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The word TWAIN is not an official acronym; however, it is widely known as “Technology Without An Interesting Name.”

TWAIN is a standard software protocol and applications programming interface (API) that regulates communication between software applications and imaging devices such as scanners and digital cameras.

About the TWAIN Organization

TWAIN is a not-for-profit association of industry leaders who have gathered to create a standard that benefits the industry as a whole.

What is the TWAIN Initiative?

The TWAIN initiative was originally launched in 1992 by leading industry vendors who recognized a need for a standard software protocol and applications programming interface (API) that regulates communication between software applications and imaging devices (the source of the data). TWAIN defines that standard. The three key elements in TWAIN are the application software, the Source Manager software and the Data Source software. The application uses the TWAIN toolkit which is shipped for free.

Vision Statement

The TWAIN Working Group is a not-for-profit organization which represents the imaging industry. TWAIN’s purpose is to provide and foster a universal public standard which links applications and image acquisition devices. The ongoing mission of this organization is to continue to enhance the standard to accommodate future technologies.

The Objectives of the TWAIN Working Group

Ensure users of image acquisition software and devices experience success each and every time. Ensure image-handling software and hardware compatibility. Define and distribute the TWAIN specification. Keep the specification current with state of practice software and hardware. Promote the adoption of the specification. Maintain and distribute a developer’s toolkit. Define TWAIN Test Guidelines.

Significant Milestones for TWAIN

  • Version 1.0 – Initial Release
  • Version 1.5 – Performance Enhancements
  • Version 1.6 – Page Length Detect & Buffer Transfer
  • Version 1.7 – Production Scanning Features
  • Version 1.8 – More production scanning features that were omitted in version 1.7 of the Specification
  • Version 1.9 – ICC Color Profiles, Mac Support for Cocoa
  • Version 2.0 – Unix/Linux support, check scanning support, open source, 64-bit

Features of TWAIN Version 2.0

  • Supports Linux/Unix
  • Deprecates unused features
  • Check scanning support
  • Improved sample code
  • PDF/A support
  • Open source
  • 64-bit
  • SDMI (single document multi images)

Features of TWAIN Version 1.9

  • ICC Color Profiles
  • Macintosh support for OS X

Features of TWAIN Version 1.8

  • Concentrates on mid/high volume scanners and digital cameras
  • Image Filesytem
  • Camera controls
  • Audio controls
  • Device events
  • Barcode and Patchcode control
  • Printer control
  • Image processing control
  • Language and Country coverage increased

Features of TWAIN Version 1.7

  • Custom Data Structure – Definition of Settings that can be Saved
  • Option to Set Scanner Settings at Scan Time (i.e. Not Saved)
  • Actual Image Size
  • Option for Saving User’s Selected Scanning Settings (Source & Application)
  • Test to Ascertain if Source Supports Extended Information
  • Enable and Disable Thumbnails (Digital Camera)
  • Duplex Scanning
  • Set Counter for Endorser
  • Recognize Other Data like Barcodes, OCR, ICR, Patch Code


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