Mailing Lists, Etc: Label printing with LunhamLabels (PLA7)

I like the simple life. I don't like computer programs which are too clever.

From that position I wrote the program which I use to generate mailing labels for the Christmas cards I write each year. The program is now available as shareware... you get to try most parts of it before you have to come up with any cash.

Once the program is properly set up (more on that later), printing a set of labels is uncomplicated. the labels can either be a traditional mailing list, or a set of identical labels, e.g. return address stickers for yourself. Be creative: Need labels for seats in the church hall for a concert? (E.g. A1, A2,... B1, B2... AA1,..DD1, DD2, ...DD14)... Lunham Labels can do these jobs!

What is to appear on the labels comes from a simple text file you create. Besides having text that changes from label to label, according to what's in the text file, you can specify one or two lines of "special" text, repeated on each label, in its own font face and size.

First you bring your labels information up to date. It is held in a simple text file. The layout of your labels is up to you, within the constraints of the size of label you choose to use. A bit of "bad"(?) news: All of your labels must be printed in one font, at one size, and you can't use bold, italic, etc. You can print them in any color, though!

Then you start up my labels printing program, "LunhamLabels". An odd name, but don't let that worry you. The "Lunham" part is just to distinguish this label printer from all the others out there.

Most users will then simply click on the "Go" button. There are various "features" you can fool with, if you wish to... but you are not likely to need them.

The computer will show you what your first page of labels will look like. If all seems well, you click on something to say "Next time, send the labels to the printer as well", and you click "Go" again.

The first page of your labels should come out of the printer, and a message should appear on the screen giving you three choices:

That's it! I said I like things simple. Please give the application a try?

Some of the things you'll find out if you give it a try...

The file of addresses consists of something like the following...

Demo for LunhamLabels
version 8 Aug 07
Mr Joe Brown
1 Main St
New York, NY
Ms Mary Earhart
1937 Pie In Sky Lane
Mountain View, CA
Mr Anthony Blair
10 Downing St
London   **England**
Herr J. S. Bach
St Thomas's

Not rocket science! Here's a thorough description of the data file:

It is made up of lines that start with an asterisk ("*") and lines that don't. From now on, the former will be called "star lines" and the latter will be called "star-less lines". Note that while a star is "special" if at the start of a line, you can use them freely and without consequence elsewhere in the lines.

The file starts with one or more star-less lines. They do not give rise to a label. They are the file's header, and are a place for you to put whatever you like. I keep a note in the header of the date of the file's most recent revision, i.e. "version", or "edition" information.

Then you must have one or more star lines. This is to say "That's it; that's all the header information this file needs. I usually have a single line consisting of nothing more than the asterisk here, as in the example above

The rest of the file consists of blocks of star-less lines followed by blocks of starred lines.

The star-less lines are addresses. The starred lines split the data up, so that the application knows when to start a new label.

The starred lines are also a place where you can keep notes about the address label above.... Children's names, date the address became valid, or ANYTHING THAT YOU WANT! The reason I wrote this application for my own use is that I didn't like the way that most address label printers tie your hands, make you do things the way the programmer thought you'd want to do them.

The starred lines have an extra role, if you want to use it. You don't have to. Consider the following...

Another sample
Mr Smith
1 High St
Madison, WI
*Moved from Denver 9/02
Ms Jones
The Ridings
Joe Green
*Not fond of Parsifal
Anthony Bardusk
Cedar Frith
Osterville, MA
Alice Dunbar
The Studio
Kingston, NY

See the *QM... star lines? The *QM part is to say that the rest of the line is Match criteria. (The Q before the M is to ensure that the combination doesn't come up elsewhere in the data file by unfortunate coincidence.) There may be one criterion, as in many of the examples, or several, as in the *QMs after (and thus about) Joe Green and Alice Dunbar.

If you have put *QM lines in your data file... and you don't have to, remember.... then you can easily tell LunhamLabels to print labels only for people with a particular tag, or code, in their *QM line. You can use any codes you like, as long as the codes are always 2 letters long. In he example, I was thinking I would want to send Christmas c cards to Smith, Green and Dunbar, or holiday Post cards to Jones, Green or Dunbar.

