Embedding a PDF Object in a SharePoint 2010 Web part using C#

Embedding a PDF Object in a SharePoint 2010 Web part using C#

Recently I was assigned the task of displaying a PDF in a SharePoint Web part. I figured it’d be easy enough to display it in an <iframe> or simply embed it on the page, but unfortunately my assumption couldn’t have been further from the truth.

Attempting to load the PDF in an <iframe>

Quite simply, and by default, SharePoint does not allow users to automatically open documents within a browser window. There is a setting on the web application called Browser File Handling, which if set to Permissive is supposed to allow documents to open within the browser. Alas, this setting does not afford the ability to view PDFs within the browser window. Also, within the Document Library, there’s a setting called Opening Documents in the Browser, which defaults to opening files within the browser anyway… So SharePoint is working against us.

Using the <embed /> tag

The <embed /> tag was deprecated for XHTML in favor of the <object> tag, so it’s not “supported” in Visual Studio. There is however a way around this; create a Literal control in C# and then write it to your page at run-time to avoid any compile errors. Upon assigning the src attribute, this strategy proves fruitful as it simply embeds the PDF in the window as desired. This is great, except for the fact that this strategy is completely invalid. I wanted to do one better.

Using the <object> tag

The <object> tag is a not only a valid XHTML control; it’s also supported in Visual Studio. Unfortunately, it requires a Class, ClassID, or ProgID attribute. I wasted hours scouring the web for this specific ClassID, and in the end, I could not locate it. This drove me to create a new strategy; a hybrid of the <embed /> and <object> strategies. This way I can ensure maximum browser support while doing my best to implement valid code.

//Create your URL to the pdf file, including path and URL variablesstring url = web.Url + “/” + “DocumentLibrary” + “/” + CurrentMonday.ToString(“MM-dd-yyyy”) + “.pdf” +“#scrollbar=0&statusbar=0&navpanes=0&toolbar=1&zoom=75″;//Establish Literal controlLiteral l1 = new Literal();//Write the Object code to the Literall1.Text = “<object id=’AcrobatFrame’ type=’application/pdf’ classid=’clsid:CA8A9780-280D-11CF-A24D-444553540000′ width=’711′ height=’956′><param name=’src’ value=’” + url + “‘ /><a href=’” + url + “‘>Click here to download “ + CurrentMonday.ToString(“MM-dd-yyyy”) + “.pdf</a></object>”;
//Add the Literal to the Page
Panel.Controls.Add(l1);

Acrobat URL variables

In the code above you can see that I am passing URL variables to define what application components are visible and the zoom of the pdf. This way I can set a static height and width for the object because I know the size of the document will always be the same. See a list of all URL variables.

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