Want to Learn How to Edit Labels Without Coding? Learn ZPL

Apr 27, 2021 by Mark Dingley

Not sure which labeller is right for you to print ZPL? Here's our ultimate guide to all things coding and labelling

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Unless you’re a coding pro, working with Zebra Programming Language (or ZPL) when it comes to label creation can be frustrating – but it could also be costing you valuable time and money.
How do you set your labels up? Are you confident that you’re getting the right format? How do you make changes to them?
In our latest blog, we take a look at what ZPL is and how manufacturers can use it to edit labels without coding.

So, what is ZPL?

In order for label printers to do anything useful, you need to send them data to ensure that labels are printed in the correct format. This is where ‘printer languages’ come into play.
Different printer manufacturers have developed their own programming languages. ZPL is a printer language developed by Zebra Technologies; it’s used as instructions by all ZPL-compatible printers for the creation of images on labels. It tells the printer, for example, the length of the label, its position and paper width (as well as other controls). The latest version, ZPLII, has become a standard for developing label files.

Other common languages used by manufacturers include DPL (Datamax), EPL2 (Eltron, now Zebra) and IPL (Intermec).


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And the problem...

Unless you’re a whizz when it comes to coding, working with ZPL takes a lot of time and effort. This could include searching online forums, ZPL manuals and online ZPL tutorials for the answer you require, not to mention testing the labels and then tweaking them to get it right. All of this is time and effort that could be invested elsewhere.

But what if you want to make changes to your labels? Is it possible to edit them without coding?

It could be something as simple as changing the length of the label – getting the right length is, after all, a common issue for operators. If the printer’s measured label length differs to the label you’ve created, the image may be cut off.

Another common challenge posed by ZPL is to do with aligning labels correctly. Text and barcodes may print too far to the left, meaning that you need to right align all the elements. The challenge in this case is that label objects are positioned using language coordinates and image fields established by ZPL. The 0 x and 0 y position, for example, are in the upper left hand corner of the label.

This means that, if you want to reposition any label elements, you’ll need to first use the ^FO code to find the proper print location. It’s likely that you’ll need to adjust the settings in multiple areas in order to get it right.

The good news is that there are a few things you can try.

Firstly, you could use label maker software for zebra printers to make the edits yourself using. This does, however, require a level of time and coding knowledge to get it exactly right. And even then, there’s still no guarantee that the format will be accurate.

If that doesn’t work, you can actually ask the experts to make the desired changes to your label’s format. Here at Matthews Australasia, for example, we're able to make changes to ZPL coding if needed. As experts charge by the hour, however, your costs will quickly add up if you need to make multiple changes.

Either way, time is the issue you’re facing. Every hour that you don’t have the right label is an hour that has been lost in productivity. You could spend days waiting for your label changes to be actioned; imagine what this could mean for your bottom line.

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What’s the alternative?

A software solution, like Matthews iDSnet Express, can bring your labelling solutions together.

IDSnet Express is actually an entry-level software that is used to network all coding, labelling and data-capture machinery in a single centralised computer or server. In other words, it controls all printers and coders from a single location. Using the ‘What You See Is What You Get’ (or WYSIWYG) editor, message design is easy. The system can be used to edit a label in minutes, with the change being then rolled out to the right labeller on the right line. In short, you can edit labels without coding.

There’s also no guesswork when it comes to the use of iDSnet Express – you can have the peace of mind that your labels will be right every single time. On top of this, you’ll have the confidence that comes with Matthews’ 24/7 support – our inhouse local software team is available for rapid response if required. When you’re ready, you can also upgrade to iDSnet Enterprise with ease (which will allow for increased integration, efficiency and QA benefits).

In the video below, learn how Chobani uses iDSnet to seamlessly integrate its coders and labellers in order to eliminate errors.


Chobani Australia - Customer Testimonial

Are you struggling with your ZPL commands? It might be time to upgrade to iDSnet Express – our experts are ready to offer advice.