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Pics Checkout - Data Association Made Easy

Getting Started

PicsCheckout Admin Getting Started

Getting started with Pics Checkout is easy. This page will always show when you have no schools (or you might call them jobs) set up on the Pics Checkout System. Once you have added your first school this getting started page will disappear and can be accessed from the HELP menu above.

Follow this step by step guide to creating and proofing your first school.

You may want to print this page so you can refer to it later.

Please note that although the Pics Checkout system works well with most web browsers, we highly recommend that you use Firefox. Other web browsers do not have Firefox’s sophisticated print drivers and you will need these later for generating barcodes, proof cards and many other printed features within the system. If you don’t have Firefox please click here to get it.

  1. The first step is to create a school.

  2. At this stage select Standard. This is for regular school photography where every student will have their own individual login. The “Single Login Event” would be used for school plays and sports days. Family Days are self explanatory.

  3. Each school you create needs a 4 digit Reference Code. This is your internal reference for the school and needs to be made up of letters only. For example "The Pics Checkout Test" we suggest you code as "PCTS". Note: while you are learning and doing tests using "The Pics Checkout Test" there will not be any charge for that school. Any other named school will incur charges.

  4. The 4 digit Reference Code will be used later in all your barcodes, reference numbers and when uploading your photos for processing. Whenever you see “PCTS” you will think "The Pics Checkout Test". If you shoot at a school 5 times in a year, treat that as 5 separate jobs otherwise you may end up offering Christmas Portraits when the Summer Leavers are posted. If your school is called Very Friendly Prep School you may chose to call your 5 jobs VFPA, VFPB, VFPC, VFPD, VFPE. Alternatively you might choose AAAA for your first school, AAAB for your second school, AAAC for your third and so on. Codes may be reused after super-archiving (ie after the job has been completely removed from the system), however we suggest you keep coding a school until you get to letter Z so that you can identify requests from parents for photos going back a few years. When you get to VFPZ go back to VFPA again, and likewise if you get to AAAZ go on to AABA.

  5. At this stage you don't have to fill in any other boxes for "The Pics Checkout Test" if you don't want to and can skip to point 5. You can always return to a school and edit it later, however a quick run through of the other boxes are as follows:

    • Logo... is that of the school not yours. Within Pics Checkout there is a facility to print head and shoulders shots of each pupil within a class together with their names underneath. We think this looks more professional when you give it to a school with the school logo on the page too.

    • Address....is the full name & address of the school

    • Primary Contact....is your main point of contact at that school. It may be the Head, it may be an office manager. This detail only shows within admin to you the user. Noone else can see it.

    • Shoot Date....is the date that you photograph the school. You can edit it if the date changes, but it allows all your schools to list by shoot date with your most recent schools at the top of the list.

    • Delivery Date Cutoff....is midnight on the date that parents can order photos for FREE delivery to the school. In reality you may not know this when you set up a school because it may be affected by your heavy workload or an imminent half term holiday. This can be edited later when you are ready, or left blank if you don’t wish to offer the free delivery option.

    • Express Delivery Option....is service you might wish to offer for parents who want to order photos which would be despatched to them on the next working day. It might be Grannie’s birthday next week and a parent doesn’t want to wait for their order to be processed together with everyone elses. This is not an express postal delivery charge but a charge for you to process their order early before every one elses. Only select this option if you are processing and printing on site and have the ability to cope with the extra pressure it might create.

    • Online Only....is for schools looking for the ultimate admin-free service and who do not want any proof card orders nor payments coming into school. It may well be your only choice for larger, senior schools. Please bear in mind that selecting this option may negatively affect your sales if the parents are not an online community. It is best to ask the school if they only communicate with their parents by e-mail. If yes, then it should be ok to use this option. If not, don’t offer this service.

    • Code Type....is whether you need to use traditional barcodes or QR codes to identify the student on Photoday. If you are an established school photographer you may well be using a barcode reader attached to your camera. In this case select BAR. If you are a less experienced photographer and don’t have this type of equipment please do not worry. Select QR and we will take you through our APP later on which will help with identifying and processing photos. For info, a QR code (abbreviated from Quick Response Code) is a two-dimensional code first designed for the automotive industry. More recently, the system has achieved widespread popularity due to its fast readability and large storage capacity when compared to a standard lined barcode.

