ExtractTable: Convert Tabular Data From Images

Longtime readers of this blog know I love sharing helpful tools and technology tips.

When my friend Amy Carney told me she successfully used an online tool I suggested, ExtractTable, I was thrilled!

ExtractTable is an online tool that extracts tabular data from images.

It saves hours of time for designers and developers who receive PDFs/images and need to extract table content, but have no access to the original source of the content.

In my opinion, ExtractTable is a useful tool for your toolbox.

Key features:

  1. Supports images and PDFs
  2. Use it from the web, via API, or with Google Sheets plugin
  3. Multi-language support: English, Portuguese, Spanish, German, Italian, and French

I asked Amy if I could interview her about her ExtractTable experience, why she considered it, what she learned, and any recommendations or concerns she had.

She kindly accepted my invitation. It was my pleasure to chat with her about ExtractTable.

Here’s our conversation.

Interview with Amy Carney

1. What problem were you trying to solve?

In document remediation, especially PDFs, I frequently face the challenge of images that have a lot of text trapped in them.

Sometimes the content creator doesn’t have the source data or compilation before it was turned into a JPG.

When an image has a lot of visible text, it can exclude folks who rely on screen reader software.

During a recent document remediation project, I was handed an InDesign file that I needed to make accessible.

It had a lot of images with text.

In particular, several pages in the document were tables that shared upcoming class schedules.

Lots of information jam-packed into 7 pages. There was no way to equate that information in image alternative text!

I was worried I’d have to enter all the data in an InDesign table, if the team couldn’t locate the original Excel file.

2. What made you choose ExtractTable?

Recently, you shared ExtractTable with me, an online resource that claimed to convert JPG tables into Excel tables.

I put it in the back of my mind for future experimentation since I’ve encountered many table screenshots in documents during remediation projects.

3. Any other options you considered?

I hadn’t considered any other options when I reached for ExtractTable.

It was an experiment I felt was worth the try, given the potential time saving.

4. How long did it take? Any idea how much time it saved?

ExtractTable conversion took under a minute for each image.

I had seven images to convert into Excel format.

Despite the limit imposed on uploads, I was able to patiently wait to convert each image over the course of 20 minutes.

I worked on InDesign table styles while I waited.

Considering it was an experiment during the time I waited to see if my client could deliver their original Excel data table, I was able to accomplish my goal in an afternoon.

That included:

  1. Setting up table styles in InDesign
  2. Combining all the converted data into one Excel file to import into InDesign
  3. Modify any oddities once imported

I was so happy with my learning and the results that I’d use it again.

I’m confident ExtractTable would save me several days of work for smallish projects that don’t have the source files available.

5. What features stood out for you?

For me, it was easy to drag each file into the browser window to upload. I quickly received a converted file in the format I needed.

Issues worth noting:

  1. Upon further evaluation, I found the “drop file” feature isn’t keyboard accessible, which prevents non-mouse users from using ExtractTable.
  2. Lots of images (bigger projects) would likely need a Web Pro purchase, a lot of patience, or a different service
  3. I wonder if pictures of tables without borders are accurate. I didn’t have an example to try, but I noticed the parts of my images that had additional text at the bottom were not included as part of the table.
  4. Merged cells need to be manually merged again

About Amy Carney

Amy Carney is a Certified Professional in Web Accessibility (CPWA). She owns and operates Digilou, an independent web accessibility consultation and web design LLC.

While getting certified, she documented her journey on 100 Days of A11y to share with others what it takes to learn web accessibility.

She’s been practicing web design and development for eight years, four of which she’s been an accomplice for accessibility.

Photo of author

About the Author

Deborah Edwards-Onoro helps small businesses, consultants, nonprofits, and higher ed with creative and distinctive websites. Deborah shares her expertise with web design, user experience, and accessibility on her blog, social media, and at meetup events. As organizer of Refresh Detroit, West Metro Detroit WordPress, and Metro Detroit WordPress, she encourages members to share their knowledge and experiences. In her free time, you'll find her birding, shooting photos, reading, or watching tennis.
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