today, Scribd released iPaper, a flash-based application they call
the best document viewing experience on the web. granted, having PDF and (anybody remember this one?) XPS as competition makes it pretty easy to improve the state of
document viewing on the web, but a flash-based document viewer? how wrong can people get things?
last time i checked the web had HTML, which happens to be a document format. HTML is not great at displaying document intended for printing, but to a large extent that is more a problem on the document-producer end, where many people still think god intended every text to be typed into word, and then printed to PDF.
apparently Scribd raised $5 million in venture capital for this idea. that's interesting, because it means building a little PDF viewer in flash seems to be something people see as a big deal. my guess is that nobody wants or needs this, but we'll see.
if somebody wanted to really advance the way how documents are displayed and used on the web (and how HTML and CSS currently admittedly do a rather poor job of handling paged documents), they would finalize and fully implement CSS3's advanced layout and paged media, and also free the latter from its print bias and add features for interactive presentation. this would not only be
the best document viewing experience on the web, it would also make all the proprietary e-book formats (and some really weird ideas like Abobe's Digital Editions, which, btw, also is some flash-based thing, but very focused on being DRM-crippled) disappear and let the web take over. i hope sometime soon somebody will actually get it...