Review #9: gLabels (Linux)

This is (finally) my first review for a strictly Linux app. I feel terrible for it; I always think of myself as a proud Linux user and an aficionado of open-source applications, yet I have never written any review of a Linux-based app.

I found this app on the Ubuntu Software Centre, under the Office section, when I was browsing through every sections out of boredom. Looking at the screenshots, it looks nice; it also has rave reviews, around 4.5 out of 5 from 43 ratings, so I decided to give it a try.

gLabels is an app you can use to create many sorts of labels, cards, and media covers ready for printing. Since I recently tried to design a card on Microsoft Publisher, I decided to create a business card on gLabels – for this blog.

glabels
To create a new label/card/cover, you’ll be presented with a wizard, asking you which template do you want to use and what size of paper do you want them to be printed on. The templates are based on printing templates that are sold in packs, which you can find on office supplies and paper stores. Unlike templates available on Publisher, they’re totally blank, and doesn’t have any designs on them.

wizard

There are lots of templates to choose from, sorted by manufacturers and product types; I’m not familiar with any of them, so I just decided to choose the first business card template saw, to be printed on A4 paper.

You can create 6 objects from the top toolbar: text, rectangle, ellipse, image, and barcode. The object properties panel on the right would lets you edit the properties of any object you select.
image

line

When using the text box, you can’t type your text immediately, but you do it on the object properties instead. The ‘Style’ of the text could also be edited directly from the bottom toolbar, besides from the object properties panel.

textstyle

gLabels lets you add shadows to every objects , except for barcodes.

shadows

You can modify an object’s order, rotation, and alignment on the Objects menu.

objects

After working on the card for 15 minutes, here’s what I came up with. Looks pretty nice, isn’t it?

card

At this point you might ask, “What if I want a card with a different color?”. You can’t directly change the background, but I’ve found a workaround by creating a rectangle which is larger than your card/label (the border doesn’t matter), fill it with a color, right-click it, and set the order as ‘send to back’. This is preferably done after you’ve finished editing your label/card, since the rectangle would block the grid from your view.

background

The printing menu option to preview the file and print outlines and crop marks for easier cutting.

print

preview

If you want to print labels but with different contents on each ones, gLabels also supports mail merges from CSV (with comma, tab, and colon-separated values), Evolution address books, and vCards. These mail merges are applicable to texts and barcodes.

To test this feature, I used one of Brian Dunning’s CSV samples, slightly modified due to compatibility issues.

merge

Note the numbering of the CSV’s fields.

merge-barcode

Here’s what the resulting labels looks like (printed into PDF since I don’t have a real printer).

mergeresult

Conclusion

Are you the kind of person who wants to create quick, simple labels/cards, but don’t want to learn/are intimidated by Microsoft Publisher or Scribus? Then you’ll love gLabels.

gLabels’ interface is perfect. It has little to no learning curve; everything you want to add and edit is easily accessible. This is due to the limited toolset and features it has. Well, limited features are not always bad – if it has all of the most important features. I’m quite disappointed that I can’t add shapes other than a circle, a line, and a rectangle. Those shapes are maybe enough if you’re a fan of the now-popular flat design, but not everyone would be happy with them.

On the other hand, I love the fact that thanks to gLabels, I would need maybe 30 minutes to have a pack of name cards. And the mail merge feature works great. Just make sure that the CSV file is formatted correctly.

Pros:

  • Easy to use
  • Wide selection of templates
  • Mail merge feature

Cons:

  • Limited selection of shapes

Suggestions:

  • More shapes
  • Option to change background color directly
  • More fill types (gradients, opacity)
  • Ability to export into image files

gLabels

Version: 3.01 (September 17, 2012)

Developer: Jim Evans

Size: 1.4 MB

License: Open Source (GNU GPLv3)

Website: gLabels at Sourceforge.net

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