Documentum Scanning – Trying TWAIN and other approaches

As we have talked about in other posts, sometimes Documentum users can get stuck in a word association game in regards to adding capabilities to Documentum.  Going off the Documentum product pricing sheet revels some common responses:

  • Workflow -> BPM
  • Migration -> Buldoser
  • PDF Overlays -> PDF Aqua or new PDF Stamping Services
  • Annotation -> Brava/PDF Annotation Services
  • Scanning -> Captiva/InputAccel

Documentum users looking to maximize their Documentum investment should be aware of common alternatives not on the price list – free/cheap alternatives include

  • Workflow -> Documentum Workflow or JBPM (free)
  • Migration -> OpenMigrate (Open Source so free))
  • PDF Overlays -> iText or TSG’s iText wrapper – OpenOverlay (Open Source also free)
  • Annotation -> Workflow Notes (items added in workflow), TSG OpenAnnotate (both also free)
  • Scanning -> TWAIN drivers (cheap)

For this post, I will go into additional detail on scanning and adding a TWAIN driver.

My scanning experience goes back to 1993 (pre-Documentum) when I was a project manager at Andersen Consulting (now Accenture).  One project was to build an API set for a company called Alpharel with some dedicated software developers as part of a development project for a utility company.  In looking at scanning, it really hasn’t changed much since then.  We developed a solution leveraging hardware boards from Kofax or other boards/software to drive the scanner and capture the image.  In those days, the PCs used to drive the scanner didn’t have the CPU capabilities to process the image at the same speed of the scanner.  While vast PC improvements has taken over the processing of the old boards and they are no longer required, in many ways, the type of calls to drive the scanner really haven’t changed much in 17 years.

InputAccel – What it does

TSG has been working with InputAccel for over 10 years.   Our best practice is to leverage InputAccel for high-volume, centralized scanning.  Typically we think of this as a mail room or other centralized location where clients will be scanning in large number of content and want to keep the scanner driving.  InputAccel modules include scanning, batch processing, image clean-up, some indexing, OCR and final upload into Documentum.  While this can work great, we typically bring up the following issues to clients.

  1. Understand that indexing of scanning images will happen in that centralized location and that documents going directly into Documentum (word) will have their own index screen as well.
  2. The development on Captiva is different than development on Documentum.
  3. The paper need to be shipped to the central location to be scanned efficiently.

For low-volume, decentralized scanning where OCR/Full-text won’t be required, clients can fall into the word association trap of thinking InputAccel is the only scanning alternative for Documentum.   We have found that the cost and capabilities for low-volume scanning don’t typically justify InputAccel.

TWAIN – An image capture API for Windows and Macintosh released in 1992

Documentum users looking to add scanners to their own computers will most likely leverage the TWAIN interface.  TWAIN is a standard available for a most scanners.  Typically, the TWAIN driver is installed as the scanner is installed on the PC.  In regards to Documentum users, scanners can be easily added to Webtop or custom interfaces to drive the scanner and produce a high-quality TIFF or PDF document to add within their existing indexing role.

Clients can add TWAIN scanning solutions either to Webtop (click to see a demo in the Learning Zone) or as a custom application.  This is a very efficient way to easily add scanned documents to distributed environments with one consistent indexing interface.

What about my copier?

Another way to capture images is via most internet enabled copiers.  For TSG, we leverage one of the Workcentre copiers from Xerox.  With this copier, we can scan and automatically send to an email address.  Rather than use a personal email address, we can leverage OpenInterchange to capture the images in Documentum.

What if I don’t want to scan at all?

In this era of outsourcing, many clients are realizing that it makes sense to not even develop a scanning solution but to instead leverage outside scanning partners.  One company we have always been impressed with is Millennia.  We partnered with their group for a Documentum real estate client and were able to leverage their scanning and our OpenMigrate tool to create a very cost-effective and robust solution.  For this client, a PO box was set up to have paper sent directly to Millennnia for scanning, indexing and eventual ingestion into Documentum.

Look for a future post in regards to “Top Tips for Documentum Scanning” on a future blog post.

If you have any thoughts, please comment below:

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