Bar codes. They’re everywhere. Take a look at any book and you’ll find a bar code. Shop for clothes and you’ll find a bar code on the price tag. You’ll even find bar codes on the food you purchase at the supermarket! And if you’re in the business of selling your own products, then bar codes are very important to you because you can’t get products distributed through established market channels without bar codes. Of course, dealing with bar codes can be expensive; at least it used to be until computer software like Bar Code Publisher from StrandWare came along.
Bar Code Publisher provides exactly what its name implies. The program allows you to print your own bar codes. And not just one or two of the more popular codes, but over 16 types, including UPC-A, UPC-E (6 digit), UPC-E (11 digit), EAN/JAN-13, EAN/JAN-8, Code 39, Extended 3 of 9, HIBC, Code 93, Extended 93, Interleaved 2 of 5, Code 128, UCC-128, Codabar, MSI Plessey, and Zip+4 POSTNET.
By running as an ActiveX control, Bar Code Publisher doesn’t run as a standalone program, but from within a host application (any program that supports ActiveX controls), such as Microsoft Word, Excel, Access, FrontPage, etc. This makes Bar Code Publisher very flexible but also a bit difficult to work with since you have to access the program differently within each host application. For example, to access BCP in Word, you need to choose View>Toolbars>Control Toolbox, click the More Controls button, and then select the BCP control. To access BCP in FrontPage, you need to choose Insert>Advanced>ActiveX Control, choose the BCP control, and click OK. Luckily, the Quick Start Guide included with the program includes this information.
Accessing the properties of Bar Code Publisher is also different within each host, but once you get there, you are presented with a multitude of options. Not only can you choose the type of bar code you’d like to print, but its rotation, ratio, height and width, font, color, and more. And printing the bar code is as easy as printing out your document. For example, in Microsoft Word, just choose File>Print and your bar code is printed as part of your document. You can even place it at any location in the document, just like you would any other graphic object.
The only problem with this product is the sparse documentation. The Quick Start Guide is only 16 pages long, and while it does a good job of describing the program features, it doesn’t go into any of the advanced properties that some of the bar code types require. Of course, the package includes a nice 23-page guide to bar codes in Adobe PDF format, which is welcome addition, but even that doesn’t cover everything. For example, I wanted to know how to print out an ISBN bar code because I’m interested in self-publishing a book. I couldn’t find it in the guide. But I did get some excellent help from StrandWare tech support, so the documentation isn’t a major shortcoming.
When working with bar codes, they must be printed to exact specifications or your product data may not be scanned properly. This could be very bad for business, but with Bar Code Publisher you won’t have this problem. It provides flexible and powerful bar code printing at a very reasonable price.