Most retail items need a barcode, a series of vertical lines that are deciphered by an electronic reader for input to a computerized till. Creation of one of these used to be the domain of a specialist, costing anything up to £25 a time for a graphic on a piece of film that was then placed in position by the printer. Tenp years ago, Computalabel International placed barcode control in the hands of Mac operators courtesy of MacBARCODA. What we have here is the third generation of a tried and tested product.
Creating a bar code couldn’t be simpler. First, select the requisite standard from the nine barcode families on offer, including ISSN for magazines and newspapers, ISBN for books, and EAN13 and Code 128 for general items. Then enter the number: MacBARCODA 3 creates the barcode and can be set to check any checksum digit. Finally, save it as an EPS, or export in one of four Adobe Illustrator formats (88, 3, 5/6 or 7) for editing.
All previous facilities are still on offer, including bar width adjustment– compensating for the printing press’s
dot gain – and device compensation – which adjusts for the imagesetter’s resolution. A calibration pattern EPS is included and Computalabel International provides quality testing free-of-charge based on film and printed material, giving advice on your settings.
In terms of new facilities, three are of particular importance. The user interface has been revamped showing actual sizes of the barcode and surrounding space in real-time, and giving access to the various facilities via on-screen menus.
More importantly, this latest version uses colour for bars and the background, advising against the use of anything
but straight process colours but allowing custom variants plus overprint/knockout. MacBARCODA 3 also sports online help, a full Apple Guide manual and a decent printed one as well.
This really is a case of an industry standard being completely revised yet still holding to its original purpose: the creation of highly accurate barcodes. It’s not cheap at £495 (two barcode families can be purchased for £295) but the result of using a shareware offering, and ending with a barcode that does not function correctly, is hardly worth thinking about.