So there is a requirement with my current client to print barcodes from an application on HPUX. The current way this application prints is to simply output an ASCII text file and send that to the printer with a couple of control codes to set landscape / portrait mode etc.

So I had a look round the web and found a few solutions, that allow you to print barcodes from UNIX systems. They essentially involve a program that sits in the lpd print filter system and looks for various codes in the print stream, and then interprets them as barcodes. Reading the implementation guides for these systems, it seemed that they were assuming you were printing Postscript print jobs, but we wern’t, they were simple ASCII print jobs. When I was trying to find out about the print jobs, I did ask the team if they printed in Postscript or PCL, I just got a lot of blank states, and comments like ‘I don’t know anything about that techie sh$e*‘

So I had come to the conclusion that the application team are going to have to learn Postscript and start outputting reports in that. Which is not a bad thing as it will give them a lot more flexibility in their report formatting, and produce nicer looking stuff.

I then came across this project, which simply uses Postscript to draw barcodes based on variables that you stick in the Postscript print job.

You just have a Postscript report template that includes a bunch of stuff that will allow it to correctly interpret the codes you give it into working barcodes. After a hour or two of furtleing about, which included a long drawn out hunt for someone who knew what type of barcodes we use, I managed to create a print that duplicated a working current barcode.

So it seems like we have a winner, an Open Source project that will give us barcode capability from a key application, and will also move us towards using Postscript, which is not a bad thing.

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