Barcode Printing on the AS/400

Document Management
  • Smaller Small Medium Big Bigger
  • Default Helvetica Segoe Georgia Times

Brief: Barcode technology is everywhere today. Yet, this simple technology has been slow to spread within AS/400 applications, because programming an AS/400 printer to produce barcodes has been difficult and error-prone. The situation is much improved with new printer technology. This article surveys the elements of native AS/400 barcode printing, using both the latest IPDS printers and older printer implementations.

Have you ever driven rapidly past a stand of trees in the late afternoon and been suddenly blinded by a pulsating pattern of the sun? The light, at just the right angle, is broken into a flashing stroboscopic array by the trunks of the trees, making the iris of your eye tremble as it attempts to adjust to the sudden pulse. What you are experiencing is duplicated by a barcode scanner: an optical receptor within the scanner senses the strobe of light reflected from the zebra stripe of the barcode and, like Morse code, sends this strobe as an electrical signal of dots and dashes. An attached computer interpolates this code into numbers and letters.

The conditions which make a barcode readable to a scanner are as precise as those which create the stroboscopic light in the forest. First of all, a high- density image of the printed barcode is required. Secondly, the angle and intensity of light must be precise. And last but not least, the scanner which reads the code must be able to understand the specific barcode image regardless of which code is used-UPC for grocery products, Code 3-of-9 for computer components, Code 128 for library usage, or POSTNET for the postal system.

Printing barcodes on the AS/400 has historically proved as difficult to accomplish as duplicating the natural conditions which cause sunlight to strobe through a forest. The tools available to create barcodes have been weak at best, and extremely time-consuming to implement.

Much of this has changed with the introduction of Advanced Function Printing Data Stream (AFPDS) and the Intelligent Printer Data Stream (IPDS). Advanced Function Printing (AFP)-coupled with the capabilities of an IPDS laser printer-finally gives us a native AS/400 interface to barcode printing. But pitfalls still exist, and knowing what is needed-and why-represents the greatest stumbling block to implementing native barcode printing on the AS/400.

This article deals with the broad issues involved with printing barcodes in an AS/400 shop. I have included an "Issues and Answers" sidebar which covers some of the other questions you'll have to resolve before you can implement a complete barcoding solution. This and subsequent articles will concentrate on printing because, from a programmer's perspective, printing is the only part of barcoding that represents major technological difficulties. In order to understand those difficulties and make decisions about how to overcome them for your installation, you'll need a little historical background about printers.

Traditional Midrange Printing

Until recently, if your organization needed to generate a barcode, you were better off going to an outside source for hardware and software. Two factors limited us in creating barcodes: the available character sets and the printing density of dot matrix printers.

IBM's midrange computers and printers were originally designed only for generating reports composed of letters and numbers. The character set used for this purpose came from System Network Architecture and is called the SNA Character Stream or simply SCS. You encounter this relic every time you define a printer because the default definition for every AS/400 printer is *SCS.

Today, SCS printers still predominate the output queues of AS/400 printer devices. Can these printers create barcodes? It depends on the particular printer. How do you do it? Well, that depends too!

To understand the problems encountered with SCS, you need to know the limitations of SCS in the midrange environment. Once you've examined those limitations, you'll understand why AFP and IPDS were invented and how they overcome many of these difficulties.

How SCS Printing Works

Although great in its day, SCS is now quite archaic. Here's why! The first printers attached to the S/34 were band printers, in which SCS was permanently embossed on a rotating band. High-density, letter-quality printing-with multiple fonts-could only be accomplished with print-wheel printers which also had permanent renderings of SCS. The IBM 5219 print-wheel printer served as the shining example of this technology.

The SCS approach to new features such as fonts is to allow programmers to exchange printer bands or daisy wheels. If you code such a requirement in your programs, a message is sent instructing the operator to change the band or the print wheels on the printer.

The innards of SCS are quite fixed. It's a "platen-bound" character set which surrounds basic text with instructions to the print head and the rotating, typewriter-like platen. For instance, there's an SCS code for Carriage Return, a code for New Line, a code for Form Feed and a code for Backspace.

Formatting text on an SCS printer entails sending repetitive instructions to the printer. SCS produces underlining by sending the text, an equal number of Backspace codes, and then an equal number of underscores. The instruction to generate boldface type consists of a punishing sequence of Text-Backspace- Text-Back-space-Text-Backspace-Text. The effect resembles a Gatling gun beating away against the paper. See 1 for a graphic depiction of the process.

Formatting text on an SCS printer entails sending repetitive instructions to the printer. SCS produces underlining by sending the text, an equal number of Backspace codes, and then an equal number of underscores. The instruction to generate boldface type consists of a punishing sequence of Text-Backspace- Text-Back-space-Text-Backspace-Text. The effect resembles a Gatling gun beating away against the paper. See Figure 1 for a graphic depiction of the process.

Now, imagine trying to create the picture of a barcode with such a limited tool set! It's like trying to paint someone's portrait with a hammer and a set of alphabetic chisels. With today's technology, printers defined by SCS have justly earned a reputation as "the Fred Flintstones" of the output queues.

Even if we attach a high-quality laser printer to the AS/400 either through twinax or through PC Support, the AS/400 automatically defines it as *SCS. And when we compile a print file, it defaults to *SCS as well. PC Support, which gives us access to full-feature PC laser printers, doesn't directly support their advanced features. It emulates a 3812 laser printer, but only in SCS mode. Perhaps Version 3 of PC Support will address this oversight. Today there exists no IBM-supported printer emulation for the full features of PC-based lasers.

Printing Barcodes with SCS

You can print barcodes with some SCS printers. Specific printers-both dot matrix and laser printers-emulate the SCS data stream, but can be forced into a high-density printing mode suitable for barcode printing. By sending a series of encrypted hex codes (escape codes) through the printer data stream, encapsulated and translated through printer definition files, the programmer can fool the data stream just long enough to slip these printers some powerful instructions.

A special ROM in the printer's circuitry interprets the codes and performs the required printing function. See 2. Escape code encapsulation is the programmer's responsibility. It's his job to dig through manuals to learn each printer's capabilities and its limitations, and then implement the encapsulation inside his program. A certain exhilaration comes from successfully implementing a barcode printing program through encapsulation: it's the feeling of learning the language of the printer. But there are some obvious problems with the encapsulation technique.

A special ROM in the printer's circuitry interprets the codes and performs the required printing function. See Figure 2. Escape code encapsulation is the programmer's responsibility. It's his job to dig through manuals to learn each printer's capabilities and its limitations, and then implement the encapsulation inside his program. A certain exhilaration comes from successfully implementing a barcode printing program through encapsulation: it's the feeling of learning the language of the printer. But there are some obvious problems with the encapsulation technique.

