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Label designer

Printing of supply chain documents (printing reports)

NOTE: This feature requires NiceLabel PowerForms or above. Integrated printing requires NiceLabel LMS Pro or above.

Printing reports with NiceLabel completes your labeling and shipping cycle, helping you go from product labeling to shipment with the same software. You can print reports from within NiceLabel without the need for third party applications. Report printing avoids the cost of having to learn, develop, and maintain third party applications just to print your reports.

You can design supply chain documents, like

  • Delivery notes

  • Pick lists

  • Packing slips

  • Reports

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Figure 6: Design of report in NiceLabel Designer and printed result

Reports are labels/pages that display database data as custom tables. Report printing organizes your data into rows. Each row will display data from one record in a database. You can use any NiceLabel object within a row and link it with a data source. The Report object will iterate through all records and expand on the next label/page(s), when there is too much data to fit in the current label/page.

You can add headers and footers to explain more information about your data.

You can print supply chain documents on-demand from PowerForms applications and also integrated into your business system with NiceLabel Automation.

Object panel

In NiceLabel Designer, your Objects panel lists every object on your design surface, making it simple to find and select exactly the objects you want on your label templates or forms. You can search and organize your objects within layers, both separately or in groups. Each layer shows your objects and object groups in a tree structure.

The Objects panel will make it easier to work with the complex label templates with a lot of dynamic content, overlapping objects, and multiple layers.

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Figure 7: Filtering form objects to those containing “print” in their name and selecting the PrintButton

Use your Objects panel to:

  • Search for objects by name or by connected data sources.

  • Display action indicator icons after object names when your objects have actions assigned.

  • Rename objects (when you press F2 on your keyboard).

  • Quickly access the options in your object’s context menu.

Objects panel lists the objects chronologically in the order you created them (newer on top).

New Help platform

We are revising and rewording much of our NiceLabel help content to make it clear, concise, and easy to understand. This release introduces a new NiceLabel help system based on a new platform and provides a modern visual user interface, search, and better navigation through our existing content.

Nicelabel help opens in your browser when you click Help or press F1 in NiceLabel programs.

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Figure 8: Revised and rewritten NiceLabel Help uses a new platform

Performance optimizations

  • Checking out label. NiceLabel Designer will no longer reload the label when the user wants to check it out or discards the checked-out label. For snappier performance, NiceLabel Designer will only reload the label, if the label was modified on the server or when discarding the checkout of a locally modified label.

  • Performance optimization when clients interact with Document Storage. There is less overhead communication when NiceLabel clients request information from Document Storage. Operations like opening and saving files, checking in, checking out, and discarding check out are optimized and require fewer calls to the API. As a result, NiceLabel clients respond faster.

Picture object supports Base64-encoded graphics

You can provide content for the Picture object with a new type of data input. The Picture object supports raw Base64-encoded data. This works for Picture objects in labels and forms.

Base64 is an encoding algorithm that transforms any data into text-based representation, which you can send with other data in XML or JSON payloads to NiceLabel API endpoints. You no longer have to convert the received Base64-encoded image to a file on a disk. The Picture object will decode the Base64 data into the original binary stream and use it.

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Figure 9: You can provide image data as part of the data payload (PNG data is encoded in Image field)

Note

The other supported data types for Picture object are image file in a file system or from Document Management System, and BLOB database fields.

Updated NiceLabel Label Converter for BarTender documents

This new version of NiceLabel Label Converter imports more design features from your BarTender label templates and provides more accurate NiceLabel variants of the label template. However, this requires you have at least BarTender 2016 installed on the computer where you run NiceLabel Label Converter.

Improvements:

  • Time and Date data types are now correctly imported as time and date variables. The default format for Date is “dd/MM/yyyy” and for time “HH:mm:ss”. Other data types are still imported as text.

  • Better detection of the anchoring points.

  • Import of embedded images.

  • Various bug fixes.

Script editor for VBScript Expression

VBScript Expression is a data source that accepts one line of VBScript code. You no longer have to blindly enter the code into the edit field. You can click Script editor button and use the script editor. This is the same editor as we use for editing VBScript code.

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Figure 10: Script editor available for VBScript Expression data provider

ECI encoding

Extended Channel Interpretation (ECI) encodes information about used code pages (e.g. UTF-8, Windows-1251) into the barcode symbol. ECI encoding tells barcode readers which "code page" to use to correctly decode the content. It allows usually unsupported national characters sets such as Arabic, Greek or Japanese, to be used in barcode symbols.

ECI encoding is available for Data Matrix and QR 2D codes.

