TechnoFILE is copyright and a registered trademark © ® of
Pandemonium Productions.
All rights reserved.
E-mail us Here!
Pagis Desktop/Scan tool

Xerox Scanning/OCR Package Rocks

By Jim Bray

Scanning software suites have reached new heights, as evidenced by the latest entry from "the Document Company."

ScanSoft, a Xerox offshoot, has upgraded its Pagis Pro suite to Version 3, an all-in-one scanning solution if ever there was one.

Pagis Pro 3 gives you a special "desktop" on which to organize and store your scanned files - and redirect them to other applications - but that's only the beginning. The suite also comes with Adobe PhotoDeluxe Business Edition, which lets you mess around with images after you've scanned them, and TextBridge Pro 9, a wonderfully powerful OCR (optical character recognition) program that turns scanned pages of print back into real text you can edit in your favorite word processor and/or save in a variety of file formats.

Once you install the software you're left with a "Pagis Inbox" icon on your desktop, from which you can access all the features of Pagis Pro. You can use it as your "scanning and filing headquarters," where your scanned files will reside (you can also use it as a Windows Explorer environment) and from where you can drag and drop them into whatever applications you choose. You can also scan, file, search, and organize stuff by category, which gives you a nice way to keep track of receipts, family pics, bills, and the like, at least until your next hard drive crash.

One thing I liked about using the Pagis scanning facility (and there's a long list of scanners it supports) is the way its interface blows the generic Windows scanner drivers out of the water.

You see, my scanner is a couple of years old now and, though it works fine, when you install Windows 98 it senses the scanner and installs drivers and software for it. Unfortunately, this software only allows you very basic choices (b&w photo, color photo, etc.) and doesn't let you do other things like change resolutions. Or if it does, it's so user unfriendly that I haven't yet found out how to do it.

Pagis, however, is easy you can use it as your scanner interface - so it's a terrific way to get more functionality out of a scanner (well, mine at least!) without going to the original manufacturer and begging for new drivers - some of which are only available if you ante up some cash.

Pagis Pro 3 includes new search features to help you find stuff on your hard drive, and it lets you capture (and keep a thumbnail view of) your favorite web pages. It stores the thumbnail in the Pagis Inbox and from there you can just click on it and surf to it, or open it to edit or OCR it. It's also a nifty way of giving yourself "visual bookmarks" so that, instead of remembering web pages by their titles (as are stored in your Browser's "bookmarks" or "favorites") you can actually see them - if you squint.

This is neat, though I found upon my initial attempt at surfing by TechnoFILE's home page that it had trouble in the OCR process because it couldn't differentiate between the navigation and the main windows - and on the whole it did a pretty lousy job. I don't find this a big deal, however, because it's easier to simply copy and paste text (or just save the file onto your hard drive) if you're going to steal from a Web page anyway!

Pagis also lets you open files from a variety of formats, without loading the original application -and you can use Pagis' e-mail viewer to send pictures through cyberspace.

The Pagis applications work well, and the organization and search functions are powerful and fairly straightforward. You can scan to over 40 image formats - though Pagis' XIFF is the default (and that's okay) and Xerox says Pagis Pro automatically converts your "dragged and dropped" file into the format of the application into which you're dropping it.

TextBridge Pro 9Besides pictures, however, the other real joy of having a scanner is to get printed pages back into your computer so you can turn them into electronic versions of themselves. This is where TextBridge Pro 9 comes in and it does a very good job of taking scanned pages and converting them back into digital pages.

I used the product to scan a bunch of brochures that included pictures, captions, tables, and various types of columns. It took the stuff and dumped it into Microsoft Word for me without even so much as a "By your Leave." The formatting is sloppy, but it works - and saves a lot of retyping.

TextBridge Pro will also output into HTML format for use on a web site, and when I tried this I found that the finished document was, for the most part, a pretty good representation of the original - until I looked at the HTML code. It was a real dog's breakfast, so I went in by hand and cleaned it up.

Still, it was a lot less onerous a task than typing the whole shebang in and then laying it out as a Web page. Besides, most surfers won't be passing judgment on your HTML source code, so you can probably safely ignore the "dog's breakfast" and just publish the thing.

One the whole, TextBridge Pro does an excellent job. It isn't perfect by any means, but it's the closest I've seen to perfection so far. It takes the mind numbing task of retyping a page and turns it into a relatively minor edit and spell-check. And as with spelling checkers, you can train TextBridge Pro so it recognizes specialized words before it sends the page to your word processor.

Scanned LogoPagis itself will also straighten and otherwise crop or orient your page, and once you've pre-scanned it you can manually set the page area to be scanned in the final scan. This can be handy if, for instance, you're scanning images for a Web site; you can send them directly to the Pagis editor, mess around with them there, and then save them to their destination folder without having to load your normal image editing software. This, by the way, is how I got the ScanSoft logo onto this page.

Or, if you want to do some heavy duty manipulation, you can send it to your favored image editor right from the scanning dialog.

And if your hand-cropped page turns out not to have scanned well, or you did something wrong in the setup, you can delete the page from the scan tool without having to exit and then go back in again. It's very flexible and efficient operation, and it works well.

This latter feature came in handy when I tried scanning in the above ScanSoft logo from a press release. I found that when I cropped too closely around it the image wouldn't scan at all - leaving me with a blank page - so I was grateful to be able to delete the attempt and start over again right away.

I've never really used a scanning suite a lot, though with the terrific manner in which Pagis Pro runs my scanner (as mentioned, it now works better than with the Windows-installed drivers), I'll be using it more often. There's a lot of flexibility here, and the more I use it the more things I find to do with it.

Xerox says you can even scan in forms and then just "tab and type" through it which, though I didn't try it, sounds pretty cool.

In all, Pagis Pro 3 is a powerful and flexible tool for the person who does a variety of tasks with a scanner. But it's more than that: it not only helps you keep track of your files, it allows you to easily interact with your other applications, and in some cases bypass them completely.

In short, a nice labor saving device. And that's what computers are supposed to be all about, isn't it?


Tell us at TechnoFile what YOU think













Support TechnoFile
via Paypal

TechnoFILE's E-letter
We're pleased to offer
our FREE private,
private E-mail service.
It's the "no brainer"
way to keep informed.

Our Privacy Policy

January 31, 2006