DjVu Product Fall Roundup
A report by James Rile, PlanetDjVu, September 7, 2002
Summer has ended now, and as we head into the Fall, we have decided to report on the status of DjVu software applications and products that are commercially available for your use in creating and using DjVu document collections.
Unfortunately, it is not a very encouraging picture. DjVu products that were previously available from LizardTech have disappeared, to replaced last June by the announcement of new "Document Express" DjVu products. The new Document Express products appear to be unavailable. No prices, ordering instructions, detailed descriptions or trial downloads are available at the LizardTech website or anywhere else.
JRA has produced three new DjVu products, JRAPublish, JRAMetamaker and JRMD Library, but these are not released yet because of licensing complications.
Bottom Line - there are no DjVu encoding or editing products on the market today. Not much of a "round-up", sorry to say!
You can still get an introduction to DjVu encoding, as we wait for DjVu products to again become available, by making DjVu files on the Any2DjVu conversion server hosted by the original DjVu format authors, and then viewing these with the DjVu Web Brower Plugin.
DjVu Products from LIZARDTECH:
Document Express Workgroup or Professional Edition / DjVu Solo 3.1 / DjVu Shop 2.0
This is the Windows desktop application for creating and editing DjVu files. It is not currently available, but it may become available again in the fall from LizardTech, and it may become available directly from PlanetDjVu.
A little history is in order. This product was released as "DjVu Shop", prior to the sale of DjVu technology by AT&T to LizardTech. In September, 2000, it was upgraded and renamed by LizardTech as "DjVu Solo 3.1". It was offered as a free download without OCR for non-commercial use, and was sold by LizardTech with OCR for commercial use, for $299.
In June 2002, DjVu Solo 3.1 was pulled from the market, and the free non-commercial download was removed from the LizardTech website, with no explanation given. It appears that there will no longer be a free non-commercial product download, but we were unable to verify this with LizardTech.
We understand that the DjVu Solo 3.1 application is forming the basis for the Document Express Desktop Edition and Document Express Professional Edition products from LizardTech. We have listed what we know about these upgraded and renamed applications in the Products section of PlanetDjVu.
Document Express Desktop edition will add the Virtual Print Driver to the product, which will enable you to "print to DjVu" from any desktop application. We had hoped to prepare a review of this application at PlanetDjVu, but have been unable to obtain an evaluation copy for this purpose.
This product has always had the potential to be the kind of low-cost, mass-market application that Acrobat is for PDF, but this never happened. Now it is apparently off the market altogether.
If you are looking for an introduction to DjVu encoding, we suggest that you try the "Any2DjVu" online conversion server (link to it from the home page of PlanetDjVu). If you will search for "DjVu Solo 3.1" in Google, you also might find a couple of websites still innocently offering a download of this non-commercial product.
Document Express Workgroup Edition / DjVu Workgroup 3.0
This is a Windows GUI application for DjVu encoding. It permits up to 9 watched folders to be defined for drag-n-drop encoding. DjVu Workgroup 3.0 was first released by LizardTech in March, 2001, then recalled and re-released in July, 2001.
In June, 2002, DjVu Workgroup 3.0 was pulled from the market without explanation. In September, Document Express Workgroup Edition is still not listed as a product on the LizazrdTech website, but we are informed that it will be listed.
Document Express Enterprise Edition / Document Express Service Bureau Edition / DjVu Enterprise / DjVu Bitonal Enterprise / DjVu Command Line Encoder / DjVu Bitonal Command Line Encoder
This is the multi-OS command-line encoding tool that was first introduced by AT&T Labs as "DjVu Command Line Encoder" and "DjVu Bitonal Command Line Encoder". LizardTech later renamed these applications to "DjVu Enterprise" and "DjVu Bitonal Enterprise".
In June, 2002, these products were pulled from the market without explanation. We understand that the replacements are now called "Document Express Enterprise Edition" and "Document Express Service Bureau Edition". The "bitonal-only" product has been dropped.
This is a command-line application, meaning that it has no GUI interface. This is great if you are building a shell script for batch execution, but is not suitable if you need an "out-of-box" solution.
Virtual Print Driver
The Virtual Print Driver is a Windows print driver with which you can print any digital file to DjVu. It is announced that this will be part of the Document Express Desktop Edition. This sounds like a great way to turn graphically-rich files like Quark or Pagemaker files to DjVu. Although the techonology was developed by AT&T Labs over two years ago, it has not yet been introduced. Also, we at JRAPublish have repeatedly requested an evaluation copy, most recently for this article, and have been turned down each time by LizardTech. We have never even seen an example output file! So this technology remains a "virtual" mystery to us.
This is an application for converting digital PDF files to DjVu files. It is tightly coupled with Ghostscript. We had the opportunity to test a prototype of this application a year ago, and it looked very promising. Today, it is announced by LizardTech as an add-on module for Document Express Enterprise Edition.
It is unclear how it integrates with Enterprise Edition as a "module", since Enterprise Edition has a command-line interface and PDF-to-DjVu ha (had) a GUI interface. It is unclear why you must first purchase Enterprise Edition before purchasing the PDF-to-DjVu module. It is unclear whether you will have to pay "by the page" using the Express Cartridge Manager. We were unable to get answers to these questions from LizardTech.
This is an application for editing individual DjVu files. The DjVu Editor 3.0 was bundled in the past with the DjVu Workgroup and DjVu Enterprise products from LizardTech. Today, this product is no longer available and LizardTech declines to comment on what happened to it.
DjVu Products from JRA:
JRAPublish - for DjVu
This is a Windows GUI application for DjVu encoding, DjVu metadata creation and dual PDF creation. Details and the full Help File are available for review in the Products section of this website. This application uses the ABBYY Finereader OCR engine, which supports 176 languages. It supports DjVu embedded metadata creation for JRASearch. The status of this application is "finished". It is not released for Djvu because of licensing complications with LizardTech. It IS available now for searchable-image PDF file creation.
JRASearch - for DjVu
This is a Windows Web-Server application for the hosting of DjVu document collections with Search Term Highlighting and Hit Page Downloading. See the numerous live demonstrations from the JRASearch Demonstration Page. This application is available now for DjVu, PDF, HTML, and XML formats.
JRAMetamaker - for DjVu
This is a Windows Web-Server application for adding embedded metadata (index fields) to DjVu files. See the live demonstation. Embedded metadata is stored in the JRMD text chunk of DjVu files, following the standards defined by JRA, supported by JRASearch and published here. This application uses the JRMD Library, which is a COM component used for updating DjVu files on the web-server. Unfortunately, JRMD Library is not available due to licensing complications with LizardTech concerning the use of the DjVu Reference Library, so it is available today only for the PDF file format.
This is a COM component for Windows web-servers that can read and write the following in DjVu files: Metadata (index fields), Annotations (comments), Bookmark structures. It is compiled with elements of the DjVu Reference Library, which are not yet licensed from LizardTech, so this product is not commercially available yet.
We will update this "fall roundup" as soon as there are some DjVu products to "round up"! Hopefully this is soon. We are waiting for our new reseller agreement, and further information and announcements about the Document Express product line.