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Imaging Solutions For Top Imaging Mistakes We See

by | May 4, 2011

This is the first in a series of articles highlighting some issues we have seen over the years from customers and other companies in the imaging industry

Document and image viewing and conversion applications and toolkits provide numerous file viewing capabilities including: document zoom, annotation, redaction, rotation, thumbnail views and high-speed viewing via Page on Demand Technology. And conversion capabilities provide automated batch processing from multiple locations, and feature watermarking and redaction functionality.

But when searching for a document or image viewing or conversion solution, one should be sure they are comparing apples to apples and oranges to oranges.  Many times we see companies comparing imaging, viewing or conversion software to a variety of differing products.  If evaluating a Web-based image viewer written in Java you cannot compare the performance to a native client viewer such as Adobe Acrobat viewer.  Acrobat runs as simple .exe program often loading images from the disk on the client rather than from a Web server, while a Web-based viewer requires a certain amount of time just to download the image from the server.  Moreover, Java is a cross platform solution and runs well for that purpose, which is very important to many customers, but will be slower than a native .exe application, so you cannot effectively compare the two.  The solution is to be sure to set the correct technological expectations with the customer.  For example, for comparing Web-based document viewing, accessing a 100-page PDF file from the server via Acrobat to show the customer how long this process takes to download and view one of their documents; an apples to apples comparison.

All formats and documents are not created equal.  Many document formats are much more complex than simpler raster formats such as TIFF or JPEG which are simply rendered to the raster display format. Document formats such as PDF or Word have to first be parsed to create a page and then “rendered” or drawn in order to be displayed with viewing applications. This may be a relatively quick process, or not, depending on the content in the document. When comparing imaging applications, it is important to use the same images or documents in a similar environment, to once again, get a realistic apples to apples comparison.


There are a number of strategies for increasing the performance of an imaging solution. Many documents can be rendered as black and white (1 bit per pixel), as these will be much smaller in file size, and therefore download much more quickly. In comparison, a color document is usually 24 bits per pixel and therefore is likely to be 24 times larger than a black and white file.  That means comparing a typical 100 KB black and white page to a 2.4 MB color page multiplied by the number of pages in the document. There can be a huge impact for transmission speeds and storage when dealing with color.  However sometimes not all the pages have color, so some clever strategies can get you color when you need it and black and white when you don’t.

Other techniques from viewers such as those from Snowbound break up the pages of a document or multipage bitmap, so that only a single page is downloaded at a time. It may also be possible to choose an optimal format that downloads quickly, when you are scanning or creating the images and documents.  Consulting imaging professionals to optimize the performance and quality of an imaging system ensures implementation of an optimal solution.

Jim Palo