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United States National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health

Fact Sheet
Electronic Document Delivery, Usage and Conversion: DocView, DocMorph and MyMorph


Electronic bitmapped image delivery of scanned journal articles has become commonplace as a means for interlibrary loan and document delivery. Libraries have found that it is often faster and more reliable to deliver documents electronically than through mail, and patrons prefer receiving them on their desktop computers. DocView, DocMorph and MyMorph make it easier for libraries and their patrons to deliver, convert and use electronic library information. All three products are the result of document imaging R&D at the Communications Engineering Branch of the Lister Hill National Center for Biomedical Communications, an R&D division of the National Library of Medicine (NLM).

DocView allows library patrons to receive library documents sent by their libraries over the Internet. Once the user receives the document images on the desktop, he or she may use DocView to preview the pages on the screen, manipulate, copy, bookmark, print, manage and retransmit the documents. A related product is DocMorph, which addresses the needs of both libraries and patrons who sometimes need to convert documents from one electronic form to another. DocMorph is a publicly available web site that allows users to convert fifty different types of electronic files to the Portable Document Format (PDF), Tagged Image File Format (TIFF), text or synthesized speech. A third related product now in beta testing is a software program called MyMorph, which allows efficient conversion of files to PDF via DocMorph. MyMorph serves as a model for mass file migration because it significantly increases the productivity of DocMorph users who wish to convert electronic files to PDF.


DocView is a Windows software application that runs under all versions of Microsoft Windows. It enables end users of libraries or information services to receive and use black and white bitmapped image documents delivered over the Internet. It is communications-compatible and image-compatible with black and white images sent by ArielTM systems used by several thousand libraries for Internet document delivery. Ariel software, produced by Research Libraries Group, runs on a workstation comprising a PC, a scanner and printer. It provides a method for scanning paper-based literature and converting it to bitmapped image form for both interlibrary loan and document delivery to the desktop.

To receive a document, the DocView user may contact a library or document supplier through a built-in document ordering function, or through conventional methods such as email, telephone, fax or other electronic means, and ask for a specific document. The library then scans the document using an Ariel system and sends it to the user's computer either via File Transfer Protocol (FTP) or Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions (MIME) email. If received via FTP, DocView automatically alerts the user to the arrival of the document. For documents received via MIME email, DocView provides the necessary viewing capability.

More than 13,000 people in over 170 countries have downloaded DocView since it was released in January 1998. Its main functions include document management, reception or transmission of documents via FTP, display of monochrome Ariel or TIFF images, zoom, scroll, pan, rotate, bookmark and print document images. DocView is free and may be downloaded from the DocView Home Page:


DocMorph is a web site that provides a useful information conversion service to the public while at the same time allowing NLM’s Communications Engineering Branch to investigate new image and information processing algorithms to find those that are fast, reliable and useful for the biomedical library community. It allows users on the Internet to upload via their web browsers scanned image files and other types of information for conversion to alternative formats. Some of the document conversion techniques offered by this server are not readily available elsewhere on the web. After the files are uploaded to DocMorph, the conversion process takes only about fifteen seconds.

DocMorph is especially useful for library patrons and document delivery librarians who use DocView or Ariel software because it provides additional capabilities for files used by those software packages. Users may upload files in up to fifty different formats, and have them converted in five different ways:

  1. Conversion to PDFTM. This file format is popular because it is highly distributable due to the widespread usage of the Adobe Acrobat ReaderTM.
  2. Conversion to multi-page TIFF.
  3. Split the file into single TIFF pages.
  4. Extract the text, which is useful for repurposing the file information.
  5. Conversion to synthesized speech. In a function that increases accessibility to electronic documents, DocMorph will read to you what you send it, using a combination of text extraction and synthesized speech.

First made public in May 1999, DocMorph now has more than 7,000 registered users, who have submitted more than 80,000 jobs, consisting of more than 800,000 document pages. Registration is free and available at the DocMorph web site:


MyMorph is a new Windows-based software program that enhances the functionality of the DocMorph web site. It does only one thing, but it does it very well: conversion of files to PDF. MyMorph’s designers took DocMorph’s most popular conversion (used 75 percent of the time), and integrated it with Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP), to allow DocMorph to provide this capability over the Internet to software other than web browsers. MyMorph is a client software program that runs on Windows 98, ME, NT, 2000 and XP. Its user interface is significantly more efficient for file conversions than that provided by the DocMorph browser-based interface. With just a few mouse clicks, a MyMorph user can select hundreds of files and begin the conversion. MyMorph takes care of uploading the files over the Internet to DocMorph, waiting for results, and downloading the PDF files to hard disk. It frees up the user to do other tasks, since it can run in the background on the user‘s computer. Because of the efficiency it offers, MyMorph is applicable to large-scale file conversions, and serves as a model for digital library file migration, in which obsolescent file types may need to be converted to newer versions such as PDF.

MyMorph entered beta testing in June 2002, and is freely available for download at the DocMorph web site listed above.

For more information, contact:

Communications Engineering Branch
Lister Hill National Center for Biomedical Communications
National Library of Medicine
8600 Rockville Pike
Bethesda, Maryland 20894

Phone: (301) 435-3211
FAX: (301) 402-0341

A complete list of NLM Fact Sheets is available at:
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Or write to:

Office of Public Information
National Library of Medicine
8600 Rockville Pike
Bethesda, Maryland 20894

Phone: (301) 496-6308
FAX:(301) 496-4450

Last updated: 04 March 2003
First published: 04 March 2003
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