Understanding the DjVu Windows-desktop application
a report by PlanetDjVu, May 10, 2003

At the end of this month, Adobe will release Version 6.0 of Acrobat. The history of this application is simple to trace - it started as Arobat 1.0 in 1993, and subsequently progressed to Versions 2.0, 3.0, 4.0, 5.0, and now Version 6.0.

The desktop application for creating DjVu files on the Windows desktop is more difficult to trace, because LizardTech has changed the name of this application multiple times since it was acquired from AT&T Labs three years ago as "DjVu Workshop 2.0", and LizardTech has split it into multiple configurations with different features either enabled or disabled. Some of these configurations have been abandoned, and in the case of the name "Editor", this name has a different meaning today than it did just a year ago. The purpose of this article is to trace the development of this single Windows application through its different names and configurations, so you will know "what to get, and what to use".

DjVu Workshop 1.0 and then DjVu Workshop 2.0 was a Windows desktop application developed by AT&T Labs prior to the sale of the DjVu technology to LizardTech. It was a free application, with a free download available from AT&T Labs at the www.djvu.com website.  Version 2.0 of Workshop supported Version 18 of DjVu, which was then still a single-page format. The ability to create multipage DjVu files had not yet been developed.

Nine months after LizardTech acquired the DjVu format, AT&T Labs finished the development of the multipage format for DjVu, working now under contract to LizardTech, and released to LizardTech Version 3.0 of DjVu Workshop. LizardTech decided to rename this application to DjVu Solo 3.0 for release. Soon afterwards, development work on DjVu hyperlinks was finished, and the application was upgraded to DjVu Solo 3.1. LizardTech also created a version which it called DjVu Editor 3.1.

At this point in time, which was 2 1/2 years ago, LizardTech released the application with the following three names:

DjVu Solo 3.1 (non-commercial edition)
DjVu Solo 3.1 (commercial edition)
DjVu Editor 3.1

DjVu Solo 3.1 (non-commercial edition)  was freely distributed from the LizardTech website. It was able to encode DjVu files, but did not include the OCR capability that was introduced in the DjVu Solo 3.1 (commercial edition). The only two differences in the commercial edition were that it could OCR files and that you needed to purchase it.

In DjVu Editor 3.1, you could not encode DjVu files, nor could you OCR, but you could mark up DjVu files with hyperlinks, background color, opening magnification etc. It was a "meta-editor", designed to complement the other two DjVu encoding products from LizardTech, DjVu Workgroup and DjVu Command Line Encoder (CLE). In fact, a license to Workgroup or CLE was bundled with 5 licenses to DjVu Editor 3.1. It was not sold separately.

These three configurations of this single desktop application were  adequately documented by LizardTech, and for those who were using DjVu at the time, it was generally clear which version you should acquire for your purposes. For more than a year, this configuration remained unchanged.

In May of 2002, serious confusion set in when LizardTech abandoned DjVu Solo and DjVu Editor without explanation, and announced that they were now distributing "Document Express Desktop Edition" and "Document Express Professional Edition" instead.

The published descriptions of these "Document Express" applications did not explain the migration from the former applications, and they did not mention OCR as a feature. We made repeated requests to LizardTech for clarification, but they would not answer. We requested evaluation copies so we could sort it our ourselves but they did not reply. Last August, when we were trying to negotiate DjVu Reference Library licensing for our DjVu applications, we said "we need to know what is happening with DjVu Editor because it needed as a complement to our batch encoding applications. They replied "we will tell you after you pay". This was a bizarre and completely unacceptable answer. Why be secretive about the basic Windows applications for DjVu, when clearly it should be public knowledge?

At the end of March 2003, a few weeks after Bill Patterson was fired as CEO of LizardTech and just before the AIIM imaging show, new information was published at the LizardTech website that answered some of the questions. This new information was published as an announcement of "Document Express 4.0 Desktop Edition" and "Document Express 4.0 Professional Edition", and includes a trial download of "Document Express 4.0 Professional Edition".

