This specification outlines steps to make scanning on Ubuntu "just work".


Scanning should be as easy as printing or getting photos from a digital camera.

Currently scanning is performed using the default installed xsane. It has many options, has a style that does not integrate into the current Ubuntu desktop and does not allow scanning from within applications. In Karmic this was proposed to be replaced with the similar but updated application gnome-scan (desktop-karmic-gnomescan) but this was not found to be stable enough.

User stories

  • Amy wants to email her daughters picture to her friends.
  • Brian needs to sign and email a document to his Lawyer.
  • Carrie has some old photos he wants to scan into her F-Spot album.
  • David has sketched a comic and wants to finish it digitally and upload it to his website.
  • Erin is making a presentation and wants to insert a hand-drawn diagram.
  • Fred wants to scan a document and then edit it in a word processor.
  • Martin wants to scan in his paper letters and archive them

Amy and Brian should be able to add the photos from their Evolution new email window. Amy probably wants the attachment in JPEG format and Brian probably wants it in PDF format. Both want the image to be scanned at high enough resolution to be clear and then compressed so the email does not take too long to send.

Carrie should be able to add the photos from F-Spot's Photo>Import menu. Ideally the photos should be automatically cropped and multiple photos allowed to be scanned at once. The photos should be in JPEG format and be equivalent resolution to her existing photos from her digital camera.

David should be able to scan the image from a menu in Inkscape. His only requirement is the image is high enough resolution to trace and the image will be deleted once the vector image is complete.

Erin uses the OpenOffice Impress Insert>Picture>Scan>Request menu option.

Fred should be able to scan from an option inside OpenOffice Writer.

Martin should be able to load multiple documents into his scanner (equipped with an automatic document feeder) and with one click scan all the documents and save them in a multi-page PDF. The images should be suitably compressed to make them easy to archive. Users without a feeder should be able to scan multiple pages and produce a single PDF.

Additionally scans should be able to be initiated by pressing the scan button on a locally connected scanner or by browsing known scanners.


Users will have a scanner which does not require advanced options or calibration. Advanced users will be able to install a more advanced package for their scanning needs.


A new application, "Simple Scan" will be developed to make scanning easy. It will be:

  • Non-blocking so that it is always responsive
  • Show immediate feedback of scanned data
  • Automatically choose a scanner
  • Automatically detect new scanners while running
  • Support multiple page scans (either manually scanning each page or continuous scanning)
  • Automatically compress/filter data based on document type [1] (e.g. reduce colours for text documents)
  • Be able to rotate images
  • Be able to crop images (standard sizes and manual)
  • Support saving to standard file formats (PNG, PDF, PS, JPEG)
  • Work well in netbook resolutions
  • Provide clear messages if unable to scan
  • Provide debugging information for bug reports

This program shall not:

  • Support advanced editing options (the user must save the file and edit in an appropriate program, e.g. Gimp/Inkscape)
  • Support advanced options (resolution, grayscale, scan area, colour controls). Users requiring this functionality must install an advanced scan package (xsane, gscan2pdf)
  • Support optical character recognition (though this may be future work as long as it does not make existing functionality harder to use)

[1] Fax profile: 200dpi black and white, Photos should be 600dpi.


  • Use SANE as the backend - this is the same as XSANE uses so all existing scanners will work and the interface is well tested. This does not rule out changing the backend in the future.
  • Have a GTK+ interface - integrate with the Ubuntu desktop
  • Proposed interface:




Users of Ubuntu 10.04 will have "Simple Scan" where they previously had "XSane". No data/settings will be migrated.

Test/Demo Plan

Test: Able to perform the actions described in the personas Test: Perform user testing on how simple the interface is Demo: Show scanning


DesktopTeam/Specs/Lucid/DocumentScanning (last edited 2009-12-13 00:48:22 by 203-219-185-1)