To help us better work with online documents Crocodoc provides an HTML5 document viewing and collaboration tool that operates out of the cloud. The new viewer can be embedded into existing web offerings and provides a fast, versatile document viewing experience without the need for Flash or 3rd party plug-ins. I recently spoke with Ryan Damico, CEO and co-founder of Crocodoc, to get a better understanding of their offering.
Ryan explained that there are several advantages of using a cloud based HTML5 document viewer over the traditional options of Adobe and Flash. First, it is faster and does not require large files to be downloaded or plug-ins to be installed. It is not prone to transmitting viruseslike the others and HTML5 will soon be available on many mobile devices. This latter benefit will become increasingly important as many pundits are predicting a significant increase in the use of mobile devices for business collaboration and content sharing. There is an app development arms race within mobile and Crocodoc’s ability to work with many tools will come in handy.
Ryan showed me how you can take a PDF, Word, PowerPoint, or other document and place it within Crocodoc for both viewing and collaborative commenting and marking up. You can make comments, as well as add highlights and texts. In addition to these editing functions, you can actually draw on the docs to suggest edits. This is very useful for visual images and formats such as PowerPoint. Below a side by side comparison between a document in Crocodoc and in the PDF format.
The drawing capability also provides a great e-signature capability. Signatures are the last vestige of the analog world and they can slow down things. I was dealing with this over the weekend trying to fax a signed document to a client and dealing with bad machines, a wrong number and other challenges. There are a number of commercial tools devoted to this need but now it comes as part of Crocodoc. And Crocodoc is free to individual users. Perhaps we can get rid of fax machines now.
Once you like your document you can share it by sending a link, an email, or embed it in a blog post or web site. This latter capability is useful as Ryan showed me how you can easily put a 15-page document in a scrolling window in the middle of a blog post. Here is a link to an embedded issue of the Hacker Monthly.
Ryan also explained Crocodoc’s new partner program. They are working with a number of application providers to embed Crocodoc’s capabilities within their applications. Yammer has already fully integrated Crocodoc’s viewer and online collaboration tools into its social enterprise micro-blogging application. You can see that integration in the image below.
I like the simplicity of this approach and think that it will catch on. I am looking forward to trying it myself