Java Applet vs. AJAX Document Viewer - Top 3 Questions to Ask

Or, how can my users quickly and easily access ‘stuff’ for better productivity and workflow?

Universal document viewing applications enable organizations to easily view documents and images independent of the application used to create the document. This can drastically reduce document access times, and the cost and support required for end-user licenses for each creator application (Word, Excel, PDF, etc) to be installed on each users’ computer. The use of this technology gives users efficient and secure access to information, from virtually anywhere, via a Web browser.

Document and image viewers have become an integral part of forms processing and document management solutions in many industries. Several major insurance companies use document viewing to efficiently process claims and forms – enhancing employee productivity and customer service. In the banking and financial services industries, viewing applications are employed to expedite transactions, and in the healthcare industry, patient medical records are securely accessed via document and image viewers.

For many organizations, the question becomes, what viewing technology should be deployed, and why? We’ll take a closer look at the benefits provided by two viewer variations, an AJAX Zero Footprint solution and an Applet document and image viewing system. Both of these applications provide the flexibility and performance to meet the needs of most organizations.

AJAX “Zero Footprint” Viewer Overview

A pure HTML AJAX viewer is a browser-based document and image viewing solution that doesn’t require client-side installation, therefore the “Zero Footprint” designation. Content may be viewed from virtually anywhere, even via a mobile device such as an iPad or iPhone, based upon user permission level, providing a powerful universal Web viewing solution. No client-side installation also means less IT support is required, and ensures true cross-platform support, enabling efficient document viewing to all approved users, regardless of operating system or browser. Some ‘AJAX’ viewers are not pure HTML, and require a client-side installation (Adobe Flash for instance which is affected by frequent security updates), which will need ongoing support/updates, and may affect performance.

Powerful server-side functionality enables robust capabilities including Page on Demand technology – eliminating the need to download entire documents – access only those pages requested by the user for greatly enhancing high-speed viewing. Other server-side capabilities provide document manipulation (rotate, zoom, redact, annotate), navigation via document thumbnails, access to document repositories and integration with enterprise applications.

Top 3 AJAX Viewer Questions to Ask

  • Is it a pure HTML and JavaScript-based viewer? (i.e. NO client install required)
  • Does it easily integrate with ECM and SaaS applications?
  • Does it support multiple document and image formats?

Applet Document and Image Viewer

An applet viewer is a flexible, locally installed Java applet designed to give users the ability to access document and image files from their desktop, server or a URL. An applet viewer may be combined with a server-side component if so desired, providing additional performance enhancements including: advanced document navigation with thumbnail images, and even faster download times via rapid extraction and downloading of user-requested pages from within documents – instead of entire documents.

Top 3 Applet Viewer Questions to Ask

  • Does it deliver only the pages needed or does it download the entire document?
  • Does it support multiple document and image formats?
  • Can it be integrated with your server Enterprise Content Management system or repository?

Choosing AJAX or Applet – which document and image viewer is the right one?

Both viewers are good choices – pending user-specific criteria and differing operating environments – as discussed above. Generally, an AJAX viewer is probably the right choice for mobile and remote professionals due to its Web browser interface – ideal for professionals on the go, independent of operating system. This also makes it a perfect viewing solution for situations when you have no control of the end user environment. One of the biggest advantages for end users of AJAX viewers is that it’s installation-free, and therefore maintenance-free.

Applet viewers provide robust performance independent of a server if needed, and therefore may be the right choice for office-based workers. Performance is enhanced over most viewers since the Applet doesn’t need to call to the server once required documents are downloaded to the client – as all functions may be performed on the client.

Additionally, both an Applet and an AJAX document viewer are maintained and updated with new features and functionality by an administrator at the server level rather than having to do the updates per client, much more efficient for both IT and end users. New functionality added to either viewer is automatically available to the user when they access the application on subsequent use after the update has been made.

The final view – see for yourself…

High-speed document and image viewing applications provide organizations with a number of advantages including improved workflow, increased productivity, enhanced colleague communication and collaboration and better customer service and patient care. Additionally, incorporating viewing technology into in-house information management systems can assist with worker productivity and information workflow via a proven and reliable solution.

Snowbound Software offers both an Applet and AJAX Document Viewer. You may experience both of these viewers via our easy-to-access online demos, compare and contrast, to see what works best for you:

http://www.snowbound.com/viewer_inaction/viewerdemos.html

Online Demo