Scribd is the largest website of its kind, hosting tens of millions of documents uploaded by users; a sort of YouTube for documents, if you will. Scribd works by converting uploaded documents into a what was formerly called iPaper, a PDF-like document technology for the web, which would then be displayed inside users' browsers using Flash. Supported source document formats include any Microsoft Office or OpenOffice.org format, PDF, PostScript, rich text, and plain text.
The Flash variant of Scribd looks like this - not at all very comfortable, in my view.
This is about to change, starting today. "We are scrapping three years of Flash development and betting the company on HTML5 because we believe HTML5 is a dramatically better reading experience than Flash. Now any document can become a Web page," Scribd co-founder and CTO Jared Friedman told TechCrunch.
Initially (which means today), only 200000 of the most popular documents will be made available as HTML5, but eventually, everything on Scribd will be converted to the new format - turning them into actual, real-world web pages, instead of walled-off Flash elements. "Right now the document is in a box," Friedman said, "a Youtube-type of experience. There is a bunch of content and a bunch of stuff around it. In the new experience we are taking the content out of the box."
TechCrunch has the first screenshots of the new reader, and it indeed looks pretty darn good. It allows users to completely bypass the concept of an online e-book store, and no longer will users have to download PDF files onto their mobile devices or computers. They can just go to Scribd to read Alice's Adventures In Wonderland (if you haven't read it yet, shame on you, you're missing out on a vital experience) as if it were a web page. Scribd has partners such as The New York Times, New Yorker, Fortune, various publishing houses, as well as Ford, Accenture, and the FCC.
This news comes on the same day Adobe's CTO, Kevin Lynch, stated that his company will create the best tools for HTML5. "We see whatever people are using to express themselves," he said, "We're going to make great tooling for HTML5. We're going to make the best tools in the world for HTML 5." In other words, it seems like Adobe is considering creating software designers can use to create compelling HTML5 stuff - much in the same way they today use Adobe's software to do the same with Flash.