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I have a third party app for a production system. This is now a legacy application that may not be modified.

There is a text field in this third party app.

I have barcodes that translates into valid inputs for this text field.

I would like to be running this third party app, but somehow be able to use an android device to zap a barcode, translate it into text, and stick it into that text field.

I imagine the following:

  • User opens third party app
  • User places focus on text field
  • User presses button to cause barcode to be scanned
  • Barcode is translated and placed in the text field that has the focus

Is this feasible with an android phone or tablet?

I am scared that we may have to ditch our legacy app and develop fresh.

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It's easy to achieve a similar workflow with an off-the-shelf barcode scanner app such as ZXing's Barcode Scanner. After scanning a barcode in that app, you can press a button to copy the scanned text to the clipboard. After switching to your other app, you simply long-tap the text field to paste the text into it. It's a few more screen taps than you're imagining, but that's the easiest way.

There's also a keyboard app that has a button to scan a barcode and enter the scanned text as if typed in. It's non-free, and requires replacing your soft keyboard, but Barcodescanner Keyboard lets you shorten the workflow by a few taps.

Any better solution would require some kind of bespoke development, whether that's modifying the target app or making a custom ROM.

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  • Dan, this is very helpful. I am going to dig into these shortly. – Brian Webster Dec 14 '13 at 1:27
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To save you from copy-pasting, there is an interesting alternative option: some kind of "Barcode keyboard", i.e. using a QR-Reader as input method. There are a few apps available at Google Play which (according to their description) offer exactly that. An example fitting for your case would be Barcodescanner Keyboard:

This soft-keyboard scans and enters barcodes directly into input fields of arbitrary apps, batch scanning mode is supported.

Barcodescanner Keyboard Barcodescanner Keyboard

Note the Barcode-Scanner symbol in the lowest row of the keyboard, second from the left? As the other keys are also present, you can type normally in fields where you need that, and simply tap the barcode-icon to invoke the scanner, as shown in the second screenshot.

Remark: I didn't try it, so I have no more details on how it works and how reliable it is. Just found it at Google Play and thought it might be helpful for you :)

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