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Introducing DocumentCloud page embeds

Nov 12th, 2015


Anthony DeBarros

With content consumption continuing to shift to mobile, we’ve been spending a considerable amount of time thinking about how to help our users tell stories with documents across a range of devices. Loading and reading a 50-page PDF on a desktop computer is an experience that, for many reasons, doesn’t translate well to a smart phone. So, what’s a better way to point readers to what matters in a document when it appears on one of your mobile pages?

Today, we’re pleased to announce our first step in moving toward a better mobile PDF experience: DocumentCloud Page Embed. It’s a lightweight, responsive viewer that highlights a single page, along with your annotations, and works across desktop and mobile. It’s available in our workspace right now. Look for “Embed a Page” under the Publish Menu and use the wizard to generate the code. See our Help documentation for details.

Here’s an example of Page Embed showing a page from an investigative report on a fire that injured several firefighters in Northern Virginia. The page has one note highlighted:

Behind the development

Why a page-focused embed? We noticed that publishers often embed simple screenshots of document pages. While easy to use and natively responsive, images deny readers the rich context of an embedded DocumentCloud document: annotations, searchable page text, and of course access to the original source document itself. While our full document viewer offers all these options, it’s overkill for presenting a single page.

Our new page embed strips the cruft from the document viewer and lets the reader focus on the page (and your annotations, if you’ve added any). We know how important mobile has become for document publishing, so we’ve made the page embed natively responsive. The entire interface resizes and changes capabilities with its surrounding context.

Extending across the platform

In fact, we’re so happy with the page embedder, we’re using it as the foundation for our next-generation full document viewer. Our goal is a responsive, extensible viewer with minimal interface chrome that lets readers view the document and your annotations and then get right back into the story. In other words, our focus is keeping their focus on you.

We still have plenty of improvements and additions in the pipeline. We’ll soon add the navigation to all the pages and text in the document, more immersive notes, more customization options, and better performance. We also plan to support page embeds with our oEmbed API and WordPress plugin. You can go ahead and start using it today, but keep an eye on the wizard for new options and capabilities in the near future.

Your thoughts are welcome! Please send any feedback to or open an issue on our GitHub repo.

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