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Scribd Switches To HTML5 177

Posted by timothy
from the let-a-thousand-documents-bloom dept.
drfreak writes "This story from OSNews describes Scribd, a site for uploading and reading documents, switching from Flash to HTML5. The major reason for the decision was that HTML5 supports all the major points of the site's previous functionality, so they saw no point in using Flash any more. The big improvement in the rollout is that documents are now first-class citizens of HTML and no longer need to sit in a Flash 'window.'"
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Scribd Switches To HTML5

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  • Wow (Score:5, Insightful)

    by OrwellianLurker (1739950) on Friday May 07, 2010 @02:10AM (#32122866)
    Completely blank page (scribd) until I enabled flash. I can't stand sites that have the most basic shit (plain text, etc) in flash. How is that even necessary? Good move getting off that Flash addiction.
    • Re:Wow (Score:5, Interesting)

      by vtcodger (957785) on Friday May 07, 2010 @04:11AM (#32123548)

      Right on. Scribd has traditionally been a candidate for the worst designed site on the Internet managing to combine flash abuse, baffling layout, slow response, and wretched human factors in one tidy package. I started avoiding Scribd links months ago.

      The bright side. I don't see how HTML5 could possibly make it any worse.

    • Re:Wow (Score:5, Funny)

      by dilvish_the_damned (167205) on Friday May 07, 2010 @04:29AM (#32123624) Journal

      How is that even necessary? Good move getting off that Flash addiction.

      stage 1) We can quit any time we want too. You just don't understand. It makes us feel ways about things. We can't sleep without it. Its only for recreation. The chicks dig it. Everyone is doing it, and there is no proof.

      stage 2) We can't take our life anymore! You have taken everything away from us! You have no right!

      stage 3) So whats with this "alternative"? Does it do the same thing for us? Without the stigma?

      stage 4) See my yard? Ya I got that pool with my own money. They tell me I was talking about myself in the plural form and stuff. I was on Flash. Ya, they have me on HTML5 now, I am feeling better, no longer have the iphone fits I used to have and my job got better. I don't crash as often on my new meds.

      stage 5) Flash was retarded.

      I am not sure why I felt the need to act that whole thing out, but your better for having read it. Congratulations.

      --Dilvish

    • Ah, but now, we don't have to worry about them fucking up material suitable for PDF format. Now, they're fucking up material suitable for HTML format, too.

    • by kobaz (107760)

      The thing I noticed first was that you can no longer drag the pages around in the html5 version.... they would need some more javascript. Is it just me... or is scribe showing just a bunch of jpegs as book pages? When you zoom in, you are zooming in on the original 640x480 jpeg and don't gain any benefit of getting more detail as you zoom in.

  • Scribd in HTML5 (Score:5, Informative)

    by noackjr (541550) on Friday May 07, 2010 @02:18AM (#32122908)
    • by Qubit (100461) on Friday May 07, 2010 @02:40AM (#32123080) Homepage Journal

      Heh. If you get to the end of the high quality introduction, you're presented with a link to the people that drew all of the images:

      http://www.specialagentproductions.com/ [specialage...ctions.com]

      Yeah, their site doesn't work unless you enable Flash. Pretty funny after the whole "get rid of proprietary formats" and "free your documents online" thing...

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by digitalchinky (650880)

      I have noscript, when I ~allow~ (whitelist) their site, the images disappear along with most of the functionality, blank page for the most part?!. Turn off scripts and it seems to work fine. Maybe it's just my borked up firefox, but if this is the way it was intended, then I'll actually start looking at their site far more - If I see a site in flash I tend to go elsewhere. : ) Very nice change.

    • by mike260 (224212)

      Nice!
      It renders correctly on iPhone too, selectable text and all :)

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by CarpetShark (865376)

      http://www.scribd.com/documents/30964170/Scribd-in-HTML5

      Sorry, I'm avoiding that link. Do you have a simple pdf link anywhere?

