ColorWorks Twain Scanner Plug-In - by John Dierdorf

Twain for OS/2 ColorWorks Scanner Plug-In and Consumer Driver Pack Bundle. This is the unwieldy name for a two-diskette package from Solution Technology, Inc. adding scanner capability to OS/2.

Installation

The first diskette is their Twain Scanner Driver package, which allows OS/2 access to several brands of scanners attached via a SCSI interface or otherwise. (Check STI's web page for a complete list of supported and to-be-supported scanners.) Installation is simple; the end result is a new directory called x:\STI and two new lines in your CONFIG.SYS. Any Twain-enabled application should then be able to use the scanner; examples of such are the latest version of PMView as well as STI's own Applause and Review.

The second disk in the package makes ColorWorks Twain-enabled via a plug-in module; installation is equally simple.

I purchased the bundle from J3 Computer Technologies and installed it on a brand-new Simply Intelligent Pro-200 system (preloaded with Warp 4) with my old HP IIc scanner attached to a Tekmar PCI SCSI controller. There were a couple of minor glitches in my installation -- the included READ.ME file refers to hardcopy documentation that is not, in fact, provided, and a diskette file was somehow misnamed -- but otherwise installation pretty much consisted of typing "A:INSTALL" twice. (STI responded in a matter of hours to my e-mail about the discrepancies.)

Features

I'm a semipro portrait photographer, and I've now used PMView (v0.93), ColorWorks (v2.0), and Galleria (v2.31) to scan many of my photographs. After installing the Twain driver both PMView and ColorWorks will have an "Acquire" option enabled in their FILE drop-down menu; in either program selection of that option will bring up STI's dialog box (GIF, 11k) where the user can set up the type (Color Photo or Drawing, B&W or B&W halftone, 16 or 256-color grey), resolution, brightness and contrast corrections, and the dimensions of the object to be scanned. Clicking the "Scan" button causes the program to work exactly as advertised; the resulting file will be displayed, can be manipulated by PMView or ColorWorks, and then can be saved in any supported format -- TIF, GIF, BMP, JPG, etc.

My only real WIBNI ("wouldn't it be nice if...") for the STI driver is if its dialog box included the ability to preview and pre-crop an image to be scanned. It can be done, because Galleria, even though using the STI drivers, provides its own dialog box (GIF, 55k) with just that capability. In the illustration, only the selected area of the preview will be scanned. This is very handy when you are only interested in a small area in the middle of an 8.5 x 11 page; with PMView or ColorWorks you're pretty well stuck with scanning the entire page into a multi-megabyte file and then cropping afterwards. (STI indicates that preview capability is under consideration for a future release.)

Performance

One other observation: Don't plan on doing much else while you're waiting for a scan to complete. The scanning software is an incredible CPU hog; even my Pentium Pro 200 slows to a crawl until a scan ends. (STI also said they're working on a multi-threaded SCSI driver for the TWAIN data source to alleviate the resource-grabbing.)

Conclusions

I'm very satisfied with the STI bundle; it does what it's supposed to do, cleanly and efficiently. If I'm just trying to scan a quick image to add to a web page, I tend to use Galleria because of the preview capability. PMView gives better color-correction options, and of course, if image touch up or all-out manipulation is needed, the impressive bulk of ColorWorks looms comfortably in the background. (Color correction will be part of the TWAIN data sources in the future to give almost automatic and better color. For now, stable working drivers are top priority at STI.)

The bundle as described (Twain driver and ColorWorks plug-in) is available for US$79 from J3 or Indelible Blue, among others. Note that if you own STI's Applause or Review then you already have the Twain driver and only need the plug-in to add ColorWorks scanning abilities; that half costs US$49. If you don't own ColorWorks (you should!) then the Twain driver to enable PMView and Galleria also costs US$49 by itself. In all fairness and with the recent reductions in the price of ColorWorks, it seems somewhat odd that the plug-in is half the cost of ColorWorks v2.0 itself but still a fair deal.


 * ColorWorks Twain Scanner Plug-In
by Solution Technology, Inc.
MSRP: US$79 (driver and plug in)
MSRP: US$49 (plug in only)
MSRP: US$49 (driver pack only)
John Dierdorf wrote his first program on a UNIVAC I. After almost 30 years with IBM, he figured out that academia is a much easier racket and now teaches Computer Science at Huston-Tillotson College in Austin, TX. He is a founder of the Central Texas PC User Group and its OS/2 SIG and is the group Sysop. At last count he was in charge of 26 PCs, all running Warp 3 or 4.

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