XVScan

I did a search on DejaNews (http://www.dejanews.com/) while researching this review, to see if I could find any negative comments people had posted to Usenet about XVScan. I couldn't find any.
  • Manufacturer: tummy.com, ltd.

  • Phone: 970-223-8215; Fax: 408-490-2728

  • E-Mail/URL: xvscan@tummy.com

  • URL: http://www.tummy.com/xvscan/

  • Price: $50 US for ftp or e-mail shippingAdditional $15 US for media in the United States$25 US internationally

  • Platforms: Linux, HP-UX, BSD/OS, FreeBSD, SunOS and Solaris

  • Reviewer: Michael Montoure

I'm a little biased—I had been happily using John Bradley's xv image manipulation software long before I ever heard of XVScan. So when I heard that someone had added the ability to acquire images from an HP ScanJet scanner to xv, I was immediately intrigued. Sean Reifschneider, who wrote the software, posted the following message to comp.os.linux.hardware in 1995:

When I first got the ScanJet I wrote a hpscanpbm (I don't think the real one was available then, and anyway, it only took 4 hours) that I used for a couple of months until I could get the time to write something better.

The end result is “XVScan”, a scanning extension to XV. While the “hpscanpbm” worked okay, this is about a thousand times better. I mean, I used to do the scan, load it into xv, and maybe I'd have to tweak, re-load, etc... Now I can just scan directly into XV.

Now, if you've never used xv, you might not understand my enthusiasm for it; it is, after all, a simple, straightforward tool. It certainly isn't in the same league as PhotoShop, but it's good at what it does—reading and writing files in a dozen different formats, window capturing, color-map editing, cropping and some fairly interesting image manipulation algorithms. In short, while it may not have all the fancy bells and whistles, it does have those things I use on a regular basis when manipulating images.

Installation

XVScan should run with any version of Linux—it's been tested with the 1.2.x and 2.0.x kernels, but it hasn't been tested with MkLinux yet. (Mac users—if you try this and get it to work, let tummy.com know—they're interested.) XVScan requires built-in generic SCSI driver support—no earlier than version 1.1.79. You don't need Motif, and you can use any version of XFree (X11R5, X11R6).

If you're not running Linux, you can also run XVScan under HP-UX, BSD/OS, FreeBSD, SunOS and Solaris—although if you're using Solaris and require SG, the generic pass-through SCSI driver, there is an extra charge.

XVScan was installed by Peter Struijk, one of SSC's Systems Administrators, before I started using it. A few minutes of looking through the documentation for XVScan makes installation seem easy, as Peter confirmed.

There's a setup program, used by the INSTALL-xvscan script, that searches your hardware for a scanner—namely, a SCSI ScanJet scanner, the only type XVScan can currently use. If one is found, the script creates the /dev/scanjet device file. Seems straightforward to me. In the Linux version, if XVScan can't find a scanner attached to the SCSI chain, you can still use the regular xv functions—just the scanning is disabled. Peter tells me the only tricky business is to remember that if in the future you change any of your SCSI devices, you must rerun this setup program; otherwise, XVScan will no longer be able to find the scanner.

Some users, apparently, even pick up XVScan just to have an easy-to-install, pre-built copy of xv. This makes sense when you consider that the $50 price tag includes the $25 xv license fee, it's distributed with full source code and updates are free for the first year.

Getting Started

When I first started up XVScan, my first thought was, “This looks exactly like xv”--and it does. Only when you look at the Control menu do you notice the addition of a Scanner button that, when clicked, brings up the scanning window in which the scanned image is displayed. Other differences are even less apparent. Another change from the normal release of xv are the defaults used when XVScan starts.

By default, XVScan turns on -nolimits, which lets images be larger than your screen—sometimes much, much larger. I suppose I can see the point of doing this, but I found it annoying not to have the image appear as a small, convenient window I could easily move around on my screen.

On the other hand, the other default it changes is that -rwcolor--read/write color entries—is set “on” at startup. Thus, any color editing I do to the image happens in real time, without having to manually Apply changes. That's kind of nice—I like it.

According to the documentation, both of these default options can be disabled. The documentation is handled nicely. When you click on the scanning window's Help button, it automatically launches a web browser that points at the on-line documentation at http://www.tummy.com/xvscan/. Therefore, you never have to remember their URL, and you don't have to keep a copy of their documentation on your hard drive. Of course, if you don't have an Internet connection up all the time, you might not find this so convenient.

The scanning window can be a little daunting to a first-time user, as you're immediately presented with a display of options, controls and buttons (see Figure 1). I suppose that's unavoidable for a program this flexible, but at first I was a little worried about the program's apparent complexity.

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