Crocodoc’s New HTML5 Viewer Promises Better Speed and Accuracy

Managing the creation and editing of documents, especially heavily-formatted ones, can be a headache within a distributed workforce. Thus, services like Google Docs, Zoho Docs, and Scribd are popular. Today, however, the online document service Crocodoc, which Thursday wrote about last year, is rolling out some new features that should make it easier to collaborate on and mark up highly-formatted documents, including PDFs (s adbe), Microsoft (s msft) Word and PowerPoint documents, and PNG and JPEG images. The company gave me a preview.

Crocodoc is replacing its Flash-based viewer with an HTML5 version, which Crocodoc claims is a first. The company claims that the new viewer is significantly faster, and renders documents more accurately than Flash-based solutions. Here’s a sample of a formatted document.

Despite the “viewer” name, embedded documents can be not only viewed, but they can be marked up and forms can be filled in. Marked-up documents can then be downloaded in PDF format. The markup tools don’t allow for full document editing, but they’re probably more than sufficient for many teams’ needs.

Crocodoc’s API is also being updated, which allows users to create embeddable HTML5 document viewers that can be customized in both appearance and behavior. The company is also starting a partnership program that will allow other companies to license its technologies. Since many project management systems include components for marking up documents, Yammer, an enterprise social networking app, will be rolling out Crocodoc’s document tools in the next few days.

Mobile apps are also in development, with an iPad app coming shortly, followed by similar apps for iOS and Android.

Crocodoc is free for individuals, and the API is also free for non-commercial use. Pricing for commercial use of the API is priced based on the number of documents uploaded to Crocodoc each month, whether documents are hosted on their servers or elsewhere, and whether or not the viewer is co-branded.

The folks at Crocodoc tell me that they are out to replace Adobe Acrobat as the preferred way to display, view and mark up highly-formatted documents, and today’s enhancements are just the first step. It will be interesting to see how the service develops.

Have you used Crocodoc? How do you collaborate on document production and editing?

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