Open MS Office files from web server in client side

We are working on ASP.Net 2.0 web site.

In our site, there is an option to upload files and view it later. For eg:- user can upload most of the files (txt, image files, pdf etc...) They can view uploaded PDF files, text files inside web browser itself.

But if they try to view uploaded ms office files like doc, xls, docx, xlsx files, a web page "Page cannot be displayed" will popup. This is because there is no default application is their machine (in client's computer) to view it. If ms office / openoffice is installed in client machine, it will work.

Could you please suggest a better solution (activex control or any other way) - which will enable end-users to view ms office files that were uploaded without installing any applications in client side

I am not prefering MS Office API as Microsoft also not recommends it.
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/257757

Hope it is clear
Any suggestion would be highly appreciated!

Raj
LVL 23
Rajkumar GsSoftware EngineerAsked:
Who is Participating?
 
AndyAinscowConnect With a Mentor Freelance programmer / ConsultantCommented:
As far as I know to use the office document format (xls, doc or newer xlsx, docx...) the client needs to have something installed on their machine.  Obviously a free viewer is 'better' than paying for MS Office (as long as the functionality they require is supported).
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AndyAinscowFreelance programmer / ConsultantCommented:
Export the office files into pdf format.
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Rajkumar GsSoftware EngineerAuthor Commented:
Thanks AndyAinscow!
But client want to view Excel in Excel format (Sheet view) itself - We are trying for that
Raj
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Rajkumar GsSoftware EngineerAuthor Commented:
If we install Microsoft Excel Viewer, Microsoft Word Viewer and Microsoft Office Compatibility Pack for Word, Excel, do you know whether the MS Office assemblies will be available that could work like mentioned in this link ?

Thanks
Raj
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AndyAinscowFreelance programmer / ConsultantCommented:
If the excel (word) viewer is installed on the client machine then they should be able to view the document, but that still involves installing something at client end which you specifically said was not an option.
Without installing anything at the client end then you would require a format that is supported at the client side - which is why I suggested using pdf format
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Rajkumar GsSoftware EngineerAuthor Commented:
I got it.
How could we convert an Excel file (that may have multile sheets) and word file - to PDF format and open it in client-side at runtime, when user clicks on 'view' link of a excel / word document ?

Thanks
Raj
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AndyAinscowFreelance programmer / ConsultantCommented:
As far as I know you would either have one pdf document per XL sheet, or a long document with one after the other.  The first you could do simply by choosing the export as pdf option, the second - you might need to have a pdf writer of some sort to stitch the individual pdf docs together.
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AndyAinscowFreelance programmer / ConsultantCommented:
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Rajkumar GsSoftware EngineerAuthor Commented:
Enduser of our client will just upload the office document. Once it is uploaded, they can see view link for each uploaded document. Click on this link, they need to view the document - This is their requirement.

They are not suposed to have ms office 2007 in their machine. May have ms office 2003 or lower in some of their machines. I think currently issue is with office 2007 files only. I think since office lower versions are not capable to open 2007 version office files.

So I think these are the options that we have
1. Install the viewer tools that I mentioned previously in all of their client machines. (max 50 )
2. If they have ms office / openoffice lower versions that is not capable to open office 2007 files, just install 'Compatibility Package' in their machines.

- But we are trying to avoid this and find out another solution. If no other way, need to check with client regarding these options.

Your thoughts on this ?

Raj
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Rajkumar GsSoftware EngineerAuthor Commented:
I meant, how could your previous suggestions work out in this scenario.

Thanks
Raj
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Rajkumar GsSoftware EngineerAuthor Commented:
hmm.

We will come up with this suggestion in next client meeting.

Thanks
Raj
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Rajkumar GsSoftware EngineerAuthor Commented:
I suspect some other issue is blocking them from viewing the Office 2007 files, since client said that have Office 2007 installed in their client machines.

I belive some IE issue  - Need to check on this

AndyAinscow: You said right. Anway we need a tool in client side to view this file.

Any thoughts ?
Raj
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Rajkumar GsConnect With a Mentor Software EngineerAuthor Commented:
Client side issue to open Office documents seems to be an IE related issue.

I think there is one more alternative solution - by using Google Docs - (open office docs without any client side tools)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_Docs

Raj
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AndyAinscowFreelance programmer / ConsultantCommented:
From your original question

Could you please suggest a better solution (activex control or any other way) - which will enable end-users to view ms office files that were uploaded without installing any applications in client side
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Rajkumar GsSoftware EngineerAuthor Commented:
Right

>> ... activex control or any other way ....

Google Docs could come under any other way, right ? But we are not forced to try for that. Since it client-side issue - only in one of their machine, no need to worry more about that.

I think, solutions to this isssue are
Install any tool in end-user machine, which is capable of open office 2007 files. (As you mentioned)
(MS Office 2007 / OpenOffice / MS Office Viewer with Compatibility Pack / Any other tools )
OR
Try to integrate Google Docs (I don't have implementation knowledge of Google Docs till now)

Thanks
Raj
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Rajkumar GsSoftware EngineerAuthor Commented:
Let this question be open for somemore days - since we are waiting for the response from client regarding this issue.

So that I could be able to post the solution for that issue also.

Raj
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Rajkumar GsSoftware EngineerAuthor Commented:
Now client reported that it is working. Previously they tested with some older version of IE that was causing this issue.

You provided right information. So awarding you points with my comments as assisted solution.

Thanks Andy
Raj
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