Introducing Improved File Preview (and better Sharing)

18 Jan

One of the key aspects of PBworks is the ability to work with files.  We’ve made files collaborative–you can upload them, set per-file access controls, share them, track their revision history, comment on them, tag them, and link to them.

Some types of files, like web-viewable images like GIFs, JPEGs, and PNGs, we display as part of PBworks, and provide thumbnail images you can mouse over while you’re browsing your folders.  We also display the first page of PDFs, for example.

Yet for many types of files, like Microsoft Office documents, you’ve had to download files simply to look at them, even if you didn’t want to make any changes.  This is a problem, for a variety of reasons.  Sometimes you don’t want to download a massive 50MB file simply so you can take a look inside and identify it.  Other times, you may not have the required software to view a file of a particular document type–Photoshop files (PSDs) are a great example.  But the most important problem is simply the inconvenience.  Our statistics show that viewing is about 10 times as popular as editing for PBworks users; that means 90% of the time, when someone downloads a file, they’re simply trying to take a look.

That’s why we just introduced our new File Preview feature.

The new File Preview lets you to view nearly all the most common types of files, within PBworks, and without downloading.  This includes Microsoft Office documents, like Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, as well as compatible file formats like CSV, WPD, and RTF, and the ever-popular PDF.  File Preview also works for common image formats like Photoshop (PSD), Illustrator (AI), PostScript (EPS), BMP, and TIFF.

In cases where the document contains multiple pages, you can page back and forth without ever leaving PBworks.

There are some limitations on this first version of File Preview.  File Preview will not work for iWork documents like Keynote, Pages, and Numbers, nor will it work for page layout formats like InDesign or Quark.  And because the File Preview page relies on Flash, iOS users (e.g. iPhone, iPad, iPod) will not be able to page back and forth; if you want to see more than the first page of a multi-page document, you will need to download it.

File Preview is available to all users of our business products (Business Edition, Legal Hub, Agency Hub, and New Business Hub).

P.S. We also some major improvements to our “Share” functionality.  While “Share” was very useful for sharing wiki pages, files, folders, and tasks with existing users, it was difficult to share content with anyone who wasn’t already a PBworks user.  You would have to cancel the “Share,” add the users you wanted to share with, and only then go back and share.  This latest revision allows Workspace and Network Administrators (who have the power to add users) to add new users as part of the sharing dialogue.  This makes sharing with outsiders easier (while maintaining the current policy of only allowing administrators to add new users).

P.P.S. If you haven’t done so already, try out our new Personal Workspace functionality.  And because you’re always the administrator of your own Personal Workspace, you can easily share content on that workspace with others using the new and improved “Share” feature.

3 Responses to “Introducing Improved File Preview (and better Sharing)”

  1. Jeff Walton January 21, 2012 at 1:52 pm #

    What about Education Package/Campus users? When will your File Preview feature be added for those customers?

    • Chris Yeh January 24, 2012 at 10:43 am #

      This isn’t currently on the roadmap. What is the use case you’re thinking of?

  2. LeAnn Suchy August 7, 2012 at 12:30 pm #

    This is actually more of a barrier. Is there any way to turn off the preview of PDFs and Word documents? I can’t find a way to do it. I just want to be able to click on the link and it opens up a download box. With this preview, the download button is harder to see and makes this a barrier, not an improvement.

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