Nothing makes for a better review than when it’s used in the real world for a practical purpose. Exactly what’s happened to me this last week. I’ve had OCR apps for my iPhone and whilst theyre fine for a quick capture, this project needed something meatier.
Poised with a rather unpleasant task of working on a clients website ABBYY has saved my sanity and hours upon hours of typing.
A client decided they wanted their entire menu selection for their restaurant to made available on their website. There’s 300 individual line items that would have needed typing if not for ABBYY FineReader. Of course they didn’t have a text copy of the menu to hand.
This could of taken many, many hours to type up and make sure that everything is spelt properly. All I can say is thank god for FineReader Pro 12 for Mac.
Getting started is easy, either choose from an existing image or pull in one from your scanner. I’ve tried FineReader Pro with a Cannon MG series printer which allows for wireless scanning and it worked flawlessly. Once the image has been imported Abbyy will go off and start doing it’s recognition thing.
Not all sources are flat, pictures created equal and quite often theres some perspective skew which normally happens when you take a picture of a page with your phone.
All of these work against OCR and getting decent results. Thankfully there’s a whole host of options such as correcting perspective, cropping and adjusting colors to tweak according to the source.
It’s good to know if you were working of an image that look like a book being pushed down on the photocopier there’s options to cope with that.
After the image is scanned or loaded ABBYY FineReader spends a fair amount of time analysing the image for sections and areas. These get broken down into things like images, cells, pictures and a few other options.
For the most part and given the quality of the source I’ve been working with, FineReader did a spot on job getting things right.
Handy hint: Make sure you scan at a resolution of > 120 dpi when you can so it’s got the best chance to survive.
There’s plenty of tools to ensure you capture what you want and in the right areas and if you only want one small section then you can manually drag out a rectangle for that section. In this instance I just drew the outline around the main items to make the recognition part quicker.
Setting type or areas, or at least checking them is a worthy use of time as not only does it produce better output results based on the type of content in that area but makes the process more efficient.
On the menu there were very small chili icons that FineReader would confuse for a text.
Adding and splitting cells will be most handy for those scanning from spreadsheets. Abbyy will happily spit out your OCR results to Pages, Number, PDF etc.
Out of the box areas are selected and placed into order of which they are recognised and ultimately output but you can re order those selections. So if you scan a newspaper article you could re order the scanning areas to make sure you get the article all in one, rather than doing a copy and paste to move the text around.
Given the price and flexability of the software there’s really no need to look for an alternative. Sure in a world of cut price apps this might “seem” expensive but if you look at the hours it’ll save you, it’ll return it’s investment in no time at all.
ABBYY FineReader Pro for Mac is £79 directly from the Abbyy website.