Font Encoder Software App

The IDAutomation Font Encoder Application ("FEA") is a Windows application that allows the user to encode data and apply the barcode fonts both in a graphical user interface (GUI) or by using command-line parameters (CMD). The FEA auto-detects the installed IDAutomation barcode fonts and their corresponding heights. Many barcode font packages such as Code 128, ITF, DataBar, Universal, Data Matrix and QR Code include this app for free. Font packages that do not include this app include the Excel Font Encoder App instead which is also compatible with Mac.

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Features:
  • Easily paste barcode fonts into rich text fields.
  • The time-saving memorization feature remembers properties and settings.
  • Generate multiple barcode text dynamically from the command line or imported text file.
  • Save and load settings to a file in XML format.
  • The copy-to-clipboard feature allows easy pasting into applications.
  • Uses mature generation routines that have been used in IDAutomation's products since 2001.
  • Auto-detects installed barcode fonts, corresponding heights, and symbology options.
  • Compatible with Windows XP and above, including Windows 10.
  • Source code available for all developer licenses.

Tutorial

  1. Install the barcode font package, version 2016 or later, and open the Font Encoder Application.
  2. In the Data To Encode field, enter the text that is to be encoded in the barcode.

    Enter Data to Encode
  3. Modify available options that appear as necessary, such as the Apply Tilde needed in this example, as well as the barcode height and point size.

    Manage Encoder Options
  4. Use the "Copy to Clipboard" button to copy the barcode for pasting into other applications.

    Copy to Clipboard

    To skip this step in the future, enable the option from the Edit menu, "Auto Copy to Clipboard".

    Set application to automatically copy to clipboard
  5. Open the application where the newly copied barcode is desired and press Ctrl-V or right-click and choose Paste.

    Paste the copied barcode into application.
  6. The barcode should appear in your application. If only text is shown, highlight the pasted text and choose the appropriate barcode font.



Create Multiple Barcodes

  1. Open the Font Encoder Application and set the parameters needed, such as barcode symbology, height and point size.

    set parameters for the barcode

  2. Create a .txt, .csv, .tab/.tsv or scsv file with the data needed to be barcoded.

    create CSV file

  3. Go to File > Create Multiple Barcodes

    Create Multiple Barcodes

  4. Select the data file to use.

    select file

  5. A pop-up will appear confirming the file was accepted and that the next step will be to 'Choose File Name and File Type'.

    confirmation of file attachment
  6. Enter the desired file name, file type and save.
  7. The new file should be complete with the encoded data in the next column.

    encoded data for barcode

  8. Center the encoded data column, apply the barcode font and ensure there is enough quiet zone spacing.

    Apply barcode font

    Don't forget to resave the document as an Excel Workbook (.xlsx) to retain the changes.

Append Batch Results

The Append Batch Results feature may be enabled or disabled from the Edit menu.

Font Encoder Append Batch Results

  • In the GUI: This feature appends results in a given file or completely overwrites the file. This is useful in the case of a large batch that needs to be appended to an existing file.
  • Command-line: To reduce the number of arguments needed as input, it automatically detects if the file exists and if it already has data. If the file exists but is empty, it turns append off (adds headers). If file doesn't exist, it turns append off and creates the new file.

Command-Line Options

Various batch files are included with the application that demonstrate the use of parameters. Included in the zip file are the following batch files:

  1. Command-Line Test 1.bat: This file is an example of only specifying the Input parameter.
    • Description in batch file:
      • General usage: [Program] [Input] [Output] [Settings]
        • To add or remove options (in brackets above), assign and comment/uncomment options [Input] [Output] [Settings].
  2. Command-Line Test 2.bat: This file is an example of specifying the Input and Output parameters.
    • Description in batch file:
      • Usage: [Program] [Input] [Output]
        • To add or remove options (in brackets above), assign and comment/uncomment options [Input] [Output] [Settings].
  3. Command-Line Test 3.bat: This file is an example of specifying all the parameters.
    • Description in batch file:
      • [<file name>.exe] [Input] [Output] [Settings]
  4. Create multiple barcodes.bat: This file is an example of only specifying the Input parameter as a combination of Prefix and Start.
    • Description in batch file:
      • Batch file to produce sequential numbers (with or without prefix) to a delineated file
  5. Create multiple barcodes (all settings).bat:
    • Description in batch file:
      • Batch file to produce sequential numbers (with or without prefix) to a delineated file
        • Input is the prefix and sequence
        • Output and Settings

In general, the parameters are in the following order (Output and Settings parameters are optional.):

[<FEA file name>.exe] [Input] [Output] [Settings]

Explanation of parameters (default behavior shown with a *):

[<FEA file name>.exe: The full path name to the executable file.

