Document Embedding and Sharing with Scribd

We’ve reviewed several apps for online document storage and editing but our options for easy document embedding and publishing has been limited. So, we bring you our review of Scribd, an easy way to publish, socialize and embed your documents.

Read on to see what Scribd can do for you.

Overview

You might not get a very clear idea as to what Scribd does when you visit their website, but put simply, Scribd is a social publishing platform. While the social aspect of it is primary, there are also features to Scribd that can be very beneficial even if you aren’t trying to socialize your documents on Scribd’s platform.

Scribd Home

Scribd Home

Scribd is free, just like other major apps for document handling. They also offer the option to sell your work.

Sign Up

Scribd now has Facebook integration, so sign up is a snap using your Facebook login credentials. This integration also integrates the social aspects of Facebook so you can see what your friends are reading and sharing (and vice versa). If you don’t have a Facebook account, or you don’t want to connect using yours, sign up is still only a few seconds away from completion.

Sign Up

Sign Up

Upon the initial form completion, you’ll be asked if you want to subscribe to some popular publishers using the Scribd platform. Fret not, it’s optional. Next you’ll be asked if you want to find your Yahoo, Google or Windows Live contacts (those using Scribd), again an optional step.

Find Contacts

Find Contacts

You’ll be directed to your account home next, where you’ll be able to upload or “scribble” what you’re reading.

Account Home

Account Home

User Interface and Usability

I’m not particularly a fan of Scribd’s overall interface design, as it tends to be busy and scatters my attention. I’ve grown used to very simplistically designed web apps so too much text or images can easily disrupt what I view as a balanced interface design.

With that being said, Scribd is easy to navigate and use, a much more important aspect. Menus and interface elements are consistent, most importantly with published documents. So, although I’m not a big fan of the overall design, Scribd is still provides a quality interface accomplishing its goal.

Using Scribd

Social Setup

It’s likely you’ll want to setup the social aspects of Scribd first, which is accomplished by navigating to your username in the top right of the page. A drop-down menu will appear with navigation options, which you’ll select Settings

Settings

Settings

From here you’ll be able to manage email addresses, notifications, your reading preference, setup integration with Twitter or Facebook, etc. The next tab gives you several options to customize your profile, giving your potential future readers a little more information about you or your organization. The next tab provides badges you can use around the web. The last tab gives you several options to adjust your sharing preferences across Scribd, Twitter and Facebook.

Sharing

Sharing

Uploading Documents

Uploading your documents is a breeze using the big blue Upload button on your My Home page. A new section will drop down below, giving you basic options to set the document title, category, sub-category and description.

Upload

Upload

Alternately, you can click the Upload button in the navigation bar at the top. This option will take you to a page more specifically for uploading or importing your documents. You can import documents from Google Documents (a greatly appreciated feature), sell your documents, create a new document or download the Scribd Desktop Uploader.

Uploading Options

Uploading Options

If you’d like to set additional options, simply click the document title to view its page. If you view this page right away you’ll see the document processing status, with the document options (buttons) above.

Document Page

Document Page

Once the document has finished processing it will be displayed and the options will then be displayed in the right column.

Sidebar Options

Sidebar Options

The document display page shows your document in HTML5. Though the embedded version is still in Flash, they plan to eventually provide an HTML5 embeddable version.

Clicking the Edit button will give you many more options not displayed after the document was uploaded. By default your document will be publicly viewable, but you can choose to make it private. It’s great that Scribd provides three different downloadable versions of the document (Microsoft Word, plain text and PDF).

Document Settings

Document Settings

Embedding Documents

When viewing a document or viewing your collection of documents, it’s very easy to share quickly via a variety of methods including social networks, sending to a friend, using a direct fullscreen URL or the commonly used embed.

Sharing

Sharing

Final Thoughts

Scribd is a killer way to publish and share documents, whether publicly or privately. It works very well and provides enough options to make it an invaluable tool for anyone, especially as a platform for publishers.

Scribd’s overall interface is very nice and very easy to use. Though I’m not a fan of some of the design elements, it’s still a breeze to use. I also love seeing that Scribd is at the front of the HTML5 game, ready to provide their users with the latest and most capable technology yet maintaining stability and reliability first and foremost.

As a web developer, several of my clients need to display and share (via download) schedules they create in several different formats. Scribd makes easy work of that and they (my clients) love giving their visitors the option of viewing their important documents directly on their site in addition to the ability to download if necessary. This is just one way Scribd has helped me and in turn my clients, how has it benefitted you?


Summary

Scribd is a social publishing site, where tens of millions of people share original writings and documents. Scribd's vision is to liberate the written word.

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