ZPL vs Bartender
Barcode software converts letters, numbers and even binary data into a pattern of lines, squares or dots that can be read at high speed by a barcode scanner and converted back into the original information. Barcode software helps companies increase efficiency, reduce costs and errors, and meet regulatory requirements, but only if the software encodes the barcodes quickly and correctly and prints them consistently and accurately.
To accommodate the varying needs of our customers we have introduced two ways to print barcode labels within TRIMS. The options available are a less flexible but more cost-efficient solution, or a fully customisable advanced solution using a 3rd party industry recognised label printing utility.
Method 1 - Seagull Bartender Print Engine
How the Bartender method works
TRIMS generates a data file containing the content for each label. The data file is published to a FTP server. Software installed on a PC where the label printer resides polls the FTP server and downloads and data flagged for that location. The local bartender software then processes the data file and prints using a label template also residing on the local PC.
When would I need the Bartender printing method
The main differentiator is that the label templates for Bartender are completely customisable. The label templates themselves can contain code that logically handles the data file content. This provides unlimited flexibility when it comes to label design. A label can contain logic to show or hide fields based on the data received. Labels can also contain formulas, an example of this is the creation of a cost code where the cost price can be displayed in a way that only the store staff can understand.
If you have a complex label requirement then this is the option you need. However, this advanced solution requires 3rd party software to be installed and that comes at a price.
Pros and cons of the Bartender printing method
-- Complete customisation of labels
-- Supports a wide range of label printers
-- There is a charge for the 3rd party Bartender software
-- Requires Bartender to be installed at each location where the labels will be printed
Method 2 - The ZPL Store and Recall method
How the ZPL method works
The ZPL method doesn’t require 3rd party software. Therefore the only charge is for the label design making this a much cheaper printing solution. The label template is designed and stored in the printers memory, the label template is then recalled from memory when label content is sent to the printer. Label content can be sent directly from TRIMS to the printer, something not possible with method 1, or a data file can be published using the same FTP method described in method 1.
When would I need the ZPL printing method
If you have a basic label requirement without any advanced logic as described in method 1, then this option is very cost effective, especially when you have a number of locations where labels will be printed. The look and flexibility of the label is very limited and this method is only available on modern Zebra label printers.
Pros and cons of the ZPL printing method
-- Very cost-effective - no costly 3rd party software
-- Ability to print labels directly to the printer
-- Limited customisation of labels
-- Only available for modern Zebra label printers
ZPL vs Bartender - To summarise
Both options are tried and tested, and very reliable. If your label layout and logic is basic, you are not overly concerned how your labels look and you have, or plan to purchase, modern Zebra label printers, then the ZPL method is a very cost effective option.
If you have advanced label requirements or you are using a label printer that we do not support with the ZPL method then the Bartender method is the option for you.
To discuss your label printing requirements and work out the best option for you, please contact a member of the Touchretail team who can advise based on the information you provide.