Technical FAQs for "PrizmDoc Viewer"

AI Legal Tech startups received more than $700 million in venture funding in 2023. Additionally, 90% of large law firms expect to increase their investment in generative AI in the next five years. And by 2036, 114,000 legal jobs are expected to be automated.

What does all of this mean? Independent software vendors (ISVs) are in an excellent business position. Firms know that their need for AI tools to help them build stronger cases is critical, and ISVs are uniquely positioned to fill that need.

AI Legal Tech Trends and How ISVs Can Respond to Them

#1: Generative AI Capabilities Are in High Demand

There’s been a marked shift from using traditional AI to generative AI. Given that 70% of law firms agree that generative AI adds value, let’s define this key term. Generative AI is an advanced branch of AI that focuses on creating new content, such as text, images, and videos, based on learned patterns and data inputs.

In the legal industry, traditional AI can analyze and process case data to make it easier for teams to develop arguments and documents themselves. Generative AI, however, can generate that content on its own–legal documents, contracts, and briefs–based on learned patterns and data inputs, mimicking the creativity and logic of human attorneys. The demand for generative AI capabilities in law firms is growing, and ISVs must respond accordingly.

Action Items

  • If you’re not already, invest in research and development to enhance generative AI capabilities tailored for your clients. This includes algorithms and models trained on legal data and patterns to generate legal documents accurately and efficiently.
  • Provide case studies, demonstrations, and ROI analysis showcasing the value of generative AI in legal operations. Highlight efficiency gains, cost savings, and improved productivity achieved through AI-driven document generation and analysis.
  • Establish a feedback loop with your clients to gather insights and feedback on the usability, accuracy, and effectiveness of your generative AI legal tech solutions. Improve and enhance AI capabilities over time.

#2: AI Legal Tech Streamlines Document Review

One of the most tedious aspects of legal operations has been manual document review. The number of data sources where client information is stored is only increasing, as is the volume of data stored within those sources. What does that mean for attorneys? They have to spend a mass amount of time and attention on this rote activity, which cuts into time they could be spending on more strategic, client-supporting work.

That’s where ISVs can bring value. AI legal tech tools resolve the pain of manual document review by automating the process. AI-driven technologies can actually reduce document review by up to 70% on average. With that time savings think about all of the other ways legal teams can then support their clients or even take on new clients.

Keep in mind that AI’s impact on document review is not just about efficiency. AI legal tech tools for document review also enhance the quality of legal work. By automating repetitive tasks, AI allows legal professionals to focus on higher-value activities such as legal analysis, strategy development, and client interaction. This not only improves overall productivity but also enhances client satisfaction and loyalty, positioning law firms for long-term success in a competitive marketplace. 

When developing or enhancing AI legal tech tools, ISVs would do well to consider how the tools can help attorneys save time and energy and deliver higher-quality work and service.

Action Items

  • Enhance your software by integrating PrizmDoc, designed to expedite legal teams’ document review process. PrizmDoc enables teams to securely view, annotate, redact, and more on a variety of file formats within your application. 
  • Offer advanced NLP features that extract key information, identify patterns, and improve accuracy in document analysis and review.
  • Develop algorithms that can group similar documents together based on content and context, making it easier for legal professionals to navigate and manage large volumes of documents efficiently.

#3: Identification of PII is Easier in High Volumes of Data

Protecting PII is a paramount concern in the legal sector, especially given the number of data sources that exist and the amount of data that is exchanged within those sources. There are so many opportunities for PII to be exposed or for a document to be tampered with. If either of those things happens, a document will likely be thrown out of a case. Make case preparation easier for your clients by offering them AI-powered technologies that keep their documents inside of a secure software application environment. 

Action Items

  • Explore integrating your software with PrizmDoc, which helps teams safeguard documents in several ways. The tool’s AI capabilities help teams identify and redact PII automatically. Additionally, PrizmDoc enables teams to view and collaborate on a variety of file formats in a single, secure environment. 
  • Develop data encryption and access control features to strengthen your software’s security. Offer granular access control mechanisms that allow law firms to define user roles, permissions, and restrictions to safeguard sensitive information.
  • Offer the capability to track and record actions related to PII handling within documents to create transparency and accountability among legal teams.

#4: Legal Services Are Poised to Become Less Cost Prohibitive

A much-needed transformation that AI has brought to the field is making legal services more financially accessible. AI is making this happen in several different ways.

First, AI legal tech tools help legal teams be more efficient on certain tasks, which results in less billable time for clients. For example, as we said earlier, automating document review can save up to 70% of time, significantly reducing the billable hours that a firm can charge to a client.

Second, thanks to AI, the nature of client billing itself is changing. By embracing AI, law firms can offer fee arrangements instead of traditional hourly billing. Because AI legal tech tools free up attorneys to focus on more strategic work, firms can offer transparent, value-based pricing models that prioritize only the value provided rather than hours spent on manual tasks. 

There are no signs of firms slowing their adoption of AI. 82% of attorneys agree that generative AI can be applied to legal work, and more than half believe that AI should be applied to legal work. More and more teams are beginning to use AI within their firms, setting a foundation for taking on more clients and/or serving clients at a more competitive rate.

Action Items

  • Integrate predictive analytics capabilities that help legal teams forecast budgets, identify cost-saving opportunities, and make data-driven decisions in resource allocation.
  • Build platforms that utilize AI to streamline document review processes–through automatic PII identification and redaction, as well as the ability to view and annotate documents in one platform–so that this service is more affordable. 
  • Develop AI-powered virtual assistants that can handle routine inquiries, provide legal guidance, and assist in basic legal tasks, reducing the need for human resources and overhead costs.

#5: AI Legal Tech Tools Can Be Reliable Assistants on Research and Due Diligence

Another trend that ISVs should note is that AI legal tech tools can serve as true assistants on certain tasks, especially for research and due diligence. For example, the research process often takes days. With an AI legal tech tool, research can take mere hours. This translates into substantial cost savings and improved productivity for legal professionals and law firms. With AI helping to expedite the research and due diligence process, legal teams have more time and energy to build the strongest cases possible for their clients.

Action Items

  • Offer AI legal tech tools that can analyze case law, identify legal precedents, and provide contextual insights to support legal research and due diligence efforts.
  • Develop features that enable visual representation of legal data, trends, and insights to facilitate decision-making and enhance the quality of legal research outputs.
  • Develop AI models that can analyze and extract key clauses, terms, and risks from contracts. This would enable faster due diligence processes and better risk management for law firms.

How to Bring the Benefits of AI Legal Tech to Your Clients

ISVs and technology leaders who thrive are those who grasp the rapid growth of AI while tailoring their tools to accommodate the varying paces at which law firms navigate this space. As the AI software market in the legal sector is projected to grow by over 10% annually, from $2.19 billion in 2024 to an estimated $3.64 billion by 2029, adaptability and responsiveness to the evolving needs of law firms on their AI journey become paramount for long-term success.

By integrating AI-driven solutions like Accusoft’s PrizmDoc into your offerings, you can help legal teams streamline document management, safeguard documents, and build airtight cases for their clients. 