With encapsulation, barcodes have to be custom-written within each application that prints them. A programmer may need to represent a complete barcode character set of hex instructions in every print program. The hex codes for printing one kind of barcode differ from those of another. Every variable data element sent through the program has to be translated into its hex code equivalent, encapsulated, and then retranslated through a custom printer translation table. Creating barcodes in this environment is extremely research- intensive, and every code must be included in each program.

So, what's a little research, right? Unfortunately, that's not all! The hex codes which unbridle the power of these printers are often printer-specific. If you move the application to a different printer-or upgrade your printer to a newer model-the original application will probably fail. If you have three different printers, more than likely you'll have to crack open three different printer manuals, interpolate the capabilities of each one and rewrite each barcode application that uses them.

Make no mistake, though-printing barcodes using encapsulation is a viable and mainstream method. Its difficulty is that it requires significant program maintenance. Is it any wonder, then, that midrange shops typically express enthusiasm about barcode printing up to the initial application? After that, maintaining programs that print barcodes becomes either a dead-end street or its own unique career path.

Limitations of Dot Matrix Printing

The dot matrix printer presents a second historic problem to barcode printing. Since the time of the S/36, dot matrix printing has become the hallmark of the midrange environment. Dot matrix is relatively cheap and sturdy, operates at reasonably high speeds and offers a more flexible set of character capabilities than the old bands embossed with SCS. But the quality of dot matrix doesn't consistently provide a high first-time scan rate.

First-time scan rate is a measure of the legibility of the barcode printed. Suppose your warehouse foreman has 100 labeled boxes loaded on a conveyor belt. The box labels pass before a stationary scanner which reads the barcode inventory number. If the scanner succeeds in reading each box the first time the labels pass, then the labels have a 100 percent first-time scan rate. But if a single label fails to be read, the foreman must remove the box from the line and scan it with a hand-held scanner. This stops the conveyor line, causes a backup and creates an exception. If he has to key in the data itself, first- time scan rate ceases to be any measure at all.

Since dot matrix output consists of a series of interlaced dots, the density of a printed code depends upon the amount of ink put onto the label. As the ink in the ribbon is used up, the density of the barcode becomes imperceptibly weaker. A scanner reading such a weak barcode could perceive it merely as a shadow, absorbing light unevenly. Generating labels on a dot matrix printer can sometimes result in an entire run of printed barcode labels which look just fine to the naked eye, but which are illegible to the scanners which must read them.

This creates an interesting dilemma for a programmer who's trying to test out his application. What happens when the scanner fails to read the barcode? Did the wrong hex code get programmed? Or is it merely a flaky ribbon that has outlived its useful barcode life?

The problems of traditional mid-range barcode printing can be summarized as limited tools and low-function hardware. These problems don't negate the value of systems which use these technologies or techniques; they're simply obstacles you must consider when you commit to the requirements of a barcode application.

New Technology to the Rescue

If we're to address barcode printing in a truly native way on the AS/400, it would be nice to have a bit more help than just a few new programs, better instruction manuals and a box of new ribbons. It would be nice if we had a better means of getting code to the hardware and better hardware to receive the codes. Well, we do! IBM has recognized these difficulties with the design and creation of Advanced Function Printing Data Stream (AFPDS) and Intelligent Printer Data Stream (IPDS).

In the late 1980s, just prior to the release of the AS/400, IBM created the AFPDS and IPDS components of System Application Architecture (SAA). AFPDS defines a structured format by which instructions can be passed transparently from any application to any printer. IPDS is the hardware structure to receive those codes and control the format of the printing. The combination of these two elements forms the lynch pin of IBM's software products, called simply Ad- vanced Function Printing (AFP).

Advantages of AFPDS

Unlike the SCS data stream, the AFPDS architecture is completely independent of a particular operating system or printer.

Instead of defining a character set, the structure of AFPDS defines text "pages," line formats, and a mixture of line and composed text data. Each stream of data is strictly formatted, specifying the length of the data stream, the type of data (page, line format, or mixed line and composed text), and the encapsulation of reference codes to other objects. AFPDS can, of course, output traditional SCS text; but it also handles image overlays and page segments, graphics, images and-most important for our purposes-barcodes.

The advantage of AFPDS is that it references images and control data that exist outside the actual print stream itself. Instead of actually sending the image of the barcode, it tells the printer, "We need a barcode here...and we need this particular picture over there."

AFPDS's ability to reference independently stored printer control codes-or even page segments such as logos-externalizes the process of creating these complicated structures. This reference is passed along with the spooled file, and is only called upon when the spooled file actually prints. If an image is used repeatedly within a spooled file, it can be shared so that the control codes need only exist once on the machine. Then, as the spooled file moves to the printer, these external references are sent as separate buffers. They merge with the data inside of the printer, creating a combination of alphanumeric data, pictorial images and barcodes (see 3).

AFPDS's ability to reference independently stored printer control codes-or even page segments such as logos-externalizes the process of creating these complicated structures. This reference is passed along with the spooled file, and is only called upon when the spooled file actually prints. If an image is used repeatedly within a spooled file, it can be shared so that the control codes need only exist once on the machine. Then, as the spooled file moves to the printer, these external references are sent as separate buffers. They merge with the data inside of the printer, creating a combination of alphanumeric data, pictorial images and barcodes (see Figure 3).

OS/400 implements barcodes for AFPDS in DDS with a new keyword for printer files-BARCODE. This keyword eliminates any further RPG encapsulation requirements. You simply need to identify a field in your DDS as a BARCODE, specifying the type of code and its size, and then compile the printer file. AFPDS does the rest.

When the application runs, the printer file sends out its data to the spooler, marking the barcode data with a reference to barcode. AFPDS then associates the barcode reference with the appropriate, independently stored control codes. AFPDS translates the EBCDIC data to a barcode control language, merges the controls with the rest of the spooled data and then passes the entire printer data stream to the printer.

If you need to generate a different barcode type-perhaps a UPC barcode instead of Code 128-just identify that new type on the DDS keyword and recompile the printer file. Program-mers no longer need to concern themselves with control codes or the capabilities of the specific printer used.

AFPDS works for images as well. The independently stored images, page segments, overlays and control codes exist as separate objects on the AS/400. They don't even have to exist at the time that the printer file is compiled. But they must be present on the system when the spooled file is sent through the writer to the printer.

Some AFPDS Limitations

While AFPDS does a great job of simplifying the process of barcode programming, it does have some drawbacks. The first-and most immediately apparent-is that you can no longer look at your spooled output. You also cannot copy the spooled file to a database file using traditional methods. (For a solution to this problem, see "Beyond CPYSPLF-Saving Everything in a Spooled File," MC, October 1993.)