We downloaded the trial of "Document Express 4.0 Professional Edition" in April, and received an evaluation copy of "Document Express 4.0 Desktop Edition" from a customer, not from LizardTech. Finally then, we were able to sort out what is going on now with this application. Here is the summary.

"Document Express 4.0 Desktop Edition" is a product bundle that includes "DjVu Editor 4.0" and the "LizardTech Virtual Printer".

"DjVu Editor 4.0" is identical to "DjVu Solo 3.1 (commercial edition)", except for the addition of a new Annotations toolbar, an update to the OCR engine, and fix to the multipage TIFF bug. It is not by any stretch of the imagination the "major overhaul" that LizardTech claims it is. It fact, it still contains old uncorrected bugs concerning multipage DjVu creation,.

It is important to realize that "DjVu Editor 4.0" is not an upgrade to "DjVu Editor 3.1", it is an upgrade to DjVu Solo 3.1. "DjVu Editor 3.1", an editing-only version of the application, is abandoned.

"Document Express 4.0 Professional Edition" is a product bundle that includes "DjVu Editor Pro 4.0 and the "LizardTech Virtual Printer" and the "Express Cartridge Manager". The "DjVu Editor Pro 4.0" is identical to "DjVu Editor 4.0" except that you you have to pay by-the-page for encoding DjVu files, using the "Express Cartridge Manager", starting at ten cents per page.

The trial version of "Document Express 4.0 Professional Edition" allows you to encode 250 DjVu pages using the "Express Cartridge Manager". To encode DjVu pages after that, you need to purchase "Document Express 4.0 Professional Edition" non-trial version plus "Page Cartridges".

Are you still confused? We don't blame you!  What a mess!

Let us suggest a strategy for installing and using this Windows desktop application today, and let us adopt our own term for this application in its various configurations, which we shall call "Solo/Editor".

The first step for setting up "Solo/Editor" is to download and install a copy of DjVu Solo 3.1. Although not distributed by LizardTech anymore, there are still several other sites distributing this free application, and we have linked to one of them on the home page of PlanetDjVu. Once installed, use DjVu Solo 3.1 to encode DjVu files without restriction. Remember, there is no difference between DjVu Solo 3.1 and DjVu Editor 4.0 or DjVu Editor 4.0 Pro when it comes to encoding image files stored on disk.

The next step in the "Solo/Editor" setup is to download the trial version of "Document Express 4.0 Professional Edition" from the LizardTech website. No registration is required. During the installation, when prompted to install the "Express Cartridge Manager", click "cancel". By not installing the Express Cartridge Manager, your copy of "DjVu Editor 4.0 Pro" will not expire, and this application version will give you the OCR feature, and also the new Annotation feature should you need it.

Now, put the application shortcuts for DjVu Solo 3.1 and DjVu Editor 4.0 Pro into the same shortcuts folder, and you are set to go. Use DjVu Solo 3.1 to encode DjVu files, then open and use DjVu Editor 4.0 Pro to OCR them.

Remember that when you save DjVu files from DjVu Editor 4.0 Pro, they are saved as Version 24 DjVu files, and as a result, many users will get annoying upgrade messages when they view these files because they do not have, or elected not to install the 4.0 version of the DjVu browser plugin. To eliminate this problem, just open the files in DjVu Solo 3.1 and then save them. This will reduce the DjVu Version number to Version 21, and the upgrade notice problem will go away.

With this "Solo/Editor" setup, you do not need to purchase any products from LizardTech, and we recommend that you do not do so. You can have the latest DjVu encoding and OCR functions without making a purchase. We think that the best hope for the future of DjVu is to let LizardTech fail as a company, so that control of the format will pass into different and hopefully better management. We think that it is only a matter of months until this happens, and there is no sense in slowing down the process by feeding revenue to a company that has made such a mess out of the basic Windows desktop application for DjVu.

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