We invite you to explore how Accusoft can help you provide better AI legal tech tools to your clients. Check out our Legal Tech Fact Sheet to learn more about PrizmDoc and discover how our solutions can elevate your AI legal tech capabilities.


PII Detection and Redaction

The landscape of legal content management is undergoing a transformative change, thanks to advancements in artificial intelligence (AI). Legal entities, burdened by the immense volumes of sensitive data they handle daily, are finding respite in AI-driven solutions for managing Personally Identifiable Information (PII).

By leveraging the innovative benefits of AI-enabled integrations, Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) can improve the case management, eDiscovery, and practice management software solutions they provide to law firms by securely identifying and redacting PII more efficiently than ever.

Navigating the Data Deluge with AI

Legal practices are inundated with vast quantities of PII, encompassing sensitive documents, client records, and case-related information. The manual management and protection of such extensive and intricate data pose a significant challenge.

AI technology is revolutionizing this process by automating the identification and categorization of PII within large datasets. This minimizes the risk of oversight or human error. Machine learning algorithms, integral to these AI systems, adapt to evolving data structures, ensuring comprehensive and up-to-date protection.

Ensuring Compliance with AI

Software applications used in the legal sector are tightly bound by various data protection regulations. Ensuring adherence to these complex and ever-evolving regulations is a daunting task for legal professionals.

AI solutions are adept at automating compliance checks, significantly reducing the burden on legal practices. These tools assist in adhering to the specific requirements of different data protection regulations, minimizing the risk of legal repercussions.

Revolutionizing Document Review and Redaction with AI

The manual review and redaction of sensitive information in legal documents are not only error-prone but also extremely time-consuming.

AI-powered tools are transforming this landscape by automatically identifying and redacting PII. This not only enhances accuracy and efficiency but also maintains the confidentiality of sensitive information.

Introducing PrizmDoc’s AI Capabilities

As we look towards the future, it’s exciting to introduce PrizmDoc’s new AI capabilities in identifying and flagging PII within documents. PrizmDoc’s AI stands out in its ability to identify sensitive or non-compliant content. Its functionality, accessible via APIs, enables the creation of workflow automations that are both efficient and secure.

Moreover, PrizmDoc offers user interface tools that extend AI functionality to end-users, making it more accessible and practical in everyday legal practice.

The Multifold Benefits of PrizmDoc AI for PII

Incorporating PrizmDoc’s AI capabilities into legal content management systems can lead to a multitude of benefits:

  • Reduced bottlenecks and faster decision-making processes.
  • Improved efficiency in handling and managing legal documents.
  • Enhanced data security, protecting sensitive client information.
  • Improved compliance with regulatory standards.
  • Overall enhancement in the quality and reliability of legal services.

The integration of AI in legal content management, especially with tools like PrizmDoc, is not just a step toward innovation; it’s a leap toward a more efficient, secure, and compliant legal practice. As technology continues to evolve, it’s clear that AI will play a crucial role in shaping the future of legal data management.


In the finance industry, managing and securing Personally Identifiable Information (PII) is a task of paramount importance, given the stringent regulatory landscape and the vast volumes of sensitive customer data handled daily. The introduction of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in financial content management systems is a game-changer, offering a more efficient, secure, and compliant way of handling PII.

By utilizing AI-powered integrations, Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) and large financial institutions developing in-house solutions can transform the way their applications protect private information in the finance sector.

Tackling Regulatory Compliance with AI

The finance sector operates under a complex regulatory framework with compliance standards specifically tailored to the protection of PII. Traditional manual approaches to adhering to these regulations are not only time-consuming but also fraught with the potential for human error.

AI steps in as a crucial tool for ensuring compliance. By automating the process of compliance checks, AI reduces manual workload and minimizes the risk of non-compliance, thereby safeguarding financial institutions against potential legal and financial penalties.

Managing Massive Data Volumes

Financial institutions are custodians of enormous volumes of customer data. Manually identifying and securing every piece of PII in this vast data ocean is an uphill task.

Here, AI becomes indispensable. With its capacity to process and analyze large datasets efficiently, AI, through machine learning algorithms, can swiftly identify and categorize PII. This provides a scalable and accurate solution to manage and protect large volumes of financial data.

Securing PII in Complex Ecosystems

The finance industry relies on intricate, interconnected systems, with PII often being shared among various entities. Ensuring the security of this data across such a multifaceted ecosystem is challenging.

AI technologies offer a unified approach to PII protection. By implementing consistent security protocols across various financial systems, AI ensures a holistic and integrated strategy to safeguard sensitive information.

Introducing PrizmDoc’s AI Capabilities in Finance

As the finance industry evolves, it’s crucial to introduce innovative solutions like PrizmDoc’s new AI capabilities. Combined with PrizmDoc’s industry-leading redaction features, these tools stand at the forefront for identifying and flagging sensitive PII within financial documents allowing for streamlined reviewing and redaction before sharing documents with other departments.

User-Friendly Functionality

PrizmDoc’s AI functionalities are accessible via APIs, allowing for the creation of workflow automations that are both efficient and secure. Additionally, user interface tools extend AI functionality to end users, making it a practical tool in everyday financial operations.

Streamlined Workflows

Incorporating PrizmDoc’s AI into financial content management systems transforms the landscape of financial operations. This technology streamlines workflows, significantly reducing operational bottlenecks and paving the way for faster and more effective decision-making processes. Additionally, it significantly improves the efficiency of handling and managing financial documents.

Enhanced Security

A key aspect of PrizmDoc’s AI is its enhancement of data security, a critical factor in protecting sensitive customer information. This integration plays a pivotal role in ensuring improved compliance with regulatory standards, a vital requirement in the finance sector. Above all, it elevates the overall quality and reliability of financial services.

PrizmDoc AI Redaction Keeps PII Secure for Financial Applications 

The integration of AI in financial content management systems, especially with advanced tools like PrizmDoc, marks a substantial stride towards more efficient, secure, and compliant financial practices. As technological advancements continue at a rapid pace, the role of AI in reshaping the future of financial data management is becoming increasingly prominent and indispensable. By incorporating PrizmDoc’s AI capabilities into their FinTech applications, developers can offer end users the ability to manage documents more efficiently without putting PII at risk.

How PrizmDoc’s Video Playback Feature Enhances Legal Applications

Video playback has become an indispensable feature for today’s applications, reflecting the evolution of user preferences and the ubiquity of multimedia content in our digital age. As the consumption of video content surges, from tutorials, entertainment, and online courses to marketing materials and user-generated content, applications that offer smooth and versatile video playback capabilities cater directly to this user demand, enhancing engagement and retention rates.

Moreover, video communicates complex ideas efficiently, appeals to visual learners, and often enhances user experience with a richer, more immersive medium. In today’s highly competitive digital marketplace, integrating robust video playback functionality can be the deciding factor for an application’s success, ensuring that it meets contemporary user expectations and remains relevant in a video-centric digital ecosystem.

