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Why PrizmDoc Viewer Is the Ideal MSO File Viewer for Your Application

Today’s applications need tremendous versatility when it comes to document management. Developers are expected to deliver tools that can handle multiple file types and have the ability to share them securely with internal users and people outside the organization. As more companies transition to remote-first work environments, online (and secure) collaboration tools are becoming a must-have feature. One of the major challenges facing developers is how to adapt existing document technologies and practices to an increasingly interconnected environment without creating additional risks.

Rendering and Conversion Challenges of Microsoft Office

Microsoft Office (MSO) files have long presented problems for organizations looking for greater flexibility when it comes to viewing and marking up documents. This stems in part from the widespread reliance on the Office software itself, which held a staggering 87.5 percent share of the productivity software market according to a 2019 Gartner estimate. Companies of all sizes across multiple industries rely on programs like Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, but there are many instances where they would like to be able to share those documents without also surrendering control of the source files.

The challenge here is twofold. On the one hand, if an organization shares an MSO file with a client or vendor, there’s no guarantee that the recipient will be able to view it properly. They may not have access to Office, in which case they can’t open the file at all, or they may be using an outdated version of the software. While they may still be able to open and view the file, it may not display as originally intended if it uses features not included in previous editions of Office.

On the other hand, however, sharing files outside a secure application environment always creates additional risk. Microsoft Office documents are notoriously attractive targets for hackers seeking to embed malicious code into files, and older, unpatched versions of the software contain numerous known vulnerabilities. Sharing MSO files with an outside party could quickly result in the file being exposed to a compromised machine or network. There’s also a question of version control and privacy, as a downloaded file could easily be copied, edited, or even distributed without authorization.

Unfortunately, it has proved quite difficult to natively render MSO documents in another application. Anyone who has had the misfortune of trying to view or edit a DOCX file in Google Docs will understand the challenges involved. While it’s certainly possible to render MSO files in a different application, the end result is often a little off the mark. Fonts may be rendered incorrectly, formatting could be slightly (or drastically) off, and entire document elements (such as tables, text fields, or images) could be lost if the application doesn’t know how to render them properly.

Rendering MSO Files Natively with PrizmDoc Viewer

As a fully-featured HTML5 viewing integration, Accusoft’s PrizmDoc Viewer can be deployed as an MSO file viewer that renders them like any other document type. However, this doesn’t provide a true native viewing experience, which many businesses require for various compliance reasons. Fortunately, the PrizmDoc Server’s Content Conversion Service (CCS) allows applications to natively render MSO documents with a simple API call.

The MSO rendering feature allows PrizmDoc to communicate directly with an installed version of Microsoft Office, which ensures that every element of the file is rendered accurately within the HTML5 viewer. For example, a DOCX file opened in Microsoft Word should look identical to the same document rendered within an application by PrizmDoc Viewer. Once the document is accurately rendered, it can be shared with other users inside or outside an organization. This allows people to view and even markup MSO files without the original source file ever having to leave the secure application environment. It’s an ideal solution for reducing security risks and eliminating the possibility of version confusion.

Converting Additional MSO File Elements

In many instances, organizations need to share MSO files that have already been marked up or commented upon. This could include Word documents with multiple tracked changes or PowerPoint slides with extensive speaker notes. Those additional markups could be important elements that need to be shared or reviewed, so it’s critical to include them during the conversion and rendering process.

Using the server’s CCS, PrizmDoc Viewer can convert Word documents with accepted or rejected markup changes when converting the file into a different format (such as converting an MSO file to PDF) or rendering it for viewing in the application itself. The same capabilities extend to PowerPoint presentations with speaker notes. When converting these MSO files, the outputted version can consist of slides only or include the speaker notes along with them.

These conversion and rendering capabilities provide developers tremendous flexibility when they’re integrating viewing features into their applications. They can easily deploy them to help their customers collaborate and share MSO files without having to remove them from a secure environment. It’s also a winning feature for end users, who don’t need to worry about downloading files or having access to the latest version of Microsoft Office.

Improve Your Document Capabilities with PrizmDoc Viewer

With its extensive file conversion, redaction, and annotation capabilities, Accusoft’s PrizmDoc Viewer is an essential integration for any document management platform that requires an MSO file viewer. It provides support for dozens of file types to give applications the flexibility needed to meet the demands of today’s complex workflows and improve efficiency. As an HTML5 viewer, it can be integrated into any web-based solution with minimal development effort, which frees up valuable resources developers need to focus on the innovative features that will help set their applications apart in a competitive market.

To learn more about PrizmDoc Viewer’s robust feature set, have a look at our detailed fact sheet. If you’re ready to see what our HTML5 viewer will look like within your application environment, download a free trial and start integrating features right away.