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Figure 11: ECI Encoding option available in DataMatrix and QR Code properties

Updated support for data-encoding and business communication standards

  • Updated support for GS1 general specifications. NiceLabel supports the new GS1 Application Identifier 395n for price per unit of measurement. This allows encoding the "price/kg" in a barcode to scan it at POS and then print on cash receipt. The GS1 Application Identifier digit shown as “n” indicates the implied decimal point position.

  • Updated support for Data Identifier and Application Identifier Standard ANSI MH10.8.2. NiceLabel supports all data identifiers from the latest update of the standard (August 27, 2020): 25D, 26D, 27D, 28D, 26H, 8J, 18L, 35L, 36L, 53P, 54P, 7R, 8R, 9R, 23V, and 24V.

More control for import of data sources

Note

Product level NiceLabel Designer Pro or above is required for this feature.

In NiceLabel Designer, you can import data sources (variables) from existing label templates, solutions, variable lists, and other definition files. This saves time defining a new label template or solution that re-uses data sources that you’ve already defined in some other project.

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Figure 12: Selecting between overwrite and merge import modes

This release provides more control over how the data sources are imported:

  • You can overwrite the existing data sources. The new data source from a file overwrites the existing data source. The mapping is done by name of the data source. This was a default action in NiceLabel 2019 so far.

  • You can merge data sources. In this case, the data source settings from the file are merged with the existing settings of a data source. The mapping is done by name of the data source. However, when data sources are too distinct, the new data source will be imported with a new name. There are two factors determining data source likeness: default value and variable data type (e.g. text, date/time, counter, etc.)

The new option provides a choice for designer, when importing data sources from several definition files into the same label or solution and the overwrite is not always a desirable option.

Update to graphic merging options

Note

Product level NiceLabel Designer Pro or above is required for this feature.

You can already select how NiceLabel should print graphic objects in the label template. Graphics objects are always rendered by NiceLabel and sent to the printer as images. You can configure NiceLabel to send each graphic object to the printer separately or send them all merged into one big graphic.

These settings are usually configured for high-throughput label printing, whenever the print action must complete as fast as possible.

There is a new fine-tuning option to exclude some of the objects from being combined into one graphic.

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Figure 13: Additional graphic merge option

There are two supported scenarios to do it:

  1. Include the word “DONOTCOMBINE” anywhere in the object name. That object will not be merged into the graphic and will be sent to the printer as a separate graphic object.

  2. Include the word “DONOTCOMBINE” in the data source name. All objects that get value from this data source will not be merged into the graphic and will be sent to the printer as separate graphic objects.

Font replacement can be enabled for label variants

NOTE: Product level NiceLabel Designer Pro or above is required for this feature.

Label variants are label templates that originate from the same master label template, but have embedded the production data and are not editable. The only unlocked data sources in label variants are variables that get values just before a production run, like Lot/Batch or production and expiration dates.

Label variants have the "prevent font replacement" option enabled by default. The label variant does not print when fonts used in the label template are not available on the workstation.

In some organizations, the replacement of fonts is allowed. For such cases, you can add a switch to the product.config file to enable the replacement feature.

You can add a new XML element in the following location and assign True value to it.

/Common/General/ForceFontReplacementForLabelVariants

This switch will have an effect on label variant printing in NiceLabel Print, NiceLabel Web Client, and NiceLabel Automation.

Setting asterisk visibility in human readable Code39 barcodes

Code39 is a barcode type that encodes up to 43 characters including numbers, letters, and some symbols. Its main area of use is in industrial fields, especially automotive and electronics. Code39 uses the asterisk character (*) as start and stop characters.

The asterisks are not part of the barcode data but are displayed in the human readable portion on the left and right side of the encoded data. You can control the visibility of the asterisk characters.

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Figure 14: Configurable asterisk visibility in human readable

Application designer

Modifying label template during printing

NiceLabel software is already strong in its support for dynamic label templates. You can design a label template where label objects change not only their content and visibility but also their position, all based on the input data. You can print a label to any available printer, not just the printer you selected during the design.

With this release, we raised expectations for universal label design.

  • You can override the label properties saved in your template with the custom values you need for your currently selected printer model or currently selected media type.

  • You can adjust the definitions of your label just before you print, including width, height, margins, and labels across. You can rotate the label 90° degrees (changing portrait/landscape mode) to fit the same label template to two media types. You can also disable cutter settings if that is something you don’t need in a particular print action.

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Figure 15: New option available in Set Print Parameter action

You achieve this with a new option to modify label settings in the Set Print Parameter action. These settings are applied at print time and are not saved in the label template. The settings are provided as an XML payload. See our user guide for details.

Support for animated GIFs

Animated GIFs contain a series of frames (pictures). When displayed, the frames provide an animated sequence that cycles over and over without stopping.