AFPDS poses these limitations because an AFPDS spooled file contains more than data alone; it contains a series of references and pointers to other objects on the system. If you attempt to copy or display the spooled file, AFPDS might not be able to resolve all its references-so it doesn't even try. Of course, this isn't much different than sending encapsulated barcode control characters to an SCS printer-they can't be displayed either.

Another drawback of AFPDS is that it doesn't know the capabilities of the printer to which it is sending the merged printer data stream. (Remember, AFPDS is independent of operating systems and printers.) AFPDS assumes that the printer writer can accommodate its complicated structure. It's the responsibility of the printer writer to handle the control codes, sense data bits and assemble the overlays and page segments. If the printer chokes-as all SCS-defined printers are bound to do-the spooled file is automatically held in the output queue, and a mysterious message appears in the QSYSOPR message queue: "Spooled file incomplete."

This message could mean that some external reference by AFPDS is missing. It could mean that the process of creation was somehow flawed. But more than likely it means that the printer itself was unable to handle the output. Only by delving through previous messages can you determine the exact problem.

Even with these complications, AFPDS provides significant advantages over hard- coding barcodes into our applications. It gives us capabilities which are not limited to a specific character set, allows us to make the application code generic for all printers, and makes our programs more flexible and portable. Finding a printer on the system that can handle AFPDS is a little more complicated.

Advantages of IPDS Printers

For barcode applications, the most significant change in printer technology in the last 10 years is the success of inexpensive, high-density laser printers. Laser printing uses a Xerographic-like process in which dry ink particles are essentially "fused" to the sheet of paper. The very nature of this process presupposes an image-oriented/page-oriented data stream, which is a perfect match for barcode implementation. The images of barcodes created on lasers are uniformly dense, offering a superb medium for an extremely high first-time scan rate.

But, as we've mentioned before, hooking up any laser printer to the AS/400 will not guarantee that we can make use of the laser's superior imaging capabilities. That's where IPDS comes in.

IPDS provides an interface to all-points-addressable printing, making possible the presentation of pages containing an unlimited mixture of data types. This includes high-quality text, images, vector graphics and, of course, barcodes.

The capabilities of an IPDS printer are stored in structures called towers. These structures encapsulate and standardize the control codes required to manipulate fonts, place graphics, draw vectors or print barcodes. Think of IPDS towers as individual libraries of control codes contained within the ROM of the IPDS printer.

As the print stream passes to IPDS from the host computer, IPDS begins unraveling and assembling the instructions and references sent. It uses the external references, sent as print buffers by AFPDS, to locate instructions in its various libraries on how to print each page. After the page is assembled, IPDS sends the entire image through the printing process. 4 illustrates the relationship between AFPDS and IPDS.

As the print stream passes to IPDS from the host computer, IPDS begins unraveling and assembling the instructions and references sent. It uses the external references, sent as print buffers by AFPDS, to locate instructions in its various libraries on how to print each page. After the page is assembled, IPDS sends the entire image through the printing process. Figure 4 illustrates the relationship between AFPDS and IPDS.

IPDS's greatest advantage lies in the standardization of instructions required to create images from the AS/400 at the most potent and efficient spot-at the hardware level of the printer.

Just as AFPDS allows the referencing of images and data constructs outside the spooled file, IPDS operates on the other side of the hardware interface, allowing different application programs to create the source data independently and then merging them together at print time. In other words, IPDS and AFPDS work as a team to overcome the traditional limitations of midrange barcode printing technology.

Some Limitations of IPDS Printers

Although the process for creating images has been standardized, the capabilities of all IPDS printers have not. Not all IPDS printers fully incorporate all IPDS towers. Some IPDS printers specialize in barcodes; others specialize in images and still others in vector graphics. And this makes some sense: why fill up all the "shelf space" in the tower libraries with instructions which may never be referenced? The only requirement defined for IPDS capabilities is that each printer must support at least two IPDS towers.

Individual IPDS towers represented on a particular printer may not have the same capabilities or may not fully incorporate all of the features of a particular IPDS tower. For instance, the IBM 3812 laser printer supports a variety of barcode standards in its barcode IPDS tower structure. But it doesn't support Code 128, one of the more popular standards. If IBM chooses to make the 3812 support this or any other barcode, it must upgrade the microcode of the printer. On some IPDS printers, the process of upgrading involves nothing more than slipping in a different card. On others, such as the 3812, upgrading may come in the form of a micropatch sent on a diskette.

AFPDS and IPDS Conclusions

Even though IPDS matches the capabilities of AFPDS, it doesn't guarantee support for all the barcode features that you may want to print. Nevertheless, from a programmer's perspective, you're better off with AFPDS and IPDS than you were before. You can code applications generically and then choose the printer with the appropriate capabilities at a later time. Although printer capabilities must match the demands of the barcode application, each IPDS printer won't require a different instruction set in order to function.

Pulling It All Together

So, which methods and techniques best suit the printing of barcodes on the AS/400? If AFPDS and IPDS produce better results than SCS and the standard dot matrix printers, shouldn't we design our applications to take advantage of them and obtain the hardware that allows us to do that? Both technologies have significant advantages.

More than likely, the SCS/dot matrix solution is available to you today and represents no added costs to your hardware budget. Barcode applications, once programmed, seldom change for the hardware which supports them. The best choice for your shop depends greatly upon the skill sets available to your programmers. If your environment will have only one application using barcodes, it probably makes no sense to reinvest in hardware just to maximize the latest technology. (Look for an example of SCS encapsulation in a future issue of MC.)

By the same token, barcodes are fast becoming an important strategic technology. Your ability to respond to these requirements-and other new technologies such as graphics and images-may warrant an upgrade of the hardware to IPDS printers. Some companies have found that the increased savings afforded by barcodes can pay for the new printer in a very cost-effective manner.

The new coding techniques which AFPDS and IPDS provide-through the use of DDS keywords such as BARCODE, PAGSEG, FONT and GDF (Graphic Data File)-can significantly cut the development and maintenance costs for barcode applications. How you choose to integrate these technologies into your specific environment can create a strong argument for reinvestment in the future.

T.M. Stockwell is an associate technical editor for Midrange Computing.

Issues and Answers: The 17 Questions Most Frequently Asked about Barcodes

What is a barcode?

A barcode is a printed image of encoded stripes representing numbers, letters (with some codes) and other special characters. o o o Why can't I read them?

Barcodes were designed to be read by machines, not by humans. A barcode scanner reads the variation of light reflected from the barcode and associates that variation with an alphabet.

o o o

How can barcodes save my company money?

By increasing accuracy and speed in collecting data, companies may decrease their production costs by capturing important new data which was previously unavailable.

