In a Mobile, Cloud-Connected, Browser-Based World, We Need TWAIN Direct

A standard protocol for scanning in the future



Lee Davis


Applications rely on image capture APIs like TWAIN, ISIS, WIA, SANE, and ICA to acquire images from scanners. Which API is used depends on a few factors, like the operating system and scanner being used (and the APIs it supports) to capture images. This would not be a big problem if we all used the same equipment and operating system, but this is not the case in the real world—especially now when your stance on Mac vs. PC can be a defining aspect of your personality. You are going to encounter a wide range of equipment and operating systems (and egos). This does not make it impossible to develop applications that will be supported by several hardware vendors and operating systems, but it does increase the amount of time spent coding and testing.



TWAIN Direct eliminates these problems by providing developers and hardware manufacturers with a universal image acquisition platform that works seamlessly with the technology that customers prefer. A zero-footprint protocol, TWAIN Direct enables web-based applications to detect and drive network-connected scanners, as well as acquire PDF/raster documents from them, regardless of the operating system and without the need to install and manage specific drivers. TWAIN Direct also enables scanners to communicate wirelessly with PCs, laptops, and mobile devices (also without the need to install drivers/utilities), allowing workers to use the technology the prefer to get the job done.


Benefits of TWAIN Direct: Hardware Manufacturers

One of the stated goals of the TWAIN Working Group (TWG) is to “replace existing scanner APIs as the preferred method of image output control.” According to TWG, OEMs spend a lot of time and resources developing and supporting the drivers that are integral to passing images to applications. So, by relegating the image acquisition duties once handled by constantly changing drivers to a common protocol, OEMs can refocus those resources from developing and supporting drivers to developing new features and supporting bigger problems.


OEMs that embrace TWAIN Direct can also position themselves as a flexible partner to solutions providers that need to place scanners at the front end of paper-intensive processes targeted for digital transformation. TWAIN Direct-enabled scanners can fit into any environment and give OEMs a leg up in the solutions provider community since they can be easily integrated into customized scanning applications. This can be big for helping solutions providers land prospects that are on the fence as well as tricky accounts with a funky RFP.


Benefits of TWAIN Direct: Software Developers

TWAIN Working Group, the consortium of developers and scanner OEMs that developing TWAIN Direct, said it developed TWAIN Direct with developers in mind. The greatest benefit is the time and energy saved. With TWAIN Direct, you only have to develop once to support all environments, and you don’t have to continually certify new hardware as it is released. TWAIN Direct also makes it easy for developers to integrate scanning hardware into their applications. Developers can use the coding languages they prefer, and they don’t have to struggle with SDKs/APIs from OEMs or create connectors that work with OEM-specified language.


One Protocol

Traditional APIs were developed long before we became married to our cellphones and lifted all our infrastructure to the cloud. But now that we live in a hyper-mobile, cloud-connected, browser-based world, these legacy image acquisition technologies are inhibiting our ability to get the most out of our technology investments. TWAIN Direct will be an integral component in the evolution of scanning, providing OEMs and developers with a flexible and persistent interface between hardware and software.


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