How does an Inventory database interact with a PDA?

An inventory database that Ainaco typically writes in Microsoft Access contains a system of related tables and one or more windows with controls (called Forms) that will allow entering data, generating reports and more. If such database is to be used with a PDA (take a look at which we recommend), it is a good idea to lay out the design before the Access database is built. The best way to build the database will depend on the way the PDA interface will be set up. This is an important step because data entry is the part that takes most human interaction and therefore needs to be made as simple as possible.

The database will allow entering data either on the PC or on the PDA, or on both, depending on the design. At AinaCo, we rely on Pendragon Forms, a rapid application development (RAD) system, for quick delivery of Palm-based database front ends.

The inventory process in the field is now reduced to a few simple steps and scanning the item's barcode. If this is a new item and your barcodes are custom, you will have to enter its name once. If it is a UPC barcode, a number of databases are available that will provide you with item descriptions, so you don't even need to type it in. All you do then is enter the quantity - either added, or sold, or remaining, and go to the next item. After you are finished, you HotSync the PDA with your desktop and all the data are transferred into your main database.

If you choose to design your own database with a Palm front end, feel free to send us a message to "database at ainaco com" with questions. Pendragon Forms is by far the least expensive solution for designing your own Palm interface, but, unless your database is absolutely trivial, it is by no means very intuitive.

AinaCo, Inc. can develop database applications that use PDAs for data collection and other barcode-driven tasks, such as lookups, item transfers and specialty functions as requested by the clients. Barcodes can be used not to only identify items but also to execute tasks or trigger actions that you find you need to do often in your particular situation. Barcode is a tool for automating routine processes, and if you feel you have a process that needs to be automated it is possible that it can be aided using a small, lightweight Palm computer and simple, cheap barcode labels.