In a mobile-first world, developers understand the importance of creating a next-generation app that fits in with client or user expectations. Developers should consider the myriad of SDK options if they want to improve functionality for the user, especially imaging SDKs. Although they are a niche market, these SDKs can add better imaging capabilities and target industry-related problems that companies are trying to tackle.

Typically, an imaging SDK consists of a code library that will allow developers to take or create images, compress them, visualize data, interact with scanned documents, and extract information. Imaging SDKs can give a wide range of formats and do a better job of compressing standard formats like JPEG and PNG, as well. These SDKs also come with many built-in tools like scrolling, zooming, animation, drag and drop, touchscreen support, and more, according to Greg Ross, technical marketing engineer at LEADTOOLS.

“Those are just the basics,” he said. “Dive deeper into the world of imaging technology and you’ll find optical character recognition, barcodes, forms recognition, PDF, annotations, DICOM, PACS, TWAIN scanning, multimedia streaming and video codecs.”

Well-known features, according to Ross, are those like scanning a QR code with a phone or scanning a paper document and saving it as a searchable-text PDF. But, he added, “The average person has no idea what DICOM or MPEG-2 Transport Stream is, even though they likely use it on a daily basis. Imaging is a crucial component in UAV drones, CT and MRI scanners, x-rays, ATMs, social media, DVR and so much more.”

A good imaging SDK is easy to evaluate and it will have a list of features that are easy to understand. However, implementing imaging algorithms is not so easy, said Eugene Kosmin, lead developer at Aurigma. It does require some mathematics, which many developers only deal with when studying at college, he said. Overall, SDKs should save developers time, not add headaches.

Companies and developers understand that learning new concepts and APIs can be time-consuming, which is why some SDK providers give plenty of code examples for those who are looking to implement an imaging SDK.

“A good imaging SDK should hide all the complexity, give developers intuitive APIs, and allow them to concentrate on their application rather than implementing algorithms or reading file format specifications,” said Kosmin.

SDKs can solve general imaging problems that are familiar to web developers, such as creating thumbnails from JPEGs. They also can be useful in specific areas where image-processing algorithms are key, like medical applications, document processing, and forensics, according to Kosmin.

Other imaging SDKs concentrate on image-processing problems specific to the printing industry, like processing very large hi-res bitmaps, color space conversions and management, and organizing image templates, according to Kosmin.

For apps that are doing more with image editing, barcode, OCR, and annotations, “You would be crazy to not use a third-party SDK,” since many of these features take months to develop and years to perfect, said Ross. For applications that require comprehensive PDF technology, developers should consider their PDF SDK options.

Jose Pimentel, sales and customer support manager at Amyuni, said it specializes in PDF SDKs, and all of its software is built around the PDF specification. One of its SDKs is built to manipulate or create PDF documents, while the other allows developers to create PDF documents from printing applications. All of the SDKs focus on PDF functionality, the creation of documents, and extracting content.

A guide to imaging SDK offerings
Accusoft: Accusoft’s PDF Xpress empowers developers to boost application functionality with easy PDF creation, editing, and the highest level of PDF compression available on the market—as much as 90%. Quickly compress one PDF (or an entire library) with just one parameter change to boost display and transmission speed while dramatically reducing archival footprint. Leverage PDF Xpress to build a PDF portfolio of multiple documents and document types.

Amyuni: Amyuni provides developers and system administrators with high-performance PDF conversion and processing tools. Certified for Windows desktops and servers, Amyuni PDF Converter enables developers to easily integrate powerful PDF and PDF/A functionality into their applications with just a few lines of code. Amyuni PDF Creator produces optimized PDF documents and seamlessly integrates with COM, .NET, UWP and Windows Phone applications. Amyuni products are available in a number of comprehensive licensing models that fit all needs.

Aspose: Aspose are file format experts. They offer a powerful set of file-management APIs with which developers can build applications that can create, open, edit and save the majority of popular business file formats. The Aspose product range includes Microsoft Excel spreadsheet APIs, Microsoft Word-processing APIs, Microsoft PowerPoint presentation APIs, PDF document creation and manipulation APIs, image file APIs, and many others. Aspose produces APIs for .NET, Java and the cloud, which can be utilized in almost any modern language available today.

Atalasoft: Since 2002, Atalasoft provides imaging SDKs to help developers build document scanning, viewing and image processing into their applications. Atalasoft DotImage for Microsoft .NET powers thousands of document-management applications, and it supports everything needed for digital document collaboration plus barcode and OCR support. Support for common document formats, like PDF, TIFF, Word, Excel and PowerPoint, allows for easy conversion. Atalasoft MobileImage for Android and iOS turns mobile apps into smart document capture machines, complete with eVRS cleanup and UI controls to capture perfect images.