Introducing PrizmDoc Video Playback

Given the growing importance of video, the Accusoft engineering team has incorporated video playback into PrizmDoc’s growing feature set. PrizmDoc has long made it easy to integrate seamless document viewing into web-based applications, but the new video playback feature now allows developers to natively embed video functionality into their software. Thanks to PrizmDoc video playback, there’s no longer any need to host videos on external sites or rely upon vulnerable software plugins to incorporate videos into their application workflows.

The new video playback feature carries on PrizmDoc’s longstanding tradition of efficiency and outstanding performance by delivering high quality video content with minimal processing lags and accommodating multiple file formats. As with other PrizmDoc features, developers can quickly incorporate video playback through a simple API call. This makes it easy to roll out video features without having to build complex functionality from scratch.

Video Playback Benefits for Legal Applications

The legal industry stands to benefit immensely from the use of video playback. Incorporating video features into LegalTech applications allows legal teams to work more effectively and deliver better services to their clients. Here are just a few of the benefits of video playback for the legal industry:

Better Case Preparation

Incorporating video playback functionality into legal software revolutionizes the way lawyers work and offers them unprecedented advantages in case preparation and courtroom representation. With video playback, lawyers can revisit crucial deposition testimonies, witness interviews, or surveillance footage at the touch of a button, eliminating the need for extensive manual sifting through transcripts or notes. This visual evidence can be used to enhance comprehension, validate statements, and build more persuasive arguments. 

With the growing use of virtual court proceedings, having integrated video playback capabilities ensures that legal professionals can present key evidence seamlessly, without toggling between multiple platforms. In essence, video playback in legal software streamlines processes, promotes meticulous case analysis, and provides lawyers with a compelling tool to bolster their arguments and client representation.

Improved Communication & Collaboration

Video playback in legal applications offers a transformative advantage by enhancing communication and collaboration among stakeholders. Unlike traditional methods, video captures the nuances of testimonies, allowing viewers to discern tone, emotion, and non-verbal cues often lost in written transcripts. This depth can be particularly evident when observing video depositions, where the demeanor and specific phrasing of witnesses are critical. Additionally, complex scenarios or events can be better understood when demonstrated through video, making it an indispensable tool for lawyers when explaining intricate case details to clients or colleagues.

This sensory-rich medium allows lawyers to brief their teams more effectively, reducing reliance on memory or textual notes, ensuring everyone remains aligned, and facilitating strategic discussions. Clients, too, benefit immensely. Video content can demystify the often-complex legal processes, empowering them with a clearer understanding of proceedings and making them active participants in their cases. Furthermore, when videos are shared with opposing counsel, it can improve transparency and potentially lead to faster resolutions by pinpointing areas of agreement or contention, thereby laying the groundwork for more informed negotiations.

Increased Efficiency

The integration of video playback within legal applications presents a notable advantage in increasing efficiency for legal professionals. In the past, the absence of built-in playback capabilities meant that lawyers often had to download and launch videos in separate external applications, causing interruptions in their workflow. Now, with the advent of direct video playback in the document viewing interface, there’s a seamless transition between reading textual documents and viewing related video content. This streamlined process ensures that lawyers and their teams no longer grapple with the cumbersome process of managing external video files, thereby saving valuable time.

By consolidating tasks within a singular interface, legal professionals can maintain their focus, review case materials more swiftly, and ultimately make more informed decisions without the constant shift between applications. The simplicity and efficiency offered by this integration not only optimize legal workflows but also enhance the user experience, leading to more agile and effective case management.

Enhance LegalTech Applications with PrizmDoc Video Playback

PrizmDoc’s new video playback feature delivers tremendous benefits for legal applications. This enhancement empowers legal professionals to integrate and access video content directly within their LegalTech software, eliminating the need for third-party platforms or external tools. As a result, users experience a swifter and more cohesive workflow, particularly when cross-referencing between legal documents and relevant videos. By consolidating these capabilities and minimizing associated costs, LegalTech software developers can channel their efforts and resources into innovating further, ensuring that their applications remain at the forefront of a rapidly evolving industry landscape.

To learn more about how PrizmDoc’s video playback feature can benefit your LegalTech application, talk to one of Accusoft’s PrizmDoc specialists today.

Explore PrizmDoc Hybrid Viewing

The financial services industry has seen a breathtaking amount of innovation over the last decade thanks to FinTech applications that streamline user experiences and improve operational efficiencies. Many of these solutions incorporate third-party viewing integrations that allow people to view and manage documents, eliminating the need to switch back and forth between different software. 

Implementing specialized viewing technology saves time and resources during the development process so FinTechs can get their products to market faster. By selecting the right integration partner from the beginning, they can put themselves in a position to scale capabilities in the future without suffering unexpected costs or compromising performance. 

Viewing Integrations and the Problem of Scale

FinTech developers often turn to API-based viewing integrations like Accusoft’s PrizmDoc because they provide the tremendous power and flexibility that modern financial services applications require. Whether it’s file conversion, robust annotation, document assembly, or redaction, FinTech software must be able to provide extensive document processing features to meet customer expectations.  

In order to implement those advanced viewing capabilities, the developer usually needs to set up a dedicated server as part of their on-premises infrastructure or in a cloud deployment. One of the biggest advantages of API-based integrations is that customers only have to pay for the processing resources they use, but this can also pose some challenges when it comes to scaling application capacity. 

As FinTech companies expand their services, they need to be able to deliver document viewing capabilities to a larger number of users. If each viewing session requires the server to prepare and render documents for viewing, costs can quickly escalate. As server workloads increase, viewing responsiveness may be affected, resulting in delays and slower performance. 

While some users may still need to use server-based viewing to access more powerful imaging and conversion features, many customers simply need a quick and easy way to view and make minor document alterations. FinTech developers need a versatile solution that can meet both requirements if they want to scale their services smoothly. 

Introducing PrizmDoc Hybrid Viewing

PrizmDoc’s new Hybrid Viewing feature provides FinTech applications the best of both worlds by offloading the document processing workloads required for viewing to client-side devices. Rather than using server resources to convert files into SVG format and render them for display, Hybrid Viewing instead converts files into PDF format and then delivers that document to the end user’s browser for viewing.  

Shifting the bulk of document processing work to client-side devices significantly reduces server workloads, which translates into lower costs for FinTech applications. 

For documents not already in PDF format, the PrizmDoc Hybrid Viewing feature offers new PDF viewing packages that pre-convert documents into PDF for fast, responsive local viewing. 

By reducing the server requirements for rendering files, FinTech providers can easily scale their applications without worrying about additional users increasing their document processing costs. PrizmDoc Hybrid Viewing also eliminates the need for separate viewing solutions implemented to work around server-based viewing, which allows developers to streamline their tech stack and further optimize customer experiences. 

5 Ways Hybrid Viewing Enhances FinTech Applications

PrizmDoc’s Hybrid Viewing feature provides FinTech developers with several important benefits that improve application flexibility and deliver greater value to their customers.  

1. Resource Savings 

Hybrid Viewing minimizes server loads by offloading the bulk of the processing required to view a document to client-side devices. Reducing server requirements translates into lower costs and frees up valuable processing resources for other critical FinTech workloads. 

2. Scalable Viewing 

Shifting the processing work required for viewing to local devices allows FinTech applications to scale their user base with minimal cost. 