Animated GIFs are a great visual tool when you want to get a user’s attention while using the PowerForms application, like:

  • Showing animated progress bars to let them know the application is busy processing the last request.

  • Attention to a specific surface area where they should continue the workflow.

  • Animated icons to suggest where the action area is in applications.

You can use animated GIF images with Picture and Button objects in your PowerForms applications, also when you run them in the NiceLabel Web Client.

RBAC membership exposed in forms

NOTE: Product level NiceLabel LMS Pro or above is required for this feature.

When using NiceLabel LMS and Label Cloud products, you must configure the role-based access control (RBAC) in the Control Center dashboard. You must assign roles to your users (e.g. designer, QA member, operator) and therefore define access level to NiceLabel applications.

The same user roles are now visible in your custom PowerForms applications. You can see user membership in the Control Center-defined access roles and apply the allow/deny logic in your application.

When you must create an application that allows access to particular functionality to specific users but denies access to other users, you don’t have to devise your own user management but can reuse the one you already use for the NiceLabel platform. For example, the administrators of NiceLabel platform will also be administrators in your custom application. You can also create a completely new set of access roles for your PowerForms applications.

There is a new internal variable UserRoles that contains a comma-separated list of roles that the logged-in user is a member of.

Minimizing form and minimizing to taskbar notification area

There is a new option available in form properties for minimizing the form. The ability to minimize the form is now available as a separate “Allow minimizing form” option, no longer tied to the “Allow resizing form” option.

When you enable a new option, the user can minimize the form to the taskbar. Furthermore, when you enable “Minimize to tray” option, the form will minimize to the taskbar notification area (next to the clock). The icon visibility is configured by Windows option “Select which icons appear on the taskbar”.

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You can also use a command-line switch startAsMinimized:true that will force the form to start minimized. Hiding the form is useful when you use it for background tasks and do not need to show its user interface.

Uppercase/lowercase formatting option

NiceLabel includes functionality for text formatting options, such as “trim spaces”, “search and replace”, “delete non-printable characters”, and many more.

You would use these options whenever the master data received does not conform to label data specifications so you have to adjust it. The built-in formatting options provide data formatting without a need to use scripting with VBScript or Python.

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Figure 16: New Change case option available in String Manipulation action (and in Automation filters)

With this update, we expanded the functionality to convert text to UPPERCASE or lowercase.

The formatting options are available in String Manipulation action (PowerForms and Automation) and in the filter properties (Automation).

Configurable message type for Message action

You use Message actions to display informational messages in your PowerForms applications or request input from the user. The Message action is also useful when developing your PowerForms applications or Automation triggers. It will display a message on-screen (PowerForms) or in a log (Automation), helping you trace your workflow executions.

There is a new property in the Message action details to configure the message type/severity as “information”, “warning”, “error”, “question” (PowerForms only).

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Figure 17: Configurable message type

The message type determines the icon that will display in the message box (PowerForms) or color-coding for the event in the log (Automation), e.g. error type is colored red, a warning is colored orange.

Vertically resizable text areas in actions

The text areas in XML Transform and Set variable actions where you configure actions are now vertically resizable to accommodate longer content.

.NET API

Support for detailed element properties

The SDK interface is extended to expose the following new objects’ properties.

General properties for all supported objects:

  • Description

  • Status of printable/not printable setting

  • Status of visibility condition

Text and text box object properties:

  • Effects: inverse, mirror, RTL printing, text on ellipse

  • Style: bold, italic, underline, strike-through

Text and text box and barcode object properties:

  • Content mask and mask character

Barcode object properties (some properties are not available for all barcode types):

  • Include quiet zones, inter-character gap, space correction

  • Human readable: No, above, below

  • Human readable custom font: font, size, bold, italic, auto font scaling

  • Include check digit

  • Type of Databar barcode

  • X dimension (modulo X)

  • Ratio

  • Descender bars

  • Number system

  • Bearer bar (fixed thickness, thickness multiplier, show vertical bars)

  • QR barcode - error correction level

Data source enhancements:

  • CurrentDate, CurrentTime data sources

  • Date/Time offset for CurrentDate and CurrentTime

Support for functions

SDK interface is extended to support Concatenate, GS1-128, and ASC functions.

When a solution contains functions, the SDK interface ILabel will return a list of functions through the property ILabel.Functions. You can read the function definition as an XML document. No updates or changes are available through the SDK interface.

Exposed print metadata

The Print method has a property “metadata” that is now exposed in the SDK. This is a piece of information that Control Center logs in the history of the print event to link the event with data printed on the label.

This property is already available for PowerForms applications and Automation configurations.