I had a problem once with File Tracker in that they used check digits
without us knowing it (the issue never came up), and we were interfacing
with box barcodes that didn't have them. The readers must be programmed to
use them, or not use them--and you can't mix the two. So we ended up having
TAB print a special set of our regular records center box barcodes with two
numbers--identical except that one was with a check digit, one without.
When files we placed in the box, the user scanned the check digit barcode.
Then the box arrived at the records center, the warehouseman used the
non-check digit barcode. Both barcodes were on the same label. It was a
real hassle, that we corrected on a future system. We had them leave out
the check digit feature so that the system worked with regular code 39
Micky Hogue, CRM
Sandia National Laboratories
[log in to unmask]
From: Tom Pemberton [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
Sent: June 17, 2000 9:54 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Barcode Software revisited
Execellent point, Gary.
In addition, be wary of code 39 bar codes with check digits. These are
produced by TAB File Tracker (the DOS program) version 7.x, optionally by
TAB File Tracker for Windows version 5.3 and latter, and optionally by
The issue with check digits in Code 39 barcodes is that the symbology was
engineered not to need them. The feature probably exists because it was a
good selling point to clients --- Check Digits add NO VALUE to Code 39 bar
codes and DO NOT improve the read rate.
The real problem with check digits in Code 39 bar codes occurs when you
start interacting with the real world. If you look at pre-printed bar
codes supplied by an off-site vendor, or bar code labels on acquisitions or
merging companies, you will rarely see check digits.
How do you rationalize a mixed system with some check-digit bar codes and
some non-check-digit bar codes????? It's not fun and the extra effort
will cost you. Don't worry - the solution is in the database - you don't
have to re-label all the files.
I am currently implementing a system for a consulting firm in Chicago who
has this mixed system. This is their first tracking system, but they have
been bar coding for years in anticipation. However, all their bar codes
were standard Code39 bar codes, until they implemented TabQuik two years
ago. Now they have a mixed system.
Sales reps rarely know enough technology to know whether the bar codes are
check digit, nor to check and see what type of bar codes you were using
previously -- you're on your own --- Buyer Beware!!
Last year we implemented a 14-office regional solution on a single database
for a client who had seven File Tracker systems. Lo and behold - some used
check digits, some didn't. This was a big surprise to the client.
I am currently working with a client whose check-digit problem is
compounded. Not only do they have a mix of check digit / non-check digit
systems, but all their offices have the same bar codes. Yes, they were all
sold the same preprinted bar code labels.
Now as we implement their regional solution across 8 offices, the client is
faced with re-labeling files in any offices where bar code values are
duplicated. The real problem is that they have nearly 10 years of file
inventory in off-site whose labels are duplicated and will have to be
changed as they are retrieved.
SO, LET's START OUR WARNINGS LISTS WITH...
1) Avoid proprietary bar coding (thank you, Gary). Be sure the system
will read bar codes produced by outside sources -- really you should be
able to scan the UPC from a Coke can.
2) Avoid check-digits if you are using Code 39 -- the standard for
business bar coding.
3) Be sure all bar code numbering sequences, whether pre-printed or
dynamically-generated, contain some uniqueness in different location. I
like to use a prefix tied to the office, division, department, or building
At 11:09 AM 6/16/00 -0500, Gary Vocks wrote:
>One other cautionary note concerning barcode software. If a vendor
>you with a program that uses a proprietary style of barcode for data entry
>think hard about it before you commit. I don't know of any that are using
>proprietary code these days but I've seen it happen in the past. Migration
>hardware and software is something we all need to plan for but to have to
>migrate only because one manufacturer/vendor gets out of the business is
>Records Management Officer
>Southern Illinois University
>School of Medicine
>PO Box 19668
>Springfield IL 62794-9668
39 West Julian St., #347
San Jose, CA 95110