I'm setting up a small library, about to purchase preprinted Code 39 (not extended) barcodes. OpenBiblio help documentation says it doesn't allow anything but alphanumeric characters. Does that mean it can't read Code 39 barcodes that have to use ! or * as the start and stop characters? Or is it speaking about actual barcode number within the start and stop characters? Anyone successfully using and scanning code 39 barcodes in OpenBiblio? Thank you for any clarification before I waste a lot of money.
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I haven't seen the preprinted barcodes, but I don't expect OpenBiblio would read start and stop characters when a barcode is scanned in the Copy New and Edit Pages.
Did you know that OpenBiblio can produce PDF files with barcodes in a label layout? When printed, these can be used with a barcode scanner.
The help documentation that you are referring to, does not apply to version 0.7.1; this version is less restrictive about barcodes. And when you don't use the built-in barcode printing you can benefit from a new option in the Copy New and Edit Pages: validation for barcode characters can be turned off.
Thank you for the excellent help! The link you provided gave me a clue to the answer to my original question. "Firefox 19...an issue with printing PDF layouts...displays barcodes as text characters enclosed by asterisk signs (*).."
So if I understand correctly: OpenBiblio will read a code 39 barcode, even if it has the required start and stop characters, which are not alphanumeric characters, because the scanner is the only piece of the puzzle using those characters. The scanner just sends the actual barcode characters to OpenBiblio. If I create my own barcodes in OpenBiblio and use the reports to print them, OpenBiblio will encode it correctly for a scanner to read, with the start and stop characters included.
I was also not aware that I could print barcodes from OpenBiblio. That is great news because the companies that print barcodes want orders that are thousands more than we need in this small library.
The start and stop characters are added to the barcode by the part of OpenBiblio that prepares the PDF. Their only purpose is to trigger the barcode font where it's needed in the PDF, they should not become part of the printed barcode.
The PDF code in Firefox 19 doesn't understand the special meaning of the start and stop characters, it just displays them as normal characters and therefore the barcode font does not show either. Newer versions of Firefox do show the barcode font. I haven't tested if alignment is right, so you still might have to use an external PDF reader program.
Are you using OpenBiblio the most recent release? (currently 0.7.1) This has the most up-to-date label layouts included.
I had success creating my own Code 39 barcodes. I was looking for labels without the name of the book, a slight change from the format that OpenBiblio has in reports-labels. This way I could have name of library, barcode, and human readable barcode number on a 5/8" x 2" label, and get 64 labels per sheet.
How: Using Excel to generate the barcode numbers in column one, the number with the start and stop character of "*" (encoding) added in column two, and then the encoded number copied in column three but put in the Code 39 font. (Code39 Barcode Generator for Excel can be found on web.) Using Publisher (Word could work too) at Page Setup, select Custom for publication type and use 2" x .63" for the width and height of the page size. At the "change copies per sheet" button select "Print multiple copies per sheet, with .25" for side margin, .38" for top margin, 0 for horizontal and vertical gaps.
Then in setting up the label add a text box at top of label for name of your library in 7pt type (Arial, all caps easy to read). In the middle position of the label insert a mail merge back to the Excel file, from the field of the barcode fonts in column three. Set size at 22pt or whatever fits the width for your barcode length. Below that barcode field insert the field of the human readable barcode number from column one from the Excel file, formatted to Arial 11pt. All three lines are centered horizontally.
I added the smallest of tic marks (lines) in all corners, both vertical and horizontal. Do a few print previews to make sure they are aligning perfectly with neighboring labels' tic marks, and that they are small enough not to show when trimmed out. The tic marks give exact cropping marks, and when trimmed out with Exacto knife and straight edge the marks are gone.
Mine were printed with a laser printer on matte finish laser photo paper stock. The barcode lines are crisp, strong black on brilliant white, and the paper should last indefinitely. I covered the barcodes with booktape on the books since they don't have their own adhesive like regular printed labels.
To answer my own question above...yes they do scan perfectly into OpenBiblio 0.7.1. And at a cost of one package of photo paper at $15.00 for 100 sheets, I saved a lot of money over buying preprinted barcodes.
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