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Any ideas on how to convert loftware .lwl files to Zebra .zpl files?

Posted on 2008-02-12
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Last Modified: 2013-12-15
We have thousands of .lwl label files that have been created over the last 10 years. We are getting new automated equipment that use zebra printers to print labels. The new systems do not accept .lwl label files.

Ideally we would like to convert our currect store of .lwl labels into .zpl labels. Is there any known automated process to do this project?

Not ideal but accept able would be a way to print .lwl labels on a Zebra printer.
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Question by:netfnds
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LVL 39

Expert Comment

by:hdhondt
ID: 20879645
Utilities like Loftware's Label manager let you print .LWL files to Zebra printers. See:

http://www.loftware.com/documents/LLM_V91.pdf
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Author Comment

by:netfnds
ID: 20880431
I am looking this document over, however ideally I would like to convert the .lwl label files to .zpl label files.
Any ideas on that front?
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LVL 39

Expert Comment

by:hdhondt
ID: 20881632
You can print to file, which creates an output file for the printer you used. Hence, if you print using a Zebra driver, you will get a zpl file.

To print to file, either tick the "Print to file" button in the print dialogue box (if the application lets you...) or select "File" as the Port to print to (in printer Properties > Ports)
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Author Comment

by:netfnds
ID: 20896821
Hmm that is not something I had considered, print to file or select file as the port to print to in printer properties... I will try that, wonder if it would let you print multiple files at once as seperate files...let me try that and get back to you...
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LVL 39

Expert Comment

by:hdhondt
ID: 20899076
Unfortunately Windows won't handle multiple output files, so something like label*.zpl as the output name is not acceptable.
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Author Comment

by:netfnds
ID: 20923741
Thank you, we are testing your suggestion today (was going to be last week, but other issues interfered. I will update this upon testing today and tomorrow.

Thank you.
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LVL 39

Expert Comment

by:hdhondt
ID: 20924832
Here's a possible way to get around the problem I mentioned in my last post (not being able to use wildcards in the filename). Download a DOS utility called ENVY from

ftp://ftp.simtel.net/pub/simtelnet/msdos/batchutl/envy100.zip

ENVY can be used to increment a DOS environment variable, in this case the label number. Print each label to a file called c:\temp\label.zpl. Before you start printing, run the following batch file which will rename each label file as it is created:

Set N=1
:start
If not exist c:\temp\label.zpl goto wait_1_sec
rename c:\temp\label.zpl c:\temp\label%N%.zpl
envy -inc N
goto start

:wait_1_sec
ping 1.2.3.4 -n 1 -w 1000 > nul
goto start

This program sets the label number to 1. If label.zpl exists, it renames it to labelN.zpl (where N is the number) and then increments N. Then it tries again. If label.zpl does not exist, it waits 1 sec and tries again. To change the delay, change the number 1000 to a suitable value.
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Author Comment

by:netfnds
ID: 20937713
Thank you hdhondt, we are testing your solution, so far things are looking positive. But our version of Loftware needs to be upgraded to test it. I will continue to update the question with our progress and let you know if it worked.

Thank you.
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Author Comment

by:netfnds
ID: 20951115
Just logging a comment to keep the case open while we are testing, our testing got put off because one of our employees came to the conclusion that removing the insullation from a electrical wire attached to a 30 Amp cuircit would be a "good idea" in his mind.  The accidental grounding of said wire on our "all copper" gas distribution piping and blowing 6 of the attached laboratory devices and their attached PC's, not to mention nearly killing him, proved him wrong.
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LVL 39

Expert Comment

by:hdhondt
ID: 20952053
Hope he comes through with nothing more than a major fright.

It reminds me of the time I grabbed 240V while standing on bare feet in a puddle of water. I still have the burn scars. It's not recommended.
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Author Comment

by:netfnds
ID: 20963131
hdhondt,
I tested the method you recommended previously about printing to file and was unsuccessful. I have tried to search under device configurations and connection and there seems to be no selection for print to file for either port or Print Manager/Spooling. I have also attempted to add a seperate device under LLM to connect via Zebra and point to file and it does not give me that option. Another test that I have attempted is the installation of the Zebra Generic drivers ver ZUD55721 for Windows locally as the default printer with output set as print to file. LLM does not allow the selection of the local Zebra printer set to file print as a selection. It does however recognize Win XPS printing which I have also attempted to set the local Zebra printer to use as the default port with XPS. This configuration also does not allow for printing to file in the .zpl format since it still prints out to .xps which is incompatible with .zpl printers even after an extension change. Can you point me to where you can alter the print selection for LLM (our version is 9.1.2.3) to select print to file? It appears that either LLM is not set for print to file by default or there may be customization files that I am unaware of how to configure. I will check all the configuration files and see if I can modify the settings for LLM without breaking the application.
Thanks again!
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LVL 39

Expert Comment

by:hdhondt
ID: 20969447
If you are using the Zebra (or any other) driver, go to Start > Printers and Faxes. Right-click the printer and select Properties. Now click on the Ports tab. Then select File: as the port to print to - you may need to scroll down the list of ports to find it.
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Author Comment

by:netfnds
ID: 20976745
I was able to run the test on Friday through the OS and other word editors the print to file option with the local  Zebra driver. I have been able to output to file successfully outside of the Loftware Label Manager (LLM) program. The Windows XP machine will allow print to file with the Zebra driver without a physical printer connected locally.

Unfortunately, when I try to force LLM to connect to the local printer driver through the OS for the print to file via the port configurations it does not give me an option. The printer configurations through LLM only allow connections to printers through the COM and LPT as well as through the network. I cannot select a print to file option and since the Zebra printers are on the network in the envronment I did not get a chance to connect one locally through the COM or LPT ports to see if I can force LLM to connect to a local printer through the COM or LPT port and force print to file. But I believe even with a locally connected Zebra printer on a LPT port, it does not appear to allow a print to file option through LLM. I wonder if this inherently written into LLM to force users to encode the labels in the LLM format?

A friend/colleague of mine has also pointed me to a different set of drivers for Zebra printers that are better then Zebra's in house drivers. The drivers are from Eagle Scientific and I will give them a shot as well to see if it works through their driver set.

Thanks again!
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LVL 39

Accepted Solution

by:
hdhondt earned 1500 total points
ID: 20979729
It looks as if LLM takes over from the driver. As to why, your guess is probably correct. If it does, then you'll probably find it takes over from any driver, and you're out of luck.
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Author Comment

by:netfnds
ID: 21005694
There does not appear to be a solution due to the way Loftware communicates to the printers. Thank you for your assistance.
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Author Closing Comment

by:netfnds
ID: 31430312
We were able to assertain that it was not possible to convert lwl files.
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