    • by 0racle (667029)
      I love it. Scribd in HTML5 document rendered in their flash reader.
    • by Khuffie (818093)
      Doesn't work properly in Opera 10.5. Hooray for progress!
  • They have a great viewer as well.

  • So, I'm using the latest chrome, and the latest firefox, and the latest safari... and if I disable flash and attempt to go to any of the "html5" documents... I get "You need to upgrade to the latest flash player to access this content".... If I leave flash enabled, I get the same old clunky flash document viewer... so uh what gives?

  • I clicked on one of the supposedly HTML5 books, but it's still in flash. I right click on it, and it says "About Adobe Flash Player" at the bottom of the context menu.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by punit_r (1080185)

      Do one of the following:

      1. Click on the "See this document in HTML mode" link to the right
      OR
      2. Replace "doc" in the address bar with "documents"

  • by Animats (122034) on Friday May 07, 2010 @02:30AM (#32123012) Homepage

    Scribd is more of a pain than a useful tool. It's basically an online PDF viewer, one which makes content non-downloadable. It takes away functionality; you can't select and cut text. So it's really more a form of DRM than anything else.

    You can get most of the same effect by rendering your document to PDF with the page size set to "trade paperback".

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by virgilp (1774784)

      Furthermore, I find their "major reason" that HTML5 supports all the major points of the site's previous functionality to be a blatant lie. To give one example - ok, HTML5 supports webfonts... but how exactly are you going to license the fonts from Adobe (or any other font foundry that doesn't give away the font for free)?

      Don't get me wrong: the ability to select, search (*) and so on is great, and could be a very good reason per se to switch. But I don't think that the solution is to flame things up.... ju

      • Furthermore, I find their "major reason" that HTML5 supports all the major points of the site's previous functionality to be a blatant lie. To give one example - ok, HTML5 supports webfonts... but how exactly are you going to license the fonts from Adobe (or any other font foundry that doesn't give away the font for free)?

        That's a big point I hadn't thought of.. are they planning to pirate all of the fonts? Surely their spammy business model doesn't afford them the margins to properly license all of the typefaces. Further, how will they accurately preserve layouts or typesetting? This is something the PDF format does extraordinarily well, it's unfortunate that all of the browser plugins are terrible (at least on Windows, which represents ~90% of their user base.) I admittedly have spent little to no time working with the fo

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          Heck, compared to Acrobat Reader, implementing the PDF spec in Javascript and decomposing the PDF into some combination of CSS-styled text, SVG, and canvas might even be faster...

          Against pretty much any other PDF reader, though, it would probably be strictly a stunt.
    • by SanityInAnarchy (655584) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Friday May 07, 2010 @03:05AM (#32123220) Journal

      You can select and copy text. I'm sure you can find a way to spider the pure HTML pages. Even if you can't, Scribd has always allowed you to download the original PDF.

      • by Hurricane78 (562437) <.gro.todhsals. .ta. .deteled.> on Friday May 07, 2010 @05:19AM (#32123868)

        But what is the point of Scribd? (Hint: There is absolutely none.)
        Just replace every link to Scribd with the link to the PDF, and you’re good.
        Oh, wait, that’s actually easy to do with Greasemonkey. Except that Scribd still requires you to log in, and get a session id to download it. So it’s still pointless DRM / obfuscation.

        • Two nights ago I wanted to check out the catalogue for a bike company. Their "low resolution" PDF was 157 MB, their hi-res was almost 250 MB. Never mind downloading on a mobile device, even on my desktop I had no desire to download something that big just to view a half dozen pages within, and their "interactive" Flash version was crap.

          If they had used Scribd and their new HTML mode, I would've been able to load the front cover, go to the table of contents, jump to just the pages I wanted to see, and probab

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mTor (18585)

        Even if you can't, Scribd has always allowed you to download the original PDF.

        Not true at all. Person who uploads PDF can prevent download of files. A person who upload can even prevent you from copying text out of files!

