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Embedding documents in pages

Posted by Michael Bloch in web development (Saturday April 21, 2007 )

If you’d like to make your PDF, Word, Powerpoint, Excel and other documents a little more accessible to your site visitors and give them more of a viral aspect, here’s a nifty free service to help you do so.

Most of us are familiar with image, video and audio services such as YouTube and Photobucket that allow you to quickly and easily embed your own or others’ media on your web pages while having it hosted elsewhere. Here’s the next rather interesting idea in this space – a document “player”.

Scribd is an online library where anyone can upload documents. Making use of a Flash document viewer, you can then display those documents inside your pages by embedding a snippet of code. Your visitors will no longer have to open a separate window or download documents before viewing. Here’s an example of a PDF I uploaded to Scribd:

The slider bar in the top menu bar allows you to zoom in and out, there’s a search function, view in new window feature and a few other options. When a player is resized, the toolbars could do with compensating for that so the buttons and functions are easier to see. Tooltips would be a handy addition and a more obvious “share” feature. But all in all, it’s a pretty amazing service!

It’s incredibly easy to use Scribd and the processing of documents is quite speedy. After you’ve embedded the content on your page, your visitors can also download the document from the embedded window in a variety of formats (those links at the bottom of the player).

Another feature of the Scribd service is “slurping” – grabbing documents hosted on other sites for display on your own; but do bear in mind copyright issues.

Scribd allows you to tag and add descriptions to your content, provides stats on document views and the service also has a social networking element. Advertisements may not be uploaded to Scribd (I’m not sure if they’ll see my above test as such), but if you publish up an informative guide, article, review or other useful information in relation to your products or services; that can contain mentions your company or web site. The service could be an excellent promotion/viral marketing tool as others will be able to embed your material in their sites, blogs and social network profiles.

Scribd currently supports Word, Acrobat, text, Powerpoint, Excel, Adobe postscript, MS Reader ebook, Rich Text Format and Open office formats.


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