For cloud solutions we work exclusively with our partner Loftware and their NiceLabel Cloud products. This belongs to the various cloud subscriptions and also the local Label Management Software products.
Even if the user interface looks a bit complex at first impression, it is quite intuitive to use. Fields of the type barcode, texts, images and shapes are placed and the field properties will be set. Finally, the data source is defined as a fixed text, input variable or from databases.
The available field types provide all the important elements: #Text with fixed size, automatic scaling or as rich text with options similar to Word. #Barcodes as linear barcodes and also 2D codes with wizards for standardized barcode content. #Images and graphic elements such as frames, lines, circles including any inverted areas. #Reports allow printouts with headers, footers and variable data groups.
The most important area is the designer view of the layout in the center section. On the right side of this are the properties for the currently selected field. At the top left is the field selection for inserting elements into the layout and below is the selection list of dynamic data sources that are created via the data manager.
All dynamic data sources such as input variables, database data and functions are created in the data manager. There are also wizards for using databases, an editor with support for scripts and global variables.
The Richtext Editor is used to create complex text fields with different text formats, table layouts, images and special characters.
The data manager is used in the designer to connect to databases. Standard databases such as Excel, Access, MS-SQL, mySQL and data files in text formats are directly supported here. All other databases can be used via database interfaces (ODBC or OLEDB).
To make this as easy as possible there is a step-by-step wizard for all databases. A wizard for structured text files simplifies the use of data in text format. Of course you can also manually create a database connection yourself. Created database connections can be used in the layout and also in the Powerforms printing solutions. If required, the wizard also creates a data field for each column of the database table.
Entire industry sectors try to put their layout definitions on a common basis in order to ensure usage in business relationships. It is not uncommon for these layouts to be subject to company-specific specifications and the effort required to read them is not insignificant.
The automotive industry uses the VDA Odette layouts for transport containers, GS1 pallet labels are standardized in logistics, the food industry works with regulations on alergens and nutritional information and the pharmaceutical plus medical devices sectors have to comply with a number of specifications. To make the work much easier here, there is a whole pool of sample labels for a wide variety of industrial areas and requirements.
Labeling of allergens and nutritional values on foods often use table views.
Barcode identifiers and mandatory information are specified here.
GS1 label with pallet identification SSCC and product data such as GTIN, product count and lot number.
Even if it is good to work with Standards as much as possible, daily practice shows that some requirements needs a special solution. For this purpose it is possible to create small scripts in Visual Basic or Python, which can then be used as a data source.
In order to prepare a lot of this work, the development team has already integrated a lot of functions for direct usage. In addition to the functions required for creating scripts, there are also functions for calculating various check digits, access to external files and serial interfaces, direct access to databases (Access, Excel, SQL) and reading definitions for alergene ingredients. But there are also plenty of functions for handling texts and dates to get specific output formats.
In case of barcodes, in addition to the symbology (e.g. EAN, Code128, Datamatrix, Code39), there it is often specified how the content in the barcode should look like. It could be as simple as the EAN13 where there are 12 numerical digits and a check digit, but can also be very complex when it comes to keywords such as GS1, HIBC or ANSI.
In order to reduce the effort here, the designer provides wizards for the three most important specifications and also checks the respective data input. Data sources created in this way can then be used as required in texts and barcodes. The GS1 wizard uses the detailed GS1 specification with currently over 160 data identifiers. The HIBC wizard also supports the special requirements with separate secondary and primary codes. The third wizard supports barcodes for layouts according to the ANSI specification MH10.8.2, even if not specified in deep detail but probably the largest with over 400 data identifiers.
The standard for product and pallets labels with GS1-128 and GS1-Datamtarix barcodes
In addition to GS1, the standard in health care system, partly with primary and secondary codes
Basis for specifications in the automotive and pharmaceutical industries
When printing with variable data from the Designer an input form is already generated and displayed for selecting the data records and input variables. This form will also show the print preview and you can start printing. In the PowerForms version of the designer, this option is extended and you can create a complete printing solution from a layout, useable for local printing and for publishing in the cloud versions.
Specify data defaults and use a wide variety of form objects that secure the input of variable data against incorrect entries by the user. The objects in the Form Designer cover most requirements. In addition to images, texts and buttons there are also database elements (table view, navigator, search), selection elements (lists, checkboxes, combo boxes) and print elements (preview, settings, number of prints).