Print a page (or two) of barcodes

We were moving house recently, and while folding my life's possessions into multiple boxes was wondering what would be a quick, easy way to track what went into each box?. The simplest answer is to number each box with a permanent marker or label and then write down what went into each box: basically, a personal inventory. I'd be able to consult this nice little inventory listing later on and figure out what went where while unpacking.

I figured there has to be an app for that: and so there are. Many of them. Some of them even pretty good. I tested a few, but couldn't really find one that was efficient (or more accurately, that let me dedicate as little time to the inventory capture part of the exercise). I thought a little about the simplest possible flow, and here's what I came up with:

  1. Stick a barcode on the side of the box.
  2. Scan the barcode with the app.
  3. Take a couple of pictures of the box.

And, that's it. Once the boxes are delivered I can simply scan any barcode to see the pictures of the contents (and decide if I want to open it right now, or later). I can even invert the search: swipe through a slide show of the pictures, and when I see the item I'm looking for start scanning boxes till I find a match.

Seems reasonable: and here I ran into the first problem. If I want a couple hundred barcodes to stick to the sides of my boxes, how to generate them? A visit to Google turns up things like this and this: nothing really convenient as far as just getting unique barcodes. That seems like a nice little problem to solve, particularly given that we already have an API that lets us generate barcodes in a wide range of formats.

So we whipped together Codes: A simple, single page app that leverages the Textibility API to generate printable barcodes. You tell us what number to start at, and how many labels you want and we give you a PDF you can feed to a printer, nicely formatted to fit on a commonly available label template (the Avery 5167 template). You can just print them out and stick them to whatever you want.

We actually had to move before I got around to finishing the app, so only item #1 of the list is done: we weren't actually able to reap the rewards, but if you need a run of barcodes give it a spin and let us know if it is useful to you.

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