Boxworks 2013: New Box Preview Converts Documents Into HTML5

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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Box wants to change the way users view documents on the web

Box says its new preview feature that converts files into HTML5 will change the way web users view documents in the same way YouTube changed video and Facebook and Flickr changed photos.

The new preview uses technology from Crocodocs, which Box acquired in May, and promises to be the “most seamless way to experience documents on the web,” according to Box CEO Aaron Levie, speaking at the Boxworks 2013 event in San Francisco.

Levie lamented the fact that while other media forms have been remade for the web, documents have remained the same and often require the download of a plug-in or software.

Box Preview

Boxworks 2013 Aaron LevieThe new preview works without any additional software as it breaks documents down into the lowest level, separates the components and recreates them into open standard HTML5 that can be viewed in any browser on any device.

Box promises the document will look good at any zoom level, with the intention that the preview looks identical to the actual document. The new preview is compatible with more than 100 file types and was demonstrated using a 700 page Microsoft Sharepoint PDF file that was described as the “largest PDF file we could possibly find.”

“We’re constantly improving the user experience,” says Levie, who is keen to point out Crocodocs has six years of development behind it and is used by the likes of Yammer and LinkedIn. He says the purchase of Crocodocs was logical and part of the company’s policy of making acquisitions when they are able to improve Box.

Box also acquired startup Folders earlier this year, with the French firm’s iOS app now forming the basis for Box’s mobile applications. The new Box preview will be rolled out to users later this year.

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