Ever tried viewing a complex document on your handheld device, but ended up frustrated by the reflowed formatting needed to fit it into the smaller screen? If skewed document layout really gets on your nerves, perhaps Cerience Corporation's RepliGo might be just what the doctor ordered.
In Cerience's own words, RepliGo Server allows users "to view documents and email attachments in their full fidelity without compromise." There is also a hosted version called RepliGo Professional that is meant for users not on a BES (BlackBerry Enterprise Server).
It should be noted that both server-based and hosted products are currently a BlackBerry-only solution. According to Cerience spokesperson Dave Cho, the company has no plans at the moment to bring it to other mobile platforms."Full fidelity" document viewing
The RepliGo experience is made possible by means of a small client-side install. When the user attempts to view a supported document type using RepliGo, the backend server component kicks into action and opens the file instead. It then pushes the rendered screen image wirelessly to the client-side component to be displayed.
In the above scenario, the user starts out with a zoomed-out rendition of the actual document. It is a trivial matter to zoom in or to switch to another page. I have been using the full-featured trial of RepliGo Server for the last three weeks, and I can attest to its simplicity as well as incredible usefulness.
RepliGo Server supports PDF, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, WordPerfect, RTF, CSV, OpenOffice files, zip archives, and fax as well as image files. Do note that while RepliGo Server version does support Microsoft Office 2007 file formats, you will need to have a copy of Office 2007 installed on the server itself. The other formats work right out of the box.
RepliGo Server is compatible with all recent BlackBerry models, including the BlackBerry Series 7100, 7200, 7500, 7700, 8100, 8300, 8700, and 8800.Other features in brief
"True" document viewing aside, both RepliGo Server and RepliGo Professional gives the ability to fax or e-mail attachments directly from your BlackBerry. You can also print via Bluetooth to compatible HP PLC Bluetooth printers.
RepliGo comes with a host of other interesting features:
- Network access to documents with personal document storage
- BlackBerry browser integration to support documents on intranets and the Internet
- Central Web administration
- Scalable backend architecture; availability of SDK
- Online storage with up to 500 megabytes of free storage
If you have been following mobility news, you will know that a version of DataViz's popular Documents To Go is due to be released soon for the BlackBerry platform. So does Cerience see its business threatened by this development?
In an e-mail, Dave Cho of Cerience wrote:
"Docs To Go is for the category of companies that want editing of Office documents. This is a much smaller category than those who want high fidelity viewing of all types of documents, especially PDF... and want a complete solution including access to documents on networks, printing, faxing and emailing."
In essence, Cerience sees its product as addressing a different niche altogether. As such, the release of Documents To Go will have little effect or no effect on their products. Having used RepliGo for a few weeks myself, I am in agreement here.
Below is a possible checklist that IT managers or CTOs might want to check against when considering RepliGo against Office-centric products:
- Is there a need for PDF viewing on the BlackBerry platform?
- Is there a need for a page layout view of MS Word documents?
- Is there a need for advanced features such as network access to documents, printing, faxing, etc.?
- Would users really want to work with native Office documents on their devices? (Think multi-megabyte PowerPoint files)?
Despite being literally the only contender in this niche that it has carved out, Cerience is certainly not resting on its laurels.
In our correspondence, Dave told TechRepublic that additional features currently in the works include enhanced network and SharePoint access. In the pipeline is the ability to do network printing, support for the media card, and enhanced administration for access to company resources. Also, work is on-going in terms of enhancing the client integration with the RIM OS.
In the meantime however, is RepliGo worth paying good money for? I will be stepping through some of its key functionality in a later post. You can decide for yourself then.
Paul Mah is a writer and blogger who lives in Singapore, where he has worked for a number of years in various capacities within the IT industry. Paul enjoys tinkering with tech gadgets, smartphones, and networking devices.