On Monday Alagad released two new products, a Captcha component based on Alagad Image Component technology, and an EXIF Reader Web Service which is intended to compliment the Alagad Image Component.
About the Alagad Captcha:
The Alagad Captcha is a ColdFusion Component (CFC) written in 100% native ColdFusion which generates images of obfuscated text. This is the sort of type of image you might see when signing up for free mail accounts or in other various forms across the web. The text is human readable but not machine readable.
The word “Captcha” is an acronym for “completely automated public Turing test to tell computers and humans apart”. More information on Captchas can be found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Captcha.
Interestingly enough, the Wikipedia article linked to above points out that computers can be tweaked to read captcha images. As a test of this, I found a few captcha images from various sources and ran them though some OCR software. Though none which I tried had all characters recognized, most had at least some characters which were recognized. I found that only VERY obscured text which was next to illegible and light text on dark backgrounds were never matched by my (cheap) OCR software. The Alagad Captcha, by the way, had none matched but the text is still very human readable.
This Component is based on portions of the Alagad Image Component. In general, this is a specialized version of the AIC which can be used to create and verify Captcha images.
About the Alagad EXIF Reader Web Service:
A while ago I posted a web service to doughughes.net which would extract EXIF data from images and return an XML package of the data. After leaving it out on doughughes.net as a beta for a while and not getting any negative feedback I decided to go ahead and publish this.
The Web Service itself is free and very simple to use. The source code can be purchased and run locally or modified for some other purpose if desired.
Comments on: "Two New Alagad Products Released" (3)
Dude – Why did I have to find this out from ‘full as a goog’?
I thought I would add some observations about your Captcha component. I used to work as an graphic artist, and I had to deal with fonts and typefaces on a daily basis.
You use a method called setIgnoredFontList. Depending on the operating system and version, some servers have a lot of fonts that are almost unreadable. You might have to add a hundred fonts to that method. It would be better to set a list of approved fonts. How about an setApprovedFontList() method.
It also can be difficult to tell the difference between uppercase and lowercase characters. Some fonts do not include uppercase glyphs, so a nasty box outline will display instead.
I would also look at maybe adding font kerning and tracking methods to improve spacing. I do not know if the Java classes you are using include the ability to change kerning and tracking attributes.
Other than that, it is nice to see someone has devloped an out of the box component that does not require background images or separate Java classes to be installed to add this functionality to CFML servers.
Thank you very much for your suggestions. I will all but guarantee that the setApprovedFontList() method will be added. Ill have to consider how to handle a situation where a font is both approved and ignored. Ill probably have to give the ignore list presidence.
FYI, the Captcha component is not case sensitive. If your Captcha string was AbCdEf it would match cases provide, as long as the character was right.
At the moment I dont plan on adding kerning or tracking. I do understand why you suggest this. If more people request it I will reconsider. However, I think that the Captcha images are quite easy to read compared to some other options.
Thank you again for your suggestions. Keep em coming!