Posts Tagged ‘TWAIN’

What’s TWAIN

Hi folks,

Today we are going to try to explain as simple as possible what TWAIN is all about.

Some time ago one could operate a scanner by using manufacturer’s software only.
That happened because, following a general pattern in software history, each producer attempted to provide its own proprietary product standard at first.
But soon enough the need of an unified standard emerged, so some important scanner manufacturers and software publishers gathered up to form a group meant to design and maintain a unique standard to allow any imaging software to operate their scanners.
The resulting protocol was called TWAIN and the group that maintains and develops it is named “TWAIN Working Group“.

As explained in the previous blog article, TWAIN is a set of specifications, not a software (just as a side note, the TWAIN Working Group releases toolkits but only for the purpose of providing vendors with assistance in achieving TWAIN compliance, nothing more).
By following these specifications when developing the drivers, scanner manufacturers give users the chance to use their particular scanner with any image or document processing software.
So basically, TWAIN contains the blueprint of a bridge, having one end “fixed” on a unique, specific image-acquisition device and the other end “opened” to any imaging/processing software.

In terms of user interface, it allows you to control the scanning process: define the B/W, grayscale or color mode (if applicable), define scanning resolution (expressed in dpi, “dots per inch”) or set the area of the flatbed glass that has to be scanned.
After the scan is done, the acquired image is transfered to the application you are using, so you can process it.
If you are using PaperScan you can apply various filters, various image corrections and/or enhancements, various color and tonal balance tuning, image and document editing, add annotations, perform OCR and so on, then, finally, save it in a format of your choice.

GdPicture.NET SDK , our flagship product, provides developers with support for both TWAIN and WIA to use for their applications.

The TWAIN protocol is being constantly improved so there are many revisions/versions of TWAIN.
Current release is 2.2, as of 16 February 2012.

This brief depiction intended only to highlight the bottom line about TWAIN.
Similarly, our next article will be about WIA.

See you next week!

Bogdan

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A Few Words On Scanner Drivers

Hi folks,

Today we are going to briefly describe some basics on how the scanners are driven by software.

Like all hardware, a scanner is a pile of “dead” electronics and mechanics; it needs software to “bring it to life”.
From a logical point of view, the most basic (hardware-level) software is the data-source driver, which is particular to a given type of scanner.
On another logical level, some other part of the software has to connect it with the multitude of existing imaging software applications.
Ideally, such piece of software should allow any imaging application to operate any scanner.
To bring users closer to this wish, the solution was to create a standard in order to provide unique API on application side and keeping specific, scanner-dedicated driver part on scanner side.
The standard is actually a protocol, containing all needed specifications for any imaging application to be able to handle a scanner.
TWAIN is such a protocol and, due to Windows Operating System widespread, Microsoft’s WIA became a widespread driver and API model, too.
There are also ISIS (“Image and Scanner Interface Specification”) and SANE (“Scanner Access Now Easy”) open specifications but they are less spread.

The reasons we have provided the above short description are for our general public to understand:

1) why each scanner type and model requires its own specific driver.
Different scanners models might have similar generic names but they nevertheless might require specific drivers to run.
You need to make sure to use the exact driver for the exact model of scanner, written for the exact Windows OS you are using.
Using the latest available version is always a good idea and caution is required for deprecated drivers (whose maintenance has been abandoned).

2) why you can use any imaging application but just the unique driver dedicated to and delivered with a given scanner.
No matter the name of the manufacturer’s software delivered with the scaner (ScannedAll, DeskScan, etc.) it surely complies with a standard to allow you to operate your scanner from within other applications that offers you more power or convenience than the manufacturer’s one.

3) why incompatibility issues might however arise
A protocol (such as TWAIN) is a set of specifications to be followed by driver developers, not a software ‘per se’.
Some manufacturers might not always fully comply with the specifications and this might generate various incompatibility issues.
Also, you have to keep in mind that drivers are not infailible, they too are subject to bugs and glitches.
So again, make sure to always use the latest available version.

By supporting both TWAIN and WIA, PaperScan provides users with universal image acquiring feature and complete image and document processing power.

Of course, GdPicture.NET SDK, upon which PaperScan was built, offers developers full support for TWAIN and WIA.

See you next week!

Bogdan

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