The other file you'll need to have is an "ini file" ("ini" for "initialization".)

The ini file is also just a text file.

It has several jobs. If the fourth line says "d demo", then the application will do most things, but the on-screen view of the labels has the word "Demo" sprinkled across them and you won't be able to send output to your printer. You should be able to try everything else that the application offers. If you decide you like the application enough to send me the mean$ of paying for the food I was eating while I wrote it, then I will send you something to put in place of "demo" so that you can use the application fully.

Other lines in the ini file tell the application about the sheets of labels you are using. The system is extremely flexible, and, essentially, very simple. Other documents will give you the details, but you can configure the application to print on almost anything you can imagine... sheets of a few big labels or sheets of many small labels. You can tell the application how many columns and rows of labels are on each page.

You can choose the font and size of writing which you think best.

A weakness: The application does not hold your hand in one department which perhaps it ought to. If you have labels which can hold, say, three lines of text, each up to 3 inches wide, and your data file has addresses which are too long or too wide, I'm afraid that the application just throws away the extra stuff. Clipped labels do at least stand out if you give your printed results even a cursory examination, however. Also, the extra text does not "spill" onto adjacent labels, as it does with some label printing software.

Setting LunhamLabels up:

If you choose to do more than read about the program, your next step is to download the zip archive. Just click the link at the bottom of the page.

Once you have the zip archive on your machine, open it up.

Copy "PLA7.exe" and the help file to where ever suits you. I would NOT put them in MyDocuments, on the desktop, or in the root of C:, if I were you... but you can put them there! I would recommend a using a folder called PLA7 off of a folder called Sheepdogsoftware off of your existing ProgramFiles folder. (The application can be set up in several "clever" ways.... but it isn't necessary, and this discourse isn't going to explore everything the application can do.

As with the previous files, you can "get clever", but for simple testing put 'PLA7ini.txt' and 'PLA7addr.txt' in a folder called PLA7 which you should create in your C: drive's root. The second file is just some imaginary names and addresses to "play" with. In due course, you will need to type your own mailing list into that file. (You can have multiple files of addresses if you wish, but the *QM... mechanism means that it isn't necessary.)

It will probably be best to create shortcuts to...

... but it isn't essential. (If your computer is set to hide the extensions for known file types, you won't see the ".exe" or the ".txt")

That's it! Give the application a try!

Further possibilities. (None of what follows is necessary.)

Database engineers will tell you it is a Bad Idea to have two copies (apart from backup copies, of course!) of any data. If you do have two copies, making sure that BOTH are up to date is four times harder than if you just have a single data file.

Anyone but a geek will shy from turning on the computer, firing up the text editor, loading the file every time a friend notifies you of a change of address.

Fear Not! LunhamLabels users don't have problems.

The basic text file that the application uses to print mailing labels is an excellent basis for a word processed document listing all of the addresses you need to have to hand. If you import the simple text file into a wordprocessor document, you can then change the font size to something compact, ask for the data to be put on the pages with several columns per page, etc, etc.

I use just such a document for my own needs. When someone changes their address, I make an entry in the blank space at the end of the document. Each entry is assigned a reference number (1,2,3...), and that number is written against the entry of the person concerned.

When I travel with this precious document, I merely photocopy the entries. If my bags go missing along the way, I'm covered by the photocopy. Now you see why I don't write the entries against the person's entry in the list? The way I do it, all the corrections are neatly together in one place.

From time to time, I fire up the computer and put in a bunch of address corrections in one easy, efficient session.

Of course, you might think that "he would say that", but I do commend this application to you for your mailing label printing needs. It isn't hard to master, but even so is flexible.

Click here to download the zip file with everything you need.

Download problem, etc? Please report, quote:A#pla7 (Clicking on report will open the relevant page in a new window for you.)

General remarks:

I do not insinuate spyware in my programs. (Click here to learn about the dangers of spyware.... as bad or worse than viruses.)

Your thoughts on the site would be welcome! PLEASE report any difficulties with downloading the material or its use?? I promise I won't think you are silly... and will APPRECIATE any trouble you take to help me see where my instructions are not clear. (I have been known to send free registered versions to people!)
Click here for contact details to send me any message

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