3. Enhanced Performance 

Offloading document preparation to the end user’s device improves viewing speed and responsiveness, especially for large documents. 

4. Increased Productivity 

Diverting workloads to client-side devices allows application users to process, view, and manage multiple documents faster. FinTech developers can leverage Hybrid Viewing to provide a better user experience that helps their customers to be more efficient and productive. 

5. Improved Storage Management 

For documents not already in PDF format, Hybrid Viewing can utilize PDF-based viewing packages that are significantly smaller than conventional SVG viewing files. Files can be pre-converted for fast, easy viewing without taking up extra storage space. 

Enhance FinTech Applications with PrizmDoc Hybrid Viewing 

PrizmDoc’s new Hybrid Viewing feature allows FinTech developers to seamlessly scale their application’s viewing capabilities without having to deploy new servers or rethink their cost structure. Shifting document processing to local devices provides end-users with faster, more responsive performance, especially when viewing lengthy documents. By keeping viewing-related costs low, FinTech developers can focus their resources on developing new application features that help their products stand out in an increasingly competitive market. 

To learn more about how PrizmDoc’s Hybrid Viewing can benefit your FinTech application, talk to one of Accusoft’s PrizmDoc specialists today.

PrizmDoc Hybrid Viewing

Today’s customers expect more out of their software applications. No one wants to waste time juggling between multiple platforms every time they need to open a simple document. They want applications to provide a streamlined user experience that allows them to interact with various file formats quickly and easily, with minimal performance issues.

Most software developers turn to third party integrations like Accusoft’s PrizmDoc to incorporate document processing capabilities into their applications. Since developers are frequently pressed for time and resources, it doesn’t make sense to build document lifecycle features from scratch when they can easily deploy a proven, scalable solution that provides all the tools they need. An API-based integration like PrizmDoc can quickly add industry-leading viewing, editing, collaboration, conversion, and assembly features to an application, which allows developers to focus on other features that will help their software stand out from competitors.

Pros and Cons of Server-Side Viewing

All that document processing power has to come from somewhere, and in the case of solutions like PrizmDoc, most processing is handled by a dedicated server. The server may be self-hosted on the developer’s local infrastructure, a dedicated private cloud, or a public cloud that’s shared by multiple customers.

There are plenty of advantages to this model. Scalable infrastructure is available for the heaviest document processing workloads, but customers only have to pay for the resources they actually use. A dedicated server also makes it easy for applications to manage document storage and avoid version confusion.

Server-side resources can also pose challenges for some applications. If the server is constantly being used to prepare and render documents for viewing, customers may find themselves utilizing more processing resources than expected. Scaling viewing capabilities for multiple users can increase resource usage because each session places additional processing requirements on the server, especially if users need to make annotations, redactions, or other alterations to files.

Viewing multiple, lengthy files server-side can also impact performance. PrizmDoc’s HTML5 viewer, for instance, converts and renders documents in SVG format. While this format offers outstanding quality and flexibility, load time may take longer and it also takes up server storage space.

Introducing PrizmDoc Hybrid Viewing

The new PrizmDoc Hybrid Viewing feature solves these challenges by offloading the processing work for viewing in PDF format to the end user’s device. This is a hybrid approach between server-side processing and client-side processing, with all of the viewing capabilities handled by the client-side device. This drastically reduces the server resources needed to prepare files for viewing, which translates into cost saving and improved performance. Since all viewing is handled by the browser on the client-side device, Hybrid Viewing offers much greater responsiveness for a better overall user experience.

For files not already in PDF format users can take advantage of the new viewing package which converts any file format to PDF. This not only allows documents to be viewed more quickly in the future, but also reduces server load and storage requirements.

5 Key Benefits of PrizmDoc Hybrid Viewing

The Hybrid Viewing feature works within PrizmDoc’s existing viewing package infrastructure, making it a simple and streamlined solution for both new and existing customers. Shifting viewing processing from the server to client-side devices provides applications with several important benefits.

1. Cost Savings

Transferring the processing work required for document viewing to an end user’s device reduces server workloads. Since customers pay for the server resources their applications utilize, minimizing server requirements for viewing can deliver significant cost savings over time.

2. Better Resource Management

All file types can be used with this new Hybrid Viewing feature. The new PDF viewing package pre-converts all file types into PDF only, rather than creating SVG files with large amounts of data. This saves both processing time and storage resources. Developers can take advantage of this flexibility and resource savings to implement additional application features that leverage PrizmDoc’s capabilities.

3. Increased Productivity

Shifting document viewing workloads to client-side devices allows applications to process, view, and manage multiple documents faster. This helps end users to do their jobs more efficiently and get greater value out of their applications.

4. Enhanced Performance

Hybrid viewing not only requires fewer resources, but files can be viewed and manipulated faster with enhanced responsiveness. For applications that need to provide editing features such as annotations, offloading processing to client-side devices minimizes load times and lag for a better overall user experience.

5. Scalable Document Viewing

By handling document viewing capabilities on local devices instead of the server, scaling capacity becomes far less resource intensive. File conversion only needs to be performed once, so adding more users doesn’t increase the overall server workload.

What Hybrid Viewing Means for PrizmDoc Users

The new Hybrid Viewing feature allows PrizmDoc users to get more out of their integration than ever before. For customers who have long relied on desktop-based PDF.js viewers due to concerns about server workload or performance, the Hybrid Viewing feature provides a localized viewing solution that streamlines their tech stack and leverages the full capabilities of PrizmDoc. By minimizing server requirements, developers can unlock the potential of their applications to scale their document lifecycle features without worrying of runaway costs.

Hybrid Viewing is available for PrizmDoc Server v13.15 or greater and can be used for self-hosted, private cloud-hosted, or public cloud-hosted deployments. To learn more about how it can provide the flexibility your application needs to scale with user demands, talk to one of our PrizmDoc specialists today.

Emerging legal technology

Ongoing Legal Digital Transformation

There are many challenges facing the legal industry that legal tech and new emerging legal technology can help solve, but getting firms to adopt new technology to address these challenges can be a hurdle.  But the most recent challenge within the eDiscovery process is compounding them all. 

The Arrival of New eDiscovery Challenges

The change to a remote/hybrid work environment starting in 2020 during the worldwide COVID pandemic transformed the working world. Even while some companies have returned to the physical workspace, hybrid and fully remote working conditions continue to exist. This means that the collaborative working social platforms and mobile apps we all used to communicate and work with (Teams, Slack, Zoom, Webex, WhatsApp, Google Meet, etc.) are here to stay. 

Regardless of whether employees are in-office, hybrid, or working remotely, using these collaborative working social platforms has become the new norm. This has had profound effects on legal firms performing eDiscovery, most of whom still depend on tools and review processes designed for standard digital documents (such as .doc, .xlxs, .ppt, etc), paper documents, and email. The process of collecting, viewing, searching, redacting, and collaborating across traditional documents and emails has pivoted, and firms are responsible for including the digitized content from these collaborative working social platforms in their eDiscovery.

