11 Oct

Is your Barcode app ready for 64 bit?

Recently, we’ve had a few questions about 64bit apps and code signing. It seemed sensible to talk about them here, rather than keep repeating the same message!

64-bit applications

A number of users have asked whether our macOS barcode app, Barcode Basics is a 64-bit app. The short answer, is “yes”. But why does is matter? Well, all modern Macs have 64-bit processors. This means that apps designed to run on 64-bit processors will generally run faster and better than apps designed to run on the old legacy 32bit processors. So, why are people suddenly asking?

macOS displays this message if you try to run 32bit apps

Apple has been supporting both types of apps for quite some time, but has now announced that its current macOS (Mojave) will be the last to support 32 bit technology.

So it’s a good time to check that the apps you rely on are 64-bit, otherwise you may find yourself without them on the next major macOS release. To check whether an app is 64-bit or not, you could either contact the developer or follow these steps:

  • From the Apple Menu, select “About this Mac”
  • Click the “System Report” button
  • From the system report, scroll down to “Software” in the left hand sidebar, then click “Applications”
  • Select the Application you’re interested in and you will see a field called “64-bit (Intel)”
  • If you see “Yes” in the “64-bit (Intel)” field then the selected app wasdesigned for 64 bit.
  • More about 64-bit here: Apple info on 32-bit/64-bit app compatibility

    Code Signing

    We also sometimes get asked about code signing. Code signing assures you that an app is from a known source and hasn’t been tampered with since it was signed. Logically, if an app isn’t code signed then you can’t be certain where it came from or that something malicious hasn’t been done to is since it was created – a popular way of introducing malware.

    All apps purchased direct from the Mac App Store are code-signed (Apple simply rejects them if they’re not). However, apps from other sources (e.g. downloaded from websites) may or may not be code signed.

    Apps which are not code signed can still run on macOS, although you may get a warning when you try to run them, depending on your security settings. If this happens, you should think carefully about whether you trust the source of the app and whether you’re comfortable with the risks of running unsigned code.

    More about code signing here: Apple info about code signing

    Summary

    Barcode Basics is 64-bit compatible and fully code signed so you can be sure it will continue to work in the next macOS, and that it hasn’t been maliciously changed since it was signed by us. Here’s a comparison between Barcode Basics and it’s competitors:

    App Name64-bitCode SignedPrice Per User
    Barcode Basics

    Yes

    Yes

    $19.99
    MBC4

    No

    Yes

    $395
    Agamick Barcoder

    Yes

    No

    $97 - $195 (depending on functionality)
    Barcode X

    No

    Yes

    $386
    Barcode Producer

    No

    Yes

    $299
    iBarcoder

    Yes

    Yes

    $49.99
    Data correct at October 2018. Some prices shown were converted to USD using exchange rates at time of writing.

    While we have your attention… why not check out our macOS apps?

    Barcode Basics – macOS barcode generator (including Automator support)
    Ai Actions – Automator action pack for Adobe Illustrator
    Pages Automator Actions – Automator action pack for Pages

    24 Aug

    Automate barcode production on macOS

    We’re excited to announce the launch of a new version of Barcode Basics which includes support for Apple’s Automator app. This means that you can create barcodes in your own Automator workflows, services and even simple apps – without knowing anything about programming.

    Imagine creating batches of barcodes from numbers supplied in a spread sheet. Or creating a barcode directly from text selected in an email. Anything you can do in Barcode Basics, you can now do in an Automator workflow.

    Barcode Basics’ Automator workflow is included in every version of Barcode Basics, as standard. There are no hidden extra charges. And Barcode Basics is the cheapest way of automating barcode production by a long shot.

    For more information about Barcode Basics, or to pick up your copy head over to the Mac App Store by clicking the link below.


    Link to Mac App Store to purchase Barcode Basics - Mac barcode software

    09 Aug

    Ain’t no party like a barcode party…

    Barcode Party!