Input:

  • Data file (valid file extensions):
    • CSV: Comma-separated file format – data separated by a comma (,)
    • TXT: Single-stacked text file (one input per line)
    • SCSV: Semicolon-separated file format – data separated by a semicolon (;)
    • TSV or TAB: Tab-separated file format – data separated by a tab
  • * Data (non-file data - if the input does not contain a valid extension, it is assumed that the input is the DataToEncode).

Output:

  • Data file (valid file extensions):
    • CSV: Comma-separated file format – data separated by a comma (,)
    • SCSV: Semicolon-separated file format – data separated by a semicolon (;)
    • TSV or TAB: Tab-separated file format – data separated by a tab
  • * Not Specified: If the output is not specified or has an unreachable/invalid path:
    • Output file type will default to CSV
    • Output filename will be defaultOutput.csv
    • Output directories tried will be (in this order):
      • Current directory command being executed from.
      • User’s Documents (My Documents) directory, as this location is writable for the user.
      • If neither of the above can be written to (for any reason), an error popup will be presented. (See FEA Quick Troubleshooting Guide.)

Settings:

Note: User must generate an initial XML settings file from GUI by choosing options needed and going to File > Save Settings to File.

  • Data file (valid file extension):
    • XML: eXtensible Markup file contains markup symbols to describe file contents
    • * Not Specified: If settings are not specified or has an unreachable/invalid path, the last saved settings (from the GUI) are used.

The user settings are NOT stored in the registry (by design for portability). The settings can be found in: C:\Users\<User>\AppData\Local\IDAutomation.com,_Inc

XML Output Options

Note: Because of delineated file format restrictions outside of IDAutomation's control, the 2D FEA is limited to XML output for both GUI and command-line batch processing.

Below are explanations of the sections of the XML output, so the user may "map" the correct fields for input to their interface:

  • Red: Repeating element - name indicates if linear or respective 2D barcode type (symbology being used).
  • Yellow: DataToEncode or input.
  • Green: The encoded text for the above DataToEncode or input.
Linear Example:

2D Example (formatting does not affect data input):


UPC/EAN Symbology Specific

  • If UPC/EAN shows a 'Zero' barcode or in the encoded data, when there is data in the DataToEncode window, it means the user did not enter the correct information for the barcode type (symbology).
    encode zero data
    Zero Barcode
    Check the respective symbology requirements and enter the correct type and quantity of data.
  • Multiple heights may be available in the Font Height dropdown, allowing users to choose the best size barcode to meet their needs.

  • Font selections that end with an "n" indicate that there are not any human-readable characters included with the font. This can be important if the font size chosen does not show all the characters encoded in the barcode.
    UPC human readable vs non human readable

Intelligent Mail (IMb) Symbology Specific

Because IMb’s font encoding is universal in nature, it may be created by using:

  • IMb Font Package (font name contains: IDAutomationIMB)
    • Font Heights:
      • (blank)
      • n1
      • n2
  • Universal Font Package (font name contains: IDAutomation Uni or IDAutomationUni)
    • Font heights common with Universal Font heights (XXS, XS, S…)

The FEA distinguishes between the two respectively in the Symbology drop-down. The above two options share the same encoding but use the different fonts (with varying options). For the differences, see the respective font package.

  • When producing Intelligent Mail (IMb), if the user does not enter in the correct number of digits the symbology requires (20, 25, 29, or 31 digits), an error will be shown as one of the following:
    • With font not applied:
      Font not applied error if wrong number of characters
    • With IMb font applied:
      Error with IMb font applied of incorrect character data.
    • With Universal Font applied:
      With Universal Font applied with wrong number of characters
    • Character counter will verify the number of characters in the Data to Encode text box:
      Character Counter

DataBar Symbology Specific

The options available in the FEA are based on the DataBar guidelines. The FEA does not force the font size, by design, so the user is encouraged to follow the guidelines.

