Friday, December 4, 2009

Automating publishing with a barcode scanner

We continue to receive compliments on our DashBook royalty software from companies seeking to improve the management of their publishing businesses. Sometimes these companies have little or nothing to do with our original market of small book publishers, but due to DashBook's amazing feature set and ease of use, they realize that it is the best product for them.

Recently we were asked about barcode support for an organization needing to track their products from their warehouses. DashBook already supports adding to and shipping from multiple warehouses, so that is not an issue. But what about barcode scanners?

As it turns out, barcode scanners are little more than machines that read code and type what they see as if a human had typed it using the keyboard. Simply plug in a USB barcode scanner, and the operating system will detect it and configure itself to use it. Here are a couple of things I played with using our new barcode scanner:

Within DashBook, I created a new order. Because our Simple order style does not show product codes, I clicked the Advanced tab to go to Order Detail. I clicked into the ISBN/Product Code field, grabbed a book off of my shelf, and scanned it. DashBook immediately created an order line with that product, filling out the price and presumed quantity of 1, which can readily be changed. Because the scanner automatically added a cr/lf (carriage return/linefeed), DashBook was ready for the next book. Just by scanning one book after another, an entire order can be filled.

My next test was to go to the product section of DashBook to create products. I just clicked the + sign to create a product, and DashBook popped open an ISBN window before the main product form. I then scanned multiple books, which automatically typed their ISBNs into this window -- all in a nice column because of the "returns" at the end of each code. When I pressed the OK button on that window, DashBook looked up these ISBN codes on the internet, and created each of the product records, automatically filling in the book titles, summary description, and authors.

Wow. I love automation!

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