Every company needs the ability to create and deliver the documents that support critical business processes, whether those documents be in printed or electronic form. Some documents will be read by humans, but others need to be read by machines. Barcodes are currently the most common way to encode information in a machine-readable format. As one of the main business application providers in the market, SAP is keenly aware of customer requirements to support SAP barcode printing.
SAP applications have the native ability to create documents containing 1D barcodes and, assuming an appropriate device is available, printing is not a major problem. The same cannot be said for 2D barcodes, however. With its “New Barcode Technology for Smart Forms,” SAP provides support for the PDF417 DataMatrix 2D barcode, limited to Smart Forms and a select range of printers. However, this support does not extend to other 2D barcodes. What can you do to print 2D barcodes like DataMatrix, QR Code, or Aztec barcodes from your SAP applications?
There are several approaches available to create 2D barcodes from SAP applications:
- PostScript barcode applications
Using PostScript technology, it is possible to write procedures that produce 2D barcodes like DataMatrix or QR Code. This method utilizes special SAP device types and print controls. Logically, this only works when printing to PostScript-capable devices.
- Using a rendering web service
With ABAP programming, it is possible to send barcode data to a rendering web service like Google’s API services and receive an image of the barcode back. Click this link to see how it works:
For business-centric documents, this is problematic, because business data must be sent to an external company and the service must always be available in order to complete the document creation. The image needs to be imported back into the SAP application and, depending on the file format, be converted into a usable format. Furthermore, the business process depends on the availability of the service. Google, for example, has announced a policy for that service, saying that it can be discontinued without further notice.
- External barcode DLLs for Windows Print Servers
As with 1D barcodes, there are barcode DLLs that enable 2D barcodes to be generated through a Windows print service. This approach works with a variety of printers, but requires the use of Windows Print Servers.
- Third-party ABAP modules
Some third-party companies provide ABAP modules that can generate image representations of the desired 2D barcode within SAP.
LRS also provides highly-scalable, platform-independent Enterprise Output Management solutions to control printing and document workflow throughout a global organization. The software manages not only the control of printers and delivery of documents, but also document delivery rules and any necessary document modifications.
LRS provides a set of Document Process Automation tools and features that enable the printing of 2D barcodes like Aztec, DataMatrix, Maxicode or QR Code. No additional software is required in your SAP applications or elsewhere. The SAP barcode data can be sent as metadata or as the actual content of the document. Processing rules enable the software to identify the data by attributes such as the location on the page or the font used for printing. Alternatively, the data can be extracted directly from the document metadata.
The LRS solution then generates the appropriate barcode image and positions it on the page. This enables organizations to print barcodes on numerous printer types, regardless of their native barcode capabilities or installed fonts. LRS’ standards-based approach:
- Supports a wide variety of printers
- Runs on any major platform
- Minimizes application changes in your SAP environment
- Decreases the burden on SAP application servers
- Simultaneously handles the formatting and delivery of both SAP and non-SAP application output
- Does not rely on external services
- Is fully Unicode supported
- Has error tracking/recovery, print completion, status feedback, accounting and reporting features
Implementing SAP Smart Form barcode printing and other types of machine-readable formats can be challenging. LRS technical experts have years of experience in helping customers navigate the many options and approaches to printing. Feel free to contact us, and we’ll be glad to help.