6Barcode FileMaker Barcode Plug-in
Easily create high-quality barcodes in FileMaker Pro with no funky fonts.
The 6Barcode Story
6Barcode was born out of necessity. We (Six Fried Rice) needed to produce bar codes in FileMaker for a client and after a week of digging, we were astonished that we couldn’t find a good solution. Every option we found has severe problems:
- Many barcode solutions for FileMaker depend on special fonts. This is an administrative nightmare. It’s hard enough to keep FileMaker up-to-date on every machine. We couldn’t imagine subjecting our customers to the pain of installing special fonts on any computer that used our system. Ugh!
- Most of the options we found were prohibitively expensive. When you run your entire operation on a few thousand dollars worth of FileMaker, it seems out of hand to pay thousands more just for barcodes. And cost was only half the problem. These products also had draconian licensing policies: crazy codes that made automatic deployment impossible, per-seat pricing that made our hair curl and complex registration processes that had to be coded into startup scripts. Double-ugh.
- We did find one solution that didn’t need fonts, and didn’t cost an arm and a leg. Unfortunately, it uses suspect techniques to generate barcodes, and the results are — ahem — imperfect. In fact, unless we printed on a very high quality laser printer, the barcodes it produced were unreadable with any scanner we tried. This was hardly an option when we needed to print durable thermal adhesive labels.
We built 6Barcode because we couldn’t find a product that met our very basic needs. In short, 6Barcode:
- Requires no complex installation or extra parts.
- Has a generous and easy-to-manage licensing scheme.
- Produces gorgeous high-quality barcodes that work beautifully even with lower-quality printers.
Frequently Asked Questions
Still have questions? Hopefully they’re answered here, but if not, feel free to contact us.
Why is 6Barcode so inexpensive?
We really want your money. Seriously, we figure if it's cheap enough you may even buy it for your friends and family.
What type of printers does it support?
We are glad you asked that question. Quite frankly, we put 6Barcode through the ringer, testing it out on ink jet, laser and even thermal printers and the barcodes worked every time. We even ripped, crumpled and spilled stuff on the labels and they still read. I'm sure you'll notice in the fine print of the other guys solution that you can only use high-end laser printers. I don't even want to think about the problems you would have reading a damaged barcode. 6Barcode was designed specifically to overcome this shortcoming.
How does 6Barcode work without special fonts?
When you ask this little whippersnapper to produce a barcode, it generates a high-resolution PNG graphic on the fly. Yep. A picture of the barcode. This is good for a lot of reasons, but most notably because it means the barcode works on any computer running FileMaker without the need for a special font.
Do I have to copy/paste the barcode graphics into my database? How do I deal with them?
You may not realize it, but you can use calculations with container fields. The most typical way to use 6Barcode is to create a container field to hold your barcode (let’s say it’s called
Barcode). Then add an auto-enter calculation to your
Barcode field that looks something like this:
sfrbc_Barcode ( Product ID )
Now, whenever you create a new Product record, FileMaker will automatically call upon the plug-in to create a new barcode and store it in the
Barcode container field. You won’t have to do anything once the fields are setup.
Don't all those images make my database huge?
Good question. And here’s a good answer: Nope. Barcodes are notoriously simple (just black and white lines) and the PNG graphic format is very efficient. Typically, a high resolution barcode graphic uses less than 500 bytes. In other words, with 1,000 records, your barcodes will add less than half a megabyte to your total data size. And the barcodes are totally tunable. If you don’t need all that resolution, you can make them smaller and save more space.
How crazy would I have to be to use any other barcode solution?
I only have one FileMaker server, but I have 27,000 users. They just aren't all on at once. Do I need to buy extra licenses?
We understand. You expect there’s a catch somewhere. After all, there’s always a catch. Except there isn’t one here. A single server license of 6Barcode can be used in any database hosted on one FileMaker server no matter how many users you have. This is what we’re talking about when we say it should be easy for you. Just install the thing and you’ll never have to worry about it again.
What symbologies does the plug-in support?
6Barcode is designed for barcode-based automation and data entry systems built in FileMaker. It uses the most flexible and efficient barcode standard available, called Code-128. Specifically, it supports Code-128 code pages B and C. This standard is ideal because it supports a wide range of characters (upper and lower case letters, numbers, and most punctuation). At the same time, it is more space efficient than other barcode types. In other words, it produces smaller barcodes, that fit better on labels, tags, and tight layouts.
When space is of the utmost importance, you can be assured 6Barcode is producing the smallest barcodes possible. It automatically uses the most efficient coding technique for your particular value. (Nerd alert...) It can even switch between Code B and Code C in the same barcode if it decides that will produce a smaller barcode. Of course if, for some reason, you don't want Code C compression, you can easily turn it off.
But let's be frank here. If your trying to produce UPS barcodes, or UPC labels, or some other barcode type that isn't Code-128, then 6Barcode isn't the right tool for you. In general, it's the right tool for the job when you need to produce your own barcodes to be read back in to FileMaker later. This is the most typical case: You want to label the products in your warehouse for easy inventory tracking, or use barcode-based automation to streamline your production floor.
What's all the Code-C stuff? I'm totally confused.
You're not alone. Here's the skinny: The Code-128 barcode standard defines different patterns of bars to represent different characters. For example, it might say the letter `A` is represented by thin-thick-thick-thin-thin-thin. (It isn't quite that simple, but we're pretending here.) It assigns a different pattern to each letter, number, and symbol.
It turns out that each pattern has the same width. The pattern for an `A` is exactly as wide as the pattern for `#`. It's just the arrangement of thick and thin lines and spaces that differentiates each character. So if you have a ten letter value, it will be roughly half as wide as a 20 letter value.
Since Code-128 supports all those letters, numbers, and symbols, it needs a pretty big block of bars for each one. But you and I both know that most barcodes are based on just numbers. So to make things more efficient, Code-128 supports an entirely separate set of patterns. Instead of representing letters, numbers, and punctuation, they represent just numbers. And here's the key: they represent two-number pairs. So a single block of bars might mean `23` or `81`. So when you use all numbers, you can fit twice as many characters in the same space. The barcode based on your 20 digit number is just as narrow as one based on only ten letters.
Just to make themselves feel smarter than the rest of us, the Code-128 people decided to call the first set of patterns "Code B" and the second "Code C." All you have to know is that 6Barcode supports both. In fact, it will automatically pick the code type that most efficiently represents your barcode, even if it can eek out a little bit of savings by switching between codes in the middle of one barcode. The end result: You get the smallest barcodes possible, and the largest supported character set.
Oh, by the way: Most FileMaker barcode solutions completely ignore this stuff. They take the easy way out and produce over-sized barcodes every time.
Give it a Try