A Cloud Document Viewer Makes Everybody Happy

It’s hard to imagine any single item that could please a web developer, an IT infrastructure manager, and an end user all at once. Ice cream or a good joke excepted, anything that makes one of these people happy usually makes at least one of the others miserable.

Tighten security to please the infrastructure maven, and you’ve made extra work for the developer and possibly compromised the user’s experience. Amp up the user experience and you’ve created bandwidth problems for the infrastructure maven and, again, more work for the web developer. (Everything makes more work for the web developer.)young people

The magnificent, often unrealized potential of the Cloud is that it can solve some problems in ways that make life at least a little easier for all parties. This small miracle happens most often when the problem is small (though nagging nonetheless) and the cloud solution is narrowly scoped to solve that problem and no other.

A cloud-based document viewer that can be embedded in a web page supplies an ideal example. Given a large and growing array of document file types and an imperative to make everything and anything web-accessible, developers wanting to deliver a seamless user experience have no easy solution. They cannot entirely count on users to have software installed that can display anything other than HTML, flat text and a handful of other file types.

Developers can simply require that any document for web publication not already stored in a common format be converted — at the cost of time (compounded by every subsequent change to the document), software licensing and often display quality. Or they can compromise the user experience by publishing files in their native formats and leaving the user to scramble for a program to display them.

A cloud-based document viewer capable of displaying pretty much any document file type in a browser — with nothing required on the client except a browser with Flash or HTML5 — provides users with seamless access to nearly any document in high fidelity, makes little extra coding work for the developer (while erasing other tasks, such as conversion), and takes the infrastructure manager out of the picture altogether. If that solution is free, even more people get happy, like purchasing managers and CIOs.

The wide range of ways one cloud-based viewer is being used illustrates its versatility. One customer uses it to show visitors very large CAD files, while another uses it to display the documents forum users have attached to their messages. A website for a program to curb childhood obesity uses it to display Powerpoint slides of active kids, and a job portal uses it to display uploaded resumes to recruiters.

Those customers are all using Prizm Cloud, Accusoft’s freshly released, cloud-based, embeddable document viewer. It’s not the only such viewer available, but it offers some advantages over the other options. Because it is based on the versatile Prizm Content Connect server-based viewer, it inherits that product’s ability to display more than 300 different file types — far more than competitors — to ensure that users will be able to see almost any document a site can throw at them. And unlike competitors, it does not require that the documents be uploaded anyplace first — the viewer displays them right from the developer’s server, saving the time and trouble of uploading and making any changes to the file immediately available to anyone.

It’s easy to use for web developers — so easy, in fact, that it’s also used by bloggers, WordPress site creators, and other less-technical users. After all, if a thing can make web developers, infrastructure managers and users happy all at once, who can guess how many other people the thing might please?

Source: http://blog.accusoft.com/posts/2013/may/a-cloud-document-viewer-makes-everybody-happy.html

Highlighting the Hits on HTML5

It’s one of those features that’s so simple and elegant, it’s perfect: Take a word or phrase, find every time it comes up in a document, and highlight every one of those hits, to make them easy to see.

And it’s supremely useful. Lawyers use hit-highlighting when doing eDiscovery and performing other document analysis tasks, lighting up every instance of an important term so they can page through a document and evaluate all the places it comes up. Hit-highlighting is a boon for research, and for finding part numbers, or references to an important date, or every place a significant name comes up in a document.

Hit-highlighting is now up and running in Prizm Content Connect document viewer for HTML5. Using the just-released version 7.3, users can enter a search term when viewing any text-based file (such as a Microsoft Office file, PDF file or RTF document) and get back a hit list and highlighting of every instance of the term in the document being viewed. This powerful feature was already enabled in prior versions of the viewer for Flash-enabled browsers, and now works in the viewer for HTML5 browsers, as well. You can try out the new feature in the HTML5 Viewer Demo.HTML5_Logo_3d

 This is a big leap forward for search functionality in Prizm Content Connect. Without it, the user must navigate the hit list to jump from instance to instance, but can’t really get a sense of the frequency of the term, or the contexts in which it appears in highest or lowest concentration–both of which are essential insights for document analysis and collaboration. Sometimes, exactly where a term occurs is less important than the distribution of its occurrence.

