invitation to join SANE development (Scanner Access Now Easy)

David Mosberger-Tang (
Sat, 14 Dec 1996 15:55:11 -0700

Since you're the author of one of the Linux scanner packages, we would
like to invite you to take a look at the SANE package. We would very
much welcome if you would consider joining the development efforts by
providing feedback on the proposed standard and/or porting a driver to

SANE is an attempt to provide a uniform yet versatile API to raster
scanner hardware (scanners, frame grabbers, still cameras, etc.).
SANE was born out of the frustration that under Linux, each scanner
driver writer also had to write his/her own scanning utility. This
leads to a lot of wasted time and needless duplication of efforts. We
therefore created a very simple API that solves this problem by
providing a well-defined intermediate "language" that allows any
user-interface to talk to any scanner driver. We already have a
nearly full-featured command-line-based user-interface (called
"frontend" in SANE-speak), a graphical user-interface that works
either as a GIMP plug-in or as a standalone program (this is still
under development, but basic scanning works already and progress is
being made quickly). As for drivers, there is currently support for
Mustek flatbed scanners and for a pseudo-device that allows to read
and manipulate PPM files (the latter is primarily a vehicle to show
how to write a SANE backend, but it is fully functional). There is
also a "meta-backend" that uses (ELF) dynamic linking to provide
transparent access to any other backend (this means that installing a
new driver consists simply of installing a new shared library---none
of the scanner applications will have to change or be relinked).

Well, enough dribble. If you're interested, please take a look at:

This web page contains a pointer to the online documentation for the
proposed SANE standard (both html and PostScript are available) as
well as a pointer to the existing source code and a mailing list

Please be aware that this is still pre-beta software and that the
"standard" is still open to changes (in fact, as mentioned above, your
thoughts would be very welcome). Thus, we would prefer if you would
not announce this information widely at this point. We plan to do so
fairly soon, but don't feel that we have quite reached the point where
we should do so publicly. However, things should be stable enough
that it would be safe to write more backends or frontends based on the
current code and documentation. It is, of course, perfectly all-right
to forward this mail to other people who you think might be interested
in actively contributing to the SANE development efforts.

I believe SANE is a unique opportunity to significantly advance the
state of the art for scanner support under Linux and Unix in general.
SANE is young enough that you can make an important and lasting
contribution to this effort. If you share the excitement for this
opportunity and are tired of writing a scanning utility _again_,
please take a minute to look at SANE and determine how it might fit
with your software---and by all means join the SANE developers mailing
list ( The volume on that mailing list is
very reasonable so that it does not consume a lot of time.


David Mosberger-Tang; Dept. of CS; The University of Arizona; Tucson, AZ 85721

Source code, list archive, and docs:
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