Monday, March 25, 2013

How to: Create Barcodes in Cognos

by Nate Schubert

Cognos is a software suite from IBM that provides companies with powerful business intelligence and performance management capabilities. By incorporating over 30 software applications, the Cognos Suite makes possible the extraction and analysis of data for top-level reporting and a real edge on the competitive landscape. Adding barcodes to Cognos environments can significantly increase efficiency in report tracking or in human-driven data entry tasks. As a result, businesses are clamouring to add barcodes to their Cognos 8 and Cognos 10 systems at an increasing pace and frequency.

The two most common ways to integrate barcode generation capability into an existing application or environment is either through the use of barcode fonts or special components such as ActiveX Controls, .NET Forms Controls, Java components and others. Barcode fonts are a very flexible method and an excellent choice for users who may want to generate barcodes in other environments. Components are best if a barcode image is required, and if the specific environment is going to be in use on a long-term basis. In Cognos, either method can be utilized to start creating barcodes. IBM developerWorks provides an interesting Cognos Barcode Guide with more information which the rest of this blog post will support.

Barcode Fonts in Cognos

First and foremost, barcode fonts may only be used effectively in Cognos when the fonts are installed as well as on the local machine where the report is being viewed. Code 39 is by far the easiest barcode to use in Cognos because it only requires a leading and ending * in order to properly format the data so that it may generate a readable barcode when the font is applied to it. Other barcode types like UPC, Code 128 or QR Code are more complicated, and require more complex encoding. This can be done with a variety of special, free-to-use font encoder tools, some of which may or may not be easily integrated into Cognos, on the server where the data would need to be encoded.

Barcode Images in Cognos

Another method of making barcodes in Cognos is with the use of a special Java barcode generator. Generating a java-based barcode image in Cognos is preferred by IBM over using a font because a barcode image has a higher probability of rendering accurately, which is essential for successful barcode reading. Java components may work on the server without requiring the installation of fonts or anything else on the local machine. This is also a very good option because it allows users to generate more than just Code 39 barcodes. In fact, IDAutomation's Linear + 2D Java Barcode Package supports many barcode types including Code 128, Intelligent Mail, QR Code, Data Matrix, PDF417 and much more.

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