Posted on 2004-11-16
Last Modified: 2013-11-18

I do not know anything about barcoding systems... I have a VB app that controls stock for a client, they want their barcodes to store alphanumeric product codes... When they are scanned in we need to locate the product by code and subtract it from the inventory. Any ideas/guides???
Question by:odonovanpm
    LVL 69

    Expert Comment

    by:Éric Moreau
    Once barcodes are scanned, they are converted to letters/digits.

    The best way to familiarize with it is to plug a barcode scanner in your PC, open Word, and scan. You will see what it reads.
    LVL 7

    Expert Comment

    Wow, nothing like an open-ended question!

    OK, let's start at the beginning.  Think of the barcode scanner as simply an input device just like your keyboard.  Your scanner is going to turn the barcode into ASCII characters for you.  You make sure that the focus is on your Item Number field and then press the trigger on your scanner (if using a handheld scanner) or pass the item over/under a scanner (think grocery store check-out).  Your program then does the look up based on that SKU (Item Number) and do what you need to do with your inventory counts.

    You have all kinds of options, depending on the scanner that you choose -- return just the ASCII characters, return a linefeed (enter key) after each scan, etc.

    I've used Symbol in the past with good success:

    Are you going to be creating the barcodes to affix to the products or just reading the barcode?  If you have to create your barcodes, you have multiple options from canned solutions from AveryDennison ( or components that you can use to create your own applications that print barcodes.

    Give me some more information and I'll try to point you in the right direction.

    Hope this helps,

    Alphameric data -- Code 3 of 9 symbology

    Author Comment

    I'm afraid it is open-ended because I have absolutely no knowledge of barcodes...

    We will have to create our own barcodes to represent a product code like this, WIAD-TIOS-3CRW00, I do not have the first idea of how to do this... When an item is leaving the warehouse the user will scan the barcode and the product code should be recorded and be passed to my application... I am not sure how I can trigger the scanner to run my .exe file??? I am a bit confused on the logistics of the barcoding system... Does it have to be connected to a computer??? If not where is the information stored...

    I hope I am not confusing you.
    LVL 69

    Accepted Solution

    It is also pretty easy to print barcode. It is only a font you apply to your text!

    You can have a free one from
    LVL 7

    Assisted Solution

    The scanner is an input device, that's all it is.  If you had a scanner attached to your pc and had, say NOTEPAD open, what you scanned would be typed into the screen, just as if you were typing it from the keyboard.

    You attach the scanner to your PC by way of a wedge -- a cable that attaches to the keyboard port on the back of the PC and splits with your keyboard connected to one end, and the scanner connected to the other. (This is one way, there are wireless solutions, but let's stick to the basics for now)

                / Keyboard
    PC ___/

    Your application will be running on the PC at the loading dock.  Let's assume that you use a hand-held scanner, a gun-type scanner where you point it, it puts a red-line on the item's barcode, and you press the trigger on the scanner.   On the screen, in the Item Number textbox, the characters represented by your barcode will be typed into the box, just as if you typed them from the keyboard.

    The loading dock worker then presses enter (or you have the scanner return a linefeed with the barcode characters and use the .KeyPress event to monitor for it) and then you process the Item Number.

    Creating your barcodes will just be a matter of using a printer that can print barcodes and getting a printer font for your printer to print those barcodes.  Enter your Product Code and print out the tag.  Check out emoreau's link.  That's a good site.

    For Alpha-numeric barcodes, you can use Code 3 of 9 (Code39 is the same thing).  It's a pretty standard barcode symbology for alphameric data.  Symbology is the term used to refer to the type of barcode.  For example, the code that is on your grocery items is called UPCa or UPCb depending on where you live (EU or USA) and is a nemeric-only barcode.  There are a multitue of symbologies in use.

    So, where are you located?  I'd be happy to help consult on a $olution... *G*

    Ok, I'm sure this will generate a few more questions, so let this sink in and let me know what you need next.

    LVL 7

    Expert Comment

    This seems to be good resource for information on barcodes who, what, where, why, when and how:

    Also, my bad from before:  EAN-13 is the standard for retail barcodes used outside the US.
    LVL 4

    Expert Comment

    Just a hint to keep in mind as you learn more about barcodes...barcode readers are just input devices. Once you read a bar code it is converted to an alphanumeric string and everything from there on is treated just as it would be if you had typed it into a textbox.

    Hope this helps keep things in perspective.

    LVL 7

    Expert Comment

    How's the barcode project coming along?
    LVL 7

    Expert Comment

    OK by me

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