Last May, document sharing hub Scribd launched one of its biggest features yet: a document reader based entirely in HTML5. Up until then Scribd had presented its documents using a Flash-based viewer called Flash Paper, which worked well but had a few shortcomings ? namely that it didn’t work on mobile devices like the iPhone. Scribd’s solution was to use optical character recognition on a document to effectively recreate its fonts in a digital format, then to use HTML5 to style and lay out the document’s content. And it really works.
Today, Scribd is taking the next step on its HTML5 rollout: it’s swapping all of its embedded document widgets that are using Flash over to a new embeddable version of the HTML5 viewer (and new document embeds will be in HTML5). This is important, because Scribd already has 20 million embeds scattered across the web that will be automatically converted to the new viewer (CTO Jared Friedman says this shouldn’t break anything).
The reader will allow document embeds to be read on mobile devices that can’t use Flash, like the iPad and iPhone, and it should generally offer a more native feel in the browser than Flash does.