Today’s post comes from Seth Fox, the program manager on the Word team responsible for adding web videos to Word documents.
Videos are a great way to engage a reader, tell a story, invoke emotion, and communicate effectively. They are found all over the web (news articles, blogs, websites, etc.) and are a great way to enhance documents you send digitally. In the new Word, we added the ability to insert web video directly into your documents, allowing you to create rich, interactive output that pairs your words with video whenever appropriate.
When designing this feature we had a few key goals:
- Allow you to easily find and insert online video from a variety of sources
- Ensure that videos are easy to move, resize, and position
Allow videos to be played right from within Word, so you don’t have to switch context.
Easy to find and insert videos directly from Word
We wanted to make it easy for users to find and insert online videos from a variety of sources right within Word. You can use Bing to search for videos (similar to inserting online pictures), and you can add specific video providers like YouTube to search for and insert videos.
This allows you to quickly find the video you want, insert it, and go right back to writing your document (we’ve all been there when a simple search for content online has led to a 2 hour visit to Facebook or a marathon session of clicking through cat videos). When you search for a video, each result is shown by a thumbnail preview. Selecting or hovering over the thumbnail will show the title of the video, the provider (ex. YouTube, Dailymotion, etc.), and its length. Click the icon on the bottom right of the thumbnail to preview the video so you can make sure it’s the one you want before inserting. If you’ve already found a video online you can copy the video’s embed code (typically found by a share link) and paste it into the embed code slab to directly insert the video.
Videos insert with a thumbnail automatically, making it easy to recognize the video at glance and invites your readers to press play. When you insert a web video into a document, Word actually saves a link to the online source hosting the video. This allows you to watch the video anytime you’re online without bloating the file size of the document.
Videos are easy to work with in your document
Once the video is inserted it behaves like a picture. You can resize it and position it exactly where you want in your document. You’ll even get alignment guides to help you position it in exactly the right spot. If the thumbnail of the video isn’t what you want, simply right click and select change picture to replace it with any picture on your PC. Videos also support most image features like cropping and effects so you can touch up the thumbnail to make it look just right. Videos in your document feature a large play button to make it easy to play with a single click. However, we know that sometime you’ll need to print out these documents or export them to PDFs. Whenever videos end up in a static format we removed the play button to make sure it’s out of the way of the thumbnail.
Playing videos inside Word is a great experience
We wanted to ensure that consuming videos in Word was a simple and compelling experience. We support the latest web standards like Flash, Silverlight, and HTML5. This makes it easy to play most videos you find online. With a click or tap of the play button the reader is instantly immersed in the video.
We chose this approach over playing the videos inline because videos are typically 640 x 360 pixels or larger which takes up about 85% of the width of a typical document. Allowing the thumbnail of the video to be independent from the playback size provides the flexibility to place the video where you want while still being able to play the video at its original size.
Note that if you share a document containing a video with others and they open it in a previous version of Word, or in the Word Web App, they’ll still be able to watch the video because the thumbnail is linked to the original video source (which will play in in their browser).
Try it out
We hope you like using videos in Word as much as we do. Please sound off in the comments, we’d love to hear your thoughts.
The web video feature crew is excited to share their work on this feature with you!