Compounding the Problem

Processing this new collaborative working social content is a big enough challenge on its own. Unfortunately, many in the legal industry weren’t fully optimized with their digital transformation by adopting previously available legal tech. While some traditional eDiscovery tools have reached maturity and are being utilized by firms, many slower-to-adopt firms are still fighting internally to have legal tech implemented.

How can firms (both early adopters and those still in the digital transformation process) prepare for eDiscovery across these new platforms filled with chat streams, emojis, and video recordings?

Enter Third-Party Software Integrations

Legal tech independent software vendors (ISVs) can be assured that there is technology available that can support their eDiscovery across these collaborative working social platforms. But better still, they don’t need to build a solution from scratch. 

Readily available and easy to adopt, third-party software integrations allow ISVs to add the capabilities they need without disrupting development timelines or building features from scratch. The ability to view, search, annotate, and redact content within documents securely inside an existing application without sacrificing everyday functionality is powerful.

Take on Your eDiscovery Challenges with Accusoft

Accusoft software integrations help legal tech ISVs build a more productive process for case review and eDiscovery. With unique technology that enables easy digital document processing, manual processes like search and redaction are no longer labor-intensive. Accusoft’s digital document lifecycle technologies streamline collaboration and information-sharing while keeping files secure and original metadata intact.

Looking specifically to address the new challenges of processing new collaborative working platform content within your eDiscovery process? Accusoft’s solutions can not only view these new collaborative platform transcript file types (including JSON, VTT, DOCX) but also search, redact, and offer secure collaboration directly inside your application.

To learn more about how Accusoft integrations can support your legal digital transformation and eDiscovery challenges, talk to one of our technology experts today.

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For more information on Accusoft’s software integrations for eDiscovery, case, and practice management applications, visit our Legal industries page.


share confidential documents

Data privacy continues to be a significant concern for businesses, employees, customers, and stakeholders alike. Privacy breaches can expose problems with document management and digital document security practices. They can also pose significant risks and costs to companies and stakeholders.  The importance of ensuring the secure sharing of confidential documents can’t be stressed enough.

When developing an application with SDKs or APIs or integrating new features into a workflow, developers must be aware of the security risks. Project managers, security engineers, and architects must work in tandem to identify and address all potential security breaches. This holds especially true for commercially-confidential, highly-sensitive, or private documents while in transit.

The Risks of Document Sharing

Document sharing, in general, can present opportunities for malicious actors to attempt to gain access to a competitor’s documents. It could also pave the way for uploading data containing malware accidentally. Protecting the enterprise as a whole should be a priority to prevent loss or compromise of customer-sensitive information. This is vital because even minor damage to a company’s reputation can have a devastating impact. 

When building applications with document sharing capabilities, developers need to think about the inherent risks that come along with allowing users access to upload and edit documents. Fortunately, there are a number of practical steps that developers can take to share sensitive documents securely without putting confidential information or mission-critical data at risk. 

5 Ways to Ensure Confidential Documents Are Shared Securely

1. Strengthen Application Security

Any conversation about document security needs to start with a focus on the application’s cybersecurity architecture. If document management software contains multiple vulnerabilities or doesn’t provide the necessary controls to safeguard data, it will be difficult to share sensitive documents securely. Here are a few best practices developers should have in place to create a secure application ecosystem: 

  • Perform threat-modeling any time there is a major design change in the application or ecosystem to identify potential new threats.
  • Encrypt customer sensitive documents both in transit and in storage. Ideally, the keys will be held by clients with an emergency access vault backup system, so that even the software developer cannot access any sensitive customer data. This way, even if an application or data centers are breached, customer documents will still be protected.
  • Spend more time testing releases for weaknesses and allow security engineers and architects to weigh in on the product feature roadmap. Security patches and improvements should be given the same value as other new product features.
  • Conduct periodic audits or external penetration testing to ensure that applications and customer data cannot be compromised.

2. Design Applications with Segregated Access

Secure documents and sensitive information should only be available to the people authorized to view or edit it. Access to one document should not allow someone to access other documents stored in the same application. By segregating access to data and assigning specific user permissions, developers can provide the tools customers need to manage their assets and share sensitive documents securely.

3. Eliminate External Viewing Dependencies

Although many organizations use secure applications to manage their document workflows, they frequently open themselves up to risk by relying on external software for document viewing. Without some way of sharing and viewing documents within the application itself, files will inevitably be shared over email and opened on local devices that may not have the latest security updates in place. Developers can avoid this problem by integrating HTML5 viewing capabilities into their application. This ensures that documents never have to leave a secure environment, even when they’re being shared with people outside an organization.

4. Create Unique Viewing Sessions

One of the challenges with many cloud-based document management systems is that once someone is granted access to a file, they typically retain that access until it is manually changed at a later date. In most instances, those privileges are also associated with the source file itself. This can create a number of security gaps if an organization doesn’t closely monitor access privileges. By implementing an HTML5 viewer that can generate unique viewing sessions for individual users, developers can provide more control over how to share confidential documents. Viewing sessions can be set to expire after use, and since the session is viewing a rendered version of the document instead of the source document itself, system administrators have more control over what aspects of it are shared. They may decide, for instance, to share only certain pages rather than the entire document.

5. Implement Redaction Capabilities

Redaction has long been used to protect private or confidential information in documents. Although organizations still frequently make embarrassing mistakes when it comes to redaction, it remains one of the most effective tools for anyone who needs to share sensitive documents securely. By integrating true redaction capabilities that not only obscure, but also completely remove sensitive information, developers provide applications that have the ability to screen documents for privacy risks before they’re shared with anyone. Performing redactions within the application environment also has the benefit of further limiting external dependencies that could threaten security.

Protect Confidential Documents with Accusoft Integrations

Accusoft’s collection of processing integrations give developers with a variety of document management tools for controlling privacy within their applications. The HTML5 capabilities of PrizmDoc Viewer offer powerful redaction tools and make it easier for administrators to control viewing access. 

To learn more about how Accusoft SDKs and APIs can provide the document management features you need to protect confidential information and privacy, visit our products page today or talk to one of our integration specialists.


Technology trends are moving quickly in the legal industry as firms scramble to adapt to a shifting business landscape. Although many firms and organizations were already taking steps to break away from old fashioned processes and embrace the potential of LegalTech solutions, the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated change initiatives and forced legal professionals to reassess their foundational business models. To get a better sense of the technology impact on law firms, developers would be wise to review recent tech surveys of the industry that assess how LegalTech software is being utilized.

LegalTech Technology Survey: A Closer Look 

According to a 2020 technology survey conducted by Bloomberg Law, legal firms are seeing tremendous benefits from the implementation of LegalTech tools. Four out of five firms and 73 percent of corporate legal departments have seen an increase in work volume, with both reporting that technology has also improved the quality of their work. On balance, high-value tasks are getting more attention, with 56 percent of respondents indicating that they spend at least somewhat more time on higher-level tasks. Low-value task loads have been reduced by an even larger rate, with 73% of respondents spending at least somewhat less time on less skilled, lower-level tasks.

