The new Seadragon.com!

July 30, 2009

We’ve taken all of the pieces of Seadragon technology and wrapped them up in a nice bow with the new seadragon.com. Just drop the URL to any image on the web (JPG, PNG, GIF, TIF, etc.) into the box, and we serve up a smooth zooming Seadragon viewer for it. Behind the scenes we’re using DeepZoomTools on an Azure server to handle the conversion, and serving it up using Silverlight Deep Zoom when available and Seadragon Ajax when not. The result is (hopefully) an extremely smooth and simple experience, even though there’s so many bits that make it up.


It all started with a suggestion from Sean Dunn, which rolled into Out of the Box projects by Aseem Kishore and Boyd Ferris. Ben Vanik wrote the Silverlight viewer we’re using, and James Darpinian wrapped it up with Seadragon Ajax so we can use Silverlight if available and JavaScript otherwise. From there, Aseem did the lion’s share of the work to build out the service and tie the whole thing together, with UI design by Shepherd Yang. Ken Perkins kept us all on track, and Jesse Wang made sure the whole thing was solid. Of course everyone on the Seadragon team was involved in one way or another, and we’re all terribly excited to have it finally up on the web!

We’re especially interested to see how people end up using the site. Every time there’s a huge image posted on digg, I’d love to see it posted via seadragon.com so people can see it better. I can see Seadragon being a great alternative to ViewOnBlack for sharing your Flickr images. People can even use it to present their art portfolios on their own sites. If you see or think of any interesting uses, I’d love to hear about it!



  1. Very nice. I like the seamless support of both Seadragon Ajax and Silverlight.

  2. I love it!

    That being said, what are the practical maximum dimensions for a single DZI and why wouldn’t it work to orchestrate the entirety of the Bing Maps tiles into one so that Seadragon Ajax could deliver the Bing Maps Ajax experience? It would just be so fine.

  3. Congratulations on this new effort. I’m still trying to figure out whether I want to try it out, even. What happens after I submit an image URL?

    I went and read (in parts) and skimmed (in parts) the 2,608-word-long Terms of Service to find out what happens when I enter the URL of an image to see what Seadragon does. It’s baffling reading language drafted by (or at least approved by) lawyers in order to get the answers to the following:

    If I’m trying out the service, and submit a URL to an image I post, will it become a part of the seadragon “checkitout!” cloud that others can see?

    The section of the TOS that, I think, apply is this (italic emphasis mine):

    3. Content You Provide to the Service.
    Except for material that we may license to you, we do not claim ownership of the content you post or otherwise provide to us, that is hosted by Microsoft or a third party hosting provider on Microsoft’s behalf, related to the Service (called a “submission”), nor do we offer any endorsement of your submission. However, by posting or otherwise providing your submission (and for the avoidance of doubt, where Microsoft hosts content on your behalf including by a third party hosting provider this constitutes a “submission”, but where you host or a third party hosts content on your behalf, other than Microsoft or a third party hosting provider on behalf of Microsoft, this does not constitute a “submission”) [see question 1], you are granting to Microsoft free permission to use, copy, distribute, display, publish, transcode and otherwise modify your submission, each in connection with the Service, and sublicense these rights to others in order to provide the Service. We will not pay you for your submission. We may refuse to publish, and may remove your submission from the Service at any time. You understand that providing a submission to us that violates others’ copyrights and other Intellectual Property rights is a violation of this contract. For every submission you make, you must have all rights necessary for you to grant the permissions in this section.

    You understand that Microsoft may need to and you hereby authorize Microsoft to use, modify, copy, distribute and display submission posted on the Service to the extent necessary to provide the Service. This includes:

    –storing and retrieving the submission;
    making the submission available to you and, if applicable, to those members of the public to whom you have granted access; [see comment 2]
    –conforming to connecting networks’ technical requirements; and
    –conforming to the limitations and terms of the Service.

    You understand that sharing content that violates others’ copyrights and other intellectual property rights violates this contract. You represent and warrant that you have all the rights necessary for you to grant the rights in this section 3 and that the use and publication of your submission by Microsoft does not breach any law. We will not pay you for your submission. We may refuse to publish your submission and may remove your submission from the Service at any time and at our sole discretion, for any reason.

    1. So if I enter the url of an image that is hosted on my server, it’s not a submission? But what’s the difference between the original photo I have on my site and whatever it is MSFT/Seadragon does with it once it “prepares” it? [Step 2: “We’ll need some time to prepare it if we haven’t seen it before.” source http://seadragon.com/create/%5D

    What is the difference between those two states? Does the process of preparing it somehow transfer the image to MSFT’s servers, thereby making it a “submission”? (the resulting URL becomes something like seadragon.com/view/xxx — so at that point it’s on MSFT’s servers, thereby makign it a submission?) I liked that you were trying to make sense and avoid all doubt, but that parenthetical statement does not make sense to me. I guess I need to thoroughly review the software specifications in order to understand the terms of service.

    You do not inspire confidence, here. Rather than feeling all googly excited and experimental-like, I feel wary, uncertain and go-away, go-away, stay-away.

    2. This is the only part that spells out, in plain English, the bits I might be wondering about. But if this is so, why is what’s the most important part to me just a single bullet point, a mere 21 words out of 2608 words?

    Well, it kinda looks cool. But I don’t know if I want to use it.

  4. Nate, people have already done some experiments with this, and it looks quite promising. Here’s one:


    Susan, thanks for pointing out these issues. As for your original question (“will it be part of the Seadragon cloud for others to see?”), the answer is yes and no. We don’t have any sort of page for discovering all of the images that have been uploaded, but we also don’t do anything to, say, password protect those images. So no, we won’t be drawing people’s attention to them, but there’s nothing to stop people from poking around and finding them. Does that answer your question?

  5. Hmmm…. looks like it won’t work with Spaces, right?

  6. I’d give this a try if I could process an image file from my computer and embed the resulting viewer and files into my web site, but I don’t feel safe posting my high-res images online just so I can feed Seadragon a public URL.

  7. Brenda, unfortunately Spaces does not yet support JavaScript embeds. You can of course include a link to the seadragon.com view page for your image.

    Kevin, I understand. We’re considering an upload option for seadragon.com, but in the meantime you can use Deep Zoom Composer to create a Seadragon image on your own hard drive that you can then upload, along with a viewer, to your website:


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