Direct printing #
Most reports in Manu Online are produced using the PDF format. Typically this is not suitable for high volume label or receipt printers, and in several places in the system it is possible to code direct printing. Direct printing means that data is sent to the printer in “raw” format.
To use direct printing you need to be able to code the print job in the printers native printer control language. The commonly used printers are Epson using the ESC/POS language and Zebra using the ZPL language. Also Datamax and some other printers are available. Note that Manu Online is not specific to any particular make of printer because the code is created by yourself or your partner so that the layout of the label or receipt is designed for your particular requirements, paper size and printer model.
Manu Online uses an internet untility called: PrintNode to send raw print command data from our servers to your printers via the PrintNode app on your local computer.
There are three places where direct printing is used: Receipts in Direct Sales, Purchase Order Receipts for box labels and Label printing in work steps of production work order.
Check before you buy any printer that it supports printing by direct ASCII transfer. This is typically the case for industrial label printers from manufacturers such as Datamax, Zebra and Epson. We recommend that you borrow the printer before buying so that you can test its capabilities.
Setting up PrintNode and coding Labels for Direct Sales, Purchase Order Receipts and Work Cell Steps #
- Go to www.printnode.com and create an account if you don’t have one. You may have to pay for this account.
- Go to the computer that is connected to the printer and login to your PrintNode account and install the PrintNode app. This app will run in the background and the app and computer must be switched on for printing to work
- logged into PrintNode make a note of the printer id and API key. These will be copied to Manu Online system settings. If it is a new PrintNode account you will need to create a new API key. Remember to save the key before continuing.
- Enter the API key into System settings – Features – PrintNode
- Design your label. Test your label using a testing tool such as www.labelary.com for Zebra
- Copy your label code and the printer id to Manu Online Admin – System settings – Direct Printing to the appropriate report
- Test the label from Manu Online. If nothing prints, then check the print history in PrintNode. If the job is there then the commication from Manu to PrintNode is working and there is something wrong with your print code or printer. If it is not there, check the API key and printer id.
- Finally check any replaceable elements in your print code such as item id or work order number.
First create a PrintNode account and install the PrintNode app on to the computer that is connected to the printer (even if it is connected as a local network printer). It can be your own machine but does not need to be. If there are many different users on different machines using the same printer, PrintNode is still needed only on one computer, that which has the windows printer installed. Of course this printer needs to be switched on and connected to the internet. The instructions for this are on PrintNodes web site www.printnode.com. You may need to purchase the license.
Login to the printnode web site and find the API key. Copy this key to Admin -> System settings- Features -> PrintNode as the Username
Entering the code for the label #
Go to Admin -> System settings -> Direct printing
Find the printer id from your PrintNode app or login. Enter the printer id in the PrinterPath field and your code in each section of the receipt. DirectSalesReceipt is for the header. DirectSalesReceipt_Lines are for each line and DirectSalesReceipt_Footer is for under the lines. When data is entered to these fields then the Receipt button on the direct sales screen will print this rather than opening the pdf.
Consult your printers coding manual to find the codes that set fonts, barcodes and also control page size and layout. First set the label size and then place the fixed elements such as the text “Order nbr:”. Finally place the replaceable elements such the order number.
When your code is working correctly in Notepad, copy it to Admin -> System settings -> Direct Printing.
Set the printer path as PrintNode printer ID. Also choose the method of printing such as “once” or “once per package”. You can test the print from this screen by pressing the -> button.
Replaceable data placeholders #
To enter a place holder for data that will be used in the print, use square brackets e.g. [Qty]
Place holders available for the Direct Sales header and Footer:
Placeholders for Direct Sales lines:
Place holders for purchase order receipts box labels:
Place holders for the work cell route step print (rPrintout_ItemSticker):
SerialNumber (this is the first serial number only, so batch size of one is supported only)
Escape codes in Epson’s ESC/POS language #
The ESC/POS language uses non-printable codes to control the printer. For instance the commonly used ESC character is not the text ESC but the ASCII character ESC which is character 1B in the ASCII table as hexadecimal. To specify these characters in direct printing, use the ASCII hex value of the character preceded by a backslash. For example ESC is written here as 1B. (Note that it must always be a two digit code e.g. 3, not 3) When printing this will be converted to the correct character.