        I personally dislike Scribd simply because they host a ton of other people's content. I found 4 of my PDFs there ( 3 presentations, one ebook) and the people who uploaded them were making money off it and so was Scribd (ads).

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by abhi_beckert (785219)

          Do you hate google as well? They also give you access to stuff other people made public, often illegally.

          Hell, we should shut down the whole internet.

        • I found 4 of my PDFs there ( 3 presentations, one ebook) and the people who uploaded them were making money off it and so was Scribd (ads).

          That's what section 512 takedown notices are for. Or did you send one and then get a counter-notice?

    • by Yvanhoe (564877)
      That's for people who don't know how to install a decent pdf viewer.
    • I hate scribd more than I hate experts-exchange. Wish there as an easy way to make google remember my minuses.

  • Not Really HTML5... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Torrance (1599681) on Friday May 07, 2010 @02:34AM (#32123028)

    So far as I can tell this is mostly just html4.1 plus some web-fonts thrown in (which is properly css3), and a bunch of mostly browser-specific css. Not really html5. They mention canvas in their introduction, but I haven't come across an example.

    Certainly looks better than the flash, but take a look at the source code and it'll make your eyes bleed. So much for semantic code - there are spans and divs up the wazoo.

    • by zappepcs (820751)

      I'll settle for unruly code if it deprecates and banishes flash... hands down

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by michaelhood (667393)

        I'll settle for unruly code if it deprecates and banishes flash... hands down

        So it's just a holy war for you, rather than the actual best tool or solution for the job?

        That sort of spaghetti markup leads to huge pages, increased CPU load (browsers trying to render and mark up all the tags and mangled CSS), and other ill effects. It's not quite a black & white, "HTML IS BETTER THAN FLASH!" like you want it to be.

    • by acidrainx (806006)
      When you're converting PowerPoint to HTML, it's not exactly trivial to generate semantic code.
      • Sounds a bit like something is wrong with the PowerPoint interface, aside from the general bloat and usability issues.
        It's seems similar the same problem Adobe are currently having with Flash. Adobe needs to come up with an excellent HTML5 authoring tool and put Flash on the back-burner as a vector animation and on-line games platform, perhaps.

  • Wow. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mcrbids (148650) on Friday May 07, 2010 @02:37AM (#32123056) Journal

    You mean an open standard won out over a proprietary implementation?

    Flash is about to be marginalized. It will happen quickly, in much the same way as the open HTML/DOM/Javascript beat out over 20 years of Microsoft "innovations" such as VB and .NOT. And in much the same way as Android is about the slaughter the iPhone.

    See, open standards usually follow proprietary "trail blazers". Once the standard has been defined, copy-cats move in and do the same things, cheaper.

    Apple originally won the desktop computer war, then lost it to the more open (and less expensive) Microsoft, which finally is losing it's lead to the even more open (and inexpensive) web/SOAP API. Apple got it right again with the iPhone, but is already losing it again with the highly proprietary iPhone now rapidly losing market share rapidly against the more open Linux/Google/Android platform. (Android's 4x marketshare growth in a single month - WTF!?!)

    As a note, I have an HTC WinMo phone right now, but my next phone will almost assuredly be... Android!

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by bennomatic (691188)
      That's right! That's why OpenOffice.org totally beats out the Microsoft suite.
    • Hello, mods? (Score:2, Informative)

      by wall0159 (881759)

      Why on Earth has this been moderated "troll"? I don't agree with everything in the post, but there's sure-as-hell no trolling here!

      • by Abcd1234 (188840)

        Because, around here, "Troll" == "I disagree with you". Seriously, are you new around here?

    • by oztiks (921504)

      I would like to believe that, really i would, but history has shown us that better isnt always the best selling concept.

      My attempts at using HTML5 on my iPhone have been clunky at best, I remember this game called PieMan, a rip from the PacMan we all love. The issue was the caching, i simply found it too slow, its navigation on the touch screen was temperamental and it would pick the worst times to hang on me and as a result i gave up on it all togeather in about 15 mins, granted it could of been bad progra

    • You mean an open standard won out over a proprietary implementation?

