Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Copier Sales "ODBC, What is it"?

ODBC - What it is and why it is important in a document processing application

ODBC is an acronym for OPEN DATABASE CONNECTIVITY. It is a Windows tool that can be found in Control Panel>Administrative Tools>Data Sources (ODBC). It provides a standard interface to connect to virtually any database that is ODBC compliant.

Connecting to a database is very important when performing document processing. Without the ability to connect to data, MANUAL indexing is required (unless OCR, barcode or some other technology is used). Manual indexing is very inefficient and prone to errors. An error made during manual indexing may prevent the document to be found at a later time.

In a typical document management scenario there may be many different document types. Each document type may, or may not have, data that is “associated” with the documents. For the document types that do have associated data, the indexing process can be very efficient and accurate. Document processing software, that includes ODBC connectivity, will allow the indexer to enter data (typically a “key” such as Invoice Number) and the software will automatically perform a lookup into the database to VALIDATE the entry. In addition, related data such as Customer Name, Po Number, etc can be EXTRACTED from the database at the same time. This data can be part of the retrieval schema without any additional work or manual indexing.

Advanced software, that includes ODBC connectivity, will incorporate barcode or OCR technology to process documents completely automatically. The documents are scanned, separated automatically by barcode or OCR, the barcode or OCR data is used to perform the database lookup, the data is VALIDATED and the related data is EXTRACTED and the documents are published to the document Repository without any operator assistance.

ODBC can also be used on the “backend”, or retrieval side, of document management. It allows virtually any database to be used for purposes of retrieval of documents. Of course, the publishing and retrieval software must include the ODBC interface.

For more information on MFP software that can perform the functions discussed please send me an email

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It is worth noting that ODBC is not a Windows-only technology, though Microsoft does maintain the specification of this open standard.

All the functionality you discuss is equally applicable and available in other environments. On Mac OS X, for instance, the OpenLink ODBC or Apple's own ODBC is found in /Applications/Utilities/, and both do roughly the same job as the Data Sources (ODBC) control panel on Windows. (Some specific functionality controlled by the Windows control panel is not available on other platforms, but is not strictly ODBC.)

There are ODBC driver managers for other platforms, including the open source iODBC Driver Manager which Apple ships with Mac OS X, and which is included with all drivers from OpenLink Software (who also maintain and support the iODBC Project) for many platforms including Mac OS X, Linux, Solaris, AIX, HP-UX, and others. (iODBC doesn't ship with the drivers for Windows, because the MDAC driver manager is already present and known to work just fine.)

The bottom line is that users are not limited in their choice of work environment, just because they need ODBC access to a database -- they can choose Mac OS X for their catalog development in Quark XPress or InDesign, with lookups to the same Solaris-based database as is accessed by their Windows-based OCR tool, their Linux-hosted browser-controlled CRM tool, etc.

Be seeing you,

Technical Evangelist
OpenLink Software