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We recently wrote about Version 5.0 of Adobe Acrobat, the suite of tools published by Adobe Systems to deal with Adobe’s Portable Document Format standards. PDF files are becoming ever more useful for lawyers for dealing with government forms on the Web, sending a contract as an e-mail attachment, creating electronic court filings or archiving old documents. Although it is possible to read a PDF file with Acrobat Reader — a free program available for the Apple Computer Macintosh, computers using Microsoft Windows and UNIX-based computers — to create a PDF file, you need Acrobat itself or some third-party alternative. The last couple of iterations of Corel’s WordPerfect, for example, has featured the ability to “publish” a file in PDF. The latest version of ScanSoft’s OmniPage not only writes PDF, but also can read PDF files and turn them into text that can be edited. And pdfFactory 1.00, a third-party “printer driver,” lets a user create a PDF file from the print function of virtually any application running under Microsoft Windows. OMNIPAGE PRO 11 A document may exist as a word-processor or electronic-spreadsheet file; a printed page; an electronic analog of the printed page as a graphic file, which may include a fax file; or the printed graphic printed by a receiving fax machine. Faxes are easy to send and receive and printouts are easy to read, but editing or reusing a document’s data requires a file that, character by character, stores the data. A program that converts the picture of a character on a printed page or in a graphics file to a computer character performs what is known as optical character recognition. (The name is really an anachronism, because OCR programs really recognize and deal with words these days.) Although OCR programs originally converted graphics into unformatted text, a modern OCR program should be able to retain page layout, font and style information so that the resulting word-processor file can print a page that looks very much like the original graphics page. OmniPage has long been a strong contender in the high-end OCR market and, lately, with a consolidation of OCR providers, one of the last standing. The program controls a wide variety of scanners, reading and operating on the direct scanner output, and can also read and process a wide variety of graphic file formats including, in its latest iteration, PDF files. OmniPage Pro 11 installed, automatically, to more than 70 megabytes on our hard disk. (The manufacturer warns that 115 to 170 MBs are required for installation.) More would be needed had we wanted to deal with documents written in Russian or Greek (with Greek and Cyrillic alphabets), Danish, Hungarian or a variety of other languages. We would have required considerably more disk space. Version 11 looks and works like previous versions. Specify the scanner or previously scanned graphics file, tell the program to begin, and OmniPage reads the graphics, recognizes the characters, the words, the page and the character formatting — and, new to Version 11, even text and background color — and moves to a “proofing” mode, presenting those letter clusters not present in its dictionaries. Problems are presented with suggestions and with a blowup of the related graphical version, making it easy to choose the correct presented alternative or to type in the correct word. If you would like to compare what OmniPage Pro has discovered in the original page, set the program to “read” the page to you in spoken language, always the best mode for careful proofreading. When the recognition is correct and complete, simply save the data to Microsoft PowerPoint, Word for Windows or Excel, WordPerfect, RTF (Rich Text Format), HTML or one of a variety of other formats, including PDF. Although Version 11 boasts a host of new features, including claimed better recognition, the ability to “despeckle” relatively poor scans, and the ability to use your correction to one problem to automatically correct a similar problem later in the same file, the new feature that really hit us was the ability to read and write in PDF. Previously, the only way we knew of to convert a PDF file to text was to print the file and scan and OCR the printout. Version 11 avoids the intermediary printing and scanning, quite obviously a better way to go. We don’t quite understand why Version 11 actually performs OCR on the input PDF file instead of pulling the hidden text from the file, where available, but the OCR process does work, and we think that lawyers will find it useful. Our OCR needs usually don’t require the careful attention Version 11 pays to output page formatting — including the ability to flow text from one section of the document to another — but the capability is useful for recycling old presentation documents and converting a printout to a PowerPoint presentation. It is also useful any time that page formatting is important. If you have purchased a scanner in the last few years, you probably have an OCR program that qualifies for the upgrade price. Version 11 will save you money after several uses at its $499 list price, but at $149, OmniPage Pro 11 is a no-brainer. PDFFACTORY PdfFactory 1.00 is a $39.95 program that installs as a Windows printer driver and prints the output of any Windows-based program that creates a PDF file from any Windows program that can output to a printer. The program can be purchased as a 1.5 MB Web download. It took but a few seconds to install. We don’t recommend making pdfFactory your default printer, but it was easy to select pdfFactory as the printer after selecting the application’s print command. After clicking “print,” the driver brings up a dialog box that permits you to set a number of options for your printout. After previewing the PDF output, if desired, click either the “save” button to save the resulting PDF file to disk, or click “send” to launch your default e-mail client and create an e-mail with the PDF file as an attachment. Enter your message and specify the recipient, and your e-mail is ready to go. The files we created with pdfFactory were easily readable by both Acrobat Reader and OmniPage Pro 11. But if you have a limited need to output simple PDF files and don’t require the capabilities of the full Acrobat suite, try pdfFactory. SUMMARY AND DETAILS � High-end OCR OmniPage Pro 11 has a variety of new and improved features, but our favorite is the ability to read and write PDF files. Although the program is high-end, the upgrade price is inexpensive. Price:$499, or $149 for a competitive upgrade. Requirements:Microsoft Windows 95 / 98 / 2000 / ME / NT 4.0. Address: ScanSoft Inc., 9 Centennial Dr., Peabody, Mass., 01960 Phone:(978) 977-2000. Web: www.scansoft.com. � PdfFactory 1.00 is a program that installs as a Windows printer driver and prints application files to disk in PDF. If you don’t have Adobe Acrobat, you really need this. Price:$39.95. Requirements:A computer running Microsoft Windows 95 or later. Address:FinePrint Software LLC, 16 Napier Lane, San Francisco, Calif., 94133 Fax:209-821-7869. Web: www.fineprint.com. E-mail: [email protected]. Barry D. Bayer practices law and writes about computers from his office in Homewood, Ill. You may send comments or questions to his e-mail address bayerlawtechreview.com or write c/o Law Office Technology Review, P.O. Box 2577, Homewood, Ill., 60430

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