Caminova's Document Express products are powered by
DjVu, a technology developed in the late 1990s by a team
of researchers at AT&T Labs. DjVu is specifically
designed to enable the creation of digital libraries of
high-visual-quality documents (either scanned from paper
or produced in other digital formats).
(pronounced "day·zha·voo") is a compression technique, a
file format, and a platform for delivering information
in the form of color-rich documents. DjVu uses a mixed
raster content (MRC) imaging model, an approach
consistent with that endorsed by the International
Telecommunications Union (ITU). It relies on advanced
content analysis techniques to segment a scanned color
page into layers and achieve high compression ratios,
low memory utilization, extremely fast rendering on
screen and indexing of the material.
DjVu offers a
means not only of preserving documents, but also making
them truly accessible and usable across and throughout
the digital world regardless of available bandwidth or
the origin, complexity or size of the originals.
How DjVu differes from other technologies
File size and image quality are the perennially opposing
forces in digital documents. There are several ways to
digitally encode an existing document so that its visual
quality is preserved in digital form (TIFF and PDF, for
example). The resulting file is typically too large to
transfer and use efficiently over networks. Conversely,
there are several ways to compress a digital document
such that it becomes small enough to send and download
relatively quickly (classical JPEG, for example).
However, quality usually decreases along with file size
to the point that the usefulness of the compressed
document is severely reduced.
Only DjVu technology
addresses both issues. By design, DjVu preserves the
visual fidelity of documents while reducing their file
size significantly more than any other compression
Limitations of Common Compression Technologies
Documents are composed of many different elements
including text, images, printed textures and background
colors. The limitation of competing compression
technologies is that they apply a single compression
method to every document – and to every part of a given
document regardless of the document's make-up. This
means that an office memo composed entirely of black and
white text is compressed the same way as a page from a
book of color advertisements.
A compression method
optimal for bitonal documents will not be optimal for
rich color documents. To preserve legibility, text
elements require a higher dot-per-inch (dpi) resolution
and lower compression ratio than graphics and other
typical color elements. Applying a blanket compression
method results in files that are still quite large or
have degraded visual quality, or both.
The DjVu Approach
DjVu's architects asked, "Why use 200 dpi or more for
image and graphical elements when a much lower
resolution would be sufficient, and why use a full-color
compression technique for text, which is typically black
and white or low-color?"
Instead, they separated or
"segmented" the document image into elements that could
then be compressed independently " the best possible
approach – and resolution – for each element. These
include the compression methods known as JB2 and IW44.
Since the greatest obstacles to compression in a
document are created by the sharp edges of the text
component, segmenting the text into a separate layer
enables DjVu to apply aggressive compression techniques
to the relatively soft-edged graphics that remain,
resulting in DjVu's high overall compression ratios
while preserving a visually lossless appearance. In
addition, the segmenter's ability to accurately separate
text from graphics leads to dramatically improved
optical character recognition (OCR) results when
scanning complex color layouts.
How DjVu differes from other technologies
DjVu starts by segmenting a page into layers:
- Foreground Layer – The foreground layer includes
text, line art and other thin, low-color page
elements. To take advantage of further opportunities
for storage efficiency, this layer is itself
separated into a black-and-white ("foreground mask")
layer and a foreground color layer that captures the
colors of the page elements in the mask layer.
- Background Layer – The background layer includes
photos, graphics, tint, and paper texture. Areas of
the background covered by foreground components are
smoothly interpolated so as to minimize their coding
Once a scanned color page is segmented into layers, DjVu uses a range of sophisticated compression techniques to represent the image with the smallest possible number of bits. Following is a typical, simplified example of how each layer is treated.
Foreground Mask Compression
For the black-and-white ("foreground mask") layer, an
approach called "JB2" based on pattern matching is used:
page shapes (alphabet characters, chiefly) that are
found to be similar within defined parameters are
considered identical and a single bitmap is used to
represent all of them. A JB2 compressed representation
is derived from this, which consists of a "dictionary"
of shapes plus the list of positions where each shape
appears on a given page.
