Microsoft recently launched a new picture tool called Seadragon. Available at http://seadragon.com/, you can point Seadragon to any image on the Web, and get a zoomable viewer.
It works very simply: give Seadragon the URL to an image file, and it’ll be fetched. It’ll then process the file and give you a nice page containing your image along with tools to zoom in on it to get fine detail. You can also pan the image, pop out to a full-page view, look at the original image, etc.
I was a little leery of this at first because it didn’t seem to work. I had a nifty giraffe photo I took at the zoo that I thought would make a good image for this tool. Seadragon happily took the URL of the image and processed it — but the thumbnail and the zooms showed blurry sections toward the middle of the photograph. I tried again, this time with a larger version of the same image — and the same thing happened, only this time the blurry part was on the side. Even when I zoomed in on the image that part was blurry.
Putting that to one side I took the result I got and tried to embed it in Facebook, which worked fine. I then noticed that when I clicked the link to get to the Seadragon image from Facebook, the image looked fine with no blurs. I zoomed in on it and it still looked great. So all I can guess is that when I originally used Seadragon I didn’t wait long enough for the photos to render.
Anyway, despite what I initially thought this tool worked great. If you have some photos that you want to easily make zoomable — genealogy documents, or building images, or scans of newspaper pages — this is a very quick and handy way to add such functionality. I’m embedding my nifty giraffe photo at the end of this post so you can see how it turned out.