Acompli improves mobile email app experience with Dropbox document preview API

// By Admin • Aug 15, 2014

We've been testing a new document preview API with developers over the past few weeks and are happy to announce that it is ready for everyone! This API endpoint makes it easy to show previews of files from within your app and supports the most popular document formats including PDF, Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and Excel.

Kevin Henrikson is the Cofounder & VP Engineering of Acompli and here are his thoughts on the new document preview API.

Acompli combines email, calendar, file sharing, and contacts. We created the ability to view and attach files to email but we wrestled with the ability to show users an accurate preview of those files. Document rendering support on mobile is poor and bandwidth constraints make it impractical for users to download large files. When we extended our unique file-sharing feature to include files from Dropbox, we were excited to learn about the Dropbox document preview API. The preview API was easy to work with and produced beautiful results.

Less Work. Works Great.

We used two APIs for document previews:

/thumbnails – If the file is an image, we use the thumbnails endpoint to generate an extra-large (xl) thumbnail, suitable for rendering in an image view.

/previews (NEW) – If the document type is supported by the new document preview API, we use the previews endpoint to generate of preview of the file in PDF or HTML format.

For files that don't fall into these two buckets, we download the original file.

Why we like the document preview API

We've seen dramatic improvements in rendering output when using the document preview API. For example, see the comparison of these two PowerPoint documents:


Before Dropbox document previews.
After Dropbox document previews.

The new previews endpoint drastically cuts down on the extra work needed to produce previews.

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