Mariner’s Paperless Application
Reviewed 03 Feb 2010 – Version 1.1 / Updated 28 Jan 2011 – Version 1.3
Since day one of using computers I tried hard to be a paperless guy. One reason is that during the last 25 years of my professional life I was in involved in creating standards dealing with electronic data exchanges, the other simply being it is so much easier to track and find content when it is in an electronic format. BTW, I am not talking about electronic image files, as in JPEG, but machine processable formats such as PDF, SGML, XML, EDI only to mention a few.
Since the creation of machine processable file formats I have always made efforts to store my documents electronically. With the advancement of online ordering I also started to store my online receipts. However, over the years my hierarchical folder structure has become rather hard not only to maintain my setup, but also for finding things quickly, even with the help of spotlight.
Over the Holiday session I received an offer from Mariner Software to purchase their products at a largely reduced price. One item that caught my eye was the Paperless application because it allows not only the storage of documents but also the storage and handling of receipts. Quoting from their web site:
Using the Paperless Optical Character Recognition (OCR), you can scan your receipts, warranty cards, deposit slips and other paperwork and Paperless will automatically recognize and categorize these documents.
I downloaded Paperless and tried it out with my Brother MFC-5440CN scanner and a number of paper receipts. It works as advertised so I decided to purchase it.
Having now scanned in, as well as imported, my work and personal receipts for 2009, I am very happy with its receipts related functionality, especiallythe report feature.
I did find a few things that could be improved on regarding the receipts part of the product:
- Add a subcategory, it would allow me to combine my personal and work receipts within one library instead of having to maintain two separate libraries. I do have receipts that need to be split into work and personal. Currently I have to add them to both
- Allow the Amount and Tax fields to function either as:
- Tax included in amount; or
- Tax in addition to amount.
- Better OCR capture for date, merchant and reference fields.
- Allow additions of custom tags to be used in searches and reports.
UPDATED: As much as I love the receipts functionality, I was at first rather disappointed in the documents feature, and found version 1.1 unusable.This has change with the release of version 1.3, see below.
The main reason for me saying so is that I found in my testing that the application is removing the links contained with in the table of contents. Even opening the document from within the library using “Open in Preview” does no longer allow one to select a table of content item so that the page, being linked to, is immediately displayed. I tested it using Mariner own “Paperless User Guide”. Opening the User Guide with Preview, selecting on page 2 or 3 any of the ToC entries, results in the linked page to be immediately displayed.Import that same the file into Paperless, and trying to do the same, either using the native View or “Open with Preview” does nothing — the build-in PDF functionality is gone. This issue has been corrected with the release of version 1.3.
I also tested a PDF document that comes with a “hierarchical Index” displayed in Preview’s Sidebar (see screenshot below).
Importing it into Paperless results in the index disappearing. The sidebar instead only displays the thumbnails of each page. This issue has been corrected with the release of version 1.3 in that the internal Paperless View still only displays the thumbnails, but using the “View with Preview” option will reveal the original hierarchical index.
UPDATE: Since Paperless does NOT store documents in a database but copies it to the inside of its application package, it should be easy to correct this issue in a future release. Also having tested a number of other document management application, I found that there are two approaches to storing the documents, the first being what Paperless does, keep a copy within its own file structure (or database) the other not moving the document, storing within their own database only the URL to the document’s location. Both approaches have their pros and cons. Personally I have not made up my mind yet which is best for me. I will provide an update when I have come to a decision on this topic.
For storing receipts Paperless does an excellent job, even with the few shortcomings mention. For storing documents Paperless does a good job, if you don’t care that one needs to use the external Preview application for PDFs with hierarchical Indexes and don’t mind that the documents are stored within Paperless’ own file structure. Having used Paperless for a year now the only other issue I found with it is that Mariner has done very little in maintaing the application. It has been over eight months with no Paperless releases whatsoever. No bug fixes, nothing. The last version was because of various OS X 10.6 compatibility issues. There are a lot of items that users have reported that need to be improved or fixed. I just hope that Mariner will continue to support the product.