Some links to PDF files can be like web land-mines. They’re regularly added to webpages as downloadable links, but without the proper marking, you may just think they’re regular links rather than downloadable documents. A new Docstoc release, DocShots, helps diffuse those land-mines.
DocShots is a free service that installs a snippet of code on your website or blog that lets users browse a document overlaid on top of your content without downloading it. On a page with DocShots installed, when you hover over a link to a document, the document will show up on the page alongside the Docstoc document page navigation structure, so you can view documents with multiple pages all on this overlay.
One nice feature is that when you add the DocShots code to your site’s template, it will enable this on-page viewing functionality for all of the document links already on your site. The service supports a variety of file types, including .doc (Microsoft Word), .pdf (Adobe PDF), .ppt (Microsoft PowerPoint) and .xls (Microsoft Excel).
To date, Docstoc has carved out a niche for itself by allowing users to embed documents in web pages. With this new service it can extend its offering to sites that don’t want to embed documents (such as in cases where a document is hosted elsewhere). DocShots is a simple tool for those cases. It also provide analytics for viewed documents.
The service also warns that the first time a visitor hovers over a document link, there may be a 2-4 minute delay as the conversion takes place. You also better hope your users won’t be too annoyed by an overlay that appears every time you hover over a document link. No one said diffusing land-mines was painless.
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