Saturday, 23 July 2011

VelOCRaptor v Lion

Some of you will no doubt have noticed that VelOCRaptor does not work under Mac OS X 10.7. The GUI is fine, but the code that writes PDF's crashes.

I've spent some frustrating hours on this, and it seems to be a bug in a particular framework that Apple ships with Mac OS, but which now doesn't work on Lion. Unfortunately, despite shipping this framework (RubyCocoa), Apple don't offer support for it, and I can't find any simple work-around.

I'm working on the non-simple work-around, but I'm also very busy with other commitments and a holiday with my family. Please watch this space for news.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Wither VelOCRaptor?

VelOCRaptor isn't exactly chasing down its prey at the moment!

I've been waiting 18 months now for a new release of the OCRopus engine. In the meantime my day job has become a stupidly hectic in the past 9 months, so I haven't had the chance to devote time to other features that might make up for the lack of engine progress.

Some day I'll find a little time to devote to the app, maybe publish in the app store, but at the moment I'm afraid it's all I can manage to keep up with the support emails.

Friday, 12 February 2010

Version 1.2

It's been very quiet on the VelOCRaptor front recently, as I have had to concentrate on another project to feed my family, and we are still waiting (patiently) for the much-vaunted next release of our OCRopus engine.

In the meantime, I finally got round to adding a checkbox that disables the spell checking. Our first preference!

In order to improve the quality of the output, I run the OCR'd text through the Mac spill chequer, replacing mis-spells with it's top suggestion. This works well for most documents, but can give hilariously bad results on other.

If you're reading a document that is not in the same language as your Mac, or that doesn't really contain words (someone recently sent me DNA sequence data - I hope they didn't need 100% accuracy before starting that gene-therapy) then try turning spell checking off to improve the results.

Friday, 11 September 2009

Version 1.1 Released

A fortnight after the release of Snow Leopard we have finally finished working through the issues and are very pleased to be able to publish VelOCRaptor v1.1. It is available for immediate download, and should auto-update from previous versions.

For the record, VelOCRaptor had 2 major issues under Snow Leopard.
  • Our PDFs rendered only part of the page - this was due to the 64-bitness of 10.6, and was the real show-stopper
  • When you came to save the PDF, it complained that 'The location of the document <>.pdf cannot be determined' and offered to let you Save As. This was caused by the way we attempted to have one document which started life as an image file and ended up as a PDF file. The bodge to make that work was fine on Leopard, but Snow Leopard turned out more finickity.

If you have been waiting for Snow Leopard support, we're sorry it took so long, and as compensation we're shipping a bonus Automator action. This makes it easy to use VelOCRaptor as part of your workflow - we hope it comes in handy.

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Snow Leopard

Sometimes, no, come to think of it, often, I believe that Apple is actively hostile to developers on its platform. So it is with releasing Snow Leopard early. It's all very well showing off, but this one single act is farting in the direction of the little guys like us. I'm stuck on holiday - Snow Leopard will be released tomorrow, and I simply don't know whether VelOCRaptor will work or not :-(

So if there are problems with VelOCRaptor and your shiny new OS, I'm really sorry. I, in common with most Mac shops I think, had planned to spend September making sure that everything was hunky-dory. I'll get around to fixing it as soon as I can - a lament that I think you're going to hear a lot in the next few days.

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

How Are We Doing?

I had previous posted about our first day's figures. Since the rush caused by the MacInTouch launch, and then a spike when we were on the front page of Apple's download site, things have settled down. I've been busy fixing a couple of key bugs, and enhancing Rococoa in time for Snow Leopard, so there has been very little publicity, and I can now report on our steady-state traffic. These figures are not precise, sometimes they are just gleaned from looking at the Analytics graphs and guestimating, but they are figures, based largely on the 7 days beginning 22 July.

Google Analytics shows that our steady state is 50 visitors a day, with 7 downloads of the application. Looking at the server logs though, Analytics misses many downloads. 10 a day are referred from Apple downloads, 5 a day from MacUpdate, and 17 a day from our own downloads page. I don't know why Analytics misses those last, a very few are people retrying downloads, but most just seem to slip the JavaScript net. In total I think that we get 33 downloads a day.

Analytics also reveals that 40% of our traffic is direct, 10% comes from people searching for the term 'velocraptor', and our bounce rate is 44%. From this I'm forced to conclude that 44% of our traffic is people either typing 'velocraptor' into the location bar and finding us rather than dinosaurs, or a similar effect with Google's 'I'm Feeling Lucky'. If we discount all the bounces as people who should just learn to spell, then our real steady state is 33 visitors a day - this matches the sum of the pukka search terms and referrals, but does not include those people who download the app without touching the html.

Spookily then, our ratio of visits to downloads is 1, although these aren't all the same people! This blows the industry average of 28% to pieces, but it isn't all good news - my next post will cover registrations.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Is VelOCRaptor Good Enough?

From UserVoice - "I agree with Dyno wholeheartedly. Not to sound discouraging but it's really of no use in its current state. Even using the crispest font, it doesn't recognise half the number characters. And the PDF output is blurry. It's actually rather cheeky getting users to en masse as beta testers in this way. (More dubious practices to follow, no doubt)."

I don't mean to be defensive, but to say that VelOCRaptor is no use in its current state, and to accuse us of dubious practice by releasing it is a bit harsh. If you don't like the product, by all means don't use it, but please don't question our motives.

I would obviously like for the accuracy to be better, but 1.05 developers are not going to develop a world-beating OCR engine. The companies that have developed OCR engines are charging you $125 (FineReader) to $499 (OmniPage) for them, and their integration and usability is quite frankly substandard. I've tried to licence a world-class engine, but the company won't risk letting the technology ship in a product with the features and price that define VelOCRaptor.

So the OCRopus engine is the best that you can buy for under $100. I wish it was better, but it isn't, yet. I thought long and hard about whether to ship with the current engine and I came to the conclusion that it was better than nothing - which is after all the alternative at this price. We state up front that the accuracy isn't great, and we post an example showing its performance. We've released it as it is because to many people it is good enough to produce searchable PDFs and grab occasional text - would the world be better off if we hadn't?

Some people are delighted with VelOCRaptor, others disappointed, but we're not forcing anyone to buy it, and we can hardly be accused of misrepresenting the performance. Releasing a product is hard work and costly - I've had no income for 6 months now. If we don't charge money then we can't tell if there is a market - and we need to know that there is a market if we are to continue development, adding features that users are asking for, and pulling in new OCRopus releases so that it delights more people.

So whilst I apologise for the lack of performance, I am unapologetic about releasing VelOCRaptor. By releasing early and often we get the chance to see if this proto-bird can fly, and users have something that may be of some use. It's an open secret that, whilst I'd love you to licence VelOCRaptor, the current release will continue to function forever without a licence. The reason for that is that we want you to carry on using it until the engine works well enough. In the meantime, to quote Guy Kawasaki, we have embraced "Don't worry, be crappy"