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Problems implementing barcodes in a custom Filemaker 12 database

Question asked by cstanford101 on Jan 20, 2015
Latest reply on Jan 26, 2015 by philmodjunk


Problems implementing barcodes in a custom Filemaker 12 database


I know there are a lot of resources out there about adding bar code functions to Filemaker databases, but I'm having some difficulty figuring out the easiest and most effective way to implement bar codes into our own custom database without a ton of extra expense.

We have Filemaker Pro 12, which we use on a combination of Mac/PCs, as well as iPad (haven't really used the iPhones yet although we technically have iPhone layouts too).  Its a completely custom database which I designed myself to track inventory and have invoices.  Currently, you type in the part number, and the rest of the info (name and price) is filled in, and you change quantity manually if need be.  These part numbers are linked to the inventory side so it will take out whatever quantity you put into an invoice, so we can keep an accurate count of amount of inventory in stock.  Invoices are also linked to customers so we can track what customer has had what work done, etc.  

It's worked pretty well so far, but having to manually type in the part number leaves a lot of room for error, especially with a lot of our part numbers differing by only one or two numbers (and part numbers are not all numerical, some are all numbers, all letters or a letter/number combo).  We want to be able to use bar code scanners with the computers and also be able to continue to utilize the iPad/iPhone for scanning bar codes as well to take over the "typing" of the part numbers.  I want to simply be able to implement something so I don't have to do a lot of redesign, etc - after all, if it ain't broke, don't fix it!

Is there a way to easily change my part # field within my already established invoices to be able to utilize bar code scanners or iPad/iPhone to scan a bar code (which would be a bar code of the part #, so basically the scanner will just be typing in the part number instead of us)?  I feel like the solution to our problems may be really simple, and I just can't grasp it.  All I basically want to be able to do is let a bar code scanning device do the typing into the part # field instead of relying on manually typing in the part number.  It would still need to populate the rest of the data (name and price) being pulled from the inventory table so quantity could be updated in amount in stock.  

I know Filemaker Go 13 is supposed to have a new input from device script to make this easy (at least for iPad/iPhone), but I think you have to have Filemaker 13 in order to build that script step into your database, don't you?  It would be awfully expensive for us to upgrade our 4 licences of 12 to 13 just to gain use of 1 new script step, especially when I'm sure it's possible with what we have now.  I just can't wrap my head around how to go about doing it, even though it's probably simple.  I've tried using pic2shop for iPhone as a test, since I don't yet have a bar code scanning device for the computers since I don't know which one I'll need.  I haven't had a lot of luck yet.

 I want to have to change as little as possible because even though I'm the one who totally built this system, honestly since it's been almost 2 years since building it, I'm a little fuzzy on how I got certain functions to finally work (being not formally trained in Filemaker, and having to just kind of figure things out from online tutorials and simply trial and error).  I'm sure that there's better, more efficient ways to do what we need Filemaker to do other then how I have it designed but again... if it ain't broke, I ain't fixing it! ;)

Any advice I could get would be very appreciated.  We're ok with having to potentially buy a bar code font, a bar code printer and some scanners, but of course I need to try to keep our costs as low as possible, while also minimizing my own headache trying to implement it without screwing up our inventory tracking and customer tracking functions.  So any advice would be great.