Troubleshooting Variable Bar Codes (Variable Barcodes)

There are several considerations when troubleshooting DesignMerge variable bar codes (variable barcodes). These include the data, the Variable Link settings, the barcode font, the styling of the barcode text in the document, your merge settings, and the capabilities of the scanner. 

 

Data

 

If the data for the barcode is already in a barcode format: Do not use a DesignMerge Barcode Keyword Link for this data. Instead, use the standard Variable Link that Quick Setup sets up for that field and apply the barcode font that has been recommended for use with that data. TIP: If the data does not contain the start/stop characters, you can add these by using the Variable Link’s Add Prefix and Add Suffix parameters. 

 

If the data for the barcode is not in the appropriate barcode format: If the database contains the data that the barcode is to represent, but that data has not been converted to a barcode format), then you may use a DesignMerge Barcode Keyword Link to convert this data on-the-fly while merging. The PostNet Barcode Keyword Link and Intelligent Mail Barcode Keyword Link are standard features of DesignMerge. To convert data to other types of barcode formats (for example, UPC, Code 128, Code 39, Interleaved 2 of 5, and others), the optional Meadows Barcode Module may be used in conjunction with DesignMerge. For more information about the Barcode Module, please contact Meadows Publishing Solutions.

 

If you are using a DesignMerge Barcode Keyword Link, confirm the data meets that Keyword Link's requirements:

  • The DesignMerge PostNet Barcode Keyword Link will accept data that consists of 5, 7, or 9 digits. 
  • The DesignMerge Intelligent Mail Barcode Keyword Link will accept data that consists of a minimum of 20 digits, a maximum of 31 digits. Additionally, this Keyword Variable Link will assume the data is organized as follows: Barcode ID (2 digits), Service Type (3 digits), Mailer ID (6 or 9 digits), Zip+4+DP (0. 5, 9, or 11 digits). 
  • For the other DesignMerge Barcode Keyword Links, see the information that is presented on the Bar Code Utility dialog window, which is available when the Barcode Module is installed. 

 

Barcode Link Settings

 

For a standard Variable Link that will merge data that is already in a barcode format, you may use the Variable Link that Quick Setup set up for that field of data, and apply the following settings to that Link:

  1. Confirm the appropriate Field has been selected for this Variable Link. Select the field that contains the barcode formatted data. 
  2. Do not add any Prefix or Suffix, unless all data in this field is missing the same start/stop characters. In that case, you can add these by using the Variable Link’s Add Prefix and Add Suffix parameters. 
  3. Select the appropriate If Link is Empty setting for this Link. Please note that if you will be applying the Substitute option, enter barcode formatted data for the substitution. 
  4. Select Text for the Link Type and select None for the Import Filter setting (or uncheck the Use XPress Tags Filter checkbox option).

 

To use a DesignMerge Barcode Keyword Link, you must first add it to the list of Variable Links that have been set up in your document's DDF. For an example, see Tutorial #2 (Postcard) in the DesignMerge Tutorial Manual. Once the Barcode Keyword Link has been added to the list of Variable Links, then apply the following settings to this Keyword Link:

  1. Confirm the appropriate Field has been selected. Select the field that contains ALL of the data that you wish to have represented by the barcode. 
  2. Do not add any Prefix or Suffix, unless all data in this field is missing the same beginning or ending information. IMPORTANT: Do not include start/stop characters; the Barcode Keyword Link will add these automatically. 
  3. Select the appropriate If Link is Empty setting for this Link. Please note that if you will be applying the Substitute option, enter barcode formatted data for the substitution. 
  4. Select Text for the Link Type and select None for the Import Filter setting (or uncheck the Use XPress Tags Filter checkbox option).

 

Font

 

Once you have assigned the Barcode Link or the Barcode Keyword Link to text in the document, apply the appropriate font.

  • If you are using a DesignMerge Barcode Keyword Link, you must use one of the barcode fonts that was provided in your DesignMerge package. 
  • If you are not using a DesignMerge Barcode Keyword Link, do not use the barcode fonts that were provided in your DesignMerge package. Instead, use the barcode font that is recommended by the application that generated this barcode data. 

 

Styling

 

Deselect the InDesign "Use Typographer's Quotes" preference, which is available on the Type panel of the InDesign Preferences dialog. 

 

Confirm you have not applied the bar code font to any preceding space characters or any trailing space characters.

 

Confirm that Tracking and Kerning have not been applied to this text. If you have applied scaling, confirm that horizontal and vertical scaling are both applied proportionately. 

 

Turn off Ligatures. 

 

Apply the font size recommended by the font's manufacturer. The manufacturer for the barcode fonts that DesignMerge provides recommends that you use these fonts at 18 pt. If you should choose to use a different point size, you will want to run some tests to confirm scanners can still read the barcodes successfully.

 

Finally, do not use CopyFit to tag the box that contains the barcode link. 

 

Merging

 

Confirm that your selected CopyFit option will not adjust the text in the box that contains the barcode. 

 

Scanner

 

Run tests to confirm the target scanner will be able to scan the variable barcodes because scanners have different capabilities and also different sensitivities to the sizing and print qualities of various barcodes.