Prizm Content Connect now features this powerful tool in both of its viewers–and that’s just the beginning. Stay tuned for more exciting features that are already on the way…

So, Paperless Office… What Happened?

You would think that after 30 years of planning and promises, we’d all have those paperless offices everybody started dreaming about in the ‘70s. But according to new research by the non-profit Association for Information and Image Management (AIIM), anything close to paperlessness remains out of reach for many organizations, and lawyers are to blame.

Well, maybe that’s not fair. To be more accurate, AIIM’s study, “Winning the Paper Wars,” published just a few weeks ago, found that the need for physical signatures on documents and concerns over the legal admissibility of electronic documents are the biggest obstacles to adoption of paperless practices. Let’s blame a fear of lawyers rather than the lawyers themselves.

Among the 562 respondents to AIIM’s survey, three-quarters have active business improvement campaigns they could magnify through paper-free processes, but of those companies, only a quarter are following a specific paper-reducing business policy. Nearly half of respondents have made only 5% progress towards updating the usual processes to paper-free adaptations, and nearly one in five reports using even more paper now than in years past.

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Many responding companies justify their pulp fetish by citing legal requirements for paper copies and physical signatures. But AIIM’s report labels those barriers largely illusory, as properly collected and formatted eSignatures and electronic documents are admissible in every state.

While the move to mobile devices among the rank and file is reducing paper according to the report, executives, legal counsel and finance staff who are not yet comfortable with electronic signatures and electronic documents are holding back the move to the paper-free office and the cost-savings it can deliver.

Of course, the move to mobile devices is really only a paper-saver to the extent that employees have unfettered electronic access to the business content they need in the field, the report says. We couldn’t help noticing that the power to provide that access is a key benefit of Accusoft’s Prizm Content Connect, which features an HTML5 document viewer that can deliver high-fidelity viewing and collaboration (and yes, E-Sign-compliant eSignatures) for more than 300 different file types to nearly all browsers on mobile devices today.

The report also said the path to paperless business could be smoothed by broader application of mobile document capture–a capability that’s easy to add to any application with Accusoft tools such as the USB Scanner software development kit. Another Accusoft SDK, ImageGear, enables industry-leading optical character recognition (OCR)–long cited as the bridge technology to a paper-free office–with support for more than 100 languages and other advanced features, such as zone-based processing and image pre-processing.

While it’s not among AIIM’s conclusions, maybe that’s the real answer to “Winning the Paper Wars”: Accusoft.

Source: http://blog.accusoft.com/posts/2013/august/so-paperless-office-what-happened.html

Prizm Content Connect Includes Local File Viewer

There’s a great feature in Prizm Content Connect that not a lot of customers use. The product includes a local file viewer that brings the power of the HTML5 document viewer to files on the user’s desktop. And everyone here at Accusoft uses it, every day.

Why give Prizm Content Connect dominion over the desktop? “Consistency,” says Accusoft President Jack Berlin. “Employees are opening all of these different native programs just to read, or comment on, documents, and each one works differently and requires different experience and training, to say nothing of the cost of unneeded applications.”prizm-local_300

A local file-viewing program based on Prizm Content Connect provides a consistent, reliable, fast user experience across 300 different file types–including Microsoft Office files, PDFs, email messages, CAD/CAM files, image files, and hundreds more–whether the file is on the desktop, in an email attachment, on a shared drive or in cloud storage, Berlin explains. “Where users only need to read, annotate or redact a document but don’t need to edit it, the file doesn’t need to be made available to the native application, and that solves all kinds of problems… What a local viewer does, in effect, is enable a consistent viewing experience the way Dropbox or Google Drive enables a consistent storage experience.”

The viewing experience is not only faster and more consistent through a multi-format local file viewer, but also safer and more secure, Berlin says. Each native application has different security built into it, and some have none at all. When users have native applications just to view files, controlling access is therefore difficult. Because a local file viewer based on Prizm Content Connect can inherit that program’s digital rights management (DRM) features, companies can selectively enable or disable printing, saving, copying, or downloading a document by defined user groups, for far better internal control of intellectual property.