  6. Press the SAVE button towards the bottom right of your screen to save the school onto the system. Click to View / Edit the school further.

  7. Once your school is created you need some students. A CSV file of student data will normally be provided by the school but for the purposes of testing you can download a sample file here.

  8. If the school sends you a Microsoft Excel file rather than a CSV this is fine. Please ensure that the data isn’t spread over several tabs at the bottom of the screen. It all needs to be on one tab, and resave it as a CSV file (see screenshot below).

  9. Just as a reminder, once you have created your first school, this getting started page will disappear when you login to Pics Checkout. It can be accessed again from the HELP menu top right. It will be replaced by a fully functioning Admin Page which will show you a list of all your schools in the Pics Checkout system. At the moment you only have one school so your Admin Page might look like this.

  10. Click on "Edit" to the left of "The Pics Checkout Test" to enter into the School Overview Page.

  11. On the right of the screen click "CSV Upload" to upload the CSV that you just saved. For testing purposes leave the CSV type as Student and uncheck the tick box for "update CSV". Press ok.

    Later on, when you are more confident, you can upload a staff CSV and a sibling CSV.

    We keep sibling photos separate from individual photos so that we can give a CD of head shots to the school for their management information system.
    Extras are blank barcodes that are not allocated to anyone in the school yet. They are used as spares on Photoday for photographing people who are not on the list.
    An update CSV is when the school sends a second revised pupil list that may include a column of data that you didn’t have on their first list such as pupil admission number or parent e-mail addresses.

  12. Proceed to “Column Matching”. The next page shows the columns of your upload and allows you to select what type of information is in each column. It is really important to ensure that your CSV columns match the headings of our columns so that it reads forename under the forename column, surname under the surname column etc. Check it very carefully to save yourself a lot of heartache later on. You can select from the drop down tabs to ensure that the column headings match, so don’t worry about what order your columns are in before you upload. When you are ready press "Insert Selected". You can see from the example below that the dropdown for Surname needs to be changed to Forename.

  13. It doesn’t matter if you are going to use QR codes rather than barcodes on Photoday, You will still need to install the barcode font onto your computer so that you can process proof cards and orders.

    • Download barcode font. This is a zip file and the TTF file inside will need to be extracted to your desktop.
    • If you use a PC double click the extracted TTF file and then click Install.
  14. Congratulations! You have now set up a school "The Pics Checkout Test" and you also have some students to work with. You will find yourself on the School Overview Page.

    Click on Print > Barcodes/QR Codes. These are the codes that are specific to each student and will allow you to identify who is who on Photoday whatever order you photograph the students in. If there no barcodes or QR codes are showing, this is because the system defaults to Extra rather than Student. Extras are codes that have not been allocated to anyone yet. Check the student box, press Apply Changes and your barcodes or QR codes should appear.

  15. When your barcodes or QR codes have loaded onto your computer screen press "Print Preview". The system defaults to 9 barcodes/ QR Codes per sheet of A4 paper which our tests have shown to be the optimum size. If nothing is displaying, please confirm that you are viewing Pics Checkout using Firefox as your web browser? Secondly, when in Print Preview select Page Setup and check the three boxes; Orientation Portrait, Shrink to fit Page Width and Print Background (colours & images). Shrink to fit is VERY IMPORTANT. The screen shot below shows 50% greyed out and shrink to fit selected which is correct.

    If you want to alter the size of the text or the barcodes you can do this too, but please don’t be tempted to save the planet and print large numbers of codes on a page. We have set it to default print 3 rows, 3 columns, barcodes at 16 pixels / QR codes at 200 pixels and the text at 18 pixels. At this size, our App can read the QR code in your photographs, and you should be able to read the student’s details from the preview screen on your computer. Set Add URL & Password to prints to NO. This is more specific to family days where a family will retain their QR code as it will contain details of their login & password.

    If you alter anything remember to press the Apply Changes button afterwards and go to print preview. Remember that Print Preview is the key to everything and will save you wasting a lot of paper.

