Docs Gets Improvements, Pushes Silverlight

This sounds like a useful service … and/or a good way for Microsoft to increase the user base for its Silverlight product …

Docs.com is an online document management, creation and publication tool that is closely tied to Microsoft and Facebook. Without going into to much detail, Facebook users can use the service to read, create or edit their Word, PowerPoint or Excel documents. Close ties to Facebook make it possible to share documents with Facebook friends, and use the Facebook login to create a Docs account.

Up until recently Docs had several disadvantages in comparison to its main competitor Google Docs. It was for instance not possible to upload and read pdf documents.

Yesterday’s announcement at the Docs blog revealed several feature additions to Docs.com, among them support for PDF files. Docs users can now upload pdf documents to Docs to read and share them online.

But, this only works on computer systems with Sliverlight 4 installed. If you never heard of it, Silverlight is Microsoft’s Flash competitor. Interested users who want to get an impression of the rendering quality can take a look at this example pdf document at Docs.

Silverlight is currently only officially available for Mac and PC, which means that Linux users will not be able to to use the pdf reading part of the service. (maybe it is possible with Mono or another project, let us know)

But pdf document support is not the only new feature of Docs.com. The Docs search has been revamped, now offering full text search with a social component. Social component, huh? Remember the news that Bing has started to integrate social elements into their search engine? That you for instance see movie likes of your friends if you search for movies?

This is apparently something similar, probably using much of the same technology. But first things first.

The full text search is now able to find the search phrase in documents and tags. Previously, Docs search was only matching tags with the search phrase. A big improvement.

The social component is integrated into the document ranking algorithm. Docs.com uses social criteria, like the searchers relationship with authors or the number of likes of a document, to rank documents in the search results.

Another addition is the user-generated templates feature. This allows friends to copy a document to their space, and edit it there, instead of allowing them to edit the document in your space.

Now, in the new ‘advanced options’ section of the sharing control you may specify if “Viewers can use the doc as a template.” If you select this option, your friends can make their own copy with a single click.

Lastly, Docs.com is now making use of a bulk Silverlight document uploader. Users can now upload multiple documents at once by dragging and dropping them on the uploader. This feature again is only available to Silverlight 4 users.

You can read the full announcement here or visit Docs right away.


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