When we think of including PDF documents in a Coda app, the typical reaction is — ... this user experience is not helpful.
What would be better?
Well, this is the requirements bar we set at Stream It:
Must provide full in-line PDF document preview with scrolling.
Must support expanded larger view with one click.
Dynamic preview sizing in tables.
Drag-and-drop additions; no custom or document-dependent formula edits.
The number-one requirement from users I've spoken with is the ability to scroll (or swipe) in the preview thumbnail because that's how users find specific passages. Lacking the ability to perform a full text search, this is obviously the next best thing.
Coda checks all of these boxes if you know how to extract the URL of a Coda-bound file and embed it in a Canvas field. This document exposes these details.
Extracting the Coda URL for PDF Files
This is achieved with a formula in the hidden field PDF URL. It’s a little tricky but highly useful.
With the URL for each file, it’s now possible to embed the document into a canvas field.
In this example, I’ve embedded the formula in each canvas item for demonstration purposes, but at Stream It, we tend to use canvas templates in cases like this. There’s a good discussion of templating canvasses