Blog

Barcode Scanners and Check-in Apps: which one and why?

Barcode, as a standard, first appeared back in the fifties when David Collins, then undergraduate, worked at the Pennsylvania Railroad and wittingly became aware of the need for automation of the railroad cars' identification. The guy received his well deserved degree at MIT and started a whole new chapter in history of technology.

The very first commercially used barcode in the supermarket was on a pack of Wrigley’s chewing gum in 1974.

Since then, we’ve been through a long way of spreading the popularity and improving the barcode efficiency until getting to the point that we cannot possibly think of, well LIFE, without using barcodes in all spheres of everyday life.

Not sure what Tickera is? Go here to find out!

The barcode standards have changed a lot through the history but the basic principle is the same as it was way back at the beginning: the array of printed bars representing alphanumerical characters.

Relying on the rock solid foundation of barcode and expanding it with relatively newer but equally present QR code standard, we at Tickera believe that it is by far, the most efficient way for ticket checkin process. And we are certainly not alone on that territory as that method proved right through the years of practice.

Although we have developed our own Tickera Check-in app for iOS and Android, we are completely aware that cameras on the smartphones are not perfect and that low light situations may greatly affect the speed of the whole process. While that is not a big deal for the events with load of couple of hundreds per check point, it may create a mess in case of the event of couple of thousands per check point and we have been writing about it earlier in our post Ticket Check-in at the Door - What do you need to know? which we strongly recommend for further reading if you haven't already.

So, to avoid a havoc at the door, we often recommend using barcode scanners connected to the computers that are running either our Check-in Chrome Desktop app or Barcode Reader add-on if you are expecting large volumes of the attendees in short time.

Which leads us to the big question (asked about five times a day to our support team):

WHICH BARCODE SCANNER IS THE BEST AND WHICH ONE DO WE RECOMMEND?

Truth be told, we can’t recommend any in particular.

And here’s why: Since the barcode is that widely spread, barcode scanners are pretty lucrative business. Those are relatively simple and cheap devices to construct. There is a CONSIDERABLE amount (even that is an understatement) of brands and makes of the device on the market. But, all of those are basically the same thing. There is one difference, though, which we like to point out when asked which ones we recommend: the connectivity. There are wireless ones (radio transmitted, like wireless keyboards or mice), Bluetooth or “regular” wired ones connected via USB. Also, some of those, usually recognized by higher price tag which are able to scan QR codes but as a Tickera user, you don’t really need those if you have Barcode Reader add-on which allows using standard barcodes on your tickets. So, if you are not sure whether you’ll be using our Check-in app or barcode scanners for the checkin process, the safest bet would be to throw both on your ticket template.

So, it essentially comes down to what you are willing to spend on the device. As for the rest, it is the same (except for the connectivity stuff).

One thing that should be taken into account when using barcode scanners is certainly a keyboard layout set on the computer to which you have connected your barcode scanner. Barcode scanners are human interface devices and act very similar to keyboards so keyboard layout plays very important role when using barcode scanners to check the tickets in. More about this can be found in our FAQ and Troubleshooting post here.

Also, there are some devices on the market that allow connecting barcode scanner to the smartphone. However, although it might seem pretty handy at first and, logically, you might conclude that it would be perfect fit, that kind of "exotic" or "crossover" devices cannot be used with Tickera Check-in app for iOS and Android as the only way for scanning tickets with these apps is by using integrated camera on your smartphone.

Furthermore, we've been asked a couple of times whether you can use a camera on your Windows tablet/laptop to scan tickets and the answer is the same - no you can't.

So, long story short: Camera is used for the iOS and Android apps while barcode scanners are used with computers. Period.

 

Another question we've been asked frequently is:

CAN I USE ANY OTHER SMARTPHONE APP WITH THE BARCODE/QR SCANNING ABILITY?

Short answer: NO.

Okay, nothing is wrong with any other app you are using for other barcode/QR stuff scanning on your phone nor are we using some “special” codes. As you (probably) know, all the information about all of the attendees and tickets are stored in database on the website where you originally sold tickets. Therefore, you need an app which is able to communicate with that database so it could “know” which ticket is valid, how many check-ins are already done and how many available as well as all the other information regarding customers. That is why you have that URL field where you need to enter the address of your website and that API field for the key unique for each event.

We hope this clarifies some things a bit. Then again, we know that, most probably, we will have the same questions anyway but, hey, at least we tried 🙂
As always,
Happy Ticketing