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Print labels from mobile device

Print labels from mobile device

This example presents how you can port an existing desktop application to a mobile device. We will examine a custom printing application created with NiceLabel labelling software.

NiceLabel provides great customizable solutions for desktop and web label printing.  But it lacks support for mobile devices.

In some environments it is much more convenient to initiate label printing from a mobile device instead of walking back and forth to the computer. Alternatively you could develop a custom application that would print labels through middleware but that’s often beyond the budget constraints.

Let’s look at an example form designed for desktop and convert it for use on Android and Windows Phone devices. Note that we’ll create the same configuration for both platforms which will give you more flexibility and save time.

transforms_print_labels_database

Existing NiceForm

Here’s a sample NiceForm application. When we run it we’re faced with a welcome screen offering some basic information and two buttons that lead to two subforms.

NiceForm_original

Welcome screen

When designing applications for mobile devices, it is very important to be aware that the user experience on the mobile device is completely different to desktop applications.

Transforms designer is optimized for mobile user experience and the welcome screen is one of the easiest things to do. All we need to do is point and click two text fields for title and description, two buttons that open respective forms and a picture for the company logo. Here’s the end result for Windows phone and Android devices.

Note that the application appears slightly different on the two platforms but the experience is the same and there’s only one configuration. The controls are just the same as on other applications on each platform.

transforms_menu

Print labels – manual data entry

niceform_manual_print

By clicking the first “Print labels” button, the sample form brings us to the screen on the left side.

This form includes too many elements for use on a mobile device so we’ll organize it a little differently.  Since there’s no space for the preview, it will be available by clicking a button, which will display the label full screen.

transforms_input_options_2

Note that Transforms lets you enter data in different ways: by using the onscreen keyboard, selecting predefined values on buttons and dropdowns or scanning a barcode.

In data collection applications it is very important to have data validation for certain fields and Transforms deliver. If a field is set as numeric it will not allow entering letters and other characters. It also provides the user with a convenient date picking interface on date related fields.

Similarly, you can limit the label and printer selection fields to the ones available.

Print labels from a database

Here’s the NiceForm screen.

The main difference is that the label data is not entered manually anymore. The user can only select records from the database table. This example shows the complete database in a grid. If you want to filter just a part of the data it’s fairly easy if you know your way around SQL.

niceform_databasel_print

A technical note on printing: Transforms does not include a print engine. It is also not possible to print directly from the mobile device although it appears so to the user. When the user selects print, a request is sent to the Transforms Server, which uses the NiceLabel print engine to print the labels. So if you want to print labels, you also need NiceLabel installed.
Database grid on the mobile device.
transforms_print_labels_database
Label preview on the mobile device.
transforms_print_preview

 

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