Critically, these improvements seem to have come without also introducing a new set of challenges. One of the frequently cited concerns about implementing new LegalTech solutions is that it will create workflow disruptions or cause other difficulties with legal processes. In reality, such critiques appear to be largely unwarranted. Bloomberg Law’s 2020 tech survey found that large majorities of respondents did not believe LegalTech added to the number (78 percent) or difficulty (86 percent) of workflow impediments.

LegalTech Automation Needs

Despite the positive technology impact on firms, there are still many tasks being done manually that could be automated with software tools. In 2020, Accusoft conducted a technology survey of legal professionals about how they’re managing productivity and utilizing LegalTech applications. We discovered that while 54 percent of respondents were utilizing digital solutions to view and collaborate on documents, automation tools had yet to eradicate time-consuming manual tasks.

legaltech Manual Skills
Given the enduring prevalence of manual processes, it’s hardly a surprise that 52 percent of respondents had difficulty locating the right document assets when they needed them. That figure, in particular, is unfortunate considering that a 2020 Clio report on legal trends found that 69 percent of consumers would prefer to work with legal firms capable of sharing documents electronically. 

The Technology Impact on Law Firms in Business Terms

Failing to implement effective LegalTech tools, then, could very well be costing many firms business. Longstanding legal business models that focus on profit per partner (PEP) metrics and emphasize short-term priorities are already giving way to technology-driven models that deliver faster, more efficient services at more competitive price points for customers. While boutique “big law” firms may continue to resist automation trends due to the specialized and strategic nature of their business, smaller firms and legal departments will need to reorient their operations to deliver the routine, day-to-day services that most customers are seeking. 

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the COVID-19 pandemic has made many legal organizations more open to adopting technology solutions. Bloomberg Law’s report found that prior to 2020, only 40 percent of legal leaders described themselves as being “very open” to implementing new tech. Following the pandemic, that number has increased to 54 percent, perhaps acknowledging a new reality for the legal industry as existing business models are reconsidered.

Building the Future of LegalTech

LegalTech developers face several challenges as they work on designing the next generation of technology solutions for the industry. The first question almost always comes down to whether it makes sense to build application features from scratch or to buy and integrate proven solutions. Many legal organizations are looking for powerful software tools that incorporate the latest in process automation technology, which often demands substantial development resources to build and implement. For many software developers, it can be difficult to get products to market quickly without cutting some corners here and there in terms of features when they have to build everything from the ground up.

By incorporating ready-made functionality in the form of specialized integrations, developers can dedicate more of their resources to the innovative technology that powers their LegalTech solution. From HTML5 viewing that makes it easy to securely view a variety of file types to collaboration tools that allow for markup and redaction, software integrations can rapidly expand the capabilities of an application to make it more attractive to legal organizations.

Accusoft’s PrizmDoc Viewer allows developers to integrate versatile viewing and conversion functionality into their LegalTech solutions. It also features powerful annotation and redaction tools that can significantly streamline the eDiscovery process. Learn more about these and other solutions in our LegalTech Fact Sheet.

Implementing any technology solution within an established organization can be a monumental challenge for a developer. Doing so for a legal firm that has a strong culture and longstanding processes can be even more difficult. That’s why LegalTech developers need to take a few key factors into consideration as they work on applications for the legal industry.

Build vs. Buy

One of the first questions any firm needs to ask is whether it wants to build a specialized solution or turn to an existing LegalTech application. In many cases, this comes down to a question of resources. For larger “big law” firms or legal departments within an enterprise business, internal developers may be available to build a customized application that caters to specific organizational needs. 

If the resources and development skills are on hand, building a dedicated solution can be an effective strategy. Developers can focus narrowly on the established processes used at the firm and design technology that targets clear pain points more effectively than an “off-the-shelf” product.

More importantly, as Kelly Wehbi, Head of Product for Gravity Stack, points out, building doesn’t necessarily mean starting from nothing

“I think a lot about how to leverage the platforms we have or could potentially purchase, but then add our own expertise and strengths on top of it. That doesn’t have to mean you have to build some entirely new interface or have to invent some new technology. It could be there’s a tool that’s out there that does exactly what you need and maybe you have to build a few customizations on top of that.”

Of course, building a solution also presents a number of challenges, especially if the project’s requirements are not well defined from the beginning. There’s a great deal of overhead involved with building new technology in terms of maintenance and ongoing support. It’s easy to fall into the trap of focusing on technology at the expense of services. But legal firms are not product companies; they need to focus instead on finding ways they can use technology to leverage their core services.

It’s that emphasis on services that drives many firms to buy the technology solutions they need rather than to build them. Existing software integrations are typically better positioned to maintain security and don’t need to be maintained as extensively. Deploying proven software integrations also helps organizations to maximize their on-premises resources and enhance their flexibility in the long-term. 

“I tend to default toward leveraging an existing platform when possible,” Wehbi admits. “Security ends up being a huge part of this and when you can leverage a company that’s solved that really well, that goes a long, long way. It offers you a bunch of options you wouldn’t have if you had to build it yourself,” Wehbi says. “That’s a pretty big undertaking to start from scratch.”

Getting Buy-In for LegalTech Solutions

Once the build or buy decision is finally made, there’s still the critical matter of executing and putting the new solution into practice. Getting feedback throughout the development and integration process is important, whether it’s gathered from anecdotal observations or some form of usage analytics. 

Neeraj Raijpal, CIO at Schroock & Schroock & Lavan, finds that implementations tend to go smoother when the development team is able to get rapid feedback from key decision makers: “The faster you get the feedback, the faster you know you’re down the right path or not. It is very frightening when the stakeholder…looks at something and says ‘This is exactly the opposite of what I expected.’ You don’t want to be in that situation.”

Ultimately, a LegalTech application’s success depends largely upon whether or not the firm as a whole embraces it. When developers are seeking to implement a solution, they need to be especially careful to take the culture of the firm into consideration. Without buy-in at the top, it will be difficult to convince anyone in the organization to commit to change. 

“If you’re trying to solve a problem because you have a deficiency in a current business process, but you’re not willing to change the process…that’s (a) disaster,” Raijpal warns. Although LegalTech solutions are designed to enhance efficiency and reduce errors, they often require people to learn how to use them or to abandon existing technology solutions.

Take, for example, a legal firm that needs to redact documents during the discovery process. The existing process likely involves printing out documents and then laboriously redacting them by hand with marker. Once that process is finished, they are scanned and saved as image-based PDFs. An HTML5 viewer with redaction capabilities could easily streamline this process to make it faster, more flexible, and more secure. Unfortunately, if the firm’s attorneys aren’t willing to adopt the new process, all of the potential efficiency benefits go to waste.

The Importance of Communication

Communication and ongoing support are critical to ensuring a successful LegalTech implementation. Developers can begin this important conversation right from the beginning when they’re designing application features. Whether they’re building everything from scratch or turning to software integrations, they need to have honest and thorough discussions to determine what specific features are needed to support legal processes. Implementing a LegalTech solution is more likely to be successful if that solution is closely aligned with the firm’s existing needs and future goals.

But the conversation doesn’t stop once the application goes live. Ongoing support and education is often necessary to help firms adopt new technology and make the most of its potential. Developers may even need to adjust some features over time as needs change. If they utilized third party software integrations to add key functionality, they need to know they can count on those vendors to support them as the LegalTech application evolves.

