Converting printed documents into digital formats with OCRFeeder (LinuxTag 2011)
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Converting printed documents into digital formats with OCRFeeder (LinuxTag 2011)

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By Joaquim Rocha. ...

By Joaquim Rocha.

Even with all the existing alternatives, nowadays a lot of information is still printed on paper. From historical documents to places that only recently started to use digital documents in their usual workflow, this information is conditioned by the limitations of paper: hard to index and search, risk of deterioration, ecological implications, etc.

Fortunately the state of the art Optical Character Recognition engines, including Free Software solutions, have high success rates in converting printed text into a digital format. However, these command-line tools only convert graphics in text, usually not taking into consideration the layout of the documents analyzed. This means that a regular page with a mixture of text in columns and eventual graphics will be read as if it was only text. There are some solutions that do take into account the structure of the documents besides performing OCR but these are proprietary and commercial and usually do not a version for Linux.

OCRFeeder attempts to solve this problem. It automatically tries to outline the structure of the document (using its own algorithm), detect between graphics and text and performs OCR. Its main exportation format is ODT but it can also export to HTML and save or load projects. It is also possible to use different system-wide OCR engines in the same document and manually override any automatic action (for example, to correct its results, etc.). OCRFeeder is published under GPL v3 and was thought to be used mainly in the GNOME desktop environment and it's developed in its infrastructure. It stands as the only Free Software solution to provide a complete and easy to use graphical user interface application to convert printed documents.

When used with the Orca screen reader, OCRFeeder is also a useful application for the visually impaired since it enables a printed document to be converted and read by Orca. Thus, during 2010, the main focus of OCRFeeder's development was the improvement of its accessibility

Currently, the main features of OCRFeeder are:
- Detection of the contents in a document's page;
- Classification of those contents (graphics or text);
- Deskew of images;
- Importation from a scanner device or PDF;
- Exportation to ODT or HTML;
- Manual edition of any results.
- Save and load projects.

In this presentation I will explain how OCRFeeder's contents detection algorithm works, how a usual workflow to convert a document should be and give an overview of the main features of OCRFeeder with a demo.

