I have written before about using Bar Codes in Crystal Reports, but recently two different customers have asked me about including QR codes on their reports. For those of you who have not seen them, QR codes are the square scan codes that have small boxes in each corner. Here is a QR Code for my Email address:
The advantage of QR codes over traditional bar codes is that they have extra error checking built in, which means that even a slightly blurry scan, such as one done by a smartphone or tablet camera, can still be decoded and used.
There are several ways that you can incorporate QR codes into Crystal Reports.
1) If you have a single QR Code, or a small number of them, then you can use a free web based QR Code Generator to generate the image. You can then insert the image into the report. If you have several you could store the image files in a network folder or on a website. To choose the correct one you could use the picture’s “graphic location” property (available in versions 11 through 14) to specify the path to the correct code for each instance of the image.
It is not hard to find QR Code generators on the web. I like the one at http://www.qrstuff.com/ which I used for the above image.
2) If you need to generate the codes on the fly based on data in the report, and if you are doing this within a .NET application, then there are several sites that sell bar code generators that you can use. These are dlls that allow you to incorporate bar codes, including QR codes, into your reports. But most of these dlls need to be deployed as part of a .NET application. Some examples are:
3) But most of us are using stand alone Crystal Reports. If you need to generate QR codes on the fly from your report data, one option is to use a dll that can encode the data and a special font to convert that data into the QR Code. I found two vendors that sell a combination like this that. They are the QR Code Font and Encoder by IDAutomation and QR Code by Barcodesoft. These both cost about $200 for one user on one PC and they both allow you to generate your own QR Codes using data within your report. I tried the one from IDAutomation yesterday and I had no trouble getting it to work in my report.
Both have a free trial which is what I used. These work just like the real thing except that the demo codes start with the word DEMO (IDAutomation) or have a watermark (Barcodesoft). So when I scanned the QR code for my web site it read out as:
The demos let you get close enough to know that they work, but not enough that you can go to production without buying the full product. IDAutomation also offers a 30-day return policy. They actually encourage you to purchase the full license for testing, and then return it if you don’t want it. Both sites provide instructions specific to Crystal Reports.
4) Another option for stand alone Crystal Reports is using CUT Light by Millet Software. This is a UFL with formula functions, and one of them can generate a QR Code from a formula. The code is generated as an image so it does not require a special font. You can see how the formula would work in this page of the CUT Light User Manual. In addition to QR codes, CUT Light supports three other bar code types as shown in this screen cast. CUT Light costs $50 and includes many other handy functions.