And because the file being viewed is never actually open on the user’s machine, a local file viewer is a great hedge against the spread of viruses or other malicious intrusions.

The local file viewer is earning raves around here. Why not give it a try at your company?

Source: http://blog.accusoft.com/posts/2013/september/prizm-content-connect-includes-local-file-viewer.html

On the Validity of eSignatures

Right here last week, we revealed new research from the Association for Information and Image Management (AIIM) suggesting that a lack of faith in the validity of electronic signatures (eSignatures), among other things, was holding back the adoption of paper-reducing practices in U.S. companies.

Somewhat surprised at that news, we thought now would be a good time to share with readers here why eSignatures are just as good as “wet ink” signatures, and to remind them that the Prizm Content Connect thin-client document viewer offers a secure, affordable solution for eSigning more than 300 different types of documents and other electronic files.

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First, a disclaimer: The author of this blog entry is not a lawyer. This article is intended to give you an overview. If you want specific legal advice about the use of eSignature at your company, you know who you need to talk to.

They’re Legal. Everywhere.
Broadly speaking, courts are required by federal law and by individual laws in all 50 states (and in Canada, the U.K., and the E.U., among others) to accept eSignatures as valid on all types of documents, with a few key exceptions, such as wills.

More accurately, these laws bar courts from refusing to admit a document as valid and signed solely because its signature was collected electronically. The 2000 E-SIGN (Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce) Act puts it simply: “A signature, contract, or other record relating to such transaction may not be denied legal effect, validity, or enforceability solely because it is in electronic form…. A contract relating to such transaction may not be denied legal effect, validity, or enforceability solely because an electronic signature or electronic record was used in its formation.” So there.

You may have noticed that the E-SIGN act does not specify the technical requirements an eSignature must meet to be valid. That’s by design; the law requires the acceptance of eSignatures but leaves the door open to any technological approach (credentialed login, click-thru, biometrics, and so on) so that the law will remain applicable even as the technology enabling it evolves and diversifies. There are more stringent, additional regulations for certain industries, such as the pharmaceutical industry, that do specify the application of particular technological approaches.

But You Still Have to Do Them Right
Here’s the tricky part: In a legal proceeding, any document, whether signed electronically or by pen, can have its validity called into question by counsel, who might succeed in having it thrown out of evidence or its terms declared unenforceable. What proof is there that the signature (E or otherwise) cannot be a forgery? Is the document a copy or other alternate version that would be superseded by an original? Does the audit trail reveal opportunities for the document’s contents or its signature to have been altered?

Case law already provides a great illustration of the risks: In Kerr v. Dillard Store Services, Inc. (2008), department store chain Dillard’s said an employee was bound by a mandatory arbitration agreement she had electronically signed; the employee claimed she never signed it. The court sided with the employee because her supervisor knew the employee’s login ID and password, and thus had access, opportunity and motive to sign the agreement on the employee’s behalf. It was not the fact that the document was electronically signed that undermined its enforceability, but rather the weaknesses of the specific provisions the employer had taken to ensure the authenticity of the signature.

The lesson of Kerr v. Dillard is not that eSignatures are any less ironclad than wet ink ones, but that how you go about collecting them matters. Just as a written signature in pencil can be called into question because of how easily it can be altered, an eSignature collected without sufficient safeguards can be picked apart in court.

That’s why Prizm Content Connect’s eSignature module keeps documents secure and private among interested parties. Hosted eSignature services often pass documents through third-party servers, which not only opens a doorway through which an attorney might walk to suggest an opportunity for alteration, but also violates specific regulatory requirements in some industries.

And while Accusoft’s secure document-viewer based solution enables you to view and eSign more than 300 different file types, the signed document can only be saved as a PDF file. PDF is the most widely accepted format for eSigned documents, and the one least vulnerable to ex post facto alteration.

The Bottom Line
Properly collected, eSignatures are as good as ink. Using eSignatures not only reduces paper, but also enables you to dramatically speed up contract signings, non-disclosures, and other agreements to keep your business moving.