I've done variable 3 of 9 barcodes through datamerge and simply loading a barcode font, are there 2d barcode fonts that will perform the same way within InDesign? I need to add a 2d barcode to a variable mailer that is already produced through InDesign datamerge, and adding another variable would by far be easier than using a seperate application. Thanks in advance for any help offered!
I haven't done anything that required me to generate barcodes for a few years now, so maybe they are different than they used to be. I used to use a dedicated program where I would type in the barcode numbers, and it would output a vector image that I would place. I don't know if this way is better, worse, or just older than what you are doing, but if you want to use images as your barcode, you can place images with Data Merge by putting a link to the image in your data file.
3 of 9 barcodes are relatively simple because the barcode is simply a font with a start/stop tag. 2d barcodes such as the QR code are much more complicated and InDesign (straight off of the shelf) can't do this on-the-fly with datamerge. Using a third party plugin such as XMPie or teacup software, possibly... but they aren't free.
Put simply, indesign's data merge plops the information onto a page as it appeared in the txt/csv file – it doesn't PARSE the information to program it to be a barcode, nor can it tell whether the data is a name, address, phone number, dollar value etc.
A slow way would be to use a free QR code maker and make one at a time and then in the txt/csv file, put the filename of the QR code into the database and use data merge to bring the barcodes in as pictures. This is fine if there are a few records but for hundreds or thousands of records, doing this on-the-fly would be much better and a plug-in would be the way to go.
Thanks for the help, I thought it might be too complex to generate as a font. I've generated barcodes as vector files before through other applications, but the volume to create them and then link back as variable images through data merge would be too time consuming.
Could the information be parsed into a QR code through a script? It's beyond my current abilities, but does anyone know if that's possible? Again, thanks for the help and suggestions!
I don't think it's practical, and probably won't be helpful, either, but Jongware has a script to make anything you can draw into a custom font: http://www.indiscripts.com/post/2012/06/indyfont-build-opentype-fonts- from-within-indesign. The problem is that you'd need to make a glyph out of each code first, then you could assign them tot he various code points and just list the codepoints in the data file, but this is vastly differnt from parding a string and automatically generating the code image.
It would be vastly easier to first create all of the QR codes as images, save them under a name that can be retrieved from the data merge, and have a short script swop name-for-image. Such scripts already exist.
(Funny, I looked in to creating QR codes by scripting last year. I kind of abandoned it since there are tons of free utils already -- but, of course, none directly targeted at InDesign users.)
Wow, those scripts have me thinking about other projects! Thanks guys, looks like I might end up transferring the whole job into FusionPro, there will be tens of thousands of unique codes so doing them as variable images just seems too cumbersome. I like working in InDesign for everything I can, actually considered this solution as well: create the QR codes in FusionPro, create the merged pdf from InDesign, then superimpose the two pdfs using Quite Imposing Plus. Since it's already set up in InDesign, I was trying really hard to keep it there, so I appreciate all of your responses!
I have a related question. I also did a Data Merge with 3 of 9 barcode font. It worked great except that I had to save the file out as a PDF for the bar code to work. The Data Merge changes the bar code font and makes it unscannable as is. Saving as a PDF changes the font back to something usable. Is this normal? Any ideas on why or how to make the PDF part not necessary? It's not difficult to do, it's just one extra step and easy to miss if not paying closs attention to the way the code looks. And who really knows if code is correct without scanning it? Thanks for any thoughts you might have.
So are you scanning the barcode from your screen, with a merged pdf reading correctly while the merged InDesign file does not? Are you getting any errors or font substitution messages when you merge? Try using different barcode fonts from different makers and see if you get the same results. You can download some free barcode fonts here that you can test: http://www.dafont.com/theme.php?cat=711
If that isn't the issue than it would be helpful to see some pictures of the issue.
OK, this is the file after exporting as a PDF. I had to reduce file size, so it's blurry. Where I notice the difference is the first part of the code, it the DataMarge file, there is a thick black line. In the PDF, there are multiple lines.
Oh, and I printed it, I didn't scan on the screen. I suppose I could have tried that. I did use an iphone app.
This particular font looked the closest to what the client sent us to match. I don't know how they were creating the barcodes or what font they were using.
Yes, that was the first thing I did, and since I was using an iphone app, I just thought the app didn't work, and that I needed an actual barcode scanner. Once I printed out the PDF, I had both prints to sample, and realized it wasn't the app, but the barcode.
I know it looks that way, maybe the screen grab is too fuzy to tell. I think because so many of the numbers are the same, it appears that way. I did just open it to double check and if you look at maybe the 3rd or 4th to the left, they are changing, but true, not like the PDF, that's true. Something is hokey with it. It's odd, the PDF is from the DataMerge, they should be the same. Another interesting thing is that in Preview, before the merge, the codes look correct.
Another interesting thing is that in Preview, before the merge, the codes look correct.
Do the merge without previewing. There's a bug that causes the wrong data to merge on multi-record merges if you preview.
Is this bug consistent and in all versions of InDesign? My company does a fair amount of variable data work that is sensitive, I'm a little worried about the possibility of incorrect data being merged...
Started in CS5, I believe.
There's no problem when you skip the preview, or if you "undo" to exit the preview. I don't know if it affects the merge direct to PDF, but it's quite possible it does not.
I always preview and it looks fine. I'll have to try without previewing and see how that works. Making the PDF is not a big problem for me, it's more remembering that it's a necessary step that I'm concerned about.
I won't say the bug hits every file, but we see enough reports of records scrambled or repeated that I wouldn't risk it. It isn't that big a deal to skip it. If the merge turns out wrong, just close the file without saving. Better than not knowing you have the wrong barcode.
I just tried and it didn't work any better. I'm thinking my problem might be a font issue, at least in this instance. I just tried with my original font, but in my previous test, where I did preview, I tried several fonts and a few worked and a few didn't.