  16. The resulting barcodes or QR codes need to be cut up and handed to each student on photoday. Beware of supply teachers who do not know who the students are, and hand them out to any random person. Also, DO NOT let them be distributed too early. If they get bent, eaten, folded or damaged in any way they will not work properly and will cause you extra work later manually renaming.

  17. If you are using barcodes please scan the barcode before photographing the student. We also suggest for added security that after this you also hold the barcode in front of the camera and photograph it before photographing the student. If you are using QR codes hold the QR code in front of the camera and photograph it before photographing the student. Also it is really important to photograph the QR code in the right way. The code itself needs to be within the centre of your viewfinder frame and it is best to tilt it forward slightly so that you don’t get flare on the paper.
    While doing this we normally read & call out the first name of the student. If you say “Hi Howard” it puts the student at ease and they will soon say “My name’s Wayne not Howard” if they have the wrong code. Believe me, it happens!

  18. Here are some examples of good and bad QR code photos.

    We always advise printing QR codes on heavy weight, extra smooth, brilliant white, uncoated paper. We use Xerox Colotech iGen3 100gm paper (part no. 003R98842) in our Laser printer. The right choice of paper will minimalise reflective flare and bending.

    Remember, photograph the QR code first, then photograph the child.

  19. Print off a page of 9 QR codes and have a play. Whilst you are learning you can photograph apples and pears if you cannot find any willing children.

  20. If you shoot RAW please convert your photos to JPEG before using the Pics Checkout APP. Our APP is programmed to do four things: Rename, Resize, Upload and Download. DO NOT START RETOUCHING YOUR IMAGES UNTIL YOU HAVE RENAMED THEM. The App sorts the images by date modified, so if you have retouched some images and not others it will get completely muddled. It is best to make a copy of your camera image files before you start working on them, just to be on the safe side. If you have used QR codes and have no idea what FTP means please read on for instructions on how to use our APP. If you are an accomplished photographer using barcodes and a barcode scanner to photograph students you may not need our APP at all and can skip to section 22.
    The Pics Checkout App is available for Windows and Mac. Double click to open it and put in your FTP Username: {FTP_USERNAME} and FTP Password: {FTP_PASSWORD}

    You will need to be connected to the internet at this stage as the App checks that you are a current member before it will work.

  21. We never suggest that you work on your original photos. Copy the folder and give it a new name. Select Browse and locate the new folder of photos. Do not go into it. Press the rename button and the APP will automatically rename all the images.

  22. Renamed files will appear in this format:

    PCTS0067-1234.jpg

    To interpret:
    PCTS = Pics Checkout Test School
    0034 is child 34
    1234.jpg is the original camera file name.

    Ensure when printing photos that back printing will allow 13 digits plus the dot jpg. That means that you will be able to identify every single photo, right down to the school, the child and even which shot of that child. The Pics Checkout system will let you offer up to four poses per student, so if you shoot more, you will need to edit the number of photos down. Every student will need to have the same number of images uploaded per job, so if it is a three pose job, then every student will need three poses. The poses will be differentiated by the original file name:

    PCTS0067-1234.jpg, PCTS0067-1235.jpg & PCTS0067-1236.jpg

    You can edit your photos in any image browser such as Adobe Bridge. If you are a barcode photographer you should edit to exclude the barcode photos. If you are a QR Code photographer you can leave your QR Code photos there. They will be extracted automatically by the APP in the next section.

  23. Pics Checkout like all online systems does not need hi-resolution images to be uploaded. Having renamed your images it is essential that you keep these separately on your computer for order processing later on. Experienced photographers should resize their images to fit into 432 x 432 pixels x 300dpi. In Adobe Bridge for example, you would select all your images and on the menu select Tools > Photoshop > Image processor. In point 2 select a new folder on your computer in which to save these low res-images. DO NOT save in same location. In point 3 tick Save as a JPEG, Quality 12, tick covert profile to SRGB, and enter 432 into the 2 boxes. If you are an inexperienced QR Code Photographer go back to the APP and press the resize button. When it has finished it will ask you if you wish to save the images. Say yes and the APP will create a new folder for the smaller images which are to be uploaded. The QR code images will have been removed automatically.