Some companies gain market share with barcode implementation by making their products more attractive to their large customers. These companies make their products "retail ready" with the preprinted custom codes attached to merchandise at the time of shipment.

Companies can save money by controlling the cost of mass mailings. The post office has special rates for POSTNET mail. And some companies simply save money by decreasing the errors associated with data collection or with the general cost of data entry.

o o o

How do barcodes differ from other codes, such as MCR and OCR codes?

MCR stands for magnetic character recognition, usually associated with the codes printed on the bottom of checks. The code is actually a magnetic impression that's read by an MCR-reading machine, such as a check sorter.

OCR stands for optical character recognition. In OCR technology, the bit-mapped image of a code is fed to a computer which attempts to recognize the shape of letters and numbers. Barcodes are similar in concept to MCR and OCR technologies, but they are implemented differently.

o o o

How accurate and durable are barcodes compared to these other scanning technologies?

MCR is highly accurate, though not very forgiving when it comes in contact with a lot of handling. Because the code is magnetic, outside environmental circumstances can easily ruin it. OCR technology is still evolving. Today it is considerably less accurate than barcodes for transferring information from a printed medium to a computer. OCR is also extremely CPU intensive.

Barcode scanners have a considerably higher rate of machine recognition than other optical character readers at a much lower cost. This is especially true if the printed code is of high quality.

Barcodes also endure environmental conditions much longer than magnetic encoding and are difficult to deface or make illegible. In the electronics industry, barcodes on circuit boards are regularly subjected to acid baths and still transmit their part numbers. And one Napa Valley winery barcodes its wine barrels and then circulates the barrels in high humidity. In such an environment, metal rusts, wood swells and paper disintegrates. But the labels- placed on laminates-remain legible for years as the wine matures.

o o o

How many different kinds of barcodes are there?

New barcode standards are continually developing. The AS/400 currently supports 12 major codes:

o Code 3-of-9, MHI/AIM USD-3


o UPC/CGPC-Version A

o UPC/CGPC-Version E

o EAN-8 (includes JAN-short)

o EAN-13 (includes JAN-standard)

o 2-of-5 Industrial

o 2-of-5 Matrix

o Interleaved 2-of-5 (MHI/AIM USD-1)

o Codabar (MHI/AIM USD-4).

o Code128 (AIM USS-128)

o POSTNET (POSTal Numeric Encoding Technique)

o o o

Which code should we use?

The code your company uses will depend upon the standard which has been adopted by your industry. Or, it may depend upon what you intend to label with barcodes. Grocers require goods labeled with UPC. The Department of Defense requires Code 3-of-9. The post office requires POSTNET. A particular store which you ship to may require something else. o o o Who establishes these standards?

The government establishes some standards. Others are set up by associations or by convention. POSTNET and UPC are two standards established by agencies which have specialized requirements about placement, numbering and registration. UPC, for example, must be registered in order to be recognized. Other industry- specific standards are imposed by the most powerful players in the field, who often have an established investment in a particular code or machine.

o o o

Which code is better: Code 3-of-9, Code 128, POSTNET or UPC?

Different industries have purposely established separate coding standards. The idea was to prevent the accidental reading of misplaced barcode labels. Some codes represent only numeric characters, while others have a broader character set to include alphabetic characters and special symbols. Each code has its own advantages for any particular job, but choosing a specific code is most often a choice based upon the industry or applications which require them. o o o What is a barcode scanner?

A barcode scanner is a device that can recognize the barcode and convert it into letters and numbers. Technically, a scanner is just one of many devices used for reading and recognizing specific barcodes. Other device names include readers, wands, wedges, laser scanners and stationary scanners.

o o o

What is the difference between a wand and a scanner?

The main difference between barcode-reading devices is the type of light technology which is used. Wands are "contact" light pencils which require the user to hold the pencil at a particular angle and rub the wand across the code. Laser scanners emit a "scanning" laser beam across the code. Because the laser's light is much less diffused and much brighter than a wand, laser scanners don't require the user to "contact" the label. The laser scanner can bridge distances of up to several inches in good conditions, but the idea of reading a barcode from across the room with a laser scanner is still science fiction with today's technology.

o o o

If I buy a barcode scanner, will it work on the AS/400?

Most barcode scanners are connected to other devices, such as hand-held computer terminals or display stations. These terminals typically use the ASCII format for internally storing information. The AS/400's native format is EBCDIC. However, every major manufacturer of barcode-reading devices has some sort of interface to the AS/400 which converts the ASCII code to EBCDIC.

o o o

If I buy a barcode scanner, will it be able to read any code I want to use?

Only a few years ago, if you needed to read two different code types, you also needed two different scanners. Some manufacturers now have models which can read a variety of different codes, all in the same unit. o o o What are the advantages of one scanner over another?

The three criteria which predict the value of a particular type of scanner are cost, scanning environment and first-time scan rate.

Generally speaking, an office with few harsh environmental conditions (i.e., an office with good lighting and hands-on contact with the labels) allows a high first-time scan rate at minimal cost. These environments allow the use of inexpensive light pencils or wands connected directly to display terminals.

As the application moves into harsher environments (the warehouse) or more portable conditions (forklift truck) where hands-on contact with a label is undesirable (pallets), the application may require more flexibility (hand-held laser scanner) and consequently more cost.

o o o

What are the steps required to set up a barcode system?

Implementing barcode technology is no different than implementing any other large project. Good project management requires:

o A thorough understanding of the technology.

o Requirements planning.

o Management communication and involvement.

o Line-management involvement (the people who will actually do the job and

support it).

o A pilot or prototype.

o Measurement criteria.

o A project plan.

o An evaluation of successes or failures.

o A roll-out strategy and plan.

o o o

How can I justify the cost of implementing barcodes at my company?

The traditional method to cost-justify barcode technology involves estimating the cost required to capture the information in a traditional setting and comparing that cost to an implemented barcode environment. The formula for accomplishing this feat is shown in A1. o o o Where should we begin considering barcode technology?

The traditional method to cost-justify barcode technology involves estimating the cost required to capture the information in a traditional setting and comparing that cost to an implemented barcode environment. The formula for accomplishing this feat is shown in Figure A1. o o o Where should we begin considering barcode technology?

