Atalasoft Offers New View of SharePoint

Atalasoft Inc. is launching a SharePoint plug-in based on the document imaging tooling in its latest SDK. The company released version 7.0 of its flagship toolkit DotImage for .NET in January.

DotImage v7.0 contains AJAX-enabled controls and document and photo imaging APIs for ASP.NET WebForms, Windows Forms and Windows Presentation Foundation. The latest release extends document viewing and annotation capabilities in WPF and on the Web. New AJAX-enabled controls let users draw vector-based annotations -- freehand, polygon and lines -- on document images directly within their browsers, without requiring plug-ins such as Java applets, Adobe Flash or Microsoft Silverlight.

Better support for all formats on the Web was a key goal of this release, according to Lou Franco, Atalasoft's director of engineering. DotImage v7.0 offers enhanced support for DICOM medical imaging and Web-based PDFs with new archiving capabilities (PDF/A), vector-based drawing, and printing on the fly.

New Visual Studio 2008 extensions to build out projects are now available including a wizard for building Web-based projects in VB.NET and C#. The SDK also offers a series of videos to educate developers about how to use the tooling to integrate document imaging technology into applications and enterprise content management systems.

Document Imaging in SharePoint
Atalasoft used DotImage v7.0 and Visual Studio 2008 to build a document viewing app on top of SharePoint. Vizit SP enables SharePoint users to annotate documents (PDF, TIFF, .DOC), view thumbnails, and index or clean up scanned OCR images.

"We came up with this product because we found that a number of our customers were doing things in SharePoint using our viewer," said Rutherford Wilson, Atalasoft's director of product development.

With Vizit SP, end users can annotate content and save it to the document repository without modifying the source information, Wilson explained. Vizit uses the versioning that is already stored in SharePoint.

"The annotations are stored in a separate list as an XML so they are not accessible to metadata as of yet," said Wilson, who expects the 2.0 version to provide that capability.

The SharePoint document viewer can also be used to index multiple images or clean up OCR documents. The explorer enables users to navigate through the SharePoint hierarchy and access other SharePoint sites or document repositories.

SharePoint lends itself to document imaging in part because it is a server-side platform that enables DotImage's "zero footprint" viewer for multiple formats, said Franco, who offers his "top considerations for document imaging in SharePoint" in his blog.

"What Microsoft did with SharePoint is make it possible for any ASP.NET developer to extend SharePoint by providing a very clear cut API for how to develop pages and content in ASP.NET," Franco said. "So SharePoint in a lot of ways is an extension of the ASP.NET model and it fully supports Web controls that support that."

"There are definitely gotchas," he added, especially around deployment. "How you actually get your finished product into every SharePoint smoothly is definitely the most interesting concern for people."

Still largely a departmental play in many organizations, SharePoint remains a hot button among developers and IT. According to Forrester Research, which surveyed 1,017 software decision makers in North America and Europe in late 2007, roughly 65 percent of organizations planned to invest in team collaboration software in 2008, and 74 percent were considering investments in document management software. Microsoft's content management software was the top choice among those surveyed at 23 percent, followed by IBM with 8 percent and Oracle with 5 percent. SharePoint, which supports both collaboration and document management, is the basis of Microsoft's enterprise content management strategy, according to Forrester.

Vizit Previewer, which offers the thumbnail document preview functionality, is free. The full-fledged Vizit SP is licensed per server and per client with a minimum purchase of 1 server and 25 CALs for $4,625. Vizit requires Windows Server 2003 or Windows Server 2008, and Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 or Microsoft SharePoint Server 2007.

The DotImage 7.0 licensing fee structure is available here. The SDK supports Visual Studio 2003 and Visual Studio 2005, in addition to Visual Studio 2008.

About the Author

Kathleen Richards is the editor of and executive editor of Visual Studio Magazine.

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