    Our macOS barcode creation app “Barcode Basics” hit an important milestone today. Since it’s release in late 2013, it’s now sold over 2,500 copies.

    Our vision was to make a barcode app that was affordable to the masses, yet still produced barcodes good enough for packaging, publishing etc.

    Five years later and Barcode Basics has matured nicely and is being used on a daily basis by freelance graphic designers, publishers and printers around the world. It’s still the only barcode app we’re aware of that ships with Automator actions as standard.

    We’d like to take this opportunity to say a big thank you to every last one of our users, to assure you that we will continue to develop and support the app. Now to figure out what exactly a barcode party entails…

    15 May

    Using Automator to convert Pages to PDF

    Recently we were asked how to use Automator to convert Apple Pages documents into PDFs. In the spirit of sharing the knowledge, here’s how we did it.

    It’d be great to make an app which we could drop our Pages files on and have them made into PDFs. The obvious way to make such an app is with Automator. Unfortunately, Pages doesn’t ship with Automator actions (although there are some funky third party options)

    Luckily, Pages is AppleScriptable so we can make our own action. Let’s look at how to do that.

    First, launch Automator (you’ll find it in your Mac’s Applications folder). Select “Application”.

    Screen Shot 2016-05-12 at 13.19.38

    Next, drag a “Run AppleScript” workflow into your workflow so you have something that looks like this:

    Screen Shot 2016-05-12 at 13.20.06

    Replace all the purple text in the action with the following AppleScript:

    on run {input, parameters}

    repeat with theFile in input
    tell application "Finder"
    set theFilesFolder to (folder of theFile) as text
    end tell

    tell application "Pages"
    set theDoc to open theFile

    set theDocName to name of theDoc
    set theName to (characters 1 thru -7 of theDocName) as text
    export theDoc as PDF to file ((theFilesFolder & theName & ".pdf") as text)

    close theDoc

    end tell
    end repeat
    return input
    end run

    Save the workflow and you should now have an app that you can drop Pages documents on.

    Note that it’s up to you to make sure that the documents you drop actually are Pages documents – the script doesn’t check and may error if you drop the wrong type of documents.

    On a related note, if you’d rather dodge the AppleScripting all together then you could try out our handy Pages Automator Actions.

    While we have your attention… why not check out our macOS apps?

    Barcode Basics – macOS barcode generator (including Automator support)
    Ai Actions – Automator action pack for Adobe Illustrator
    Pages Automator Actions – Automator action pack for Pages

    09 May

    Backing up a folder on macOS with rsync

    Terminal

    Quite often we’re asked how to keep a backup folder in sync with a work in progress folder. There are many possible solutions apps and third party solutions out there, but its quite easy to set up a rough, homespun backup solution. All you need is a little command line wizardry using something called rsync.

    Syncing with rsync

    First, lets imagine we have two folders on our desktop. One is called WIP, which contains all my work in progress. The other is called Backup which is where I’d like to keep a backup of all my WIP.

    Open up a Terminal window (you’ll find Terminal in /Applications/Utilities) and type:

    rsync -av --delete

    Don’t hit return yet! Next, drag the WIP folder onto your Terminal to get the path to your folder. Add a slash to the end of it. You should have something like this:

    rsync -av --delete /Users/YourUserName/Desktop/WIP/

    Don’t hit return yet! Of course, the path will be different on your Mac – don’t worry about it. Next, drag the Backup folder onto the Terminal. You should now have something like this:

    rsync -av --delete /Users/YourUserName/Desktop/WIP/ /Users/YourUserName/Desktop/Backup

    Now you can hit return! You should find that the contents of WIP are copied to Backup. If you run the command a second time, nothing will happen. This is the beauty of rsync. It’s smart enough to only copy files from WIP if an identical copy doesn’t already exist in Backup. Our “–delete” option means that anything in in Backup that’s NOT in WIP gets deleted.

    Of course, your backup folder can be anywhere – on an external drive or even on a remote server.