- Resulting compression ratios are often in excess
of 100:1. A bitonal scanned page measuring 1MB as a
TIFF is routinely represented in 10KB or less.
- Since multiple pages (by default, 20) are
considered together during this clustering,
compression ratios increase with longer documents.
An improvement factor of 300 percent over industry
standard CCITT-Group 4 is common, and a factor of up
to 1000 percent improvement over CCITT-Group 4 is
not unusual for long multiple-page documents such as
Foreground Color Compression
The "color" of colored text is typically represented
as a separate, low-resolution layer called the
"foreground color layer" and compressed " the
wavelet-based compression technique IW44, which is the
same method as the one used for the background layer.
IW44 is a progressive format which supports in-place
updates; when DjVu files are viewed over a slow
connection, background layers, text colors and images
are decoded progressively and the view is gradually
refined in the plug-in window as more data arrives. IW44
encoding is very similar to that of JPEG 2000, but it
also supports a half-decoding that enables browser
plug-ins to be very efficient while " very little
memory, it enables the masking feature that guarantees
that no IW44 bits will be wasted encoding pixels that
will be covered by text/foreground pixels, and it is
usually about three times faster.
In some situations,
color is associated with each pattern position ("Color
JB2") instead of the creation of a separate foreground
For standalone photos or for background layers of
compound documents, DjVu uses IW44 compression. An
IW44-compressed document image is routinely 3 to 10
times smaller than a classical JPEG (.jpg) file of
Segmentation, JB2 compression and
IW44 compression all work together seamlessly to produce
a single compressed DjVu file with various data chunks.
Overall compression rates are typically between 300:1
and 1000:1, far superior to those of any other solution
for scanned color documents.
Effects on Visual Quality and Transfer Speed
The following chart illustrates the differences in
quality and file size between raw, classical JPEG, IW44
(i.e., unsegmented DjVu) and regular (i.e., segmented)
DjVu. The second image column shows JPEG at higher
quality (300 dpi) and a correspondingly larger file
size, while the third column shows JPEG when the file
size is equal to that of a DjVu document. The fourth
column shows IW44 compression without DjVu's
The difference in visual
quality is obvious in the table below. For the
difference in speed, testdrive the technology yourself
by downloading the free
Plug-in and viewing our sample images.
OCR, Indexing and Full-Text Search
Creating an optical character recognition (OCR) layer
for a scanned document enables keyword searches,
indexing and retrieval. Because of DjVu technology's
superior segmentation, its OCR engine can work on color
text as well as black and white, which puts DjVu in a
different league from solutions that can address only
black and white text.
The Segmenter and "Hidden Text"
DjVu stores OCR information as a separate layer
referred to as "hidden text," which can be
programmatically exposed, exported and imported in XML
for easy indexing and integration, and directly accessed
by searching and indexing engines. The OCR layer is all
that is needed to support keyword searches from within a
document management application or from a viewer.
DjVu's OCR results on grayscale or color scans are often
far superior to those produced using alternative
solutions, which typically do not work well against
color document images. The DjVu segmenter is able to
deal with colored text, text on tint, text on images,
reverse-video text – basically any text on a page.
Accurately extracting this text as a bitonal layer
mask) is key to producing
high-quality OCR results. In contrast, other
technologies are only able to deal with black-on-white
Exposing the OCR Layer for Searching and Indexing
A variety of tools can be used to expose the XML
hidden text layer of any DjVu file. Many of these tools
are included LizardTech's Document Express products.
Such tools make it very easy to integrate full-text
search for DjVu files into any document management
system or searching and indexing engine. DjVu technology
also allows for the integration of a different OCR
engine; the Document Express SDK offers a simple, clean
API for that purpose.
Large collections have been put
on the Web in DjVu format with full-text search
capabilities, including the 12 volumes and 10,000 pages
of the Century Dictionary
(www.global-language.com/century) several national
library collections and content from commercial
providers around the world. DjVu is currently used by
thousands of users to publish and exchange scanned
documents on the Web.
DjVu Shell Extension Pack allows you to index DjVu
documents on Windows platform. You can search inside
DjVu documents using Windows' search feature.
