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The format dates back to the days when the Internet was largely text-based. "Smart ASCII" basically is an ASCII scan that takes the leading white space on a line seriously. You need this to scan an outline, or an index in the back of a book that has indents under the entries.
The idea is to do an index scan, and use the indent information to consolidate page numbers with another program that I will write, if my client can find proper OCR software. Without the indents respected, important information is lost in the scan. All OCR programs we've tried without the "Smart ASCII" format occasionally screw up the leading white space on a line, or wrap the lines in arbitrary fashion. The "Smart ASCII" format works beautifully.
Any ideas? The client has been calling OCR software companies. The techs know what he's talking about, and know what he wants, but just shrug their shoulders and say that "we don't do that anymore."