Make Your LegalTech Implementation a Success with Accusoft

Accusoft’s family of software integrations allow LegalTech developers to quickly add the features their clients need to modernize workflows and improve efficiency. Whether it’s PrizmDoc’s extensive document redaction capabilities that make it easier to protect privacy during eDiscovery or the automated document assembly features of PrizmDoc, developers can lean on our 30 years of document processing expertise so they can focus on building the tools legal teams require

As part of our ongoing work with the LegalTech industry, Accusoft recently sponsored a webinar on the subject of building vs buying technology solutions for legal firms. You can listen to some of the highlights with contributors Kelly Wehbi and Neeraj Rajpal along with host Zach Warren, editor-in-chief of LegalTech News, on the Perspectives podcast.

View from above. Businesswoman showing pencil on laptop screen. Businessman listening to explanations and takes notes. Teamwork. On table, smartphones, digital tablet, paper, notebook, cup of coffee.

When it comes to your company’s application landscape, there are a variety of tools you already use to streamline processes. But do these tools help you manage your workloads efficiently? Document management is essential to any business. Many companies try to buy a solution and integrate it into their current processes, or build one from the ground up themselves. However, assigning developers to build, test, and maintain your own software isn’t efficient, agile, or advisable.

The other option isn’t really ideal, either. You’ll spend more of your IT budget on applications which are bloated with functionality you don’t need now, and likely never will. That also means investing in applications that lack flexible workflow structure or possibly limiting features and functionalities like advanced search.



The Value of Integration

Business executives are constantly bombarded with new technology alternatives. But before spending your budget on that new, shiny gadget, make sure you consider the more cost-effective, efficient alternative. Did you know that you can integrate SDKs and APIs into your current application to create a better document management process?

Using purpose-built APIs or SDKs for document viewing, OCR, barcoding, data capture, and conversion helps a business achieve important goals for any organization. With these integrations you can:

  • Meet compliance requirements
  • Provide context to structured data
  • Ensure that individuals have permission-based access to sensitive data
  • Foster collaboration across departments, clients, partners and other stakeholders
  • Make content discoverable through full-text search
  • Enable file viewing within your own application without opening a third party software

When an end-user is working within a CRM application, they often need to access a document that relates to a campaign, a datasheet that provides crucial information, or a contract which needs to be renewed. APIs create efficiencies by allowing for documents to be accessed by a user without having to switch from screen to screen.



Work Smarter, Not Harder

Your development team or application consulting partner could likely build this sort of functionality over time, just like you could have walked to work every day this week. You get the picture. It would take hours of wasted time to create a functionality that is only half the solution available elsewhere.

Luckily there’s a way to get the document management functions you need, and price pales in comparison to a DIY build. This alternative is highly competitive with other solutions in the market, yet it’s available without the expensive price tag of a stand-alone SaaS solution.

Accusoft’s portfolio of APIs and SDKs support the kinds of .NET, Java, C/C++, Node.js, and more application languages. Products like PrizmDoc Viewer, ImageGear, and OnTask help you obtain the features and functionalities you really need without the price of the ones you don’t.

You can even test drive what you need for a few days before you invest in it. If your team could build, test, and maintain something that meets your needs more efficiently, at a lower cost, why wouldn’t you jump on it?

Need more information on integrating toolkits instead of building your own solution? Download our eGuide Document Management – The First Step to Digital Transformation today. You’ll be glad you did.


Written by: Cody Owens

HTML to PDF in C#
    • How quickly can your team take a code base, package it, test it, and put it into the hands of your customers?


    • Can you push a button to automagically make it happen?


  • And, once your customers have your product, can you be confident that it will work for them out of the box?

We at the Accusoft PrizmDoc group asked ourselves those questions in 2016 and discovered a wide array of opportunities to improve how we deliver our product.

Here we share how we reduced our feedback cycle from three months to three days, enabling rapid delivery of beta PrizmDoc builds and confident, seamless delivery of release builds.

What is Continuous Delivery?

Continuous Delivery, the movement toward rapid working releases, focuses our efforts on knowing as quickly as possible when to release a change to customers. Whereas Continuous Integration focuses on taking code and packaging it, Continuous Delivery goes a step further by identifying what to do with that package before release.

What is Continuous Delivery

A common assumption is that when code works in one environment, it should work in others. But through the lens of Continuous Delivery, we have to assume our product is guilty until proven innocent. And how do we prove its innocence? Automated testing in production-like environments. In this way, we can be confident that at release time our product won’t explode on takeoff.


Moving from testing on a small, dedicated environment to a many production-like environments can be complex. But implementing a Continuous Delivery release workflow is well worth the effort. The product will be deployable throughout its lifecycle. Everyone – not just the development team – can get automated feedback on production readiness at any time. Any version of the product can deploy to any environment on demand. And in our case, beta builds can release to customers for early feedback on bug fixes and new features. Together, we realized that these benefits far outweigh the cost of putting up with release pain year after year.


Evaluating Our Starting Point

Like most modern software teams, we believe in the value of test-driven development. We already had many thousands of unit, contract, and integration tests verifying the ability of our products to solve business needs. So, we could be confident that the product could run on some specific environment with some specific configuration. But there were a few key problems we had to address:

  • Spawning many production-like environments was uneconomical
  • We could not automatically test the GUI of our product
  • There were no explicit, automated performance tests against business-valued behaviors

Testing On Realistic Environments

We tackled the expense of production-like environments first. At the time, we were using Amazon Web Services EC2 instances for build agents that could test and package code. On each code change, new instances launched to run tests. While these instances were fast, reliable and cloud-based, they were uneconomical. And because spending gobs of money is effortless when spawning instances for testing or development, access was guarded. Reevaluating our needs, we realized that scalability or flexibility of the cloud wasn’t necessary for testing purposes. We knew we needed to shut off the cloud-hosted cash vacuum – but what was our alternative?

Hybrid cloud is becoming attractive as a best-of-both-worlds solution to cloud-hosting needs. Perhaps a more accurate term is “local cloud hosting” – on-prem value but with most of the features offered by the “real” cloud. To this end, we turned to OpenStack as our EC2 replacement for development builds. With OpenStack, we can still spin up instances, store VM images and snapshots, create load balancers and more without the cost associated with the cloud. A single investment in the local hardware was comparable in cost to one additional year of cloud usage. If it didn’t turn out so well, we could just switch back a year later.

After flipping the switch, we transferred our build agents to OpenStack’s hybrid cloud. Before, some tests took many hours and could only run once per day or even once per week. But with the reduction in testing costs, we now run the dailies at every commit and the weeklies every day. This difference in feedback time is monumental; developers can be confident that their new code won’t fail automated tests a week later after the user story has closed.

As we increased our hybrid cloud test agent workload, we ran into a unique problem. As opposed to running instances in the “real” cloud, we now have to deal with hardware limitations. We have a specific number of physical CPUs available. We have a specific amount of memory to use. This forced us to rethink what tests we ran and how we ran them.

