scanner: Agfa Snapscan e52
Optical Character Recognition: ABBYY FineReader 4.0 Professional.
Word processing: OpenOffice.org2.0


The story so far...


Until I started this project, my office suite of choice was Lotus SmartSuite, but ABBYY FineReader just didn't integrate properly with it. I tried to use MS Word (Office 97) but I couldn't get the master document feature to work properly. (see here for a discussion of this problem.) So I ended up with the whole manual as a single document. I persevered, but eventually the complexity of the document took it's toll and Word crashed while saving to the back up file. The working copy was also still open when the crash occurred and from then on Word refused to open either copy.

A quick internet search suggested OpenOffice might rescue the file, so I downloaded and installed the latest version. It not only opened the corrupted file but rendered it more or less as it should have looked. Saving it back to Word's doc format wasn't so successful but this was a good thing since I was forced to explore the capabilities of Writer (the OpenOffice word processor component).

It turned out to be ideal for this project.

  • The master document feature works. (very well!) This allows me to have a separate file for each chapter while still controlling page numbering, layout and styles in a single document.
  • Styles can be applied to characters not just paragraphs. Ideal for things like diagram reference letters etc.
  • It has integrated PDF creation capabilities cutting out the need for a 3rd party solution.


Note: I was working with out of date versions of MS software and the latest releases may work perfectly. ;-)