Document imaging and scanning are facilitated in large parts by various software applications. Often some of the greatest appeal, for those not too familiar with document imaging, is the functionality contained within the software that is bundled with a document scanner. Many of the vendors, while they are selling document scanners, put all the focus on their applications that are married to the scanner and how they handle the images.
Recently at MacWorld 2010, this was proven to be true from the various scanner vendors who had more to say about their personal content management applications than their actual scanners. What surprised me is how little end-users were concerned about where and how the images are stored.
Knowing how your personal content management application stores images is critical for your future retention and use of those images. To give you an example, if you are now scanning to an application that converts images to a proprietary format and saves them in an SQL Express database you don’t have access to, migrating from this application will be as difficult as re-scanning each and every piece of paper. What if you no longer have the originals?
Many of the sexy software applications out there make it very difficult to get to your data files directly, for use in other applications or for purpose of migration. I would expect this to be a common question asked by vendors but it was not. Only once did I see a vendor explain how you can still get to the files that are contained in their application. Indeed you could, following some non-obvious steps. And once you found all the image files they were bizarrely named, not the name assigned within the software. It is good to know they are there and accessible, but what a tremendous amount of work to get there.
You own the information so make sure you know where the images go, how they are stored, and how you can get to them if at all. If a particular solution is locked down or requires some hacking, it’s not a personal content management system for you.
Chris Riley – AboutFind much more about document technologies at www.cvisiontech.com.