Microsoft Live Labs just released a new free service at seadragon.com. It lets you transform any web image into a Seadragon-powered zoomable photo experience, then embed the results anywhere you want. With Seadragon.com, you can share full resolution photos that are fast, easy and fun to explore, regardless of the web browser or platform.
Take a look at this photo I shot at Yosemite National Park last summer. Click on this image to zoom in, or use your mouse wheel or the + and – buttons. Pan by simply dragging the image with your mouse. Click the home button to restore the view or click the right-most button to expand the image to the full browser window. Can you find the two climbers approaching the summit of El Capitan?
It’s really easy to create your own zoomable photos. It’s free and it doesn’t require you to sign up for anything. All you need is the URL to your web image. (The photo above comes from my Flickr stream.) Paste the URL at seadragon.com and click one button. Depending on the resolution of your image, it may take a moment or two to create the zoomable version. You can then copy the link to the zoomable viewer page for your image on seadragon.com and share it on Twitter, your Facebook status, or anywhere else you choose. Or, you can do what I did for the photo above and copy a one-line script that lets you embed the zoomable viewer on your own web page, blog posting, eBay advertisement, or other web destination.
The Seadragon viewer isn’t your average zoomable viewer; it includes some cool new technology that delivers stunning performance but still makes it accessible to virtually everyone. If you have Silverlight installed (and if you don’t, you should), the viewer uses Silverlight Deep Zoom to deliver a buttery-smooth full screen zooming experience. But even if you don’t have Silverlight, the viewer will still operate using our Seadragon Ajax technology. The appearance and features are identical, but the performance will be a bit slower than with Silverlight Deep Zoom. This new dual-mode viewer makes sharing high quality, full resolution images easier than ever, without turning away any of your potential audience.
Now you can easily share your full resolution digital photos and provide a seamless, easy-to-use and flexible viewing experience for everyone. Rather than just showing a static low resolution preview, that same preview can magically transform into the full resolution image. And all of this happens without the pain of waiting for long downloads and slow Internet response time. You can dramatically improve the way you share your individual photos on the web.
For more information, including some behind the scenes details, read the blog post at www.livelabs.com as well as this blog post from inside the Seadragon team. Or just visit www.seadragon.com and try it out for yourself!