TWAIN Direct Standard Promises Easy Scanning for Every Application

The TWAIN Working Group is introducing a new image acquisition technology standard for application developers and scanner manufacturers that streamlines communication between scanners and software through the cloud or over a network without requiring vendor-specific drivers.

TWAIN, a nonprofit organization representing the imaging industry, has been providing a free standard for this crucial interaction since the early 1990s to enable seamless communication between scanners, digital cameras and software. Member companies include Alaris, Visioneer, ABBYY, Fujitsu, InoTec, Panasonic, HP, Epson and Microtek among others.

It’s latest free protocol, TWAIN Direct, is a “zero-footprint,” mobile-ready standard that speeds up the development of applications accessing scanners – a simple and flexible platform for easy integration from a hardware and application standpoint.

Cutting down on development time and allowing developers to maintain a universal integration to discover and drive network-connected image acquisition devices means more feature-rich experiences for end users and more options for developers.

Applications can now connect to any network scanning device and can be compiled into a complete PDF document versus scanned image data that, in the past, would need further image processing from an external application. The devices can then be managed from web-based apps, using a common user interface and device feature set.

TWAIN Direct makes scanned documents immediately available to any local client or cloud-based app and is operating system and platform independent. No more development or support costs for scanner drivers means less time and money invested and fewer service calls to resolve.

For years, developers had to choose which image capture API to use in order to “image-enable” an application – usually either TWAIN, WIA, ISIS, SANE or ICA. And this decision was almost always dictated by the operating systems and the APIs supported by the scanner hardware – a real pain for developers looking to switch to different operating systems or install the latest scanner models.

“Now, using the TWAIN Direct specification, developers have a protocol to allow their applications to communicate with the scanners without the need for proprietary scanner drivers regardless of operating systems,” according to the TWAIN Direct website. “The TWAIN Direct initiative is designed to minimize the coding required to support fully featured image capture solutions in developer applications.”

The TWAIN Direct standard reduces development time from weeks to days, supports modern programming languages, and clears the way for better user experience with a full feature set suited for any application. Developers already using TWAIN Classic drivers can take advantage of TWAIN Direct features immediately.

TWAIN Direct officially launched today and the TWAIN Working Group has already completed its development of the TWAIN Direct standard for early adopters. To get an early sneak peek of the current sample code and support, users need to be a member of the TWAIN Working Group as either a board or associate member. You get access to the technical details as well as an opportunity to weigh-in with suggestions to further improve the standard.

The rise of edge computing and IoT devices and applications, particularly within the document imaging and management sector, has increased the need for testing and certifying compatible products – a time-consuming and often expensive task that’s unavoidable in these data-rich environments. With TWAIN Direct, developers will only need to incorporate the pre-built code into their applications – allowing any TWAIN Direct-enabled hardware to be operated.

“TWAIN Direct provides an actual Raster PDF document which eliminates the need for a capture application to convert scanned image data into a file, which is how documents are currently acquired,” according to the organization’s website.

The standard is designed to operate network-based devices. USB-connected scanners can be TWAIN Direct-enabled by connecting to a front-end PC running an application called TWAIN Bridge, making the scanner appear to the network as a fully accessible TWAIN Direct network scanner.

Information and download of the TWAIN Direct specification and tools can be found at

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is president and senior analyst for BPO Media, which publishes The Imaging Channel and Workflow magazines. As a market analyst and industry consultant, Ames has worked for prominent consulting firms including KPMG and has more than 15 years experience in the imaging industry covering technology and business sectors. Ames has lived and worked in the United States, Southeast Asia and Europe and enjoys being a part of a global industry and community.