1 2 Previous Next 15 Replies Latest reply on Jul 23, 2012 8:36 PM by mr_scott

    Filemaker pro and barcodes


      Hi all,


      I am developing an Asset tracking and management database and would like to include barcodes in my database. I want my client to be able to search for assets by just scanning a barcode.

      I know several people have worked with barcodes in filemaker databases that is why I am turning to you for help. Is there a way I can attach a barcode to an assets' unique number without using third party plugins?. Will this barcode be scanned by any scanner or do I have to buy a specific barcode scanner? If I have to use a plugin, which one would you reccommend?.


      Thank you.


        • 1. Re: Filemaker pro and barcodes

          Hi, Judy. Look in my documents for the Code128 custom function document. Barcode with no plugins. Search for tag ronsmithmd and you should be able to find it. I use this for creating the barcodes that the girls scan off of our vaccines and for scanning prescriptions with controlled medications which require now copy proof and serialized prescription paper her in Georgia.




          Ron Smith, MD


          1 of 1 people found this helpful
          • 2. Re: Filemaker pro and barcodes

            Most barcode scanners will scan and interpret all of the standard barcodes, and with only simple USB connection. If you get into 3D barcodes, then it will require a specific scanner. If you are generating the barcode yourself, I suggest using code 3 of 9, because it is very simple, usually uses no checksum character (that's up to you) and is easy to format (you use only the allowed characters [all numbers, all Alpha {caps} and a few other characters]) and all that is just placed between a begining and ending [*] asterisk ( ex. *ABC123* ). Then you only need a 3 of 9 font, which is very easy to acquire. As long as the cursor is in a field in Filemaker, the scanner will populate the field with the scanned results.

            1 of 1 people found this helpful
            • 3. Re: Filemaker pro and barcodes

              A while back (2 years ago) I spent time researching the barcode possibilities within FileMaker.  I found out it was possible to generate barcodes within FileMaker via fonts and plugins.  I know that dealing with fonts can be a pain since fonts need to be installed on every computer so I went the plugin route.


              I found this plugin called 6barcode by SixFriedRice (cool/funny name for a company but I have had no issues with their plugin).  Here is the link http://sixfriedrice.com/wp/products/6barcode/


              To generate the barcode you will need:

              1. The plugin
              2. a container field in your database to place the barcode
              3. a script step that generates it


              By the way this plugin generates a Code 128 barcode.  Also if you are only going to use the plugin to generate a barcode to show on some forms you print, then you really don't need to store the barcode picture, you can generate it on the fly during form printing by using a global field.

              • 4. Re: Filemaker pro and barcodes



                In my experience the initial response to your question is yes it's quite simple to do this without a plug-in but there are some huge gotchas because it involves using fonts that are not cross-platform.


                My initial question for you is are you developing and using on solely a Mac or a Windows platform?


                There is a font that I found works in both OS's BUT b/c they render the font differently if you designate the font to be used from a Windows machine it won't be viewed nor printed as a font on a Mac system. The opposite is true as well. Since it is a true-type font I was able to copy it to the Mac system and use it however if I choose that font from a Mac it doesn't appear nor print as a barcode from the Windows clients.


                Because of this limitation or caviat if you will, we have settled on the aforementioned six fried rice solution. I avoid plug-ins and custom functions whenever possible despite how easy they are to maintain however in this case we find that it is fairly valuable to have the barcodes stored as png files and available to use further along or later for our manufacturing processes.


                By the way the font I was referring to earlier is called Carolina Bar it is a Code 39 barcode so remember the beginning and end will need an "*" to make it scannable. The astrices are start and stop characters.

                • 5. Re: Filemaker pro and barcodes

                  My Code128 custom function doesn't require special fonts and doesn't require plugins.



                  • 6. Re: Filemaker pro and barcodes

                    I want my client to be able to search for assets by just scanning a barcode.

                    The scanner will interpret the barcode and give you letters and numbers (code 128), so as long as the cursor is inside a field then you can do a find on those letters an numbers.


                    Also, it might be necessary to program the scanner to add a carriage return at the end scanning process, and then you can trap for that carriage return and perfom an action like performing a find.

                    • 7. Re: Filemaker pro and barcodes

                      A long time ago I used bar fonts from IDAutomation and they work and it is a hassle getting the font on each machine you need it on.  I like Ron Smith's idea of using a custom function to get barcodes.  Pretty slick, Ron!  However, I actually use a plugin with the same disadvantage as fonts that you have to make sure it is on the person's computer to generate the barcode.  I use CNS Barcode font and it is pretty slick and even does QR fonts that are 2D.  They save them as a picture in a container field, so once generated, people who don't have the plugin can still see them.  And this CNS Barcode supports a number of types of barcodes.  Be aware that there are MANY types of barcodes out there, but most seem to use Code 39 or Code 128.  I personally found the CNS Barcode plugin to be a nice solution and I recommend it.  But if I had known about it and been on a budget, I probably would have tried Ron's custom function solution if I only needed Code 128.  Thanks for sharing, Ron!

                      • 8. Re: Filemaker pro and barcodes

                        Hi Judy,


                        I concur with the opinion you've received from mrialsjr.


                        We started our barcoding on the Mac using a free B3921___.TTF font with the "*" character added at beginning and end. This worked OK for a while but gave us an unacceptable number of read errors -- perhaps not surprising given the fine lines and tiny spaces.


                        By comparison the SixFriedRice plugin produces a more compact barcode with a "bolder" look if I can describe it that way. It is read much, much more reliably than our earlier barcodes.


                        I believe you should test the various options for yourself to discover the one that best meets your particular need.



                        • 9. Re: Filemaker pro and barcodes

                          CNS Barcode works like a charm and may still be on sale for DevCon.

                          • 10. Re: Filemaker pro and barcodes

                            Thanks Ron! I enjoyed breaking that down! I'm going to try it out on one of my client solutions (sans the Prescription suffix).

                            • 11. Re: Filemaker pro and barcodes

                              There is also a thread on fmforums about barcode generation with iText.

                              Does need Scriptmaster but does not require a font and give more control over output than most other methods, and is free.

                              • 12. Re: Filemaker pro and barcodes

                                Thank you everyone for your contributions. All your replys are very helpful. I will try your suggestions out and see what works best for me. Again thank you all very much. I really appreciate that there are so many people out there who have worked with filemaker and willing to help new users like me. I am based in Nairobi Kenya and filemaker is not very popular here. This community has been the one place I have felt at home since I started using Filemaker.


                                Thank you all for welcoming  me with open arms. I will let you know very soon what solution works best for me.




                                • 13. Re: Filemaker pro and barcodes

                                  Hi Judy,

                                  You may want to look at Zeroblue's ScanFob; they had it specially configured by SerialIO to work well with FileMaker (easy switching from single to batch, iOS to Mac to PC). SerialIO also has a cool tool for creating BarCode configuration images.

                                  I tested with Ron's CFs last night (THANKS Ron!), it works perfectly (I just needed to refine the text-string for my own BC formatting needs).

                                  You may also want to check out Matt Petrosky's video (Sep.Model Part 12) for some ideas on how to implement. http://www.filemakermagazine.com/videos/the-separation-model-part-12-barcode-scanning.html

                                  • 14. Re: Filemaker pro and barcodes

                                    I completely agree with the ScanFob.  We currently use 23 of then internally and in the field. They work on the desktop, laptop, iPad & iPhone solutions with no additional plugins or workarounds. And on the iPad & iPhone you can toggle the keyboard to manually enter a barcode number if it is badly scratched or unreadable. 



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