Crocodoc Aims To Embed Files In HTML 5 Web Pages
October 30, 2013

Startup Turns To HTML 5 For Document Viewing

Enid Burns for – Your Universe Online

While PDFs are meant to be universally readable, this isn't always the case when these are opened in a web browser. Microsoft Office documents face a similar dilemma online. All of these documents can load slowly and may have formatting issues.

Internet startup Crocodoc is looking to address these issues by helping developers embed documents in an app or web page using HTML 5. The practice aids the loading time of pages, along with app loading time, and ensures the original formatting remains intact.

Crocodoc's application to embed documents can be used for embedding and viewing PDF documents as well as Microsoft Office documents, reports MITnews. When PDF files and documents are embedded into apps and web pages, it increases the loading time. Documents are often subject to formatting issues that might mess up the document, or show an error message.

"Most times, users will simply download the documents to their computers to read and annotate a clean copy," MITnews reported.

The issue does not occur with videos and images, as file-sharing sites such as YouTube and Flickr convert various uploaded file types into a format common to all browsers. Crocodoc aims to do the same thing for PDF files and Microsoft Office documents.

"We've spent an enormous amount of time understanding documents at a very deep level so that we can reconstruct them in your web browser or mobile device in a fast and high-quality way," Ryan Damico, Crocodoc co-founder and CEO, told MITnews on Tuesday.

Crocodoc, which was founded by a group of MIT engineering and computer science alumni, is making a push to adoption in apps. To date, primary, secondary and higher education institutions have used Crocodoc to access and grade assignments stored in the cloud, among other applications. Using this application, teachers are able to grade assignments in the cloud without downloading documents.

The startup has worked to make its service available for a number of file types such as PDF, Word and PowerPoint files, among other formats, TechCrunch reported earlier this year. In February, Crocodoc co-founder and CEO Ryan Damico told TechCrunch that the last version of the software was able to display everything with the exception of text as one large image. In this case, the text was overlaid on top of the image using HDML web fonts, and that the software could display everything as HTML 5 and SVG instead of raster graphics.

Developers are now able to use the tools via an API in the most recent software update. Developers can use Crocodoc tools to upload PDF files, as well as Microsoft Office documents, to receive an HTML version of the same document that appears in a browser window. The file can then be shared and annotated in real-time. The file is accessible to users and doesn't require a download to read or even mark up the document, such as making edits to the file.

In May, cloud storage company Box acquired Crocodoc. Box said it planned to add the HTML 5 document converter and content viewing capabilities to its cloud storage platform, TechCrunch reported in May.

Crocodoc competes with similar companies such as, which also allows websites to publish PDF files using flipbook converter software.