Plain Paper Converted

By SmallBusinessComputing Staff | Posted August 01, 2000
by Rebecca Rohan

Scansoft Paper Converter
Rating 76

If you like using microsoft's FrontPage 2000 to create and update your homemade Web site, then ScanSoft's Paper Converter software for FrontPage 2000 may be a welcome companion to your Web publishing needs. The software works with a supported (TWAIN) scanner and FrontPage 2000 to scan and convert paper documents into published Web pages.

Paper Converter uses Optical Character Recognition (OCR) to turn scanned documents into editable text. It also converts documents into HTML, and formats the pages using Cascading Style Sheets
(CSS) to preserve the same layout as the original documents. It then hands off the results to FrontPage 2000 for publishing on the Web.

Importing scanned documents to FrontPage is simple, with options for automatic or manual processing. If there's any complexity to the pages being scanned, such as columns or graphic elements, using the Manual option may save time in the long run. This allows you to "zone" the items on the page and select how they will be treated, either as graphics or text.

In our tests, using a HP Office Jet 1170C flatbed scanner, Paper Converter preserved page layouts well, without shoving graphics to the walls of the page, or making one giant picture of an entire page, as some converters do. There were problems converting pages from lower quality sources, such as a magazine. The software inserted gray blocks into the page wherever the "graphics" zone spilled over to plain white areas of the page.

Character recognition was also hurt on magazine pages. We used the proper settings for the types of documents scanned, but our recognition results ranged from absolutely perfect, with basic plain paper documents, to where practically every word was wrong, with magazine pages.

Another drawback to Paper Converter is its use of CSS for layout on the Internet, which is not supported by all browsers. According to ScanSoft, viewers will need Internet Explorer 4.0 (or later) or the next version of Netscape Navigator to be released (6.0) for viewing CSS formatted pages. This puts a cap on your potential audience. On the bright side, the page will default to plain HTML if viewed in an older browser.

For FrontPage 2000 users who want to move documents on plain paper with clear type to the Web, Paper Converter is worth the $49. For more complex scans, with thinner paper or "iffy" fonts, try ScanSoft's full-fledged OCR software, TextBridge Pro.

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