Box Embed Tools Tear Down Content Walls

Box on Tuesday unveiled Box Embed, a new HTML5-based framework, at its Boxworks 2012 conference in San Francisco.

This lets users embed Box’s various features — uploads, search, comments, sharing and file edits — easily in their website, forum or blog.

The company also announced that 10 enterprise software partners, including Oracle, SugarCRM, NetSuite and Zendesk, will use Box Embed in their apps.

This “makes it easier for enterprises to break out of their data silos,” Michael King, director of enterprise strategy at Appcelerator, told TechNewsWorld.

About Box Embed

Users can grab an embed code from the sharing options to the right of any file or folder on Box to add Box features to their website. Shared link permissions let users add or restrict collaborators directly within Box Embed for security.

Enterprise users with Oracle, SugarCRM, Zendesk or any of Box’s other 10 enterprise software partners will be able to access Box’s features and work with their content from within those companies’ applications.

Box is rolling out updated versions of its application for NetSuite and SugarCRM featuring the Embed technology to customers this week. The other partners will get their updated versions soon.

Box is reportedly working on setting up partnerships with more than 100 other software vendors.

“The Box guys are pretty sharp and they’re doing exactly the right thing to make their technology accessible with more sophisticated services,” Al Hilwa, program director, applications development software at IDC, told TechNewsWorld. “Supporting developers is a key approach to taking their business to the next level and achieving stickiness in what is otherwise a fairly fungible market which will be hammered hard by major software players.”

Providing HTML5 access to more granular content services is a plus and “will be leveraged assuming it works well,” Hilwa suggested. “Generally it will speed collaboration projects to market for enterprises if vendors provide this kind of interoperability.”

Box and HTML5

Box began working with HTML5 in 2010 when it debuted the HTML5-based ability to drag files from users’ desktops into Box at its first Box Hack Olympics.

Last year, Box rewrote its mobile website in HTML5, CSS3 and JQuery Mobile.

“HTML5 is perfectly suited for the type of transactional use that file-sharing services offer,” IDC’s Hilwa remarked. “It’s essential for them to support a universal Web model access.”

HTML5’s No Longer for Only the Lonely?

The problem with HTML5 is that it’s a set of standards, not a platform. That lets vendors implement HTML5 as they want to, and has led to fragmentation. There can be up to a 30 percent difference in the way different browsers deploy HTML5 in mobile devices, King said.

“HTML5 is all those things and more,” IDC’s Hilwa commented. “It is still the only way to achieve universal access in a standards-compliant way. However, it not the best fit for every application. Nothing is.”

“In the desktop, a browser is a browser, whereas with mobile browsers or apps, you do call on services,” Appcelerator’s King pointed out. “Access to services such as cameras or Siri or anything else are not being standardized right now and, due to vendors’ implementation of standards either in their browsers or devices, it’s difficult to standardize.”

Is HTML5 Support Wise?

Google, Apple and Facebook have turned away from HTML5 to some extent, which raises the question of whether Box’s emphasis on HTML5 is a good idea.

“I wouldn’t say these three have turned their backs on HTML5, but there’s a rationalization of where to use HTML5 emerging in the industry,” IDC’s Hilwa said. “Universal, light-weight access is very well-suited for HTML5. Deep engagement and complex support for mobile device features is likely going to continue to use native runtimes.”

Perhaps the situation for HTML5 will improve. The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) , Google, Microsoft and Mozilla have set up Web Platform Docs, a wiki that’s a community resource for developers who use HTML 5, CSS and other standards, to build websites. It will serve as a reference site, and may lead to standardization.

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