Magnetic Strip and Barcode readers (many driver's licenses can be read in this way) hook up to your computer via USB and input data as though you had typed it into a field in the database. You can usually program or configure them to append additional characters to the beginning and/or end of the scan and in filemaker, you can use OnKeystroke script triggers to respond to the scan start and end in order to process the scanned data.
OCR scanners are something I haven't played with, but suspect that they will work in the same fashion. If I were you, I'd contact the manufacturer of a scanner I'm evaluating and ask if they function in Keyboard emulation mode and whether you can configure them to put text at the beggining and end of the scanned information.
I work with Ken, and I'd like to expand just a little on what he's trying to develop. We're currently trying a program that allows us to register people as they arrive by swiping the magnetic strip on their driver's license through a card reader. When they arrive, we swipe the license, and a pop up window shows the info on the license. At that point we confirm that all is correct, and if anything has changed we can edit it right there. Then we click "Submit" and the info is directly entered into the database and assigned a client number. We'd like to be able to accomplish this same task using Filemaker Pro.
Forgive me if I'm missing something or if I misunderstood your post, but wow would we bridge this information between the reader and Filemaker?
Thanks in advance for the help.
I have a magnetic strip reader built directly into the keyboard I am using to type this message. Here where I work, we scan mag strips from drivers' licenses directly into a filemaker database.
Such readers almost always work in "keyboard emulation mode". That means the text is read from the reader directly into the computer just has though a very fast typist had typed it in for you. This is the case whether the scanner is a separate item from the scanner or built into the keyboard.
Scanning the raw text into filemaker is as simple as placing the cursor in a text field and swiping the card. Where I have enhanced the process is that I've configured the card reader to put ctrl-~ at the beginning of the first track's scan and an enter character at the end of the last track's scan. I put other special characters at the beginning of the 2nd and third tracks to help parse the scanned text after it is scanned.
I use a layout based OnKeystroke trigger to identify the ctrl-~ and then put the cursor in an invisible 2 pixel by 2 pixel text field. This field is setup in inspector | Data | Behavior to treat the enter key as an exit field action just like the tab key.
Thus, I swipe a license and the text is entered into the hidden field. The end of the last track causes the field to be exited and this triggers a script that parses the scanned text into the relevant fields (not every state has the same format so good luck with the parsing!) My scanner won't append text if the track is bad, but any user action after swiping the card will exit the field and trigger the sript to parse the scanned data.
I've also figured a way to trigger the text parsing by using Install Ontimer script with a 1 second interval, but haven't implemented that yet on our current system.