  • The DataBar symbol font heights have Y in the name in the Barcode Font Height dropdown - the standard does not.
  • DataBar/DataBar Truncated:
    • The top table option shown as "DataBar and DataBar Truncated" are grouped together as STANDARD/TRUNCATED under the FEA’s Options drop-down.
  • DataBar Expanded/Expanded Stacked:
    • The top table option shown as "DataBar Expanded" and "DataBar Expanded Stacked" are grouped together as EXPANDED/EXPANDED STACKED under the FEA’s Options drop-down.
  • DataBar Expanded: User enters data - Segments are automatically default to 22.
  • DataBar Expanded Stacked: The "stacked" type is accomplished by setting a low and even number for the Segment value. If the user wants to specify a different Segment, they may choose the Segments from the dropdown that appears below the Data To Encode window:
    Setting segments for DataBar Expanded
    • Any errors or invalid data will default back to Segments = 22.
    • This is the only Linear Symbology/Options combination that accepts separate input as a comma after the data.
    • Before changing to a different Symbology/Options combination, the user should remove the comma and number following the data, or it might cause an error in other Symbology/Options combinations.
  • DataBar GS1-128: GS1-128 requires ApplyTilde which has been enabled, but the ApplyTilde checkbox has left disabled so the user cannot disable the setting.

FEA Quick Troubleshooting Guide

  • If installing a newer version of the FEA or if a problem is encountered, the user should perform a reset by going to Help > Reset to Defaults.
  • After creating a multi-barcode batch file, some of the encoded data may contain commas in the encoded output, which is common when encoding Code-128 and Interleaved 2 of 5 fonts, these commas will be misinterpreted when opening the file directly in Excel and create additional columns.
    • This is an example in CSV file output:

      Example CSV from Font Encoder Software
    • The commas in the data above created additional columns as shown below: 

      Excel interprets commas incorrectly
    • To resolve the issue either Output the file in a different format (such as tab-delineated or semicolon-delimited) or import to Excel by going to the Data Tab - From Text and choose the .csv file.

      Go to the Data Tab
    • The Text Import Wizard will open, choose Fixed Width for the Data Type and “Windows (ANSI)” for the File Origin.

      Choose File Origin “Windows (ANSI)”
    • Set the fixed width and exclude certain parts.

      Set Column Breaks

      Set the fixed width and exclude certain parts
    • Verify the result is correct.
      Verify the result is correct
  • The FEA has a built-in feature that will encode the row that has an asterisk in the column header in batch processes either from the graphical user interface or command line:
    asterisk in header will be the encoded column
  • A lock may be placed on a file if more than one application at a time is using it; to resolve this, close the file from the other application.

    Encoder Software File Lock Error
  • When using the command line and an output file is NOT specified, a .CSV file (called defaultOutput.csv) is automatically generated:
    • In the same directory where the application is being run, if writable or the file is not in use by another program.
    • If the above cannot be written, a file write is attempted to the user’s Documents (My Documents) directory.
    • If neither of the above is possible, a popup with both reasons is returned:

      Pop up Message from File Writer
  • When running from a batch file, the application will override the user's append setting and determine if the file exists and whether it's empty or not, then it will decide whether or not it will append the new data to an existing file or add headers and the data.
  • Copying encoded text:
    • To copy plain text, uncheck the 'Apply Font' checkbox and press the Encoded Text (Copy to Clipboard) button.
    • To copy font and text to programs (such as Microsoft Word or WordPad) that support rich text formatting, check 'Apply Font' checkbox and press the Encoded Text (Copy to Clipboard) button.
  • If FEA shows the symbology option, but the font does not show in the Barcode Font Height window, this means a reboot/user-logout is required to refresh the font cache:

    The font name does not appear in the window.
  • If a barcode font shows in the FEA but does not appear in the windows/fonts folder, that means the FEA is correctly reading and applying the font and the fonts not in the Fonts folder will show after a logout/login or reboot:

    Missing Font Requires a Reboot
  • IDAutomation barcode fonts must be installed on the computer in order for the FEA GUI or command-line option to run:

    Compatible with IDAutomation Barcode Fonts only.
  • The following symbologies were not implemented by design
    • Planet (Standard and Universal)
    • Postnet (Standard and Universal)
    • Telepen (Standard and Universal)
    • Code 39 Ext (Universal)
    • Code 93 Ext (Standard and Universal)
    • Mat ITF (Standard and Universal)
    • Industrial ITF
    • Code 11
    • Code 25
    • RM4SCC Royal Mail 4 State
  • In the Linear fonts (Standard or Universal), the following respective properties have been set:
    • N Dimension = 2
    • Return Type = 0 (deprecated because of Unicode incompatibility)
    • CodaBar Start Character = "A" and Stop Character  = "B"

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