Bar codes and Cardbox

Cardbox can print bar codes in various formats: what about reading them?

There are many barcode readers on the market in a variety of shapes and sizes, and we can't really advise you which one to buy (you have to choose what suits you best), but as far as Cardbox is concerned, they all work in essentially the same way. You scan a code, and the reader interprets the code and "types" it in to your computer just as if you had typed it on the keyboard yourself.

One feature that is definitely worth looking for is the ability for the reader to type extra keystrokes before and after the actual interpreted barcode. Manufacturers often refer to these as "preamble" and "postamble" keystrokes.

Inserting barcodes into a record

Sometimes you may have a number of existing records and want to add barcodes to them. For instance, you could have a collection of objects and be attaching pre-printed barcode labels to each one. Your workflow would then be: pick up the object, find its record in Cardbox, and scan in the barcode.

The obvious and simple way would be to edit the record, go to your "barcode" field, scan the barcode, and save the record.

If you have a barcode reader that can do programmable preambles and postambles, you can make the process easier by making the preamble type the keystrokes for editing (Ctrl+E, Ctrl+G followed by the field name) and making the postamble type the keystroke to save the record (Ctrl+S). That way you won't have to touch the keyboard: just look at the record and scan the barcode, and the barcode reader will do everything else for you.

Using a macro

You can create a macro that uses the InputBox command to ask you to scan a barcode, and then does whatever you want with the result. It might be more intelligent than just putting the scanned code into a field. For instance, it might search for the code – if the code is already in the database, it can show you the matching record; if the code isn't already in the database, it can create a blank record and fill in the barcode field. (If you are dealing with books then it might even look up the book in Amazon's database in order to fill in more details, as this posting shows).

As we've just described it, the sequence of operations will be: play the macro, scan the code, and hit Enter to tell the macro that the code has been scanned. But you could use preambles and postambles again: first associate the macro with a keystroke, then tell the barcode reader to send that keystroke as a preamble, then tell the barcode reader to send the Enter key as a postamble. That way you can do everything you need by just performing a simple scan and you won't need the keyboard at all.

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