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Quality and Effectiveness: Many states require districts to retain administrative records for a certain number of years. E-documents take up less physical space and are easier to access because they can be searched by key word or date created. If a document hasn’t been created electronically and needs to be scanned to be saved as an e-document, it must undergo optical character recognition (OCR), a process that translates dots in a scanned image into editable text characters, in order for that text to be searchable or editable.
Adobe Acrobat Pro DC is the leading application for scanning to PDF with OCR. A single license for Macintosh or Windows costs about $165 annually. Readiris Pro 16 (RP16) is an alternative application for scanning to PDF with OCR facility. RP16 is also available for both Macintosh and Windows, and a single license costs $99 and does not require an annual subscription.
Ease of Use: Downloading, installing, and launching the program is a simple process. RP16 works with the installed driver on the user’s scanner and automatically discovers the system’s scanner. Document scanning with RP16 is also very simple. Scanning presets, visible on the graphical user interface, can be used to export scanned documents as PDF, Microsoft Word, or Microsoft Excel files. Users can also export scanned output as ODT, RTF, EPUB, HTML, text, or audio files.
Creative Use of Technology: Program preferences include a default preprocessing setting to “smoothen color and grayscale images.” In addition, users can direct the program to process all documents as if they had a 300 DPI resolution. This option proves to be useful when processing images of unknown resolution. Other scanning options include “favor accuracy over speed,” “page analysis” (determining areas of text and images), and “page deskewing” (straightening crooked scans).
RP16 scans each page into zones—blue for graphics, orange for text, pink for tables. Users can delete zones, change zone type, and create new zones. RP16 works best with documents that are virtually all text and with complex documents with areas designated as “image” that OCR skips. RP16 for Windows offers more editing options than the Macintosh version does. While Acrobat allows both Mac and Windows users to edit selected text directly in PDF documents, only Windows users can do this with RP16—and only in a text corrector window, not directly on the document. RP16 for both Mac and Windows allows users to add, merge, delete, rotate, compress, and sign PDF documents, as well as to search for and locate document key words.
Suitability for Use in a School Environment: RP16 has several features to recommend its use in a school environment. The PC version lets users right-click on a file in Windows File Explorer and choose Readiris Pro 16 from the context-menu choices that appear. Mac users can also right-click a document and use Readiris to convert it to XLSX, PDF, or DOCX by selecting a file output option from the services pullout menu.
RP16 recognizes documents in 137 languages, including Cyrillic, Greek, Farsi, Hebrew, Japanese, Korean, and Chinese in addition to English, French, Italian, German, and Spanish. That’s a huge plus for users who need to OCR foreign-language documents. RP16 also scans very quickly.
RP16 gives users much more control over scanning output than Acrobat does. Its OCR output quality will vary depending on the resolution and typeface of the text in the original document. Schools looking for robust OCR options should download the RP16 30-day evaluation to test-drive the product.
● Uses the existing TWAIN scanner driver to scan a document, with many output options available, including audio and EPUB.
● Recognizes documents in 137 languages.
● One-time purchase—no need to renew the license each year.