With the Zebra GX430t label printer comes ZebraDesigner, a label design application that runs on Windows XP and Windows 7. Currently, Zebra doesn’t support Mac OS X. The ZebraDesigner software is quite complete, with the exception of support for delimited field files and databases — if you need this functionality, you’ll have to buy ZebraDesigner Pro, a label design software that can also manage RFID tag label printing.
ZebraDesigner supports fixed text, text entered at printing time (variable text), counters, date/time stamps, all currently available barcode types (both fixed and variable), and some graphic elements (line, rectangle, inverse rectangle).
The software supports a large number of shortcuts. During the tests I ran with the GX430t, it became clear to me the ZebraDesigner software fits Zebra printers like the proverbial glove. For example, every individual label design can have its own printer settings, which allows you to optimise printing speed and darkness for every label type and design.
The software uses wizards when this is useful. The EAN.UCC 128 barcode type, for example, has many subtypes ranging from shipping to serial numbering. A wizard ensures you cannot make mistakes — in other words and less polite: it’s totally idiot-proof. The software also supports most 2D barcodes I know, including Matrix and PDF417.
Most barcodes can be printed with the GX430t’s built-in barcode symbologies, but you can always choose to print them as graphics. If you do, a number of extra features become available. For example, human-readable text can have custom fonts, and a content mask can be created. These masks allow you to form complex formatting structures, e.g. a barcode number that has alphanumeric characters in any position of the human-readable code.
To me, the most interesting feature of ZebraDesigner is the ability to create fields — both text and barcode — that hold placeholder characters and get filled in with data at printing time. In ZebraDesigner this capability is limited to keyboard entry of data at printing time; in ZebraDesigner Pro these fields can also be populated with data from text files (comma-delimited) or ODBC database records.
I found the lack of support for comma-delimited files very disappointing. Only ZebraDesigner Pro software supports these, but I don’t think this functionality should be reserved to users who want to pay extra money just for this functionality. ZebraDesigner Pro supports RFID labels design as well, so why not include at least text file support in the standard version?
Regardless, I found ZebraDesigner to perform well, even as a label design application. It doesn’t support all the bells and whistles you’ll get in Belight’s Labels and Addresses on the Mac, but it certainly performs and the variables functionality got me going back to ZebraDesigner over and over again.
While the variables feature was the main reason to do so, the ability to fine-tune barcodes to their smallest detail was another. Not only can you set barcode bar height, but you can also set the spacing between the bars, and much more. Users are well guided with clear explanations, so you won’t make mistakes easily.
ZebraDesigner comes with the GX430t printer. ZebraDesigner Pro costs 223.00 Euros. Zebra makes available other free software on its site, including an OPOS driver, Zebra Setup Utilities and Windows drivers.