Of Formats & Fonts – Need to Access Documents Anytime/Anywhere? Yes we can do that…

Efficiently Converting Formats & Accurately Displaying Images for Document Viewing & Processing

After arriving at Snowbound Software, getting to know the products was of course essential, but the real education came with the knowledge of the benefits of their use and how they help so many organizations…

There’s a conversion taking place here…

The ability to quickly and accurately display document and image files with universal document viewers is a boon to business professionals in a wide variety of industries – enabling web viewing of files for streamlined document access, reviewing and processing from virtually anywhere, and thereby enhancing productivity and customer service.

One of the main reasons for the success of this technology is the file conversion taking place behind the scenes. You see, the document viewer’s display depends upon the performance and accuracy of the file conversion technology - to transform myriad document and image formats into universally readable files. And when files are accessed, document and image conversion processes need to be optimized so they can run at peak efficiency to quickly and effectively produce and display the document or image file(s) requested.

The benefits of Snowbound’s document and image file viewing and conversion applications:

  • Universal document & image file viewing – no matter the original file format
  • Streamlined claims and forms processing & workflow via easier data access & collaboration
  • Workflow/processing tools – easy-to-use annotation & redaction to aid productivity
  • Mobile document viewing for on-the-go secure access to information
  • Web portal creation for better customer service
  • Rapid batch conversion for any document and image files:
    • Creation of a user-defined central document repository
    • Enables text searching in archive to easily locate mission-critical documents
  • ECM enhancement:
    • Streamline processing and add review features like annotation & redaction
    • Extend investment/capabilities in existing technology by adding a document viewer
    • Enhance interoperability between disparate enterprise systems

This may seem a bit overwhelming at first, but all of the features and technology behind these benefits tie in together cooperatively, providing a powerful business solution and competitive advantage. Let me explain…

Text Formats – a Font of Knowledge

The key to universal document viewing applications and toolkits is the quick recognition (to enable quick conversion) of various document and image formats like MS Word or Excel, and image files such as TIFF or JPEG, and the responsive and accurate translation of these into a user-friendly display. This is the process that enables virtually any digital file to be converted and viewed via web browser, or a variety of other client/server options including Java and .NET (viewers) and additionally Windows and UNIX (for SDK-based development).

In addition to the dozens of common document and image formats, there are many proprietary ones too. A professional viewing and conversion solution will either be able to support these as well out-of-the-box, or be easily modified to handle any relatively unique formats. One of the keys to the conversion of text files is to, of course, make sure that corresponding fonts are carried over during the transition, and that all characters are recognized and displayed accurately.

Graphical Formats – Image is Everything

Image formats, aside from being converted for universal display, may also be compressed and decompressed to optimize archiving. Image compression is the reduction in size (bytes) of a graphics file to the minimum without degrading the quality of the image to an unacceptable level. Image compression may be lossy or lossless (explained below), and the choice is dependent upon several possible goals including size versus quality when archiving, how accurate the color rendition needs to be on the compressed image and readability if it’s a document. The resulting reduction in file size allows more images to be stored in a given amount of disk space, and reduces download times for Web pages or for files sent over the web.

Lossy compression is a data encoding method that compresses data by discarding, or losing, some of it in order to minimize file size. The JPEG format for example, can lose quite a bit of image color data before a noticeable difference is registered by users. Lossy compression is often used to compress multimedia data like audio (MP3’s), video and still images where the loss won’t be either noticed or an issue. Lossless compression on the other hand is required for text and data files such as bank records, legal documents and text-based articles where there is no tolerance for loss in the file, and image files where fine detail may not be sacrificed – for example in medical images.

Rapid File Conversion – via Viewer or by Batch

As I mentioned earlier, when a file is accessed by a document viewer, it is first converted to a universally readable file for display - for popular formats, although proprietary formats may be supported as well. A full-featured rapid batch conversion application, on the other hand, converts large ‘batches’ of documents from one format into another, creating a universally readable file format archive, to enhance and optimize document workflow, enabling organizations to better process and distribute mission-critical information across the enterprise. How? Some examples:

Healthcare Organizations use batch converters to standardize a wide variety of facility and patient information including medical and financial records, insurance forms, physician’s orders and prescriptions and X-rays.

Banking and Financial Services Institutions rely on batch file conversion for fast and accurate document conversions that speed up the processing of loan applications, mortgage papers, checks and other financial documents because they end up in an easily readable format.

Many in the Insurance Industry have achieved expedited claims processing and enhanced customer service through the ability to easily and quickly handle any kind of claim form or customer correspondence. Insurers are also better equipped to meet compliance demands by maintaining document integrity (as document formatting isn’t altered after legal review and originals aren’t modified as annotations are saved separately) throughout the conversion process.

Government Agencies depend upon quick and accurate conversion for both documents created electronically and those scanned into a document management system. Documents with diverse formats and origins are securely converted, archived and viewed – both for internal use and for viewing by the public on the Web.

The user-defined document archive created as a result of batch file conversion may be formatted into searchable PDF, if text-based to begin with, establishing an easily searched central repository of information – optimal to quickly locate mission-critical documents.

Give & Take – ECM Enhancement & Text Extraction

Deploying an Enterprise Content Management (ECM) system is a major investment in both time and money, and getting the most out of this investment is paramount to most organizations. Implementing document viewing and conversion technology with an enterprise’s ECM extends the systems capabilities – with universal document access, remote viewing, increased throughput, and by leveraging and extending the investment made in legacy systems by integrating current technology. Plus, data stored in multiple locations using disparate systems may be easily accessed via a document viewer – providing users’ with seamless behind-the-scenes access to information.

As organizations archive an ever larger volume of information, frequently certain files are locked when saved to protect their content from unauthorized access and revision, as well an unnecessary duplicate legal review. Text search and extraction enables important content to be located, and displayed without altering the original files stored in the repository. Once the content is displayed in the viewer, the text may be copied for use in database update, publishing or in the creation of a new document.

Document Viewers, Converters & the Document Lifecycle

Document and image files play a pivotal role as the lifeblood of a business’ transactions and as such must be managed and maintained throughout their lifecycle. Viewing and conversion technology helps organizations streamline document processes and best leverage their data resources through each phase – from content access and review – to processing and storage. The addition of document and image viewing and conversion functionality into an organization’s information workflow processes increases efficiency, reduces processing time and simplifies the collaboration process among colleagues.