From paper to PDF in a few easy steps

By Steve Jefferson, InfoWorld |  Software

CONS

-Expensive

-Document recipients require Adobe Acrobat Reader

COST

$1,499

PLATFORMS

Windows NT 4.0 Workstation

Adobe Systems Inc., San Jose, Calif.; (800) 833-6687; www.adobe.com

Adobe designed Messenger to completely take over a Windows NT workstation. While Messenger is running, the Windows desktop is completely hidden, eliminating access to the regular NT environment. This provides straightforward kiosk-like operation to users but means that the cost of the solution includes not only a scanner with an automatic document feeder but also a dedicated PC (minimum requirements are a 400MHz processor, 4GB of drive space, and 128MB of RAM) with NT Workstation on it.

The interface of the program provides an appropriate selection of choices at each action and leads users step by step through the scanning and sending process. There are no pull-down menus; every option is available by simply clicking a button.

When I logged in, I was presented with a big, green Start button and a red Goodbye button. Pressing Start took me to a screen that allowed me to define the particulars of the document I wanted to scan (whether it was black-and-white, double-sided, and so on). I then loaded the document into the scanner and pressed Scan.

After scanning, I was able to proof the document to make sure each page was scanned properly. Editing options include the ability to reshuffle pages, scan new pages and incorporate them, attach voice annotations or sticky notes, and mark up the document with an electronic pencil or stamps, such as draft or confidential.

I tested Messenger using a variety of documents including a highly formatted, 130-page script that included handwritten markups. I used the Fujitsu ScanPartner 600c, one of the scanners recommended by Adobe. Although some pages required multiple tries before scanning properly, the vast majority of pages scanned successfully on the first attempt. I was especially impressed with the OCR software that recognized what I thought were illegible words.

Easy administration

Administration of Messenger is also straightforward. By pressing Ctrl-Alt-Delete, the administrator is presented with a password challenge from Messenger. If answered correctly, Messenger will take the administrator back to the regular NT interface. From there he or she can run Messenger's Java configuration program and specify the length of time documents will stay posted on the Web site, which mail server to use for sending e-mail, and which printer to use.

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