google Docs, Dropbox, and Facebook are the only services that can be added. If your company has a Facebook account, you could connect Jolicloud to that account, but all this does is associate the Facebook icon on the Jolicloud desktop to the linked Facebook account. When the Facebook icon is clicked, a browser opens to the Facebook account page.

Creating customized "apps"

Let's say a small business uses various web-based tools for Point of Sale, customer relations, marketing, etc. Instead of relying on a browser's bookmarks for the tools' sites, you can add customized applications to the Jolicloud desktop, which will give the user immediate access to all of those web-based tools. This feature could make Jolicloud a huge success in small businesses.

To create a customized "app," follow these steps:

  1. Click the green "+" button in the top left corner of the Jolicloud desktop.
  2. Click the Add New App button at the bottom left corner.
  3. Fill out the necessary information (Name and URL) for the application on the first page (Figure B) and click Continue.
  4. Fill out the second page of information (Description, Category, and Icon) and click Finish.
  5. Click Close on the Results page.

Now you can check out the new icon on the Jolicloud dashboard.

Figure B

This creates an icon that serves more as a bookmark than an application.

Removing icons

If you don't want workers to use some of the icons on the Jolicloud desktop, you can remove the unwanted icons by following these steps:

  1. Hover your mouse over the unwanted icon.
  2. Click the X in the top left of the icon (Figure C).

Figure C

If you click on the "i" button in the top right of the icon, you can see information about the app.

Sharing apps

It's simple to share apps in Jolicloud. When you hover your mouse over a desktop app icon, a special frame will appear where you can click the star button (Figure C). When this star button is clicked, the app icon will appear on the public page for this Jolicloud account.

Important note: The Jolicloud account has a public page; therefore, you need to be careful not to share apps you don't want the public to see. For example, you might add an app to your Jolicloud desktop that links to your company's blog. If you accidentally share this link out to the public, an unsuspecting user is only a username/password combination away from accessing your blog. Also, do not share apps that pose any potential security threats.

Conclusion

With a little creativity, Jolicloud can be an effective tool for small businesses. The cloud-based webpage could help to centralize and simplify the web-based tools used by your business, especially if your business also relies on Google Docs and Dropbox for the management of documents and files.

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About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

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