Document conversion II: ZyImage adds choice

ZyLab International Inc.'s ZyImage doesn't have the management tools and

extensive scalability of Adobe Systems Inc.'s Adobe Capture (see Page 38),

but it does deliver a very solid set of tools for converting documents — both scanned and electronic — into searchable text databases. What's more,

the product's search and retrieval tools are very powerful and lightning

fast.

Unlike Acrobat Capture, ZyImage is constructed from the bottom up as a modular

program with three major applications: scanning, indexing and searching.

The first of these modules, ZyScan, includes utilities for scanning documents,

importing existing files, assigning data fields (such as author, date, department,

etc.), and recognizing the text in documents.

The optical character recognition process is pretty much hands-off, and

we found the program does a generally good job of recognizing text. It lacks

some features that other OCR engines have, such as a spell checker and the

ability to select which areas of a document are read. Basically, you're

pretty much stuck with whatever results the OCR engine produces. But since

ZyImage retrieves the actual image of documents rather than the text interpreted

by the OCR engine, this is not critical for most users because they can

view the original.

One advantage ZyImage has over Capture for those building electronic

databases is that, in addition to scanned images, the program can handle

more than 250 electronic file formats, including all the major word processing

formats and several spreadsheet and database formats.

The second of ZyImage's modules, ZyIndex, is, as the name implies, the indexing

engine that compiles the text files in the recognized documents into searchable

catalogs of terms. This module also includes utilities for scheduling and

configuring index update and maintenance chores and for publishing to CD-ROM

and the World Wide Web.

The real heart and soul of ZyImage is in the third module, ZyFind. ZyFind,

like the other modules, presents a sparse, no-nonsense interface to users.

But it also offers extensive search and retrieval tools. You can perform

simple character-string searches, complex Boolean searches, proximity searches,

progressive searches and "fuzzy" searches that will search for terms similar

to the one you've entered. Once you've launched your search, it's generally

only a fraction of a second until ZyFind delivers a list of documents that

contain hits.

Like Acrobat Capture, ZyImage allows users to view documents with their

original formatting and graphics intact. While Capture accomplishes this

through converting everything to Acrobat's Portable Document Format, ZyImage

employs a different strategy. After ZyOCR is used to recognize the text

in a scanned file, Zy- Image stores both the scanned image of the document

and the recognized text. When you search for a term, ZyImage locates all

matches in its indexes and then offers the scanned images of the appropriate

pages and uses pointers to highlight the hits on the page.

One of the ZyImage features that makes it especially pertinent to the

kind of heavy use expected in many departments and agencies is its job templates.

The ZyScan module includes a wizard that makes it easy to create or

edit templates to include any steps — from scanning to importing, from OCR

to exporting — as automatic or manually launched operations. And by purchasing

multiple workstation licenses, you can distribute the work of scanning,

recognizing and indexing among multiple users, though not with the granularity

of Capture. While ZyImage does provide a job manager that shows what steps

have been completed for each job, it doesn't actually deliver the work to

the appropriate workstations nor does it report on the current location

of the various pieces of a workflow.

Finally, ZyImage includes a slick ZyAlert feature that will automatically

scan incoming documents for matches to search arguments. ZyImage will automatically

send all retrieved documents directly to specified e-mail accounts.

ZyImage is a complex and powerful product. We didn't find it as easy

to set up and configure as Acrobat Capture, nor does ZyImage provide the

scalability and flexibility in distributed processing that you'll find in

the Adobe product. But ZyImage does offer more options for document input

and output, and ZyImage's search tools and speed can't be beat.

MORE INFO

ZyImage 3.0

Score: B+

ZyLab International Inc.

(301) 428-0045

www.zylab.com

Pricing: ZyImage, as a stand-alone product, is available on the open market for$2,300. You can purchase a $3,595 server license to allow concurrent accessto ZyImage modules. Client licenses (for running ZyFind on clients) cost$795 each. ZyImage is available on the GSA schedule with an approximatediscount of 10 percent.

Remarks: ZyImage is a complex program that delivers a lot of power to those whowant to convert scanned or electronic documents into searchable databases.The price of that power is a relatively high learning curve. It can be usedwith Windows 98 or Windows NT 4.0 with Service Pack 3 or later.

Related Stories

Document conversion I: Adobe quickens Capture [Federal Computer Week, April 10, 2000]

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