Why Use an HTML5 Image Viewer?
Image viewing technology for web pages and apps has made huge leaps in recent years. Self-contained viewers that work on all browsers and platforms represent a simplified method of displaying images and documents. And given the increasingly complex graphic user interfaces of today, these new tools are needed more than ever.
When <img> and <a> aren't Enough
There are several basic methods for developers to display images in websites and apps. tags, of course, have been around since the beginning and are unlikely to go away given their simplicity, just like basic links that allow for the downloading of images from a page.
But most image image formats (other than JPG, GIF, and PNG) aren't supported across all web browsers. Image files such as BMP, TIFF, and CAD cannot be reliably viewed via the tag in all web browsers. This leads to potential frustration for end users, who don't want to have to manually request a download for an image. This is a nuisance and makes them less likely to return.
Flash vs HTML5
Adobe's ubiquitous Flash Player has been another hugely popular option, but the company has announced it will end support of Flash in 2020. Few in the tech world, of course, were surprised by this development due to the advent of HTML5, which signaled the beginning of the end for Flash and its substantial processing overhead, back in 2014.
There are a number of reasons HTML5 viewers quickly replaced Flash as the ideal medium for the Web, but most prominent is their flexibility. HTML5 viewers support essentially all major programming platforms and web browsers, including mobile devices.
Benefits of an HTML5 Image Viewer
Supports a wide range of file types
A robust HTML5 viewer also supports file types both abundant (PDFs and JPGs, for instance) and relatively obscure, such as extremely high-resolution DICOM medical images and CAD drawing files.
This flexibility also means that multiple documents (Microsoft Office files such as spreadsheets, Word documents and PowerPoint data files, etc.) can all be opened within a single application that features the HTML5 viewer. This saves RAM, makes operations more efficient and reduces the need for licenses to use the various software packages involved.
Protects Ownership and File Integrity
Displaying documents and files within a single web-based viewer also gives developers greater control over the information being displayed, a key concern for many organizations. Developers can configure the viewer to restrict downloading, printing, or editing files based on the permissions of the individual user. Clients are always looking for ways to enhance data security, and the fewer applications that access that data, the better.
Saves on External Software Costs
If your organization is purchasing software licenses (for packages such as Microsoft Office or AutoCAD) for every employee who needs to view files, an HTML5 viewer can reduce costs significantly. Rather than purchasing licenses for each user, simply integrate an HTML5 viewer into your system and every user can view any file – without needing any additional software licenses!
Another important feature that has made HTML5 viewers popular for users is annotation. This facilitates the collaboration process by allowing multiple users to mark up a document or image with comments or graphics, emphasizing specific areas of interest for the group.
Supports Search, Redaction, and eSignatures
Other user-friendly traits of HTML5 viewers commonly include search, redaction and electronic signature functionality. The ability to search large files (and catalog results) is a common request of users, as well as the option to hide sensitive data such as financial and health information. The need to have users acknowledge viewing and understanding terms of a document gave rise to the eSignature process that modern viewers also offer.
Improved Image Viewing with Zoom
HTML5 viewers make for a positive user experience for more basic reasons as well. Their zooming function makes images and documents easier to read or to discern fine details, a huge benefit for medical and engineering applications. A modern viewer also enhances the professional look and feel of any web page or application.
Image Enhancement Functionality
Advanced viewers also aid in the refining of images, an important consideration for physicians, construction engineers and other professionals. Line thickening, for instance, is an innovation especially helpful for CAD and other vector-based images. Color sharpening and gamma adjusting, which can enhance faint images such as low-quality scans, are also features of an HTML5 viewer that were previously unavailable.
Not all applications call for the power and versatility of an HTML5 viewer. Older methods of presenting images and documents are often sufficient for basic web use. But client demands are routinely becoming more complex, particularly in the management of large sources of information and the introduction of more and more industry-specific file types that challenge old methods of data presentation. Banking institutions and architecture firms, for instance, need the extensive functionality that the newer generation of viewers provides, as their data volume and niche-specific file types have made older viewing practices obsolete.
To learn more about Accusoft's flagship HTML5 viewer, PrizmDoc, try our free trial or view the demos of all the functions discussed above available on our site. And contact us with any questions or comments you have about this powerful modern viewer.