Tomorrow, ThinkFree will announce a new way to publish documents: ThinkFree Docs. The feature looks a lot like Scribd: It's a publicly accessible, YouTube-like document directory. And like YouTube, documents stored on it can be embedded in blogs and Web sites.
Docs rounds out the publishing options for the online suite ThinkFree, which already had a method for sharing documents that's much like Google Docs and Spreadsheets, and other online productivity suites: from within the suite, you can e-mail an invitation to other people so they can view or edit your documents on the ThinkFree site. That's what you want for collaboration. But when you want to publish a document to the world at large, you might want the much simpler ThinkFree Docs instead--it will spare viewers unfamiliar with ThinkFree the confusion of using a new service.
You can use Docs independently of the ThinkFree suite. The service does a decent job of displaying standard Microsoft Office (2003 format) files, as well as other formats like PDF and RTF.
As on media sharing sites like YouTube and Flickr, shared files all get their own comment threads. Docs' commenting system is rudimentary, though, and the comments are not visible or accessible when a document is embedded on another site. For that matter, very little else is available from an embedded document. There's no way to download a file, nor is there a link to the file's dedicated URL, where the download link, embed codes, and comment board reside. Scribd, by contrast, offers links back to the sharing page on the Scribd site, as well as download and other useful links.
ThinkFree Docs is a useful feature for ThinkFree suite users who want to publish their documents to the Web, but as a standalone document sharing site it comes up a bit short.
Below: An embedded ThinkFree Docs viewer.
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