    Scheduling

    There are a number of ways to make this rsync command run a schedule. You could run it via a scheduled Automator action, via cron using something like Cronnix, or (my favourite) using a Launch Agent.

    Have fun with your new backup command!

    While we have your attention… why not check out our macOS apps?

    Barcode Basics – macOS barcode generator (including Automator support)
    Ai Actions – Automator action pack for Adobe Illustrator
    Pages Automator Actions – Automator action pack for Pages

    09 May

    How to split PDF into PNG files in OS X

    One pdf to multiple png files

    We were asked recently how to split a PDF file into PNG files on Mac OS X. That’s to say, if the PDF has five pages then you’d want five PNG files produced, one for each page. Here are some options:

    Adobe Acrobat
    If you have Adobe Acrobat (not to be confused with the free Acrobat Reader) then you an simply open the PDF and select File>Save As and select “PNG”. However, Acrobat is expensive for what it is and there are some free alternatives such as…

    PROs: Very easy to do
    CONs: Acrobat Pro is expensive and probably not worth the price if this is all you’ll ever use it for.

    Third party website
    Probably the easiest way is to use a web site such as pdf2png.com. Whilst I’m sure they’re a reputable site and we’ve used them successfully in the past, its always worth thinking twice before uploading anything that may be confidential to a third party site.

    PROs: Also very easy
    CONs: Can be slow if you need to upload a big pdf. Think about security.

    ImageMagick
    If you’re comfortable on the command line then you can use ImageMagick to do the heavy lifting. If you don’t have it installed already then we recommend using the installer from Cactus Labs.

    Once you have ImageMagick installed, you can fire up the Terminal and use a command like:

    convert ~/Desktop/myfile.pdf ~/Desktop/myfile.png

    …and ImageMagick should do the rest, including sequentially naming the files. Don’t forget to change the paths to the documents to your own!

    PROs: Completely free. Also ImageMagick has lots of other uses if you work with graphics. It’s worth having in your arsenal! For extra credit, you can even get ImageMagick working through Apple’s Automator to build your own custom workflow.
    CONs: You need to be reasonably comfortable with using the Terminal.

    There are plenty of other ways, but these are the ones that work best in our experience. Let us know if you’ve found any better ways!

    While we have your attention… why not check out our macOS apps?

    Barcode Basics – macOS barcode generator (including Automator support)
    Ai Actions – Automator action pack for Adobe Illustrator
    Pages Automator Actions – Automator action pack for Pages

    03 May

    Automating HTML to PDF conversion on OS X

    Ever wondered how to convert a big batch of html files into PDFs?

    Well, you *could* open each html file in the web browser of your choice and save/print it as a PDF. However, that’s going to take a long time for a big batch. One fun way you can do it in macOS is by creating an Automator service to do the donkey work for you. Let’s take a look at how to do that.

    First, launch Automator (you’ll find it in your Mac’s Applications folder) and create a Service document (NB. Click any of the screen shots here to enlarge them).

    Create Automator Service

    Next, set the services input options as shown below.

    Screen Shot 2016-05-03 at 14.09.55

    Next drag in a Run Shell Script action. Make sure you set it’s “Pass input” option to “as arguments” – that’s important! This lets us pass the files we select as an input to the shell script.

    Screen Shot 2016-05-03 at 14.10.33

    Change it’s contents to:

    for theFileToProcess in "$@"
    do
    cupsfilter "$theFileToProcess" > "${theFileToProcess%.*}.pdf"
    done

    And save it as “HTML 2 PDF”, or whatever makes sense to you. Now it should look like this:

    Run Shell Script options

    Now, if you select a one (or more!) HTML files in in Finder whilst holding your control key down, you should be able to find the service you just created under “Services”. as shown below. Select it and you’ll run the shell script on all the files you selected!

    Screen Shot 2016-05-03 at 14.13.29

    Note that this will work best on fairly simple html – if you have heaps of JavaScript, movies etc in your html then the PDFs may not be great. However, its a handy quick way of taking some of the pain out of converting html to pdf.