Aurigma: Aurigma Graphics Mill and Customer’s Canvas is a family of imaging .NET SDKs designed for the printing industry and vendors of GS1-compliant DAM systems. They support various image formats (including Adobe Photoshop), convert colors with true color management, have advanced text support, generate hi-res PDF output, and handle image metadata (including Adobe Resources and clipping paths). Also, they allow for building HTML5 user interfaces and APIs for creating personalized products, as well as variable data printing in web-to- print software.

Foxit Software: Foxit is a leading provider of fast and secure PDF solutions for end users and the enterprise. Businesses and consumers increase productivity by using Foxit’s cost-effective products to securely work with PDF documents and forms. Foxit is the world’s most pre-installed PDF software, and it is shipped on one-third of all new Windows PCs, including those from HP, Acer and ASUS. Additionally, Foxit’s Software Development Kits, which share the same underlying technology that powers Google’s PDFium project, help developers reduce costs and reduce time to market by allowing them to easily integrate its industry-leading PDF technology into application workflows.

LEADTOOLS: LEADTOOLS is a family of comprehensive imaging SDKs designed to help programmers integrate raster, document, medical, multimedia, and vector imaging into their desktop, server, tablet, and mobile applications. LEADTOOLS gives developers the most flexible and powerful imaging technology, offering development support for OCR, barcode, forms recognition, PDF, document conversion and viewing, document cleanup, annotations, DICOM, PACS, HL7, audio/video codecs, MPEG-2 transport, DVR, streaming, more than 150 file formats, image compression, image processing, viewers, special effects, scanning/capturing, printing, and more.

Microsoft: Microsoft Hyperlapse is a new technology that creates smooth and stabilized time lapses from first-person videos. Want to show your friends what you saw on that 12-mile hike you took last weekend? Or let them experience how it felt to fly down the mountain on your recent ski trip? With Microsoft Hyperlapse, you can time-lapse those experiences, distilling them into easily consumable, enjoyable experiences. Microsoft Hyperlapse is available for mobile, desktop and developers.

NVIDIA: The NVIDIA SDK provides a wide range of tools and libraries that help developers accelerate their applications with GPUs for deep learning, gaming, virtual reality, autonomous vehicles, robotics, product design and scientific discovery. Developers worldwide use the technologies in the NVIDIA SDK to create solutions ranging from discovering new ways to fight HIV, to delivering the on-air graphics for the Super Bowl, to using AI to paint like van Gogh. Thousands of developers attend the NVIDIA GPU Technology Conference for hands-on training, insight into emerging technologies, and a chance to network with the brightest minds in GPU computing.

OnePager: OnePager has developed a tool used by project managers that takes their project data and turns it into a customizable summary graphic. OnePagerPro is an add-on to Microsoft Project and OnePager Express to Microsoft Excel to enable users to quickly turn their data into a visually appealing graphic that inserts directly into a PowerPoint slide for optimal project presentation.

ORPALIS: ORPALIS specializes in automating large-scale document-based processes and document imaging. ORPALIS has developed GdPicture.NET, a 100% royalty-free all-in-one innovation SDK for WinForms, WPF and web development; and DocuVieware, an HTML5 document viewer and document-management SDK for ASP.NET.

Qoppa: Qoppa Software offers an extensive suite of PDF libraries and visual components that cover all PDF processing needs. PDF functions include creation and modification, assembly, conversion to images and HTML, automated printing, encryption and digital signatures, form fields, viewing and markup, optimization, and a lot more. Qoppa products provide the highest level of performance and reliability, and they are 100% Java, so they run on all servers and desktop operating systems.

RasterEdge: is the professional provider of document, content and imaging solutions, available for ASP.NET AJAX, Silverlight and Windows Forms, as well as WPF. Raster Edge is dedicated to provide powerful and professional document-imaging controls and components for capturing, viewing, processing, converting, compressing, and storing images and documents.

SmartDeploy: SmartDeploy is computer imaging software that allows IT administrators to easily deploy Windows OS and applications to users through a simple, guided process. SmartDeploy is easy to use and requires little to no training, making it suitable for technicians of any skill level. SmartDeploy’s intelligent architecture allows one hardware-independent image to be deployed to any computer model using a unique driver-management technology.

Snowbound Software: Snowbound’s VirtualViewer HTML5 is the premiere HTML5 viewer for the enterprise. View, annotate, redact, and manipulate hundreds of documents and images through a browser without downloading anything to the client. VirtualViewer integrates seamlessly with your ECM/repository using our APIs and connectors. Snowbound’s RasterMaster imaging and conversion SDK enables developers to incorporate viewing, conversion, manipulation, annotation, redaction, printing, scanning and more for PDF, Word, Excel, AFP, and more. Both products are available for Java and .NET.