Much to my surprise, I had a good experience with the new version of Paperport today. Many of its prior failings have been cured.

Paperport is an inexpensive document manager. Small businesses and consumers can scan documents and use Paperport to keep them organized and accessible. It has a link to Outlook, to attach a document to an e-mail message; a link to Word that performs OCR on the document and converts it to editable text; and other links for printing, faxing, opening a scan into an image editor, and the like.

Paperport has traditionally been buggy and its parent company seems always to be on the verge of bankruptcy. As near as I can tell, those things are still true. There’s lots of online gossip about bugs in this new version.

But I didn’t run into any bugs today – smooth sailing to install it and test it. And there are some very appealing things about it now.

With this version, Paperport’s native file format is Adobe’s Acrobat format, .PDF. It converts scanned images to .PDF files as well as converting documents on disk. If I understand right, Paperport’s more expensive “corporate” edition also lets you “print” to PDF files straight from other applications, just as Adobe Acrobat does.

Paperport previously used a proprietary format, creating the risk that the files would become useless if the company failed. By licensing the right to use PDF formatted files, that concern is eliminated – PDF files will be supported forever.

And Paperport now creates files on disk with names matching the names used to identify the files within Paperport, making it possible to find your documents even if you stop using Paperport in the future.

I’ve steered people away from Paperport in the past, but this makes it a much tougher call. If the bugs don’t bite, this could be a darned helpful program in many offices.

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