PEERNET Inc, a document conversion solutions company, was founded on June 9th, 1997. As it seems is the case with any good start up story, Peernet came from humble beginnings – working out of a basement. We quickly outgrew that space and moved beyond, but we look back fondly on those early years of innovation and exploration.
The aim of Peernet was simple: produce high-quality, highly configurable, multi-purpose graphic and imaging software for the Microsoft Windows market. Our CEO & Founder, Robert Massart, often points out that he put his vision for Peernet right into our company’s name. The name Peernet was chosen to represent the collaborative nature of our company. According to Rob, “It was always [his] intention to make a company that values networking peer-to-peer among customers and employees, and evolves as a product of these interactions.” To this day, most innovation in our products can be attributed to the suggestions and requests of our clients.
When our company began document conversion and digital imaging was in its infancy. We’ve grown with the industry, while at the same time innovated to grow the industry ourselves. It’s been an honour to contribute to the paperless office transition with our virtual image printers & conversion software.
The very first product we developed was printer software for ID Card printers (PVC printers and thermal printers). Our focus quickly extended beyond software for physical printers to software for virtual printer drivers. At this point I could say “and the rest is history”, because at its core every product we have developed and sold these past 20 years is built upon this concept of virtual printer drivers.
Virtual printer drivers convert any printable document to an image. Or in other words this type of software allows the user to create an image from any document they could also print. At the time, our software was most commonly being used as a solution for creating faxable TIFF images and archive-ready TIFF images. The need to convert documents to TIFF was, and still is today, an essential aspect of doing business for bank, insurance, legal and medical companies.
Originally released in 1999 under the PEERNET.DRV product brand name and later renamed, the TIFF Image Printer became our flagship – and most popular – product. Other variations of virtual printers to create PDF files and other raster image files were soon added. These products filled the growing need for customizable desktop solutions that would work within a company’s current business practices (also referred to as workflow integration).
In many ways our TIFF Image Printer was the perfect solution because:
- It creates one of the widest selections of different formats of TIFF images, including CCITT faxable TIFF and other fax formats used by fax software and other hardware.
- Custom behavior could be added to the driver to automate handling of the created file; for example it could be automatically opened, faxed, or passed to an archive system.
- Driver settings could be locked down to ensure the correct file was always created, helping to reduce user error in data entry.
- The driver settings could be controlled from other programs.
The Move to PDF
Over the years, the PDF document format gained popularity in the business world. With the increased need to create PDF files by home users and small businesses, we saw an opportunity to create an affordable, easy-to-use solution for PDF creation.
We also wanted to provide home users an easy way to print documents from multiple sources and create a single PDF file.
Many of our clients were using our PDF Image Printer solution but also wanted the ability to combine multiple documents together into a single file – PDF Creator Plus fulfilled that need.
Originally released in 2004 under the name PEERNET ePublisherPlus and later renamed to PDF Creator Plus in 2006, PDF Creator Plus creates vector PDF using our proprietary graphics optimizer that converts Microsoft graphics into high quality PDF documents. This results in smaller file sizes than the raster PDF produced by PDF Image Printer, making it ideal for the home user or small business owner.
As time went on, we began to recognize a desire from our clients to automate the conversion and storage of documents. This need for automation was largely driven by the transition to paperless offices which was occurring at the time. The paperless office created an increase in the number of documents that needed to be converted on a daily basis.
Where they used to control the driver when printing from custom programs or at a user level, our clients began to incorporate our printer driver software into their own batch conversion programs. Automation would free up their employees for other tasks.
As more and more of our clients began to create their own batch conversion utilities in-house using our printer drivers, we acknowledged this need in our client base and created the first of our batch conversion solutions, File Conversion Center, and released it in 2002.
This software served many clients well for many years. As primarily a desktop solution, it bridged the gap between user-based batch conversion and fully automated conversion.
As time went on, and the volume of electronic documents needing to be converted daily still continued to grow, we realized that FCC, and our printer drivers had to grow as well. This led to our enterprise-level, scalable and fully automated Document Conversion Service solution, now one of our most popular products.
Released in 2012, Document Conversion Service was a game changer for file conversion and management. It allowed for batch conversion of PDF to TIFF, PDF to JPEG, Word to TIFF, Word to JPEG, Excel to TIFF and Excel to JPEG to name a few. It allowed this conversion to automatically occur continuous in the background, 24/7.
Arguable the most revolutionary aspect of DCS is the sheer amount of available customization and workflow integration tools, making it easy to adapt DCS to meet the conversion needs of any business. The included folder monitoring service providing easy setup for automatic conversion and providing specific post-processing tasks that can be customized for such tasks as uploading directly to a server or an archiving system. Command line tools and a programming API complete the toolset to give our customers the freedom they need to create the solutions they want.
Twenty years later Peernet continues our tradition of innovation and collaboration. The past two decades of business have shown us that there is always a need for high-quality, comprehensive business solutions. We take pride in the reputation for professional and reliable customer support that we have developed.
We continue to work with our clients, bringing them new file conversion solutions to match the current technological landscape. Document Conversion Service, for example, is regularly updated with new features including: clustering, load balancing and fail over protection; vector (searchable) Adobe PDF; and conversion of Outlook Email Messages and their attachments.
When asked where he sees Peernet in another 20 years, our CEO & Founder, Rob says:
“I see Peernet remaining as one of the most robust and stable document conversion solutions in the Windows marketplace, expanding to meet our clients diverse needs in an ever changing ecosystem.”
While the future of Peernet remains to be seen, it is a guarantee that we’ll still be relying upon inventive thinking, peer-to-peer collaboration and friendly, reliable customer support.
We look forward to continuing to innovate and produce solutions that meet the needs of our customers worldwide!