Automatic trimming of the derived (A4) PDF document to the pure label focuses attention on the label and ensures optimal display of both the original version and the difference view in the PDF viewer
Label comparison and migration
by Gerald Keil
In this article you will learn how to transfer the benefits of drawing comparison to label comparison. We will discuss additional functions that optimally support this goal and the general conditions under which you can best use label comparison.
Benefits of label comparison:
By placing the labels on top of each other and especially by using the Difference Mask you can see all differences at a glance
The differences are documented in a PDF document, which is best stored with the other change documents
Unwanted deviations can be quantitatively assessed through the millimetre grid and then unerringly corrected
The comparison on PDF level qualitatively secures the migration to a new label software
Comparison of label versions
The COYODO Difference View was created due to the need to compare versions of technical drawings. The corresponding graphic comparison can also be applied to any other graphic document, for example labels of consumer goods, containers or even food. Although these labels are printed with suitable label printers, it is (hopefully) always possible to print the labels on a PDF document. As a control printout, for electronic storage or for a graphical comparison of label versions. Thus, all the advantages of an effective graphical comparison can be used for labels as well.
Additional features for label comparison
Initiated by the need to effectively compare label versions with each other, additional new features for the Difference View were developed and are now used productively.
Cutting to the useful content of an (A4) PDF document
Variable alignment of the labels to each other
Technical drawings have their title block at the bottom right. Even if the format of a technical drawing has been increased in the course of a change from ISO A2 to ISO A1, at least the (relatively) unchanged title block should be on top of each other when comparing the two formats. The alignment of both sheets at the bottom right was the logical consequence. Label creation systems, however, position their contents relative to the upper left corner, for example.
Overlaying a millimeter grid
Of course, positioning corrections of symbols or texts can be calculated exactly. But with a millimeter grid laid over the label, necessary corrections can be estimated and determined at least roughly very quickly. This allows the user to approach the exact position and size more quickly.
Let us look at two use cases of label comparison:
the comparison of different label versions in the context of life cycle changes and
the comparison of labels when switching to another label software
Comparison of different label versions in the normal life cycle
Similar to the comparison of versions of a technical drawing, the label comparison also serves to quickly and reliably recognize and document the differences. With the Difference Mask, the differences are also immediately apparent in this application. The PDF layer technique allows the original versions to be viewed. See pictures "Overlaying a millimeter grid".
The Difference View can either be generated automatically via the WORKdoxx.connect interface or manually with the web interface:
Migration to a new label software
Although the changeover to new software for creating labels is rare, it is in principle critical. It is obvious that unintended side effects must not occur during the changeover. Ideally, even an expert will only recognize the changes resulting from the changeover at second glance - if at all. Both the absence of symbols and accidental text changes must be avoided at all costs. The information on a label certainly tends to be kept short. However, if an element makes it onto the label, there is a reason for this, especially in the case of symbols, which are intended to prevent incorrect operation or unauthorized use. As a rule, switching to new label software is not related to product changes, so there is generally no reason to change the appearance, arrangement and size of label symbols and label texts. On the contrary: Graphical similarity can even be used as an indicator of the quality of the migration, which should be as "invisible" as possible.
How can the seamless transition be managed?
Since the software systems for creating labels all have their own internal data format, it is usually not possible to compare these internal data. Often there is neither a suitable export functionality nor any other data comparison possibility. Naturally, the willingness of software manufacturers to support a system changeover is limited.
However, the lowest common denominator of the various systems is almost always the output of the labels on an (A4) PDF document on a scale of 1:1, and this is exactly where the graphical label comparison can be started.
Normally, the different systems position the labels differently on the PDF document, but this is not a problem if only the useful content is considered. This is achieved by cropping the PDF page and extracting the useful content (the label). Now the cut labels can be compared and it does not matter where they were originally positioned on the sheet.
Especially when migrating labels to a new authoring system, small changes are often inevitable. The positioning and location of the symbols, the layout of the fonts and the resulting text size show certain differences.
The determined degree of correlation of both versions (before and after) can be used for (automatic) evaluation of the match. The human being naturally grasps the differences visually very quickly.
In migration projects, sometimes a large number of labels are converted to a new system, despite a manageable number of templates for entire label families. If necessary, the WORKdoxx.connect interface can be used here. If it is possible and useful, 150 old and new labels can be stored in two directories in PDF format, for example. In a connect job, all 150 Difference Views are then generated one after the other and stored in a result directory. Even normal users can prepare these jobs and run them if the basic conditions are met exactly.
Perhaps the implementation of a new label management system is also an appropriate time to consider the automated comparison of labels. If, for example, a restructuring of company processes is pending in the course of an S/4HANA implementation, including the integration of an SAP label management system, then the automatic generation of label Difference Views can also be easily realized.
Difference View examples
... for download you can find here.
Please note that switching the PDF layers on and off is not possible with every browser. If necessary, open the PDF Difference View with a suitable viewer, e.g. Adobe Acrobat Reader. A tutorial can also be found in the download section.
With the help of the Difference View, security and speed can obviously also be gained when comparing labels. Sometimes the focus is on securing the changes in the life cycle. Sometimes an anyway intended migration of the label software or the introduction of a new label management system is the appropriate occasion. However, it should always be possible to achieve an improvement in process reliability.