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Transcript

  • 1. OCRFeeder static void _f_do_barnacle_install_properties(GObjectClass *gobject_class) { GParamSpec *pspec; /* Party code attribute */ pspec = g_param_spec_uint64 (F_DO_BARNACLE_CODE, "Barnacle code.", "Barnacle code", 0, G_MAXUINT64, G_MAXUINT64 /* default value */, G_PARAM_READABLE | G_PARAM_WRITABLE | G_PARAM_PRIVATE); Converting printed documents into digital formats g_object_class_install_property (gobject_class, F_DO_BARNACLE_PROP_CODE, Joaquim Rocha jrocha@igalia.com Berlin, May 2011
  • 2. What is it? Document Analysis and Optical Character Recognition for GNOME Joaquim Rocha (Igalia) · OCRFeeder · LinuxTag 2011
  • 3. Why? Paper has a number of problems No applications for GNU/Linux to do a fair job Joaquim Rocha (Igalia) · OCRFeeder · LinuxTag 2011
  • 4. Paper problems: Security Joaquim Rocha (Igalia) · OCRFeeder · LinuxTag 2011 CC Photo by: http://www.flickr.com/photos/badwsky/
  • 5. Paper problems: Preservation Joaquim Rocha (Igalia) · OCRFeeder · LinuxTag 2011 CC Photo by: http://www.flickr.com/photos/98469445@N00/
  • 6. Paper problems: Data processing Joaquim Rocha (Igalia) · OCRFeeder · LinuxTag 2011 CC Photo by: http://www.flickr.com/photos/hugovk/
  • 7. Paper problems: Ecology Joaquim Rocha (Igalia) · OCRFeeder · LinuxTag 2011 CC Photo by: http://www.flickr.com/photos/pranavsingh/
  • 8. No fair conversion apps for GNU/Linux apart from OCR engines, but... Joaquim Rocha (Igalia) · OCRFeeder · LinuxTag 2011
  • 9. OCR != Document Conversion (it only deals with chars) (does not consider the layout) (does not distinguish contents) Joaquim Rocha (Igalia) · OCRFeeder · LinuxTag 2011
  • 10. What's needed is Document Analysis and Recognition (conversion of documents to an electronic format) (first projects in the 80s) Joaquim Rocha (Igalia) · OCRFeeder · LinuxTag 2011
  • 11. Where are were we at? * Some closed solutions * Only for proprietary systems * Various prices * still... arguable results Joaquim Rocha (Igalia) · OCRFeeder · LinuxTag 2011
  • 12. How Joaquim Rocha (Igalia) · OCRFeeder · LinuxTag 2011
  • 13. So many layouts... Joaquim Rocha (Igalia) · OCRFeeder · LinuxTag 2011 CC Photo by: http://www.flickr.com/photos/uber-tuber/
  • 14. Layouts vary with the type of document What works on detecting one, won't work on others Joaquim Rocha (Igalia) · OCRFeeder · LinuxTag 2011
  • 15. OCRFeeder focuses on contents, not on layouts! Joaquim Rocha (Igalia) · OCRFeeder · LinuxTag 2011
  • 16. Key concept: If a document image can be divided in windows of 1 (content) or 0 (not content), then it is possible to group all the 1s and outline the contents Joaquim Rocha (Igalia) · OCRFeeder · LinuxTag 2011
  • 17. Joaquim Rocha (Igalia) · OCRFeeder · LinuxTag 2011
  • 18. Recognition: System-wide OCR engines are used Engines are configured from the GUI or XML files Joaquim Rocha (Igalia) · OCRFeeder · LinuxTag 2011
  • 19. Joaquim Rocha (Igalia) · OCRFeeder · LinuxTag 2011
  • 20. Most known free OCR engines are detected and configured automatically: * Tesseract * GOCR * OCRAD * Cuneiform Joaquim Rocha (Igalia) · OCRFeeder · LinuxTag 2011
  • 21. Exportation formats: ODT HTML Plain text Joaquim Rocha (Igalia) · OCRFeeder · LinuxTag 2011
  • 22. User interaction: Users can edit everything and review the algorithm's results So, UI can work in attended and unattended ways CLI only works in an unattended mode Joaquim Rocha (Igalia) · OCRFeeder · LinuxTag 2011
  • 23. Joaquim Rocha (Igalia) · OCRFeeder · LinuxTag 2011
  • 24. Demo time! Joaquim Rocha (Igalia) · OCRFeeder · LinuxTag 2011
  • 25. Other features: * PDF importation * Unpaper preprocessor * Font style edition * Image deskewing * OCR results cleaning * Project saving/loading Joaquim Rocha (Igalia) · OCRFeeder · LinuxTag 2011
  • 26. A11y: * OCRFeeder is a very useful tool for visually impaired users * Last year, the main target of its development was to improve a11y Joaquim Rocha (Igalia) · OCRFeeder · LinuxTag 2011
  • 27. Future: * Integrate Ocropus as an alternative analysis backend * More exportation formats: HOCR, PDF, etc. * Make OCR engines' management easier Joaquim Rocha (Igalia) · OCRFeeder · LinuxTag 2011
  • 28. Webpage: http://live.gnome.org/OCRFeeder git: http://git.gnome.org/ocrfeeder Bugzilla: http://bugzilla.gnome.org product: OCRFeeder Joaquim Rocha (Igalia) · OCRFeeder · LinuxTag 2011
  • 29. Manual in German: http://wiki.ubuntuusers.de/OCRFeeder Joaquim Rocha (Igalia) · OCRFeeder · LinuxTag 2011
  • 30. Thank you! Joaquim Rocha (Igalia) · OCRFeeder · LinuxTag 2011