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TBarCodeDLL-Board the Barcode Bandwagon

  • September 11, 2006
  • By Victor Volkman
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The barcode seems to be everywhere. From the little keychain tag that the checkout clerk zaps with a wand to the print-your-own-postage services such as stamps.com, barcodes have become an integral part of doing business. What is the attraction of these cryptic little buggers? Simple: you get fast, error-free data entry at 10 times faster than human input. If your products are ID-able, either uniquely (like a serial number) or non-uniquely (like a UPC code), you can reap great benefits from barcode integration.

In my other life, I'm an independent book publisher who lives or dies by the readability of my EAN Bookland barcodes. So I understand the importance of barcodes. And given that a barcode wand can be had for as little as $100, you have every reason to get on the barcode bandwagon too.

This article examines the TBarCode DLL component from Tec-It, a barcoding solution you can use to print reports or stickers that will verify inventory when scanned.

Tec-It and The Three Bars

TBarCode DLL is just one of a family of three barcoding solutions offered by Tec-It. The other two are TBarCode OCX and BarCode Studio. TBarCode OCX is a Microsoft ActiveX-compliant barcode control that combines all common linear and 2D barcodes (Code 39, Code 128, UCC/EAN Codes, Code 25 Interleaved, MaxiCode, PDF417, MicroPDF, Data Matrix (ECC200), QR-Code, Codablock-F, and many others) into one product. The OCX is .NET compatible and can be integrated into Microsoft Office products, ASP, Visual Basic, and other ActiveX-hosted environments.

TBarCode DLL offers all the same functionality as TBarCode OCX plus EAN/UCC Composite Symbology, MicroPDF, and all RSS Composite variants.

BarCode Studio is a complete end-user application for printing or exporting barcode images and is based on the Tec-It components.

Getting Started—Hello Barcode!

Tec-It offers a downloadable evaluation version of TBarCode OCX, which includes help files and three sample programs in Visual C++ 6.0 project format. The Tec-It installer organizes icons and folders for all of these items. If that's not enough for you, you can download another set of about two dozen samples that highlight integration in various environments such as Crystal Reports, Internet Explorer 5, ASP, and other OCX hosts.

My first test was to load up the BarCode Viewer app ("BCVIEW") using Visual Studio 7.1. BCVIEW enables you to enter some piece of data and then display it on the screen, copy it to the clipboard, and/or save it as a bitmap type file. I entered the EAN-13 barcode for Beyond Trauma, 2nd Ed. (ISBN-13 data value 9781932690040), one of my own titles from 2005. The app compiled and ran with only a few minor compile warnings, and produced the following result:

Overall, the bitmap seems to be an exact duplicate of the one provided by Lightning Source Inc. for that book. The exception is that TBarCode didn't offer an option for embedding the price into the barcode.

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