Good Developments in Regards to Scanning Software

Friday, 2006-05-05; 01:41:00

I have previously railed on how sad scanning software on the Mac is, especially in regards to hooking up my HP psc 1210 all-in-one printer/scanner/copier. (On second thought, maybe "psc" actually stands for "piece of shitty crap"? :P ) I have not had much success in finding good scanning software, but recently I have come across two good developments, so I thought I'd share them.

First of all, I neglected to mention that after trying out SANE (and failing with the psc), I submitted a port request to DarwinPorts for hpoj. I last ranted about scanning software on Feburary 8, and the bug was submitted on February 11th. Nothing happened for over two months. But in mid-April, I started receiving e-mails from DarwinPorts regarding my port request. It seems that a good person named Adam Schenker started working on the port -- not for hpoj, but for hplip. The hplip project has taken over all the functionality of hpoj project, and hpoj has in fact been discontinued. (I erroneously thought that hplip could only do printing and didn't support as many models as hpoj -- in looking around, it seems that hplip has all the features of hpoj, and is being actively developed.)

From all the bug report updates I've been receiving from DarwinPorts, Adam is fast making progress. He's added a hierarchy of dependencies, which means that once you download DarwinPorts, it should be trivial to install hplip and automatically get all the dependent libraries that hplip needs to run. He's also already got printing working, and it also already interfaces with SANE. Scanning doesn't work yet, but he's working on getting the latest version of hplip ported to see if that fixes the problems -- once scanning works, I should be able to simply use Image Capture to use my crappy HP psc all-in-one crappamajig, thanks to SANE. Note: I have not installed DarwinPorts or even tried the experimental working version of hplip for OS X yet, so I can't vouch for whether it actually partially works or not, but I trust Adam for the time being. ;)

So yay for Adam Schenker! If you get scanning to work through hplip, I will seriously be grateful.

The second good development is kind of surprising. Since I "work" for AppleXnet, I was contacted by a representative for I.R.I.S. to see if I wanted to review Readiris Pro 11 for Mac. It's a piece of OCR scanning software, review pending. (I also say "work" in quotes because I've been so busy with school that I've only been able to write reviews, and only once in a while -- I've seriously been neglecting some reviews from Feral Interactive, and my contact has seriously been very patient with me. So a shout out to George for putting up with me as well.)

When I first started up Readiris Pro on my dad's laptop and connected our one and only scanner (the shitty HP psc), it was instantly able to scan from it. It was curious, though, because it used the same interface as the HP scanning software.

Let me stress that yes, I railed against the HP scanning software. But not the actual scanning interface itself, where you do preview scans and select what portion of the scanner face you want to scan, etc. I bemoaned the fact that it installed a nefarious startup item that required your attention at each startup until you connect and setup the scanner at least once. Also, the program that managed the scans was attempting to be like iPhoto for scans, which was totally unnecessary. That's what I hated about it: not the interface for where you actually did the scanning, just all the stuff before and after that. :P

But Readiris Pro takes the one redeemable thing about the HP scanning software, and eliminates all the rest. After installing Readiris, I have not seen any of the other applications typically installed by the HP software, and I haven't had the annoying startup item, either. So it seems that Readiris Pro is an acceptable solution for scanning, as well. (It also raises the question as to why HP didn't allow me to just do a minimal install, instead of annoying the crap out of me with all those other components.)

Of course, Readiris Pro is $129.99, so it doesn't fall in the "cheap" category. But I sure as hell wouldn't take the HP scanning software for free, either.

I will post updates on the hplip situation, though -- if Adam succeeds in making a fully functional port, I'll test it out.

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