Consider the itemized list in A2 as a great source of pilot barcoding projects. - TS

Consider the itemized list in Figure A2 as a great source of pilot barcoding projects. - TS

Barcode Printing on the AS/400

Figure 1 Printing Formatted Text on an SCS Printer


Barcode Printing on the AS/400

Figure 2 Barcode Printing on an SCS Printer


Barcode Printing on the AS/400

Figure 3 Printing with AFPDS


Barcode Printing on the AS/400

Figure 4 How AFPDS and IPDS Interact


Barcode Printing on the AS/400

Figure A1 Formulas to Cost-justify Barcodes

  A common method to cost-justify the implementation of a barcode project is to 
  identify how the company can save money using barcodes over the traditional 
  data entry, keypunch cycle. This method identifies the cost of capturing the 
  information and transforming it into data, then projects a similar cost for 
  capturing the information as barcode data. The difference in the labor costs is 
  the savings realized on a daily basis. By multiplying this savings over a 
  period of one year, the project can identify the payoff time period for the 
  investment in new equipment. 
  Daily Data Entry Costs = (Transcription Costs/Day) + (Keypunch Costs/Day) 
  Transcription Costs/Day = ((# chars/transaction)*(transcription time/char))*((# 
  transactions/day)*(labor rate)) 
  Keypunch Costs/Day =  ((# chars/transaction)*(keypunch time/char))*((# 
  transactions/day)*(labor rate)) 
  If 1 Transaction = 1 Barcode Label 
  Projected Barcode Scan Costs/Day = ((scan time/label)*(# labels)*(labor rate)) 
  To identify the savings of a projected barcode implementation: 
  Savings = Daily Data Entry Costs - Projected Barcode Scan Costs/Day 
  Multiply this savings by the working days/year to determine the payoff of new 
  equipment and software. 
  A second method of cost-justification bases its savings on the cost of 
  correcting data entry errors. Because the margin of data entry error is 
  practically insignificant in a barcode implementation, a formula to identify 
  savings might look like this: 
  # of Daily Transaction Errors = ((# transactions/day)*(1 - % of accuracy)) 
  Daily Cost of Errors = ((# of error transactions)*(time per transaction)*(labor 
  By eliminating large numbers of error transactions through barcode technology, 
  many companies can pay off the expense of new equipment in a short period of 

Barcode Printing on the AS/400

Figure A2 Suggested Barcode Applications

  1. Labor reporting 
  a. Payroll 
  b. Job costing 
  c. Attendance 
  d. Personnel tracking 
  2. Materials tracking 
  a. Inventory movement 
  b. Physical inventory 
  c. Outside operations 
  d. Product history 
  e. Automated counting 
  f. Shipping verification 
  3. Document tracking 
  a. Library books, video rental, tape library 
  b. Files, medical records, portfolios 
  c. Specifications 
  4. Access control 
  a. Physical restraint (e.g.,badges) 
  b. Audit trail 
  5. Process control 
  a. Machine control 
  b. Test control 
  c. Material movement control 
  6. Miscellaneous 
  a. Tool control 
  b. Machine utilization/maintenance 
  c. Fixed assets 
  d. Corporate mailings 
Thomas Stockwell

Thomas M. Stockwell is an independent IT analyst and writer. He is the former Editor in Chief of MC Press Online and Midrange Computing magazine and has over 20 years of experience as a programmer, systems engineer, IT director, industry analyst, author, speaker, consultant, and editor.  


Tom works from his home in the Napa Valley in California. He can be reached at









  • Mobile Computing and the IBM i

    SB ASNA PPL 5450Mobile computing is rapidly maturing into a solid platform for delivering enterprise applications. Many IBM i shops today are realizing that integrating their IBM i with mobile applications is the fast path to improved business workflows, better customer relations, and more responsive business reporting.

    This ASNA whitepaper takes a look at mobile computing for the IBM i. It discusses the different ways mobile applications may be used within the enterprise and how ASNA products solve the challenges mobile presents. It also presents the case that you already have the mobile programming team your projects need: that team is your existing RPG development team!

    Get your copy today!

  • Automate IBM i Operations using Wireless Devices

    DDL SystemsDownload the technical whitepaper on MANAGING YOUR IBM i WIRELESSLY and (optionally) register to download an absolutely FREE software trail. This whitepaper provides an in-depth review of the native IBM i technology and ACO MONITOR's advanced two-way messaging features to remotely manage your IBM i while in or away from the office. Notify on-duty personnel of system events and remotely respond to complex problems (via your Smartphone) before they become critical-24/7. Problem solved!

    Order your copy here.

  • DR Strategy Guide from Maxava: Brand New Edition - now fully updated to include Cloud!


    Download your free copy of DR Strategy Guide for IBM i from Maxava today.


  • White Paper: Node.js for Enterprise IBM i Modernization

    SB Profound WP 5539

    If your business is thinking about modernizing your legacy IBM i (also known as AS/400 or iSeries) applications, you will want to read this white paper first!

    Download this paper and learn how Node.js can ensure that you:
    - Modernize on-time and budget - no more lengthy, costly, disruptive app rewrites!
    - Retain your IBM i systems of record
    - Find and hire new development talent
    - Integrate new Node.js applications with your existing RPG, Java, .Net, and PHP apps
    - Extend your IBM i capabilties to include Watson API, Cloud, and Internet of Things

    Read Node.js for Enterprise IBM i Modernization Now!


  • 2020 IBM i Marketplace Survey Results


    This year marks the sixth edition of the popular IBM i Marketplace Survey Results. Each year, HelpSystems sets out to gather data about how businesses use the IBM i platform and the IT initiatives it supports. Year over year, the survey has begun to reveal long-term trends that give insight into the future of this trusted technology.

    More than 500 IBM i users from around the globe participated in this year’s survey, and we’re so happy to share the results with you. We hope you’ll find the information interesting and useful as you evaluate your own IT projects.

  • AIX Security Basics eCourse

    Core Security

    With so many organizations depending on AIX day to day, ensuring proper security and configuration is critical to ensure the safety of your environment. Don’t let common threats put your critical AIX servers at risk. Avoid simple mistakes and start to build a long-term plan with this AIX Security eCourse. Enroll today to get easy to follow instructions on topics like:

    • Removing extraneous files
    • Patching systems efficiently
    • Setting and validating permissions
    • Managing service considerations
    • Getting overall visibility into your networks


  • Developer Kit: Making a Business Case for Modernization and Beyond

    Profound Logic Software, Inc.

    Having trouble getting management approval for modernization projects? The problem may be you're not speaking enough "business" to them.

    This Developer Kit provides you study-backed data and a ready-to-use business case template to help get your very next development project approved!

  • What to Do When Your AS/400 Talent Retires

    HelpSystemsIT managers hoping to find new IBM i talent are discovering that the pool of experienced RPG programmers and operators or administrators is small.

    This guide offers strategies and software suggestions to help you plan IT staffing and resources and smooth the transition after your AS/400 talent retires. Read on to learn:

    • Why IBM i skills depletion is a top concern
    • How leading organizations are coping
    • Where automation will make the biggest impact


  • IBM i Resources Retiring?

