Adobe Captures digital-paper solution

Adobe Systems Inc. opened an umbrella, dubbed it ePaper Solutions, and under this slick, nylon harbour they huddled an impressive collection of products and services that integrate several advanced Adobe technologies aimed at providing digital-to-paper and paper-to-digital solutions.

One might consider the initiative crowded at first, but ePaper Solutions – which includes Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF), Acrobat, Acrobat Capture, Acrobat Reader, Acrobat Forms and Adobe Document Server – seeks to provide ambitious cost-saving for any paper-intensive business.

The latest advancement from the ePaper Solutions Group is the refurbished Acrobat Capture Version 3.0. Available in two editions – the Personal Edition, which allows for the conversion of as many as 20,000 searchable PDF pages, and the Cluster Edition, which provides the same production features but is scaleable for high-volume requirements and converts an unlimited number of pages – the program teams with a scanner and allows the user to convert paper documents to fully searchable PDF files.

“Capture 3.0 is a total redesign of the product,” said Claude Ezran, Adobe’s director of product marketing for the ePaper Solutions Group, based in San Jose, Calif. “It’s a totally new architecture…it’s the next generation of professional production application for high-volume, high-quality transformation of paper to digital.”

Among the many improvements is the ability to correct any OCR (Optical Character Recognition) errors that arise from a scanned document – in 16 different languages – as well as integration with other software through an ODMA (Open Document Management API) interface.

“There’s a trend for high-end production companies to lean towards the PDF format,” said Mark Gilbert, a research director with the Gartner Group in Stamford, Conn. “The reason for that is you can wrap an OCR version of text into the same envelope. [Adobe has] made a good move; this is an incremental improvement, they’ve made the product better.”

As electronic files, PDF documents are compact, accessible, navigable, searchable, linkable and secure. Whether it’s volumes of documentation to legal contracts and medical records, any important document that needs to be archived or shared, Capture 3.0 – combined with a scanner – digitally captures an exact representation of paper documents and transforms them into searchable, cross-platform PDF files.

“We don’t see paper as the enemy,” Ezran continued. “Essentially what we’re trying to do is [transform] paper into digital workflows. To say, ‘I am going to go after a paperless office’ might not make sense…but to blend what [you] have (through Capture 3.0) with existing workflows is likely the winning combination.”

The upgraded Adobe Capture allows users of the program to add hyperlinks and searchable text for easy cross-reference archiving, in addition to accessing electronic forms, document mark-up and digital signatures, thus enabling seamless work-group collaboration. And it’s all done with fidelity, retaining the look and feel of the original document.

“We feel Capture is a technology that will enable people to move from the TIFF format to the PDF format, which is much better for knowledge management documents,” Ezran said.

He did not claim PDF is the end-all-be-all of electronic documentation, but he said documents that have “content of value,” such as a technical manual, are best served by Adobe’s solutions.

“The technical manuals for a B2 Bomber, when you put them all together, weigh more than the bomber itself,” he noted. “It is much better to have CDs and search through a database. These knowledge-management (based) documents could be scanning a book or all the issues of National Geographic.”

Picture a giant clothes iron smoothing out all the electronic wrinkles in a document and you’re getting a simplified vision of what Capture does. It provides tamper-proof electronic storage with access controls – a no-hassles approach to converting paper-based legacy records into digital files, and full index, search, and document-retrieval capabilities. It’s captures documents as they’re created, without the need for additional format conversion and it offers absolute viewing and printing fidelity for any document on any platform, according to Adobe.

“The key thing about ePaper Solutions is we tried to preserve all the great things about paper and present all the advantages of the electronic file format,” Ezran remarked. “Another advantage is the security and additional signatures, so I can send you a PDF file that I’ve signed and if you alter it and send it back to me, I’ll know something has changed.”

Adobe Capture 3.0 Cluster Edition is listed at an estimated street price of about US$7,000 per CPU. The Personal Edition – which also features a French language dictionary – retails in Canada for $1,635. Adobe Systems in San Jose can be reached at 1-800-833-6687.