      Flash is about to be marginalized. It will happen quickly, in much the same way as the open HTML/DOM/Javascript beat out over 20 years of Microsoft "innovations" such as VB and .NOT.

      Huh? This is akin to saying Coca Cola beat out Honda..

    • .NOT?

      Am I to believe that's a rip on the .net framework? If so, I'm curious to hear your arguments on the subject. The .net framework isn't something to make light of.

    • by tehcyder (746570)

      And in much the same way as Android is about the slaughter the iPhone.

      Sadly, I doubt that. For non-geeks the iPhone is the one to have.

    • by moongha (179616)

      Let's take that Android growth rate.

      Now factor in that it's almost exclusively among people who have contracts with carriers that don't offer iPhones.
      Now factor in that it's for the US only.
      Now factor in that it's doesn't mention that Apple sells other devices (iPods, iPads) that are part of the same 'ecosystem' as the iPhone.

      I think you're declaring this competition over a little prematurely.

      • "Now factor in that it's almost exclusively among people who have contracts with carriers that don't offer iPhones."

        Or to put it another way, in the US only AT&T offers iPhones. How did an iPhone limitation become a feature?

        • by moongha (179616)

          I wasn't listing 'features'. I was listing reasons the published growth rates might not necessarily be indicative of future performance.

          In other words, Apple could end the exclusivity deal and immediately sell a bunch of iPhones to non AT&T users.

    • Your examples are good ones, but there are plenty of other examples of proprietary software succeeding where open ones are failed. One of my own small open source projects was swallowed by a proprietary competitor for example.

      Just because flash is dying the way VB did, doesn't mean android or linux will take over. iPhone OS and Windows are more entrenched than flash ever was, and they are both under active development by skilled programmers, unlike flash.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by tk77 (1774336)

      Apple got it right again with the iPhone, but is already losing it again with the highly proprietary iPhone now rapidly losing market share rapidly against the more open Linux/Google/Android platform. (Android's 4x marketshare growth in a single month - WTF!?!)

      I would say, and I believe many would agree, that the normal "user" doesn't care about or even understand what "open" really means. In fact, from reading many comments on various sites I would say that many "geeks" don't even understand what open means or how its applied to the various phones. Regardless, Apple has a single phone (granted with 3 revisions thus far), on a single US network. Android is available on multiple networks and more importantly, Verizon. I know many people that would love to get

      • by Belial6 (794905)
        To be fair, the fact that Android is on all of the major carriers while Apple isn't, is part of the open vs. closed equation. So, you explained why a lot of people are choosing open instead of closed.

        You are right that most people don't know or care about open vs. closed. That doesn't mean that they don't make decisions based on it. Your example of availability is a perfect one.

        So, whether Android or iPhone takes the market will be due to many factors, and one of them will be open vs. closed. Even
  • by stimpleton (732392) on Friday May 07, 2010 @03:07AM (#32123230)
    From TFA: "Every mobile phone, e-reader,computer, tablet, and pocket watch can display HTML....ok, maybe not the pocket watch!"

    And maybe not the mobile phone either. WAP 1.0 phones are still about.
  • What if someone bumps my computer? It could fall out and the links would break.

  • by DeanLearner (1639959) on Friday May 07, 2010 @05:49AM (#32124002)
    So from a clients perspective (mine in this case)the HTML5 experience is slow whereas the flash experience is reasonably quick.

    And from the server point of view HTML5 is slower as well...

    HTML5 - Served by app04 in 1.168 secs. cpu: 1.100

    Flash - Served by app10 in 0.482 secs. cpu: 0.420

    What's the point then?
    • by IpSo_ (21711)

      Yup, same experience for me too.

      Their flash viewer is nice and smooth with scrolling, supports search and works quite well.

      The HTML5 viewer is horrible slow (using Chrome on a quad-core Linux box) and doesn't even support search.

      Apparently "just got better" means something entirely different to them then to their users.

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