Scribd’s lightweight alternative to PDF (Portable Document Format)
files to display rigidly formatted documents in browsers.
Besides Adobe Acrobat (.pdf files), iPaper can also
convert Adobe PostScript (.ps), Microsoft Word (.doc, .docx), Microsoft PowerPoint
(.ppt, .pps, .pptx), Microsoft Excel (.xls, .xlsx), OpenOffice Text Document (.odt,
.sxw), OpenOffice Presentation Document (.odp, .sxi), OpenOffice Spreadsheet
(.ods, .sxc), all OpenDocument
formats, plain text (.txt), RTF (Rich Text Format)
(.rtf) to iPaper format.
iPaper does not directly convert HTML (Hypertext Markup Language)
to a rigid, browser-independent format, guaranteed to look identical on all browsers.
To get that effect, you would have to convert HTML
You can embed iPaper documents on your own web pages. The documents themselves are
hosted free on Scribd’s website. You can’t serve them directly from your
own server, though you may serve the original raw text of your documents from your
Everything is free — tools, hosting…
You can scale the size of the displayed documuments, rendered inline.
iPaper documents serve much faster than PDF,
because the browser does not need to install or load a special iPaper viewer and
since it can start displaying the document even before it is fully loaded.
iPaper puts no load on your server since Scribd serves the documents for you,
free of charge.
Your documents are professionally backed up.
The documents served are automatically the latest iPaper format version and are
automatically viewed with the latest software (though not necessarily the latest
Flash). Scribd can reconvert masters automatically to iPaper at any time to correct
bugs or switch to new improved formats. Most other viewers are plagued with
mismatched document and viewer versions. This is a side effect of Scribd insisting
on serving the iPaper documents.
You don’t even need your own website. You can send people direct to
Scribd’s website to view them.
You can optionally share documents, adding them to
Scribd’s public index of documents.
You can mark documents private. This keeps them out
of indexes and search engines. You have a secret URL (Uniform Resource Locator)
to the document, which you can share with select others or the public if you
choose. Private does not restrict links to being embedded only on your website.
Read very carefully what QuickSwitch
does before using it. I doubt many webmasters, certainly not corporate ones, would
consider using such a drastic tool. They want you to use QuickSwitch which logs
into your website via FTP (File Transfer Protocol), using your secret
password, and modifies all your HTML
documents! Arrgh! They expect you to do this without so much as a manual trial
run on a single document first.
If you convert a document to iPaper, it becomes viewable-only. For example, an
iPaper version of a spreadsheet will not calculate anything. You cannot edit the
iPaper version of a text file. Granted, if the user clicks the Scribd logo, then
clicks download, then he can download the original.
However only the cognoscenti would ever know to use this Easter egg. There should be a download button the frame.
Documents displayed inline don’t have one. Documents displayed embedded in
Scribd web pages do.
browser to view iPaper documents.
The user must be online to the Internet to view iPaper documents.
There is no simple step-by-step documentation on what do to create and embed a
single document on your website. They have one of the nicest looking websites on
the net with an excellent overview, and some detailed API (Application Programming Interface)
specs, but nothing in between, at least not obviously available.
The embedded links are extremely verbose and not very meaningful to humans.
This makes them harder to proofread than ordinary links. You cannot edit them
manually. You must generate new HTML
to embed. Scribd could simpliy the code you need to embed drastically by using a
one-line iframe link and by having the Scribd server
generate all that <object gobbledegook dynamically.
A further advantage is such iframe embedded code would
always be freshly generated and could not go obsolete.
In general, iPaper documents don’t automatically update when the original
document is changed.
Unlike PDF, Google does not understand how to spider iPaper
documents. However, you may serve the raw text of your documents from your own
server to ensure Google spiders the contents and ascribes them to you, not
The generated code does not pass HTML Validator inspection. Even the one sample shown
contains over a dozen minor errors, and further, it does not align the caption
I frequently get Unable to locate document: streaming
error 2048. I have figured out what causes this. It does not always
Under the Hood
When you register, for
free, you choose an account name and password. They give you three bits of gibberish
to use: an api key, api secret, and publisher-id to activate your use of iPaper. You
can optionally choose to embed Google ads in your iPaper documents and they will send
you revenue cheques.
There are several different ways to embed references to iPaper documents on your
program that fetches bits of the document as needed from the Scribd server. It can
start displaying the document even before it is fully loaded. The beauty of this odd
approach is speed.
When you want to render the document inline, the way an Applet would, the
HTML you need
to embed balloons astoundingly. Here is what you might embed on your web page to
display a sample iPaper document hosted on the Scribd server. It could be embedded on
any webpage, not just one on the author’s website.
The resulting display looks like this.
or you can link to it, rather than embed the image on the page: