Readerware Evaluation

Evaluation of Readerware V 2.984 on Windows XP Sp2

In general the program is very functional and solved my problem nicely. However, there are some problems that are of interest.

  1. I thought I was getting a solution that was as foolproof as a point of sales device. After all, the scanner apparently was designed for point of sales terminal applications. However, this is not integrated like that. The device kept failing, going offline or tossing bad scans. Not something that I would want to use in a store if I was trying to make money selling things.
  2. The ISBN scanner support for my LaserChamp-BT scanner was a bit dodgey. More about that later in detail.
  3. Sure would be nice if I could do a Replace on the Source field to update the source to say it was from Me. The replace and item editing would not function for that field. I’d like to say that the source was me since I manually entered quite a few items that were so old that they did not have an ISBN.
  4. The biggest failing is the inability to export a View as SQL. I’m going to have to go to quite some effort to export a CSV and then find a converter to get to SQL. While lots of programs say they do that conversion, most do not work correctly. I’m still try to get a solution working.

LaserChamp-BT Support Questions
I’ve had some trouble getting the scanner to work. This scanner can be found at Serial IO LaserChamp-BT.

The following is the method I used to set up my scanner to work with Readerware.

Setting up BlueTooth in the Windows OS
Here’s the process that I used to set up the BlueTooth scanner and what I’ve achieved so far. At the end of this discussion I’ll list my questions and problems.

First I installed Serial Magic Pro that I purchased with my scanner.
When I plugged in the dongle and finally found the BT dialog I got an options screen like this from Windows:

BT Settings

You can get this dialog from the BlueTooth Network Connections if you lose it. Then click through to “Blue-Tooth Devices”

Now you can find the Options tab.
BT Options

Turns out that you need to have this set up correctly for Serial Magic to work, but there is no wizard that I found to set it up. You are on your own. I didn’t know much about BlueTooth so I was stumbling around for a while. Be sure and check the box to get the Bluetooth icon in your task bar. Otherwise it’s a pain to find this dialog.

COM ports
BT COM ports
Now you need to set up a COM port for the device. SerialMagic doesn’t do that for you. You need an Outgoing port. An incoming port does not work.

Configure Serial Magic Pro
Now you need to configure Serial Magic from this dialog when you run it. This is the Settings dialog.
SerialMagic Pro
At one point I checked ISBN Conversion, but have since decided not to use that option.

Create a Connection
SerialMagic Connection

First you need to create a connection. The COM port is the one that you created in the BT device settings. Type a reasonable name in the Connection Name field. Choose LaserChamp and then think about the Connection Type.
I’m at a loss here. I tried several and a couple of them worked. BlueSnap RS-232 is my latest setting, but all seem to have various problems. I’m not sure what is right. There is no auto-discovery of the settings or a wizard, which I expected. The Device Wizard button just walks you through the fields. It does not help you with discovering what you need to put into the fields.

Here are the application settings:
SM Application Settings
I set the PIN to the same value as the PassKey at some point in the setup. I’m not sure if BlueSnap Address Change is useful. I’ve used it both ways with no apparent effect.

I’m not sure if changing the action fields will help with the problem to follow with ReaderWare, but here are the settings:
SM Actions

ReaderWare Issues

To enter books with the scanner I used the AutoCatalog wizard.
RW AutoCatalog

But I found that I could not use the scanner directly into the field. At this point I expected that each item I scanned would go directly into the list and be validated. But it didn’t work. I found that each scan caused two lines to be entered with a ENTER function between them. This was a surprise.

Then I tried the Upload dialog:
RW Upload
Each scan caused two lines to appear, one long line and one short line. These match the raw UPC code from the book. But you can’t enter these directly since Readerware will be confused. First you must combine the lines into a single line as follows by editing the lines directly in the dialog.

SW Upload Corrected

What a pain. Certainly not a Point of Sale solution for entering books. But once you do this, then the wizard is happy, converts the names to ISBN form and then they can be processed:

If any errors are encountered they are not that easy to deal with. If the Manufacturer is not found, the dialog is not helpful in resolving the issue. It gives you something like a choice between 0671 and 07023 and you have to make a choice. Good luck with that.

Questions for Support

BlueTooth Setup and Use Questions:

  1. Do I have Windows BT and Serial Magic Pro set up correctly for my scanner to work with ReaderWare? Don’t give me the nonsense about that being a SerialIO support question. You folks have used this product with this scanner since you recommend it. You know how to set it up correctly. I didn’t see any steps to set it up on your site or in the help file. Did I miss that?
  2. Is there some setup I needed to do in Readerware that I missed?
  3. Shouldn’t I expect the scanner entries to work directly without any editing? Shouldn’t I be able to use the AutoCatalog rather than the Upload dialogs?

General Comments and Questions

  1. I need to export my ReaderWare database to get to a SQL database on a website. But all I have is CSV export. Sure would be nice to have, or necessary to have, a SQL export of the current view. I am still looking for a realiabe way to get from CSV to SQL [or MySQL] to import my data to the website database.
  2. It’s a pain like I said to not to be able to replace all fields of the database. Not sure why that was done. Can you clarify. I would like to update the blank entries of the Source field to allow me to indicate that this data was manually entered by me.

Thanks much,
dj duffy

~ by windyweather on November 20, 2007.