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The Key Challenges to Document Viewing in the Cloud

  • By Allie Philpin 
  • Category: Cloud 
  • Comments (0) 

By Allie Philpin

So, you’ve implemented your cloud-based content management system – or repository, or library – but to make sure the end user gets a good experience when viewing documents within the system, there are key challenges that need to be considered: document sizes, HTML5 compatibility, multiple file formats, and mobile device viewing.  Let’s take a more in-depth view of these challenges.

Document Size – the size of the document, be its physical size or the number of pages, will have an impact on the user’s experience.  If the user’s bandwidth isn’t sufficiently expansive and the document is insufficiently large, taking time to download, they’re going to give up and not try again!  This challenge is particularly relevant when it comes to mobile devices and busy data connections.  Set up your system for ‘quick views’, i.e. an initial view of the first few pages of the document which allows the user to start reading the document while the rest of it downloads!  Productivity is increased, and a user can decide quickly if the document is suitable or not, thereby reducing the pressure on data connections.

HTML5 Compatibility – a more apt description is probably browser compatibility because not all users access online or cloud-based content via the same browser.  The majority of people use one of four principal browsers – Internet Explorer, Chrome, Safari and Firefox.  Different browsers work in different ways and to view documents needs a certain amount of browser support.  Some browsers support Flash, some don’t; some support HTML5, some don’t.  And talking about HTML5, not every browser supports this format in the same way and can affect the way the document is displayed, just to make things a little more complicated!

Multiple File Formats – documents come in a variety of formats – Word, Excel, CAD, PDF, and many others! Some devices don’t have the right software to display the document, or image, correctly; even if you convert documents to a generic format to allow it to be viewed on a range of devices, it can raise other challenges.  For example, images which are in raster formats, such as PNG or JPEG, can be viewed easily, but convert a text document to an image and you will lose quality and interactivity.

Mobile Device Viewing – possibly one of the biggest challenges, particularly with the demand for mobility in today’s working environment, is ensuring documents and images are viewable on a range of mobile devices.  As with browsers, the operating systems of mobile devices work in different ways.  To meet this challenge, a consistent mobile viewing platform that can support a range of document types will ensure that users don’t need to install different viewing applications.

Keeping your cloud-based documents and images as viewable as possible on a range of devices and browsers ensures a positive user experience, and improves the organisation’s opportunities of growth and development.  An effective method is to have a single service platform that includes different viewing technologies, such as Flash and HTML5, so all documents are viewable at any time, on any device.

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