Hybrid Cloud Test

Failing Fast, Failing Cheap

To optimize our resource usage, we need bad commits or configuration changes to fail fast and early. When one stage fails, the next stage(s) shouldn’t run because that build isn’t releasable. We needed a way to schedule, chain and gate test suites.

Chain and gate Test Suites

Enter Jenkins. Jenkins is a flexible build system that enables a simple pipeline-as-code setup for all sorts of purposes. In our case, we opt to use it as the platform that pulls the built product installer, installs it and runs batteries of progressively stringent tests against it. A stage can run tests against multiple nodes. We created production-like nodes that launch from our hybrid cloud and use the built-in gating functionality in Jenkins. Subsequent test stages don’t run following a test failure. Since pipelines are version controlled, we always know exactly what changes affect a given run.

Functional Test

Testing Like A User

By this point, our tests can run inexpensively and easily across production-like environments. This enabled us to rethink what tests we were running and build upon our coverage. At release time, we spent a sprint across two teams just to test deploying the product and pushing buttons to verify the GUI worked. The plain English test instructions were subject to interpretation by the tester, leading to nondeterministic results from release to release. This cumbersome effort was necessary to test the GUI sitting on top of our core API product.

While this manual testing process uncovered bugs nearly every release, it was unthinkable in terms of ROI per man-hour. The late feedback cycle made product GUI changes stressful. A developer might not know that the GUI component they just added is unusable on an Android device running Firefox until the release testing phase three months later. Finding bugs at release time is dangerous, as not all bugs are always resolved before the release deadline. Regressions and bugs might make their way into the product if they’re not severe, or they might postpone delivery of the product altogether.

Automating these types of manual tests improves morale, reduces feedback time and asserts that the GUI either passes or fails tests in a deterministic way. Furthermore, it opens a route to Behavior Driven Development language that centers around business-valued behaviors on the front end of the product. For instance, we use the Gherkin domain-specific language to author tests in plain English that are parseable by a testing code base into real executed test code. Non-technical members of the team can author plain English “Given [state of the product], When I [do a thing], Then [a result occurs]” feature descriptions that map 1:1 to test code.

Automating Manual Tests

Today, all major browsers have automation REST APIs to enable driving them in a native non-JavaScript way without a real user. To eliminate the hassle of changing test code between browsers or authoring reliable tools to talk to those automation APIs, we use Selenium WebDriver. WebDriver is available in many popular languages including Java, Python, Ruby, C#, JavaScript, Perl and PHP.
From BDD test code, we execute end-user tests with WebDriver to verify real usage of the product. Because the WebDriver APIs enable “real” user events and not JavaScript event simulations, we can be confident that mouse, touch and keyboard actions actually do what we expect across a range of platforms. On test failures, we take a screenshot and save network traffic logs from the browser to trace the failure back to a front end or microservice source. Some test authors even automatically save a video of the last X seconds leading up to the failure to investigate unexpected, hard-to-reproduce behavior.

Simple Edge Test

Altogether, these new front-end tests enable us to supplant the rote work of fiddling with the product across different browsers and devices for each release. They give us rapid feedback for every commit that the product has not broken for a front-end user. Before, we couldn’t know until release testing. Development confidence goes way up and agility improves as we can guarantee that we won’t have to interrupt the next sprint to fix an issue introduced by new code.

The Value Of Manual Tests

This is not to say that manual testing should be supplanted by automated testing. Exploratory testing is necessary to cover complicated scenarios, unusual user behaviors and platforms that automated tests don’t cover. Not everything is worth the time investment of automating. Bugs found during exploratory tests can be fixed and later covered by automated tests.

Your product’s test coverage should look like a pyramid where unit test coverage is thorough, integration tests are somewhere in the middle, and product-level end user tests are broad but not deep.

Test Coverage Pyramid

As expensive as manual testing can be, authoring and maintaining end-user tests can be expensive if done poorly. Changes to the front-end of the product can break all the GUI tests, though using the Page Object design pattern can mitigate this. Browser updates can also break end-user tests. Poor product performance can lead to unexpected behavior, resulting in failed tests. And not all browser platforms support all parts of the WebDriver spec, resulting in edge cases where JavaScript does need to be run on the page on that platform to fill in the gap.

Keep end-user tests broad and don’t use them as a replacement for in-depth, maintainable integration and unit tests. If a feature is testable at the unit or integration level, test it there!
On the PrizmDoc team, we’ve freed up weeks of regression testing time at release through adding these end-user automation tests. After cursory end-user regression tests, we host a fun exploratory Bug Hunt with prizes and awards.

Who can find the most obscure bug? The worst performance bug? Who can find the most bugs using the product on an iPad? Your team can gear testing efforts towards whatever components are most important to your customers and raise the bar on quality across the board.

Automating Nonfunctional Tests

Performance and security, among other nonfunctional requirements, can be just as important to our customers as the features they’ve requested. Let’s imagine our product is a car. We know that the built car has all the parts required during assembly. We also know that the car can start up, drive, slow down, turn and more.

But we don’t know how fast it can go. Would you buy a car that can only go 20 MPH? What if the car didn’t have door locks? These concerns apply similarly to our software products.

The next step, then, is to automate tests for nonfunctional requirements. Even one bad commit or configuration change can make the product unacceptably slow or vulnerable. So far, we have added automated performance tests using Multi-Mechanize. Many similar tools can accomplish this task so there’s no need to dive into details, but the key point is configurability.

Our customers don’t all use the same hardware, so it doesn’t make sense to test on every possible environment. Instead, we focus on measuring performance over time in a subset of production-like environments. If performance goes below a particular threshold, the test fails. With configurability in mind, if a customer is evaluating whether to use PrizmDoc, we can simply deploy to a similar environment (CPUs, memory, OS type, license, etc) and gather metrics that will allow them to easily plan capacity and costs, which can often seal the deal.

And since performance tests run on every successful change, we can gauge the impact of optimizations. For example, we found that a microservice handled only two concurrent requests at a time. The fix? A one-line change to a configuration parameter. Without regular performance tests, gathering comparative performance and stability would be difficult. With regular performance tests, however, we were confident in the value of the change.

Performance Test

Real Impact

Continuous Delivery has improved every aspect of the PrizmDoc release cycle. Customers praise our rapid turnaround time for hotfixes or beta build requests. We now thoroughly measure the delivery value of each commit. End-user tests verify the GUI and performance tests cover our nonfunctional requirements. The built product automatically deploys to a range of affordable production-like environments. Any member of the product team can get release readiness feedback of the current version at a glance. Instead of a three month feedback cycle, developers see comprehensive test results against their changes within a day. The difference in morale has been tremendous.

If your organization is not quite there yet, we challenge you to start the Continuous Delivery conversation with your team. Hopefully our experience has shed light on opportunities for your product to make the jump. You might get there faster than you expect.


About the author

Cody Owens is a software engineer based in Tampa, Florida and contributor to continuous deployment efforts on Accusoft’s PrizmDoc team. Prior to his involvement with document management solutions at Accusoft, he has worked in the fields of architectural visualization and digital news publishing. Cody is also an AWS Certified Solutions Architect.