    While we have your attention… why not check out our macOS apps?

    Barcode Basics – macOS barcode generator (including Automator support)
    Ai Actions – Automator action pack for Adobe Illustrator
    Pages Automator Actions – Automator action pack for Pages

    14 Mar

    Still the best AppleScript IDE

    Script Debugger - AppleScript

    Many moons ago, I was a humble (well, humble-ish) Graphic Designer at a small print shop. My life was made a misery by all the routine, time-consuming non-graphic design stuff I had to do in the course of the day. Stepping up business cards for output, exporting a stack of Illustrator files as PDFs, zipping and uploading files to FTP sites… it was a pain.

    Sure, I’d heard of AppleScript and tried my hand at it but I just couldn’t make head nor tail of the scripting dictionaries. And when stuff wasn’t working I had no idea why not.

    That all changed when I got my hands on a copy of Script Debugger from Late Night Software. I’ve been recommending it to would-be AppleScripters ever since. It gave a nice view of applications’ dictionaries and they suddenly made sense. It made debugging so much easier and I was actually able to figure out why my scripts weren’t working… most of the time anyway.

    Over ten years on and I still use it on the (admittedly rare) occasions when I dip my toes into AppleScript, and I’d be lost without it. Script Debugger is still going strong and it looks like the latest release brings some cool new features and a stripped down free version.

    If you have an interest in scripting/automation on macOS, do yourself a favour and get a copy of Script Debugger.

    Of course, if you don’t want to get your hands dirty with scripting, you can talk to us about custom scripting. No job too small! Click here for more info.

    NB. We’re not affiliated with Late Night Software in any way – we’re just big fans of their product.

    30 Jan

    Are you an Adobe Illustrator drudge?

    Automator actions for Adobe Illustrator

    If you’re a regular user of Adobe Illustrator then you probably find yourself doing more than your fair share of drudge work. Here’s a way of avoiding some of it…

    Drudge work comes in many forms, for example gathering all those linked images together ready to send your files for printing. Or opening a large number of files, saving each one as a PDF and uploading them to an FTP site. The sort of stuff you never really signed up for when you decided to become a graphic designer or artworker.

    Of course, you could teach yourself AppleScript and write your own scripts to automate your workflow. But who’s got time to learn AppleScript? Or you could hire an AppleScript expert. Or you could invest in technologies like Automation Engine from ESKO, but the price tag puts those options beyond the budget of many freelancers and many small businesses.

    This is where our product Ai Actions comes in. It adds support for Adobe Illustrator to Apple’s workflow software, Automator. If you can drag and drop then you can create your own automatic workflows to automate Illustrator and integrate with other apps too such as Mail, Preview etc. You can even save your workflows as apps.

    A sample action fro Ai Actions
    Click here to see how to use Ai Actions to create a simple workflow in Automator.

    If you want to try your hand at automating Adobe Illustrator then why not download the demo version of Ai Actions from here:

    Ai Actions DEMO

    …the demo version contains a small selection of the actions available in the full version which contains over 20 useful actions and is available from the Mac App Store.

    Mac_App_Store_Badge_US_UK

    29 Jan

    Scan barcodes from your Mac’s screen

    We’ve relaunched an old favourite app, Onscreen Barcode Scanner this month with an update for macOS Sierra and High Sierra.

    Onscreen Barcode Scanner allows you to scan barcodes displayed on your Mac’s screen and see the number they encode. Using it is as easy as taking a screen shot! It makes a ideal partner to our flagship barcode product Barcode Basics.

    Onscreen Barcode Scanner’s main use is in packaging artwork so designers can check that the bars on the code actually match the displayed digits. It’s a great way of catching hard to spot barcode errors.

    We’d had to take Onscreen Barcode Scanner offline to do some work on it to make it compatible and it took longer than we thought. Apologies for that. It’s now back up and running, and the update is free through the Mac App Store for existing users. Hope you find it useful!


    Mac_App_Store_Badge_US_UK