Efficient Universal Web Viewing
From the beginning, one of the goals in creating DjVu
was to deliver a technology platform that would make it
as easy to browse scanned documents as it is to browse
HTML. Everything in the design of DjVu is optimized to
reduce the delay between the user's decision to view a
page and the display of that page on the screen, thus
replicating the "page turning" experience of paper.
DjVu technology enables a number of capabilities that
combine to provide an optimal viewing and browsing
experience, largely by virtue of the fact that it is not
necessary to fully decode a DjVu file into TIFF or an
equivalent raster format before you can view or print
- Progressive Download and Display – A DjVu
document is organized in such a way that the plug-in
can immediately begin displaying the text of the
first page, then progressively refine the view by
adding foreground color and background color, until
all the data chunks have arrived. This means that
"time to first read" is very short, even on slow
- Prefetching, Predecoding, Caching – While you
are reading a particular page of a DjVu document,
the next and previous pages are being downloaded
("prefetched") and decoded into an intermediate
"semi-compressed" representation that is cached by
your browser. When you navigate to one of these
pages, viewing is instantaneous.
- Very Small Memory Requirements – Only the pixels
of the current view are fully decoded; the rest are
kept in the intermediate representation, which is
decoded "on the fly" when zooming or panning.
Individual Page Serving Capabilities – DjVu
documents can be stored in an "indirect" format that
makes it possible for a user to instantly jump to
any page of a long document. With this approach,
DjVu documents as long as several thousand pages can
be efficiently accessed over the Internet or any
- Embedded DjVu – Because Internet Explorer on
Windows supports the <object> and <embed> HTML tags,
DjVu documents can easily be embedded in HTML
- Full Hyperlink Support – Viewers may not even
realize it when their browser takes them to a DjVu
document. Also, embedding hyperlinks in DjVu
documents is easy.
Customized Web Serving and
Viewing – The DjVu technology allows you to
precisely specify how a particular document should
be presented to the user's browser. For example, the
specifies that the image called "test.djvu" should
be displayed in the user's plug-in without any
toolbar and using a zoom level that shows the entire
Digital to DjVu
Digital to DjVu refers to a component of DjVu
technology designed for the encoding of digital
documents (e.g., Word, Excel, HTML pages, PowerPoint
presentations, PDF files, etc.) as opposed to scanned
One way to encode an electronic document
is to render it as a bitmap and then convert the bitmap
into DjVu format. This is a valid approach but it
requires segmenting the bitmap, which can generate
artifacts. While these artifacts are generally
unnoticeable on scanned documents, they can be
disturbing on electronic documents where the user's
expectations regarding quality are much higher.
Instead of rendering the document into a bitmap, Digital
to DjVu considers page elements (words, pictures,
graphics, lines, etc.) one at a time. For each such
element, after occlusions are processed, the algorithm
considers its shape and color content and decides
whether to place it in the foreground layer or in the
background layer. This in effect replaces the
segmentation process used for scanned documents.
Compression then proceeds normally.
This approach has several advantages including:
- Speed – Producing DjVu documents in this manner
is several times faster than going through a full
- Memory Efficiency – There is never a need to
render the page into a full-color raster image.
Rasterization is slow and inefficient because it
entails converting each page to a raster image,
typically at 25 MB per page.
- No OCR Needed – Text information can usually be
captured directly as foreground and background
layers are being built, so no OCR is needed, and the
hidden text layer is extremely accurate.
- Hyperlink Extractions – Depending on source
document type, hyperlinks can usually be captured as
well and inserted in the resulting DjVu document.
- Quality – The resulting DjVu files are of
extremely high quality, consistent with expectations
for electronic documents.
Documents created using Digital to DjVu offer maximum
portability across networks, since they do not depend on
any installed font packages.
Two Caminova products currently include Digital to
- The DjVu Virtual Printer, included in Document
Express Professional Edition, is a Windows
application that installs as a printer and can be
used to convert any kind of Windows-based document
to DjVu format.
- The PDF-to-DjVu Converter is included in
Document Express Enterprise Edition and can be used
to batch convert PDF and PostScript files into DjVu