Nuance – PaperPort 12 Professional review

document management with OCR
Photo of Nuance – PaperPort 12 Professional
£72

PaperPort has the consumer-level document management market pretty much to itself. There are more sophisticated, dedicated systems available for corporate customers, but they attract corporate-level prices. PaperPort 12, the latest incarnation of the program, costs under £80 and still aims to take the pain out of scanning paper documents, converting them to something more electronically useful and organising their filing.

Using PaperPort 12 is as intuitive as with earlier versions of the software. Any document the program knows about or has created is shown as a miniature thumbnail of its first page. Double-clicking on one opens an appropriate viewer to show it at full size.

Dragging a thumbnail over one of the application icons at the bottom of the PaperPort screen opens the document in that application, converting the format as necessary. So, for example, if you drag a thumbnail over the Acrobat or Word icon, it’s converted to PDF or DOC format. This all happens transparently, thanks to the inclusion of Nuance’s own PDF creation application, which supports versions of PDF up to 1.7 and the PDF/A standard.

Conversions of test documents to both PDF and Word documents went well, maintaining most of their original formatting and providing searchable – ie OCR’d – text, which can also be edited. Nuance’s PDF viewer is included with PaperPort 12 and is quicker and more versatile than Adobe Reader.

To make more of its PDF capabilities, Nuance has enhanced Form Typer, an extension to PaperPort which converts paper forms into electronic ones. It’s supposed to do it automatically and to recognise text fields and check boxes (by their size). When we tried, the automated conversion was less than perfect, but you can adjust the size, shape and type of the fields to tailor them to the paper layout.

Another clever trick PaperPort 12 can perform is to take photographs of printed pages and correct them for skew in 3D, so you can take those microfilms of stolen plans and convert them into editable text, too.

Document management has also been improved by the ability to create PDFs from disparate documents so you can, for example, combine a Word document, an Excel spreadsheet and JPG photographs into a single PDF.

At a more business level, the new program also includes integration with Microsoft’s SharePoint corporate document manager, so you can send scanned pages directly to that system. It’s useful if you need to integrate a PaperPort archive with SharePoint managed folders.

Company: Nuance

Contact: 01483 794444


Verdict
PaperPort 12 remains the best consumer and small business document management application and the new features are both well-integrated and useful extensions of what the program could do before. It's strengths are its OCR engine and its PDF handling. It's easy to use and the interface is more intuitive than before, making it good value for anybody who has to handle a lot of paper-based documents.