The barcode functionality must be enabled in openBIS by a lab manager or group admin: Enable Barcodes.

Barcodes for individual samples

When a sample is registered, a barcode is automatically generated by openBIS. This is found in the Identification info section, as shown below.

This barcode can be printed and the label can be added to the vial containing the sample. The option to print the barcode is under the  More.. menu

If a sample already has its own barcode or QR code, it is possible to scan this with a scanner or the camera of a mobile device and assign it to the sample. This can be done after registration of a sample, with the Custom Barcode/QR Code Update option under the More.. drop down.

The custom barcode will appear in the Identification Info. If a custom barcode/QR code is registered, the print function shown above will print the custom barcode /QR code, instead of the default one.

Generate batches of barcodes / QR codes

In some cases there is the need to generate several barcodes/QR codes that can be later on assigned to samples registered in openBIS.

To generate new barcodes, go to the Barcodes/QR codes Generator in the main menu under Utilities.

Users can select:

  1. The type of barcode to generate:

    1. Code 128

    2. QR Code

    3. Micro QR code

  2. The number of barcodes to generate

  3. The layout:

    1. Split: one barcode per page

    2. Continuous: several barcodes in one page

  4. The width of the barcode

  5. The length of the barcode

After selecting the desired parameters, click the Generate Custom Barcodes button.

To print the barcodes use the print icon on the form, next to Generate Custom Barcodes/QR Codes. These barcodes can be printed on labels to be attached to vials. When the samples are registered in openBIS, these barcodes can be scanned and assigned to the samples as explained above.

Scan barcodes from mobile devices

It is also possible to scan barcodes and QR codes using the scan button on top of the main menu, as shown below. In this way, you can scan a barcode or QR code already associated with an entry and this will open the entry page in openBIS. You can use a scanner or the camera of a mobile device. The selection you make is saved.

Updated on July 5, 2023

Printer and Barcode Scanner Requirements


There are several manufacturers of printers and different kinds of barcodes and paper to adapt to different use cases. Most manufacturers have their own proprietary printer driver and language for labels.

To allow freedom of choice for the barcode printer, the openBIS ELN-LIMS allows to configure both the type of barcodes and the layout and size of the labels. openBIS uses this information to produce a PDF document, thus having as single requirement that the printer driver used allows to print PDF documents using applications such as Adobe Acrobat Reader or Preview (Mac).

Printer Configuration

There are different types of printer drivers. The two types we can define as generic are PS (PostScript) (recommended) and PCL (Printer Command Language). Printers with these drivers are likely to print PDF documents and other types of documents with embedded fonts, images, etc…

The printer paper type needs to be configured for each printer. Two layouts are supported:

  • Split: The PDF will contain separate pages with each barcode.

  • Continuous: The PDF will contain a continuous layout with the barcodes. More uncommon for this applications.

The printer paper size needs to be configured for each printer. It is possible to indicate the size of the barcode, so it can fit.

Printer testing

We provide two example documents that can be used to test the printer.

Please consider that these examples likely do not correspond to the particular paper size of the printer being evaluated and as such the barcodes may look squashed. In order to obtain optimal results, the paper size would need to be configured. However, for the test it is enough to verify that the printer can print those files.

Printer Advice before purchasing

Before purchasing a printer, we recommend to check with the manufacturer that the barcode printer provides a general driver and that it can print one of the documents provided as example above.

Tested Printers

  • Zebra ZD420


There are several manufacturers of barcode scanners. In most cases scanners act as a keyboard for the computer, so when the barcode scanner scans a barcode it will type whatever has been scanned.

Scanner Configuration

The scanner keyboard layout should be the same as the computer used. If not this could cause problems if there are any special characters.

Scanner testing

Open a notepad and scan the barcodes provided in the examples below. The scanner should read them and type the correct output.

Scanner Advice before purchasing

Before purchasing a scanner, ensure that the barcode scanner provides a keyboard driver and ask the manufacturer’s support to scan the examples above.

Tested Scanners

  • Honeywell 1902G-BF

Updated on July 27, 2022