    SB HelpSystems WC GenericLet’s face it: IBM i experts and RPG programmers are retiring from the workforce. Are you prepared to handle their departure?
    Our panel of IBM i experts—Chuck Losinski, Robin Tatam, Richard Schoen, and Tom Huntington—will outline strategies that allow your company to cope with IBM i skills depletion by adopting these strategies that allow you to get the job done without deep expertise on the OS:
    - Automate IBM i processes
    - Use managed services to help fill the gaps
    - Secure the system against data loss and viruses
    The strategies you discover in this webinar will help you ensure that your system of record—your IBM i—continues to deliver a powerful business advantage, even as staff retires.


  • Backup and Recovery Considerations for Security Data and Encrypted Backups

    SB PowerTech WC GenericSecurity expert Carol Woodbury is joined by Debbie Saugen. Debbie is an expert on IBM i backup and recovery, disaster recovery, and high availability, helping IBM i shops build and implement effective business continuity plans.
    In today’s business climate, business continuity is more important than ever. But 83 percent of organizations are not totally confident in their backup strategy.
    During this webinar, Carol and Debbie discuss the importance of a good backup plan, how to ensure you’re backing up your security information, and your options for encrypted back-ups.

  • Profound.js: The Agile Approach to Legacy Modernization

    SB Profound WC GenericIn this presentation, Alex Roytman and Liam Allan will unveil a completely new and unique way to modernize your legacy applications. Learn how Agile Modernization:
    - Uses the power of Node.js in place of costly system re-writes and migrations
    - Enables you to modernize legacy systems in an iterative, low-risk manner
    - Makes it easier to hire developers for your modernization efforts
    - Integrates with Profound UI (GUI modernization) for a seamless, end-to-end legacy modernization solution


  • Data Breaches: Is IBM i Really at Risk?

    SB PowerTech WC GenericIBM i is known for its security, but this OS could be more vulnerable than you think.
    Although Power Servers often live inside the safety of the perimeter firewall, the risk of suffering a data leak or data corruption remains high.
    Watch noted IBM i security expert Robin Tatam as he discusses common ways that this supposedly “secure” operating system may actually be vulnerable and who the culprits might be.

    Watch the webinar today!


  • Easy Mobile Development

    SB Profound WC GenericWatch this on-demand webinar and learn how to rapidly and easily deploy mobile apps to your organization – even when working with legacy RPG code! IBM Champion Scott Klement will demonstrate how to:
    - Develop RPG applications without mobile development experience
    - Deploy secure applications for any mobile device
    - Build one application for all platforms, including Apple and Android
    - Extend the life and reach of your IBM i (aka iSeries, AS400) platform
    You’ll see examples from customers who have used our products and services to deliver the mobile applications of their dreams, faster and easier than they ever thought possible!


  • Profound UI: Unlock True Modernization from your IBM i Enterprise

    SB Profound PPL 5491Modern, web-based applications can make your Enterprise more efficient, connected and engaged. This session will demonstrate how the Profound UI framework is the best and most native way to convert your existing RPG applications and develop new modern applications for your business. Additionally, you will learn how you can address modernization across your Enterprise, including databases and legacy source code, with Profound Logic.

  • Node Webinar Series Pt. 1: The World of Node.js on IBM i

    Profound Logic Software, Inc.Have you been wondering about Node.js? Our free Node.js Webinar Series takes you from total beginner to creating a fully-functional IBM i Node.js business application.

    Part 1 will teach you what Node.js is, why it's a great option for IBM i shops, and how to take advantage of the ecosystem surrounding Node.

    In addition to background information, our Director of Product Development Scott Klement will demonstrate applications that take advantage of the Node Package Manager (npm).

  • 5 New and Unique Ways to Use the IBM i Audit Journal

    SB HelpSystems ROBOT GenericYou must be asking yourself: am I doing everything I can to protect my organization’s data? Tune in as our panel of IBM i high availability experts discuss:

    - Why companies don’t test role swaps when they know they should
    - Whether high availability in the cloud makes sense for IBM i users
    - Why some organizations don’t have high availability yet
    - How to get high availability up and running at your organization
    - High availability considerations for today’s security concerns

  • Profound.js 2.0: Extend the Power of Node to your IBM i Applications

    SB Profound WC 5541In this Webinar, we'll demonstrate how Profound.js 2.0 enables you to easily adopt Node.js in your business, and to take advantage of the many benefits of Node, including access to a much larger pool of developers for IBM i and access to countless reusable open source code packages on npm (Node Package Manager).
    You will see how Profound.js 2.0 allows you to:

    • Provide RPG-like capabilities for server-side JavaScript.
    • Easily create web and mobile application interfaces for Node on IBM i.
    • Let existing RPG programs call Node.js modules directly, and vice versa.
    • Automatically generate code for Node.js.
    • Automatically converts existing RPGLE code into clean, simplified Node.js code.

    Download and watch today!


  • Make Modern Apps You'll Love with Profound UI & Profound.js

    SB Profound WC 5541Whether you have green screens or a drab GUI, your outdated apps can benefit from modern source code, modern GUIs, and modern tools.
    Profound Logic's Alex Roytman and Liam Allan are here to show you how Free-format RPG and Node.js make it possible to deliver applications your whole business will love:

    • Transform legacy RPG code to modern free-format RPG and Node.js
    • Deliver truly modern application interfaces with Profound UI
    • Extend your RPG applications to include Web Services and NPM packages with Node.js


  • Accelerating Programmer Productivity with Sequel


    Most business intelligence tools are just that: tools, a means to an end but not an accelerator. Yours could even be slowing you down. But what if your BI tool didn't just give you a platform for query-writing but also improved programmer productivity?
    Watch the recorded webinar to see how Sequel:

    • Makes creating complex results simple
    • Eliminates barriers to data sources
    • Increases flexibility with data usage and distribution

    Accelerated productivity makes everyone happy, from programmer to business user.

  • Business Intelligence is Changing: Make Your Game Plan

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_GenericIt’s time to develop a strategy that will help you meet your informational challenges head-on. Watch the webinar to learn how to set your IT department up for business intelligence success. You’ll learn how the right data access tool will help you:

    • Access IBM i data faster
    • Deliver useful information to executives and business users
    • Empower users with secure data access

    Ready to make your game plan and finally keep up with your data access requests?


  • Controlling Insider Threats on IBM i

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_GenericLet’s face facts: servers don’t hack other servers. Despite the avalanche of regulations, news headlines remain chock full of stories about data breaches, all initiated by insiders or intruders masquerading as insiders.
    User profiles are often duplicated or restored and are rarely reviewed for the appropriateness of their current configuration. This increases the risk of the profile being able to access data without the intended authority or having privileges that should be reserved for administrators.
    Watch security expert Robin Tatam as he discusses a new approach for onboarding new users on IBM i and best-practices techniques for managing and monitoring activities after they sign on.

