New version of ABBYY FineReader for Mac: without leaving the jungle of complex features

    Recently released a new FineReader for Mac - and it's time to write a few words about it. I admit, I was the first person in the company who decided to completely switch to Mac in his work back in 2006. Before that, ABBYY mainly made products only for Windows, and only a little for other platforms. I then regularly went to the FineReader department and whined that we did not have a normal FineReader for Mac (there was only an outdated version for PowerPC), but then stopped nagging and sat down to program. Since then, a lot of water has flowed, but my effort was not in vain, and started the process of creating updated versions of FineReader for Mac. That is why I breathe very unevenly for this product.

    Fortunately, FineReader for Mac, which is now released, has little to do with what I programmed then. It is stylish, fast and comfortable. It is much more functional than FineReader Express for Mac, which was until now. I will not do a detailed review of the product, because good programs do not benefit from breaking up into pieces, as is customary in the traditional review genre. I’ll just write how, from my point of view, this product differs from its namesake for Windows.

    It differs from the fact that it is simpler (and, to my taste, more elegant). FineReader for Windows is literally packed with features. In the aggregate, they are needed only by advanced users, whom we greatly appreciate and love. But among people who sometimes need to get the text of a document for editing, these advanced users make up only a small part. This is the fate of most mature products: they grow over the years, are filled with features that are no longer possible to get away with, and which may not be used very often, but there are dedicated users who need them, and we are forced to support these features.

    In the Mac version, we had the opportunity to look at the problem with a fresh look, and concentrate on the functionality that most users need, without going too far into the jungle of complex features. The result was a lightweight product with a minimal set of convenient and intuitively simple controls. It looks very Makovsky, and looks a little like his brother for the Windows platform.

    The initial idea was as follows. In itself, the quality of OCR on modern documents is such that recognition errors of the text stream itself are very rare, unless the original image is really bad. However, with a complex layout, in the case of all kinds of tricky tables, images with a complex contour, document analysis errors occur that lead to hard-to-fix defects at the output. Therefore, first of all, the user needs tools to improve the picture itself, if there are problems with it, as well as correcting the results of the analysis of the location of information on the page.

    It is these two components that were added primarily in FineReader. Well, there is a convenient tool for working with a document: deleting and adding pages, rearranging pages, etc.

    As a result, even if the system did not guess how the text is located in your complex document, with little effort you can help it get a high-quality result.

    True, I still lack one important function in the new product. And not just me, judging by user reviews. There is not enough ability to work with the received text inside the product. True, in the question of how this function should be implemented, opinions were divided. There is a traditional implementation, as is done in the Windows version of FineReader, using the built-in editor. This approach has existed since time immemorial. I do not really like this idea, and I will try to give my reasons.

    The fact is that the built-in editor, no matter how perfect it is, is not able to compete with the same Microsoft Word or LibreOffice in terms of the completeness of the text display. And this means that by making more or less complicated edits in the text, you run the risk of finally breaking it, when loaded into an external editor, it will float, becoming completely unlike the original, and considerable efforts may be required to restore formatting. And why, generally speaking, do you need to make such complex edits in FineReader itself? The only reason to edit the text inside the OCR product is because it is possible to quickly compare specific words with their images in the source text to make sure that there are no errors. Any complex formatting changes are best done where you will prepare the final document.

    Therefore, from my point of view, no full-fledged editor is needed in FineReader for Mac. All that is needed is a convenient speller, showing the user dubious and non-dictionary words along with an image of the neighborhood of the word being checked in the original image. But this is my point of view. If it prevails, then such a feature may appear in FineReader for Mac relatively quickly.

    I would like to hear your opinions in the comments.

    Aram Pakhchanyan,
    Director of Data Entry Product Department

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