Endorsing Scan Tailor

Monday, 9 Mar 2015

I can never quite believe how phenomenal this application is. It feels like magic. Like what using computers should be like.

This is what it’s for:

An interactive post-processing tool for scanned pages. It performs operations such as page splitting, deskewing, adding/removing borders, and others. You give it raw scans, and you get pages ready to be printed or assembled into a PDF or DJVU file.

Emphasis mine.

It doesn’t try to create perfect documents automatically. It does an astonishing first pass, actually, but that still has many so-so guesses – far from perfect. The automation is not magic. (Or maybe, is only minor magic.) Even so, this first pass is very valuable, because you get to edit a passable starting point, rather than having to do the entire job from scratch. For this editorial work, the program gives you a range of image processing algorithms tailored very specifically for the job, using UI controls that are cast exactly in terms of your senses.

And therein lies the magic. If you have ever whittled away at some menial task using an inadequate tool, then switched to the right one for the job, you’ll know the feeling – suddenly it gets easier so much, it’s as though you were cheating. But the outcome is still entirely of your doing. This is what’s going on here – just drastically amplified by the fact that the material used to fashion the tool is not simple wood or metal but a general purpose computer.

A bicycle for the mind… and the hands of a craftsman.

You start with a dog’s breakfast of a scan, and you get yourself a document that looks like it came out of a vector graphics program – because that’s what the computer makes you capable of doing.