What’s the similarities/differences between TWAIN and WIA?

If you are developing an application by using Dynamsoft's Dynamic Web TWAIN or Dynamic .NET TWAIN (for desktop app), you are possibly interested in the similarities/differences between TWAIN and WIA.


  1. As long as a driver exists, both are able to acquire images from devices such as a scanner or camera.
  2. Acquire images with a dialog.
  3. Programmatically set properties of the device and acquire the images programmatically without showing a dialog.
  4. Not all capabilities are supported by each device, so you can query the device for the ones that it does support.


  1. In general, when a device supports both TWAIN and WIA, TWAIN is better for scanners and WIA is better for cameras, webcam, etc..
  2. For devices like cameras, sometimes the driver is actually WIA but you can access it via the “TWAIN compatibility layer”.
  3. WIA uses a common dialog for all devices while TWAIN uses a dialog created by the device manufacturer. Practically speaking, this almost always means that the TWAIN dialog will provide more options and advanced control over the device.
  4. TWAIN allows you to use custom capabilities that the device manufacturer has created even though they don’t exist in the TWAIN specifications.
  5. TWAIN has three transfer modes (Native, Memory, File) and WIA only has two (Memory, File).
  6. Most TWAIN sources save the settings of the previous scan while WIA does not.
  7. TWAIN supports options for each page when scanning in duplex mode but WIA uses the same settings for both sides.


  1. It is assured that our TWAIN products are working well with all TWAIN drivers.
  2. For WIA drivers, it also works with our TWAIN products most of the time.
  3. If acquiring images from a webcam is one of your app’s requirements, please check out Dynamic Webcam Add-on. The add-on is based on the DirectShow API and works with all UVC compatible webcams.
  4. How to check if a capability is supported or not?

For more details on WIA, please visit http://www.microsoft.com/whdc/device/stillimage/WIA-arch.mspx.
For more details on TWAIN, please visit http://www.TWAIN.org/.
For more details on TWAIN, WIA, ISIS, SANE difference, please visit http://www.dynamsoft.com/blog/document-imaging/document-scanning-twain-wia-isis-sane/

If you need any assistance or have any problem, please feel free to contact us.

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