No, really, you may have to do this one day: enable the use
of barcodes in Oracle Reports. Is this a database administration or
administrator responsibility? Yes and no. It is obviously not related to
anything having to do with data, but it can certainly falls under the who is
our Oracle and all things Oracle-related product expert? scenario. Of course,
that is you, the resident DBA.
There are two ways to categorize the implementation of
barcode printing, and they are easy versus hard. More technically, they are
Windows versus UNIX. This is a case where installation on a Windows server is
much simpler than on a UNIX variant. Lets assume you want to use the Barcode 3
of 9 font. This font is widely used and can be read by many barcode scanners.
Some of the confusion behind which barcode font to use is due to its many names
(e.g., code 39, type 3 of 9, and alpha39, to name a few). The leading and
trailing characters are asterisks, and in between is the string (alphanumeric
and a few special symbols) to be encoded. You can find many places where the
font is freely
available, but getting it to work for printing is another matter.
For fonts in general, as in installing a new font for Oracle
Reports, the documentation for Application Server has for some time now
included a chapter or two on managing fonts. In the 10g (to include 9.0.4
version) realm, look in Oracle Application Server Reports Services Publishing
Reports to the Web, and in 11g, look in Oracle Fusion Middleware Publishing
Reports to the Web with Oracle Reports Services.
What happens when you print reports on UNIX? By and large,
the process is the same regardless of the OS version, where Reports goes
through a search of various files. The files include uiprint.txt, uifont.ali,
and font files for PPD, AFM, HPD and TFM. PPD is for PostScript, AFM is for
Adobe, and the other two are for HP glue files. Oracle first looks at the TK60
(or 90) type, then in ORACLE_type, and finally, in the global directory. A
search for PPD files would then be TK90_PPD, then ORACLE_PPD, and finally, ORACLE_HOME/guicommon9/tk90/admin/PPD.
Not to confuse matters more, but Oracle Reports in
E-Business Suite has some additional complexity involved because you may be
using IX (bit-mapped reports) and PASTA (a mechanism for font embedding in
PostScript output for character based reports). Several support notes can
assist you with these steps (the top two are a good place to start).
How to setup, map, and print custom reports with a barcode / MICR font
Activating and Configuring IX Library
356501.1 How to Setup Pasta Quickly and Effectively
267026.1 How To Set The PASTA Debug Option
You can also find information in Volume 1 of Oracle
Applications System Administration Guide.
For printing Oracle Reports in UNIX and Windows, the process
is diagrammed in the publishing references cited earlier. You can see by
illustration how much simpler Windows processing is because of what the APIs
Oracle Reports printing on UNIX
Oracle Reports printing on Microsoft Windows
For a quick example of the differences between Windows and
UNIX, lets install the Barcode 3 of 9 font on a Windows machine. Your own PC
works as the machine in this example. Step one is to first find the font file
and download it to the server/machine of interest. Go into Control Panel,
select Fonts, and click File at the top menu. Select Install New Font
follow the rest of the steps in the Add Fonts dialog window.
When Windows reads the file, it will detect the name of the
font. In this example, the 3 of 9 Barcode (True Type) name appeared.
Select the font in the list, click OK, and the font will
appear in your Fonts window.
Once the font is installed, you now have a poor mans way of
printing barcodes outside of Reports. In any Word document (or application that
reads fonts from your font picker list of values), simply select the 3 of 9
Barcode font. The fonts may also appear as a barcode value in the list of
In Report Builder, format your field(s) of interest and the
barcode representation of the field appears. As a simple example, create a
report based on select ename, empno from emp in the Scott schema, and in the
results, format the empno field using the barcode font. In the picture below,
selecting the Ename field shows the font (look in the top left corner) to be
Courier New (Western) and when the Empno field is selected, you can see the font
displayed as the TrueType 3 of 9 Barcode.
So, for basic Oracle Reports where the report server is
hosted on a Windows server, you have it made fairly easy when it comes to
installing a barcode font (or any font for that matter). Now comes the UNIX side.
8 of Oracle Fusion Middleware Publishing Reports to the Web with Oracle
Reports Services, 11g Release 1 (11.1.1) provides a good overview of
managing (to include adding) fonts for Oracle Reports. A TrueType font
installation is very straightforward (copy the font into
ORACLE_HOME/reports/fonts, and take note of any prior aliasing). In Oracle
Applications, which overall is not documented that well when it comes to
installing barcode, where barcodes are obviously used in many
manufacturing/shipping environments, and the support notes from Oracle which
basically throws its figurative hands up in the air and tells you to contact
Oracle Consulting or a third party vender, the process is a little more
A company named IDAutomation sells/licenses
a complete package for printing barcodes in many applications, Oracle
Applications being one of them. Some of the additional steps here include using
an SRW function. This is an opportunity to explore one of those taken for
granted areas of Reports Builder. In the explorer pane, go down to Built-in
Packages and expand the SRW item. Way down in the list will be a function named
The support note on activating and configuring the IX
library (240864.1) has a section on barcode font support. The configuration
here also involves editing another configuration file in the $FND_TOP/resource
directory of your applmgr account.
With respect to barcode usage in Oracle Reports,
installation in Windows is easy, regular reports on UNIX is a bit more
complex, and when the same Oracle Report is part of Oracle Applications, your
work is cut out for you and Oracle Corporation leaves you hanging in the breeze
a bit. It may be well worth the money to license a packaged implementation from
a third party vendor. And for a bit of clarity, reports in Oracle can also be
those generated by XML or Business Intelligence Publisher (BIP). If you can do
barcodes in Oracle Reports, there is nothing stopping you from printing
barcodes in BI Publisher. Open Word, format the field with the barcode font,
and off you go.
See All Articles by Columnist Steve Callan