Hardware Support

Updated 5 months ago by Colin Mollenhour

ShipStream is designed to take advantage of modern hardware capabilities while making sourcing your hardware simple and cheap. We strive to offer very broad compatibility with commodity hardware so the choices are up to you but this article will provide you with the basic requirements.

WiFi

While WiFi is not a strict requirement, you will generally want strong WiFi signal throughout your warehouse and knowledgeable staff on-call or a local contractor to help prevent or troubleshoot potential WiFi problems.

The ShipStream web-app and the ShipStream Client software make only outbound HTTP/HTTPS connections so you do not need to have a static IP or create any special firewall rules so long as your network allows outbound HTTP/HTTPS connections.

ShipStream generally uses a very low amount of bandwidth but a decent broadband connection is recommended. Enabling QoS on your network and giving priority to ShipStream traffic may help alleviate issues when your bandwidth is in peak usage such as during video conference calls.

User Interface Devices

The ShipStream web-app works on just about any device, but it does require a modern web browser. In general, software which is discontinued and no longer supported by the vendor will not be supported by ShipStream. For example, old versions of iOS, Internet Explorer, BlackBerry OS, etc. will not work and are not supported.

Recommended devices:

  1. Windows 8 or Windows 10 with Google Chrome, Brave, Firefox, Opera or Edge
  2. Android 5.0+ with Google Chrome, Brave, Firefox
  3. Google Chromebooks
  4. MacOS 10.10+ with Safari
  5. Apple iOS 10+ with Safari (see note below regarding Barcode Scanners)
The "Scanner" UI will work on any browser but is optimized for touch-screens. In particular there is a lot of information on the Packing UI so a hands-free touch screen such as a solidly mounted laptop, tablet, or monitor is recommended for your packing stations.
Most operations will benefit from hands-free ergonomics so wrist bands, neck straps, belt straps, etc. are a great addition. You don't need a super-fast device but durability, battery life and WiFi quality should be your top concerns.

Barcode Scanners

As ShipStream is a web-app running in your browser, any barcode scanner that interfaces with your device as a keyboard should work. This includes most common USB, wireless with USB dongle and Bluetooth scanners. Each barcode scan is seen by the active browser window as a series of keypresses and keydown/keyup events. The scan must be terminated by either a tab or return character which are the most common out-of-the box behaviors. Some barcode scanners are configurable by scanning special barcodes in the user manual.

As the ShipStream web-app simply expects the scanning device to register key press events there are no special requirements imposed by ShipStream for whether the scanner is 2D or 3D or regarding the format used to encode your barcodes.

You get what you pay for. For the best experience purchase scanners that are durable and well-designed by a reputable company intended for industrial-grade use and you can't go wrong.
In our past experience an Apple iOS update broke the ability for the browser to "see" the keypress events emitted by the Bluetooth keyboard/scanner unless a form field was in focus. This has the potential to completely break the intended operation of the app and as Apple forces updates to be installed on iOS devices in a way that is impossible to roll back and since they do not allow alternative browser engines on the app store (for example Chrome on iOS uses the same engine as Safari) we do not recommend relying on Apple devices to interface with barcode scanners in a way that is compatible with ShipStream.

Printers

ShipStream supports three types of printers:

  1. "Laser" (Letter or Half-Letter paper)
  2. "Label" (4"x6" thermal labels)
  3. "Small Label" (2.25"x1.25" thermal labels)

The ShipStream Client software must be installed on a Windows computer with internet access. Once the devices are configured they may be used by any user on any device by scanning the barcode that corresponds to the device they wish to use which will set a cookie on the device indicating the device that print jobs should be sent to.

The printers do not need to be connected directly to the user interface devices or even on the same network, all connected and configured devices will be available to all users as long as the system where you installed the ShipStream Client is online and connected, either wired or wirelessly, to the printers.

Any printer that is listed by the Windows "Printers and Scanners" dialog will be available to use via the ShipStream client, so this may include printers using USB ports, network printers, etc.

The printer service runs in the background so printer drivers which launch UI dialogs for every print task may have issues. Using a generic printer driver or disabling the bloatware may resolve this issue.

Laser Printers

  • Color logos on packing slips are supported.
  • Half-letter paper size (a.k.a. "Statement") is supported for packing slips.
  • Documents provided by third-parties will typically require Letter size paper.
  • Duplex printing is supported for the user-provided "back-page" printing on packing slips.
    • If duplex printing is not supported by your printer the "back-page" will simply be printed on a separate page.

Label Printers

ShipStream is best optimized for thermal label printers using 4"x6" labels and printing at a native 203dpi which is the most common resolution for shipping labels.

ShipStream supports label data encoded using ZPL (a.k.a. ZPLII) which is a plain-text markup tailored to thermal label printers. All Zebra brand printers support ZPL and many other thermal label printers are able to emulate support for ZPL as well. While ZPL is not currently required it may be required for specific features in the future and will generally provide the best print quality and fastest printing speeds so it is recommended to purchase only printers that support printing with raw ZPL.

Small Label Printers

The Small Label Printers have the same requirements and suggested notes as the Label Printers above.

Scales

The ShipStream Client software is able to expose scales connected to a Windows computer via USB or a Serial port to the ShipStream web-app making it easy to trigger a weight query from the ShipStream web-app to any connected scale. Similarly to the printer system the scale does not need to be connected directly to the user-interface device; any connected scale can be used by any user on any device.

While most scales are similar in their interface and may work out of the box, the scales that have been tested with ShipStream are as follows:

  • Mettler Toledo USB scales
    • PS60, PS90 and compatible
  • Mettler Toledo Serial scales
    • PS60 and compatible
    • ICS425 and compatible
  • Adam Equipment Serial scales
    • CBK70a, CBC8a and compatible
  • Stamps.com Digital Postal USB scale

Please contact support if the scale you want to use is not listed, most scales use similar interfaces and can easily be made to work.


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