What is Zebra Browser Print and how does it work with Benchling?
Zebra Browser Print (ZBP) is a desktop application that allows your web browser to find label printers on your local network. ZBP enables barcode printing from Benchling to computers on the same network as your printers without needing to configure your firewall to allow outside traffic. Zebra also provides a label design tool called Zebra Designer that allows you to more easily build label templates to ensure that your labels look exactly as you want them to.
Configuring the Zebra Browser Print application
Installing the Zebra Browser Print application
Before setting up the application, confirm there is an established connection between your computer and printer on the same network, then download the Zebra Browser Print application.
Note: These steps are for Chrome. If you're experiencing issues while using a different browser, contact Benchling Support.
Once you have downloaded the Zebra Browser Print application:
- Open the Zebra Browser Print app.
- Click OK in the pop-up window to accept the security certificate.
The Zebra Browser Print application should now display on your computer's toolbar.
Note: If a message pops up saying “Your connection is not private”, you’ll need to allow the connection between the web browser and the app on your local network.
Connecting Zebra Browser Print to Benchling
After downloading the Zebra Browser Print application, you will have to specify Zebra Browser Print as your printing method:
- Go to your Label Printing Settings (User icon > Feature Settings > Label Printing Settings)
- Click the pencil icon under “Print method”.
- Select Zebra Browser Print and click ✓ to save.
In order to print labels from Benchling using Zebra Browser Print, this application needs to be open, running, and connected to your desired printer.
To find and configure printers:
- Click the Zebra icon in your toolbar and select Settings.
- Check both Broadcast Search and Driver Search at the bottom of the window.
- Click Change to prompt a device search.
- Select your device in the pop-up window and click Set.
To print labels:
- Ensure the Zebra Browser Print application is running on your computer
- Make sure the application is open! You should see the “Browser Print Settings” pop-up with your printers listed on it.
- If you do not see this pop-up, click on the Zebra icon on your desktop to open it.
- Follow the steps in this article to print a label.
- Your printers should display in the drop-down menu, and Benchling should hand off the print job to Zebra Browser Print for completion.
If you need any assistance with any of these processes, feel free to reach out to Benchling Support by emailing email@example.com. Due to the nature of ZBP and its connections with your networks and printers, Benchling’s support team would appreciate any screenshots and/or screen recordings that you can send over with your question or request.
Creating label templates using Zebra Designer
You can upload ZPL label templates to Benchling, which you can design using a number of label design programs. Zebra Designer Essentials is a free application that can be downloaded at Zebra.com, but any software that can produce ZPL should be compatible. When designing labels, you can use keywords that Benchling recognizes to pull in data related to the item on to the label.
Note: Zebra Designer is not compatible with macOS. To run the Zebra Designer software on a Mac, you will need to use a different program that generates ZPL files.
Create a label template
To get started, you need to have at least one Zebra printer installed on the computer you're using. For this example, let's create a label for a container with a cell line in Benchling.
The screenshots below were generated using Zebra Essentials 3.
- Open your Zebra Designer application and click Create new Label.
- In the modal, select your Zebra Printer and click Next
- Set the label page size, then click Next.
- Click Landscape or Portrait to select the label orientation, then click Next
- On the next page, set the label dimensions. Click Next, then click Finish.
- On the label setup page, click Barcode in the left-side toolbar, then click and drag the barcode to the desired location. For more barcode options, click Barcode in the Properties-Barcode modal on the right side.
- In the Properties-Barcode modal on the right, use Benchling specific keywords to pull in data related to the item being printed onto the label. Learn more about keywords and what values keywords can pull in here.
Keywords are essentially variables or placeholders that will eventually be replaced with a value when the label is printed. For example, if you enter the keyword benchling.container.barcode into a barcode’s Properties->Source->Text field, the keyword (and barcode render) will be replaced with an inventory items benchling barcode when you print the label.
- To add text to the label, select Text from the Data drop-down menu in the Properties-Barcode modal. You can add any text as plain, human-readable text or you can add keywords.
- Note: You must set the font to Zebra font for Benchling to read the label correctly. All other fonts will be unrecognizable. Select Fixed Text from the Data drop-down menu.
- Here is an example of a 50x50mm label for a Benchling container. The larger section and larger barcode contain information about the container. The smaller section (bottom right) and QR code contain information about the entity within the container.
- After creating your label, click File and select Print to export the label as ZPL. This is the file that you will transfer into Benchling.
- Set the speed and darkness, check Print to file, then click Print.
- Note: We recommend using a lower speed than the default 5 and a darkness above 15, as shown in the example above.
The image below is an example .prn file that contains the ZPL label code. This .prn file is what we will copy and paste into Benchling. The steps below will detail where to paste the .prn file into Benchling to store and use as a label template.
Transfer your template into Benchling
After you have created your templates and saved it as a PRN file, all you need to do is transfer the label into Benchling.
1. Click your avatar in the bottom right hand corner of your Benchling window. Hover over feature settings, then click “Registry settings” and click into the label printing tab.
2. Click “Create Label Template” in the upper right corner. This will open up a new page.
3. Copy the ZPL from your .prn file and paste it into the blank page.
4. Click “create”.
You will then be able to use this label template in Benchling!
Note: we recommend test printing your label template a few times before regular use. The ZPL may need minor adjustments for the perfect prints!
Once you have created a label template and have uploaded the template to Benchling, you can optionally set up a capability to render a visual preview of the label.
This feature uses a 3rd party software, Labelary.com, to generate the preview of the label and is therefore not turned on by default. To generate the preview, your raw ZPL label template code as you see it in Benchling will be shared with Labelary.com. This includes the hardcoded text and benchling object names (like benchling.container.barcode) in the ZPL code, but not the actual data with which these Benchling object names are replaced when you print the barcode for a specific container or entity. This feature should thus not be used if you have any sensitive information hardcoded in the ZPL label template. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to enable this feature.
At this point, you have successfully created a label and transferred it into your Benchling tenant for future use! This article details how to print labels in Benchling.