6 Replies Latest reply on Dec 22, 2011 12:26 PM by GeraldDavis

    Lookup from online data source



      Lookup from online data source


      My wife uses a FMP inventory DB that I created a few years ago, for her small bookstore. We currently use FMP 9 for the Mac.


      It would be helpful to be able to use a barcode scanner to scan in the ISBN from a book, and then obtain its Title, author, price, etc from online data sources, such as Amazon. There are a few examples of shareware programs that do just that, such as Delicious Library. I think there are even some freeware programs that do it. But I haven't seen any FMP solutions that claim to be able to.


      Does anyone know if this would be possible from within FMP?  Would it be a lookup to an online database?


      I could use another program such as Delicious Library, and import its output into FMP, but it would be simpler to have it occur within FMP.


        • 1. Re: Lookup from online data source
          Jens Teich
             Using a barcode reader with FM is quite simple. It acts like a keyboard and is able to enter characters into a text field.

          You need a very simple script

          * Goto Field[ field_target ]
          * Pause

          There are different kinds of barcodes. You have to be sure that your reader is able to read those book barcodes.


          • 2. Re: Lookup from online data source

            Thank you for your response.


            I actually have used the barcode scanner already and it does work the way you describe.


            I wasn't clear enough in my original post, though. I would like to have the ISBN number entry in the ISBN field , automatically trigger a "lookup" of the other data, Title, publisher, price etc., from an online database such as Amazon web services, or others. 


            Right now, if a book is already in our inventory table, the match field ISBN is used to lookup the other data from the related record, and bring it into the Sales record, for example. But if it is not already in the Inventory table, is it possible to trigger a lookup of the same data from an online database?


            I'm probably not explaining it well. But, as I said before, Delicious Library and other inexpensive software intended for cataloging home collections of books and CDs can do this. It works quite well. In just a few seconds after scanning the barcode, the metadata for the book appears in the Delicious Library record, along with a thumbnail image of the cover. 








            Most professional book store POS database software also does this. But I haven't as yet seen FMP POS solutions that do. Though I've only begun to look.


            Does anyone know how this could be done? Perhaps it's XML data being downloaded and imported.  


            • 3. Re: Lookup from online data source

              You first need to find a website (or several websites) where you can find the information you need by ISBN-search. If you found such a website you then need to find out how the present their information .... XML would be great because that is usually "wellformed". (In fact HTML should also be wellformed, but in lots of cases it isn't, making filtering the data from the code very difficult)


              I did a search with google with the words: "isbn web service" and found:

              http://isbndb.com/docs/api/10-intro.html here they have a very nice API and pretty good explanation on how to use it.

              http://www.worldcat.org/affiliate/webservices/xisbn/app.jsp has also a good API and if you don't exceed 500 requests a day, it's free.

              There are surely lots more websites like these :)


              Getting the info into filemaker is a bit more work, but you could use xml/xslt-import. But using plugins like troi-url and troi-text or 360works-scriptmaster would also be a good way to do the trick.


               regards, Menno

              • 4. Re: Lookup from online data source

                Thank you, Menno.


                This looks like exactly what I was looking for. There appear to be several plug-ins for web services access. I'll have to learn how to use them, but it looks like it is possible to do what I was hoping.


                I appreciate your taking the time to help me, and Jennsteich as well.



                • 5. Re: Lookup from online data source

                  Hello wf672

                  I own and run a small used bookstore myself.  Like you I have discovered that commercial bookstore inventory management and POS systems are very expensive.  I am considering the FMP platform to develop my own system and I want on online lookup to Amazon similar to what you have proposed.  How as it worked for you?

                  Please drop me a note.  Thank you.


                  jeff@booksnbrew.com, 843-705-9797

                  • 6. Re: Lookup from online data source

                    This is exactly what I want to do. It appears the best solution is use Amazon API. So my mission is to find a free or cheap way in accessing amazon api and test the application without experimenting on my own Amazon listings.