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Old May 22nd, 2010, 09:37 AM
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Default Using ASP.NET 3.5 to display documents

Hi,

I am not sure if this post belongs in this section, if not I will happily move it to it's real home, wherever that may be!

I am developing a web application that allows the users to access articles written for the inhouse publication.

I would like the articles to be stored using a common format in a directory on the server. Links to these documents will be stored in a database. When the user clicks on the article header they will be redirected to a new page which will 'embed' the document.

What is the best document format for the purpose? (At present most are created using MS Word). I was thinking of PDF but do not particularly like the way these get displayed inline, as I am not too keen on toolbars etc. I want to retain a more natural presentation newspaper/magazine style.. Toolbars can be turned off I suppose, but not every browser has pdf display capabilities, and my users are by no means guaranteed to download the plugin if required!

The documents will consist of text and image. If it weren't for the images I'd happily convert all the docs to css and store them in the database, however, the existance of images prevents this approach (or does it?).

regards, Guy
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Old May 23rd, 2010, 02:40 PM
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Personally, I hate PDF and use them as little as possible. I find it overbuilt and underperforming; I appreciate what it is and what it does, we even used them extensively in certain areas, usually marketing where it's ability to have pixel perfect precision was required. However, it's a dog to work with, Word, OpenOffice, HTML, just about anything is friendlier when creating and especially modifying documents.

If this is for inhouse use, is there a standard system configuration for all users? My previous employer has an all MS office set up, MS Outlook for communications, MS Office for document generation, IE for web browsing. When we built our intranet document library we could simply stick the raw Word docs in and let people access them, since IE will display .doc files. I don't even think we even embedded anything, just linked directly to the .doc file.
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Old May 23rd, 2010, 03:54 PM
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Hi,

The articles tend to be submitted by the employees in MS Word format. (then processed via DTP for the inhouse magazine. I am trying to persuade them to go the online path as it is environmentally friendly, more dynamic, extensible, makes me look good etc).

Word docs may display well in IE, but you can never be sure when it comes to cross-browser support.

Is there no open standard for something this basic?

regards, Guy

P.S. PDF's embedded in browser are almost always overkill, though occasionally the added functionality comes in use (not in this case!)
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Old May 23rd, 2010, 04:25 PM
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Word docs are not cross browser, only IE supports them natively. (But since our office was all MS this wasn't an issue for that intranet I worked on).

Only XHTML (and other variations of XML) are open and online. That's why PDF still exists. There's PDFs, Word, and XHTML. With a decent template system (master pages rock at this), it prevents content managers from having access to any portion of the page they should not see. Then you only have to teach them <p>, <ul> / <ol> / <li>, <h#>, and <a>. For advanced users you can teach them classes and give them a list of what you, as the designer have built in to the stylesheet. I like having a style gallery page for them, so they can see each of these options in action. This is one of the reasons that OO-CSS is awesome, it's so compatible with this workflow.
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Old May 24th, 2010, 03:52 AM
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Quote:
only IE supports them natively.
I don't think this is true, is it? You still need to have Office installed locally to display the document, or at least some Word file reader, right?

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Old May 24th, 2010, 12:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Imar View Post
I don't think this is true, is it? You still need to have Office installed locally to display the document, or at least some Word file reader, right?

Imar
OK, I swear I remember trying this; it was a long time ago but it worked. However, I've tried IE 6-8 this morning and all I'm getting are different download options for the file. The only thing I can think of now, is that it happened while I was working on a Sharepoint system, but I didn't think so. Anyway, you're right, I can't figure out how to get that behavior now.
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Old May 24th, 2010, 12:51 PM
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Well, depending on how the server offers the file, it can indeed be displayed as an embedded document in the browser. But still, you'd need a Word viewer at the very least to view it...

Imar
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Old May 25th, 2010, 03:58 PM
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I think I'll work out some other solution.

It's a shame because there are 1000's upon 1000's of documents to archive, mostly in DOC format. Some have multiple images embedded in the text and it would be nice if I was able to retain the original look and feel of them. I'll display the text and link to the images separately with a custom gallery.

-----------

On a different note I'd like to offer my kudos to Imar!

I found Beginning Asp.Net 3.5 excellently written and cleanly and clearly presented.

I had some prior experience with classic Asp but found that the more complicated the project became the more unwieldy it was for web development. After reading so many positive opinions about ASP.NET I decided to take the plunge and have no regrets (It's the best thing I've encountered from Microsoft).

An unexpected bonus was discovering the delights of C#. I had presumed I would go the path of full-blown Visual Basic but it soon became clear to me that the C# examples are easier to scan when reading. The code's intention is clearer/quicker to fathom. For this reason I have switched over. It's a slightly extended learning curve for me, but I'm enjoying it.

-----------------------------

By the way Imar, Sonic Youth are one of my all-time favourite bands (after Can, Beatles, American Music Club, Velvet Underground, Tim Buckley, Nick Drake, Tortoise). Their presence in the database the book references was fun to see. (I saw them once, supported by Mudhoney, about 20 years ago!)
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Old May 25th, 2010, 04:52 PM
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Hi guynorton,

Glad to hear you like the book so much. Spread the word, spread the word.

Even better to hear you like Sonic Youth as well.... ;-)

Imar
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