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VirtualViewer AJAX

by | Nov 10, 2008

I’ve been getting a lot of questions on the new VirtualViewer AJAX web viewer since its recent release, and I wanted to talk a little bit about it and hopefully answer some of those questions.

Our Java Content Servlet-Applet viewer solution has been around for a long time now, and it has served its purpose very well. Its main strength is its speed through our Page on Demand™ approach, and has a rich functionality including annotation, page manipulation, bookmarking, and easy navigation. However, it still has the limitation of needing a JVM on the client in order to use the applet. While in many cases this is not a problem, companies have a need for a more streamlined approach, both for traditional internal users, and also for external users.

The external user presents to the technology provider the problems of both lack of control and lack of knowledge. Rather than take the chance that users have a JVM (or even the .NET Framework for that matter) and, if they don’t, hope that they would have the knowledge or inclination to get one, it is much easier to go with a solution that simply works with a web browser. If they don’t have a web browser, then they’re likely irrelevant anyway.

Using AJAX to build a viewer seemed to make a lot of sense. So we built a zero-footprint client to complement our Applet, using the same tested back-end Content Server, that needed only a web browser to work. This allowed us to still utilize the speed of Page On Demand, and present a similar interface that our customers were used to, but go completely independent of client platform.

The new VirtualViewer AJAX supports the same formats as our other solutions (PDF, Word, TIFF, etc), and allows users to annotate on those formats, including highlighting, arrows, sticky notes, and more. It creates thumbnails on-the-fly, has easy zooming and panning controls, allows you to directly jump to any page in the document, and you can print documents, or even export them to the local system.

The AJAX viewer has a slick, easy to use interface (at least I think so), and can easily be customized by modifying the included style sheets (.css), or by creating your own. The viewer is easily embeddable within other web applications, and any of the features can be removed if needed.

Currently the AJAX server is available in Java, but soon it will have a .NET version as well. That will give our customers the freedom to choose the server-side platform that best fits their environment, but both will present an identical interface on the client-side.

As time goes on, we will utilize the features developed for the Java applet and adapt them to an AJAX architecture, along with our unique imaging expertise, to further enhance the value of the zero-footprint solution.

I hope that covers many of the questions I have been getting over the last few weeks, although I know there are always more. Look for more posts concerning this topic in the future, both from a high-level and a technical perspective.