Blog Post

Docstoc: Online Document Hosting and Preview Services

docstocWorking online, you probably need to share documents  with clients, partners and coworkers. You also probably wouldn’t mind having a resource at hand whereby you could search, preview, and download a wide selection of documents to use as templates, research material, or benchmarks to help further your own work. Docstoc is a new service that aims to meet both of these needs with a web app.

picture-23Docstoc is a free service that allows you to upload and share any document. It supports a wide variety of formats. The document can then be made available for others to view and download, and will be indexed for retrieval by search engines. Optionally, you can also download an uploading and syncing client for the service. You can also embed your documents into web sites and allow quick previewing for your visitors with the Docshots feature.

picture-13I’m going to go ahead and point out the worm in the apple up front, so that I can get on to the good stuff. My tests found that the Docshots feature is a little sluggish and occasionally glitchy. It’s supposed to bring up little preview windows, like those you might see with Snap‘s similar link previewing feature, Snap Shots. Generally, that’s what happens, but it can take a while to load, originally leading me to think that the feature wasn’t supported in OS X (it is), and sometimes the image is displayed in only half the viewing area. Still, it generally works as advertised, and it’s nice not to have to open Preview or Acrobat every time you want to glance at a doc’s contents.

Personally, I have two uses for Docstoc’s services with regards to my online work. First, being a freelancer, clients ask me for all kinds of documents all the time, and I don’t have the luxury of just going to the company library and pulling out our template for whatever it is they ask for. With Docstoc, I can at least find examples (basic, if not best-in-class) to base my own, customized version around. Legal, contract and proposal documents are all available, all of which are types of documents that I find myself needing frequently. Even if I already have my own templates established for any of these, Docstoc’s large library provides me with examples to benchmark with and borrow from.

picture-34Second, even though I knocked it above, the Docshots preview feature is handy if you have a dedicated documents section on your web site, since it saves people a lot of clicking, opening and closing. You can expand any image to full screen, download, search and find related docs, and the code can be embedded on your own site, so you don’t have to redirect people to It also doesn’t cost anything, which is always a big plus for me.

Docstoc is kind of an odd resource, and one which might not be useful to every web worker. That said, if your particular field of online work incurs a lot of paperwork, which can be very daunting if you’re a freelancer working without a network of support staff, give Docstoc a try.

How do you benchmark your paperwork? Have you tried Docstoc? Share your thoughts in the comments.