This is Part 1 of a 3-part series.
A smartphone today does far more than make calls. With a variety of apps available we have access to a world of information at our fingertips, or hours of distraction. Productivity is vital from the business side of mobile computing. Reading and storing data is one powerful aspect, but collecting data on the device makes our information interactive. Getting data on to the device quickly and error-free becomes imperative for any business.
FileMaker Go is a perfect tool for storing data on a iOS device like the iPhone and iPad. But, the lack of a physical keyboard makes data-entry a slow and tedious affair. Scanning bar codes or reading magnetic cards like credit cards, drivers licenses, and so forth, enables fast access to data. This three-part article first will discuss the requirements to pull data into FileMaker Go from an iOS device, and then demonstrate two different methods of adding data.
First, your iOS device will require some software and hardware. FileMaker Go is free, though you will need to develop your database using FileMaker Pro on the desktop. To read bar codes I have used two different apps. One, Pic2Shop, is free and performs its task fairly well, though it is limited to scanning one item at a time. CNS Barcode costs $9.99, but adds a variety of features such as multi-scanning, and also can create bar codes.
To read magnetic card strips the cost climbs. You will need a paid iOS app ($15.99), CardSwipe, and a small device that plugs into your iPad or iPhone (this was tested prior to iPhone 5), such as iMag Pro, around $60. With iMag Pro you can run cards through the reader from the context of the CardSwipe software.
The glue that binds the app and FileMaker Go database is called a URI scheme or protocol. When you build your FileMaker app (you’ll have to wait for part 2!), you create scripts that call the iOS app with their URI scheme. In that URI scheme you then have a callback action to FileMaker using its URI scheme, indicating the database name and the script to run.
With the exception of Pic2Shop, you must pay for the companion app. In part 2, we’ll switch over to FileMaker and see how to set up the database, and how to pull in the data without typing a single character by scanning a barcode. Part 3 will cover reading information from magnetic strips, such as drivers licenses or credit cards.