  24. FTP (File Transfer Protocol) is the act of transferring files, in this case images from your computer to the Pics Checkout server. You need an FTP program to be able to do this and we recommend FileZilla. (or Transmit for the Mac). Once you have it installed you can enter the details below (hostname, Username & Password) into the top bar and click "Quick Connect". You do not need to specify a port. Your details are:

    • Hostname: {GLOBAL_IP}

    • Username: {FTP_USERNAME}

    • Password: {FTP_PASSWORD}

    Once you are connected you will see your computer on one side and the Pics Checkout server on the other. You simply drag the 432 pixel files from your computer to the Pics Checkout server and put them into the relevant folder for the school that you created earlier eg PCTS. Do not drag them over in a folder, and ignore any sub folders within your school on the Pics Checkout server.
    Some of you will be scratching your head at this stage and thinking what is FTP and I don’t know how to do that!!!! Do not worry. The App will come to the rescue. Just press the Upload button.

  25. Go back to admin and click on "Edit" to the left of "The Pics Checkout Test" to enter into the School Overview Page.

  26. Looking at the school's home page you will now see a green box at the top telling you it has detected images. If you don't, try clicking refresh (F5). Click PROCESS NOW and you will see a progress chart.

  27. Once this has completed you have student records and images attached to them. You're almost there!

  28. Press Return to School Admin. You can see that you have 9 records with images and 15 records without images.

    You can look just at the 9 students with images or all 24 records and see both those photographed & those missed. You will also be able to spot any errors at this stage. If everyone has 1 photo but a single student has 2 photos then you know that something is up.

  29. If you are going to sell school photos then Create > A Product is the next step. Type in a title, for example "Pack A" and a Price, for example 9.99 and details about what is included in the pack. We have even given you some sample pack images but you might want to create and upload your own. Browse for the image file, press Upload selected file and then click on it once it has uploaded. The window will attempt to close automatically but if it doesn't, after selecting the image, click close at the bottom.

    When finished, click the "Save New Product" button at the bottom.

  30. You will now be back at the school home page. Set the cut-off date for parents to order with free delivery to the school and set your delivery rates by clicking the delivery button at the top. These are used for the Buy Online e-commerce facility.

  31. Click Print > Proof Cards. You should see proof cards that relate to each student who had images. It is really important to check that your proof cards always fit your chosen media when printing. Click print preview and scroll down to check that each proof card fits on a single page before final printing. Are you using Firefox? Have you set the print parameters’ as suggested in section 15? Print to a colour laser printer or export to PDF for photographic printing.

  32. Set the school status to LIVE to enable parents to buy online. You may now logon at the front end of the site to make a test as if you were a parent.

  33. Although this is only intended as a basic guide to the system it gives you an understanding of the fundamental concepts of the way Pics Checkout works.
    Pics Checkout is absolutely crammed with features far too many to mention. However giving a disc of head and shoulders shots to the school of all their students resized and renamed as appropriate for their Management Information system is one of the fundamental reasons that Pics Checkout was created.
    Back on the School Overview Page select SIMS DOWNLOAD. Although we have called it Sims Download it will work for any Management Information System. Just set the Fiel Naming Convention, identify which Pose to use and set the Admission Number Padding if appropriate. Sims for example requires images to be renamed by the Student Admission Number which are 6 digits long. All the leading zeros are stripped out in Excel and CSV files so our system will put them in again. So if you have a student number 3456 it will create an image file called 003456. Sims also requires images to be 180 x 140 pixels. Input the size you require up to the maximum 432 uploaded.

  34. If you are an experienced user and comfortable with FTP go back into your school file and download to your computer the contents of the img.download folder. If you are still unsure, go back to the Pics Checkout App and select Download.

  35. Once you have orders for photos always use BULK PROCESSING for order fulfilment. We normally select a single school to process at one time. We print 2 copies of the orders, one for our records and one for the client and mark these records as printed on the system. Using a barcode scanner attached by USB to your computer (these can be purchased from any computer store) call up the images required and process as applicable. When the order is ready to be sent to the school or by post to the customer you can use Bulk Processing once more to send a dispatch e-mail notification to the client.

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