Why hot folder’s are so HOT
We are all guilty of over complicating things. In technology products, over complication results in more features then you will ever use and less money you could use, other times over complication creates new problems in business processes. End-users, vendors, and technologist are all commonly trying to add too many elements to automation projects. One of the areas where over complication occurs the most in data capture and OCR integrations is when it comes to passing images and results from one step to another.
Most organizations when it comes to passing images from a capture application to a data capture application ask for a connector specifically written to incorporate the chosen imagines applications API to pass images to the chosen Data Capture applications API. Most organizations similarly when considering export form OCR and Data capture processes want a special connector to their repository or ECM product. I’m not sure what to blame, the warm and fuzzies that come from the realization that a OCR vendor has spent specific effort to develop these connectors, or the faith that somehow connectors are more efficient. What I do know is that in most all cases connectors are overkill and simply not necessary, why? Because there are hot folders, and they are amazingly powerful and simple.
A hot folder ( sometimes called a watch folder ) is a directory virtual or real that is setup to be a staging or queue for applications to put data in and take data from in real-time. The best thing about hot folders is they are free! Almost all imaging, data capture, and content management applications support hot folders. If they don’t you have every right to ask why. When an image capture application scans documents they can scan those documents to a directory. The data capture application can automatically read images as soon as they appear in this directory and process them. Data capture and OCR results can be automatically exported to another directory that a content management application can automatically pick up from. That is two folders vs. two pricey connectors.
You may think that you are losing functionality such as tracking and security, but there are numerous ways in windows to monitor folder activity and protect folder security. You might be surprised that many “connectors” out there are actually just a hot folder with a settings dialog. It’s a hot folder in disguise.
So when it comes to deciding how to get files from one application process to another, first consider hot folders and try your best to disprove their validity. If you can’t, you just saved a bundle of money and probably picked the most efficient method for your OCR solution.
Chris Riley – Sr. Solutions Architect