  • Don't Just Settle for Query/400...

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_GenericWhile introducing Sequel Data Access, we’ll address common frustrations with Query/400, discuss major data access, distribution trends, and more advanced query tools. Plus, you’ll learn how a tool like Sequel lightens IT’s load by:

    - Accessing real-time data, so you can make real-time decisions
    - Providing run-time prompts, so users can help themselves
    - Delivering instant results in Microsoft Excel and PDF, without the wait
    - Automating the query process with on-demand data, dashboards, and scheduled jobs

  • How to Manage Documents the Easy Way

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_GenericWhat happens when your company depends on an outdated document management strategy?
    Everything is harder.
    You don’t need to stick with status quo anymore.
    Watch the webinar to learn how to put effective document management into practice and:

    • Capture documents faster, instead of wasting everyone’s time
    • Manage documents easily, so you can always find them
    • Distribute documents automatically, and move on to the next task


  • Lessons Learned from the AS/400 Breach

    SB_PowerTech_WC_GenericGet actionable info to avoid becoming the next cyberattack victim.
    In “Data breach digest—Scenarios from the field,” Verizon documented an AS/400 security breach. Whether you call it AS/400, iSeries, or IBM i, you now have proof that the system has been breached.
    Watch IBM i security expert Robin Tatam give an insightful discussion of the issues surrounding this specific scenario.
    Robin will also draw on his extensive cybersecurity experience to discuss policies, processes, and configuration details that you can implement to help reduce the risk of your system being the next victim of an attack.

  • Overwhelmed by Operating Systems?

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_GenericIn this 30-minute recorded webinar, our experts demonstrate how you can:

    • Manage multiple platforms from a central location
    • View monitoring results in a single pane of glass on your desktop or mobile device
    • Take advantage of best practice, plug-and-play monitoring templates
    • Create rules to automate daily checks across your entire infrastructure
    • Receive notification if something is wrong or about to go wrong

    This presentation includes a live demo of Network Server Suite.


  • Real-Time Disk Monitoring with Robot Monitor

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_GenericYou need to know when IBM i disk space starts to disappear and where it has gone before system performance and productivity start to suffer. Our experts will show you how Robot Monitor can help you pinpoint exactly when your auxiliary storage starts to disappear and why, so you can start taking a proactive approach to disk monitoring and analysis. You’ll also get insight into:

    • The main sources of disk consumption
    • How to monitor temporary storage and QTEMP objects in real time
    • How to monitor objects and libraries in real time and near-real time
    • How to track long-term disk trends



  • Stop Re-keying Data Between IBM I and Other Applications

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_GenericMany business still depend on RPG for their daily business processes and report generation.Wouldn’t it be nice if you could stop re-keying data between IBM i and other applications? Or if you could stop replicating data and start processing orders faster? Or what if you could automatically extract data from existing reports instead of re-keying? It’s all possible. Watch this webinar to learn about:

    • The data dilemma
    • 3 ways to stop re-keying data
    • Data automation in practice

    Plus, see how HelpSystems data automation software will help you stop re-keying data.


  • The Top Five RPG Open Access Myths....BUSTED!

    SB_Profound_WC_GenericWhen it comes to IBM Rational Open Access: RPG Edition, there are still many misconceptions - especially where application modernization is concerned!

    In this Webinar, we'll address some of the biggest myths about RPG Open Access, including:

    • Modernizing with RPG OA requires significant changes to the source code
    • The RPG language is outdated and impractical for modernizing applications
    • Modernizing with RPG OA is the equivalent to "screen scraping"


  • Time to Remove the Paper from Your Desk and Become More Efficient

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_GenericToo much paper is wasted. Attempts to locate documents in endless filing cabinets.And distributing documents is expensive and takes up far too much time.
    These are just three common reasons why it might be time for your company to implement a paperless document management system.
    Watch the webinar to learn more and discover how easy it can be to:

    • Capture
    • Manage
    • And distribute documents digitally


  • IBM i: It’s Not Just AS/400


    IBM’s Steve Will talks AS/400, POWER9, cognitive systems, and everything in between

    Are there still companies that use AS400? Of course!

    IBM i was built on the same foundation.
    Watch this recorded webinar with IBM i Chief Architect Steve Will and IBM Power Champion Tom Huntington to gain a unique perspective on the direction of this platform, including:

    • IBM i development strategies in progress at IBM
    • Ways that Watson will shake hands with IBM i
    • Key takeaways from the AS/400 days


  • Ask the RDi Experts

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_GenericWatch this recording where Jim Buck, Susan Gantner, and Charlie Guarino answered your questions, including:

    • What are the “hidden gems” in RDi that can make me more productive?
    • What makes RDi Debug better than the STRDBG green screen debugger?
    • How can RDi help me find out if I’ve tested all lines of a program?
    • What’s the best way to transition from PDM to RDi?
    • How do I convince my long-term developers to use RDi?

    This is a unique, online opportunity to hear how you can get more out of RDi.


  • Node.js on IBM i Webinar Series Pt. 2: Setting Up Your Development Tools

    Profound Logic Software, Inc.Have you been wondering about Node.js? Our free Node.js Webinar Series takes you from total beginner to creating a fully-functional IBM i Node.js business application. In Part 2, Brian May teaches you the different tooling options available for writing code, debugging, and using Git for version control. Attend this webinar to learn:

    • Different tools to develop Node.js applications on IBM i
    • Debugging Node.js
    • The basics of Git and tools to help those new to it
    • Using as a pre-built development environment



  • Inside the Integrated File System (IFS)

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_GenericDuring this webinar, you’ll learn basic tips, helpful tools, and integrated file system commands—including WRKLNK—for managing your IFS directories and Access Client Solutions (ACS). We’ll answer your most pressing IFS questions, including:

    • What is stored inside my IFS directories?
    • How do I monitor the IFS?
    • How do I replicate the IFS or back it up?
    • How do I secure the IFS?

    Understanding what the integrated file system is and how to work with it must be a critical part of your systems management plans for IBM i.


  • Expert Tips for IBM i Security: Beyond the Basics

    SB PowerTech WC GenericIn this session, IBM i security expert Robin Tatam provides a quick recap of IBM i security basics and guides you through some advanced cybersecurity techniques that can help you take data protection to the next level. Robin will cover:

    • Reducing the risk posed by special authorities
    • Establishing object-level security
    • Overseeing user actions and data access

    Don't miss this chance to take your knowledge of IBM i security beyond the basics.



  • 5 IBM i Security Quick Wins

    SB PowerTech WC GenericIn today’s threat landscape, upper management is laser-focused on cybersecurity. You need to make progress in securing your systems—and make it fast.
    There’s no shortage of actions you could take, but what tactics will actually deliver the results you need? And how can you find a security strategy that fits your budget and time constraints?
    Join top IBM i security expert Robin Tatam as he outlines the five fastest and most impactful changes you can make to strengthen IBM i security this year.
    Your system didn’t become unsecure overnight and you won’t be able to turn it around overnight either. But quick wins are possible with IBM i security, and Robin Tatam will show you how to achieve them.

  • How to Meet the Newest Encryption Requirements on IBM i

    SB PowerTech WC GenericA growing number of compliance mandates require sensitive data to be encrypted. But what kind of encryption solution will satisfy an auditor and how can you implement encryption on IBM i? Watch this on-demand webinar to find out how to meet today’s most common encryption requirements on IBM i. You’ll also learn:

    • Why disk encryption isn’t enough
    • What sets strong encryption apart from other solutions
    • Important considerations before implementing encryption



  • Security Bulletin: Malware Infection Discovered on IBM i Server!

    SB PowerTech WC GenericMalicious programs can bring entire businesses to their knees—and IBM i shops are not immune. It’s critical to grasp the true impact malware can have on IBM i and the network that connects to it. Attend this webinar to gain a thorough understanding of the relationships between:

    • Viruses, native objects, and the integrated file system (IFS)
    • Power Systems and Windows-based viruses and malware
    • PC-based anti-virus scanning versus native IBM i scanning

    There are a number of ways you can minimize your exposure to viruses. IBM i security expert Sandi Moore explains the facts, including how to ensure you're fully protected and compliant with regulations such as PCI.



  • Fight Cyber Threats with IBM i Encryption

    SB PowerTech WC GenericCyber attacks often target mission-critical servers, and those attack strategies are constantly changing. To stay on top of these threats, your cybersecurity strategies must evolve, too. In this session, IBM i security expert Robin Tatam provides a quick recap of IBM i security basics and guides you through some advanced cybersecurity techniques that can help you take data protection to the next level. Robin will cover:

    • Reducing the risk posed by special authorities
    • Establishing object-level security
    • Overseeing user actions and data access




  • 10 Practical IBM i Security Tips for Surviving Covid-19 and Working From Home

    SB PowerTech WC GenericNow that many organizations have moved to a work from home model, security concerns have risen.

    During this session Carol Woodbury will discuss the issues that the world is currently seeing such as increased malware attacks and then provide practical actions you can take to both monitor and protect your IBM i during this challenging time.


  • How to Transfer IBM i Data to Microsoft Excel

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_Generic3 easy ways to get IBM i data into Excel every time
    There’s an easy, more reliable way to import your IBM i data to Excel? It’s called Sequel. During this webinar, our data access experts demonstrate how you can simplify the process of getting data from multiple sources—including Db2 for i—into Excel. Watch to learn how to:

    • Download your IBM i data to Excel in a single step
    • Deliver data to business users in Excel via email or a scheduled job
    • Access IBM i data directly using the Excel add-in in Sequel

    Make 2020 the year you finally see your data clearly, quickly, and securely. Start by giving business users the ability to access crucial business data from IBM i the way they want it—in Microsoft Excel.



  • HA Alternatives: MIMIX Is Not Your Only Option on IBM i

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_GenericIn this recorded webinar, our experts introduce you to the new HA transition technology available with our Robot HA software. You’ll learn how to:

    • Transition your rules from MIMIX (if you’re happy with them)
    • Simplify your day-to-day activities around high availability
    • Gain back time in your work week
    • Make your CEO happy about reducing IT costs

    Don’t stick with a legacy high availability solution that makes you uncomfortable when transitioning to something better can be simple, safe, and cost-effective.



  • Comply in 5! Well, actually UNDER 5 minutes!!

    SB CYBRA PPL 5382

    TRY the one package that solves all your document design and printing challenges on all your platforms.

    Produce bar code labels, electronic forms, ad hoc reports, and RFID tags – without programming! MarkMagic is the only document design and print solution that combines report writing, WYSIWYG label and forms design, and conditional printing in one integrated product.

    Request your trial now!

  • Backup and Recovery on IBM i: Your Strategy for the Unexpected

    SB HelpSystems SC 5413Robot automates the routine tasks of iSeries backup and recovery, saving you time and money and making the process safer and more reliable. Automate your backups with the Robot Backup and Recovery Solution. Key features include:
    - Simplified backup procedures
    - Easy data encryption
    - Save media management
    - Guided restoration
    - Seamless product integration
    Make sure your data survives when catastrophe hits. Try the Robot Backup and Recovery Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • Manage IBM i Messages by Exception with Robot

    SB HelpSystems SC 5413Managing messages on your IBM i can be more than a full-time job if you have to do it manually. How can you be sure you won’t miss important system events?
    Automate your message center with the Robot Message Management Solution. Key features include:
    - Automated message management
    - Tailored notifications and automatic escalation
    - System-wide control of your IBM i partitions
    - Two-way system notifications from your mobile device
    - Seamless product integration
    Try the Robot Message Management Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • Easiest Way to Save Money? Stop Printing IBM i Reports

    SB HelpSystems SC 5413Robot automates report bursting, distribution, bundling, and archiving, and offers secure, selective online report viewing.
    Manage your reports with the Robot Report Management Solution. Key features include:

    - Automated report distribution
    - View online without delay
    - Browser interface to make notes
    - Custom retention capabilities
    - Seamless product integration
    Rerun another report? Never again. Try the Robot Report Management Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • Hassle-Free IBM i Operations around the Clock

    SB HelpSystems SC 5413For over 30 years, Robot has been a leader in systems management for IBM i.
    Manage your job schedule with the Robot Job Scheduling Solution. Key features include:
    - Automated batch, interactive, and cross-platform scheduling
    - Event-driven dependency processing
    - Centralized monitoring and reporting
    - Audit log and ready-to-use reports
    - Seamless product integration
    Scale your software, not your staff. Try the Robot Job Scheduling Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • ACO MONITOR Manages your IBM i 24/7 and Notifies You When Your IBM i Needs Assistance!

    SB DDL Systems 5429More than a paging system - ACO MONITOR is a complete systems management solution for your Power Systems running IBM i. ACO MONITOR manages your Power System 24/7, uses advanced technology (like two-way messaging) to notify on-duty support personnel, and responds to complex problems before they reach critical status.

    ACO MONITOR is proven technology and is capable of processing thousands of mission-critical events daily. The software is pre-configured, easy to install, scalable, and greatly improves data center efficiency.